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University of Iowa News Release

Jan. 26, 2004

UI Reads Poetry Of Langston Hughes Feb. 1

The University of Iowa Department of Theatre Arts and the Darwin Turner Action Theatre will host the Third Annual Langston Hughes Read-In from 1-4 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 1 in the UI Theatre Building. The event will help kick off Black History Month at the UI.

UI President David Skorton will begin the event with the reading of the first Langston Hughes poem. All members of the UI and community are invited to watch and/or participate in the three-hour, non-stop Read-In of Hughes's poetry. Hughes (1902-1967), who was deemed the "Poet Laureate of the Negro Race," is considered one of the most inspiring and dynamic writers in American literary history.

Darwin Turner Action Theatre (DTAT) is the new name for a UI tradition that stretches back more than 35 years to the civil-rights and black-power eras. Since its founding as Black Action Theatre (BAT) in the 1960s, the group has exposed Iowa audiences to African-American culture through performance.

As an activity of a course jointly listed by the Department of Theatre Arts and the African-American World Studies program, BAT produced many of the most famous plays in African-American dramatic literature, as well as original works.

DTAT has continued the efforts of social and cultural awareness, but has become more inclusive, expanding to reflect Iowa's increasingly diverse cultural and social reality.

The group now memorializes the original mentor of Black Action Theatre, Dr. Darwin T. Turner, who was for many years the chair of the African-American World Studies Department and the "Dean of Black Dramaturgy." Turner is nationally recognized as one of the pioneers in African-American studies. Under his leadership, the UI was a trailblazer in the field.

An intellectual prodigy, Turner completed a master's degree in English and American dramatic literature at the University of Cincinnati at the age of 18. He was a member of the UI faculty until his death in 1991.

DTAT includes members of the college and community who are motivated by the goals and mission of social and cultural outreach for all ages. The group presents published plays, multicultural folktales and original material developed by the members, with audiences ranging from elementary and high school students, to events at libraries and museums.

The group also leads workshops with children to create and perform their own plays, and initiates discussion with groups about issues including race, gender, age, social status, family/social relationships and cultural history.

For more information about the DTAT and the Langston Hughes Read-In, contact the Department of Theatre Arts at 319-335-2700.

For UI arts information and calendar updates, visit To receive UI arts news by e-mail,

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Arts Center Relations, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 351, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500.

CONTACTS: Media: Winston Barclay, 319-384-0073,; Program: Tisch Jones,

PHOTOS are available at