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University of Iowa News Release

Jan. 31, 2006

Feb. 1 Langston Hughes Read-In Helps Launch Black History Month At UI

The University of Iowa Darwin Turner Action Theatre and the Department of Theatre Arts will host the annual Langston Hughes Read-In 1-4 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 1, in the Lobby of the UI Theatre Building. Everyone is invited to attend at any time during that period, to listen and, if they wish, to read favorite Hughes material.

Jean Turner, widow of the late Darwin T. Turner, the black studies pioneer who was the chair of the UI department of African-American World Studies, will begin the event with the reading of the first poem. Those who wish to read may bring material, but poems will also be provided.

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 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.

Turner was recognized as the "Dean of Black Dramaturgy." Under his leadership, the UI was a trailblazer in the field of African-American studies.

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.

The Department of Theatre Arts is a unit of the Division of Performing Arts in UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, of which African-American World Studies is also an academic unit.

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.

MEDIA CONTACT: Winston Barclay, 319-384-0073,