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University of Iowa News Release


April 20, 2007

Iowa Summer Rep 2007 Will Offer 'Comédie du Jour'

Iowa Summer Rep 2007 will be "Comédie du Jour," a festival of plays by rising young American playwright Michael Hollinger, June 21 through July 22 in the University of Iowa Theatre Building. A Summer Rep brochure will be mailed April 24, and season subscriptions will go on sale that day through the Hancher Auditorium box office.

Subscriptions may be ordered by mail or online at Individual-performance tickets will go on sale May 7.

Hailed as one of America's brightest new comic voices, celebrated for his razor-sharp wit and clever wordplay, Hollinger is rapidly becoming one of the most successful and widely produced playwrights in this country and beyond. His plays have been produced in New York, in regional theatres around the country and throughout Europe. In addition, he has written three short films and co-authored the feature-length "Philadelphia Diary" for PBS.

His growing list of honors and achievements ranges from the Roger L. Stevens Award from the Kennedy Center's Fund for New American Plays to the Barrymore Award for Outstanding Play.

"This is a deft and colorful smorgasbord of plays: mixing into the salad something of the wildman craziness of a Steve Martin, say, with the wry emotional density of Chekhov and a touch of Noel Coward's wit," says artistic director Eric Forsythe, a faculty member in the UI Department of Theatre Arts. "Hollinger is absolutely unique. Clever and wise by turns, using three widely different time periods and settings to make very contemporary and relevant points. I can't wait to introduce Iowa City to this young master of comedy: Michael Hollinger!"

Hollinger's "Incorruptible," June 21-30 in E.C. Mabie Theatre, is a light comedy set in the Dark Ages. In a 13th-century French monastery, a rag-tag group of destitute monks feel their faith slipping away until they cross paths with a one-eyed traveling minstrel who teaches them an enterprising way to fill their empty offering plate.

"Red Herring," June 26 through July 15 in the David Thayer Theatre, is Hollinger's zaniest comedy. Amidst the Red Scare of the early '50s, noir-ish detective Maggie Pelletier has to discover the origin of a Russian Spy Ring, solve a murder, rescue the daughter of Joe McCarthy, unveil the atomic secrets hidden inside a box of Velveeta Cheese and find who dumped the dead guy in the harbor -- or else lose out on a honeymoon in Havana.

"An Empty Plate in the Café du Grand Boeuf," July 12-21 in Mabie Theatre, moves forward to 1961 when a café's owner -- distraught because Hemingway has died and his mistress has dumped him -- decides to starve himself in his own restaurant. He allows his frantic staff to prepare him one final meal -- but only if they leave it in the kitchen and describe it, course by course, over a series of empty platters. A New York Times review described the resulting feast of adjectives and adverbs as "sheer operatic looniness!"

Summer Rep will also include a staged reading of Hollinger's "Opus," July 18 in the David Thayer Theatre. Hollinger's most recent play, it examines the entangled relationships of a world-renowned string quartet breaking in a new violist just five days before they must present a televised performance at the White House. Hollinger was a musician before he turned to theater, and holds a bachelor's degree in viola performance from the Oberlin Conservatory.

Dinners before the evening shows will be offered again this year. A choice of several entrees, desserts and beverages will be available on the outdoor patio overlooking the Iowa River starting at 6 pm, Wednesday through Saturday evenings. Reservations are strongly encouraged. Call 319-335-3105. Reservations will be taken beginning May 1.

Iowa Summer Rep, the professional Actors Equity company of the UI Department of Theatre Arts, has carved out a unique niche in summer theater: the season is typically a festival of plays by a single contemporary playwright.

Series packages for "Comédie du Jour" are $58 ($48 for senior citizens, and $30 for UI students and youth). Individual-performance tickets, on sale May 7, will be $24.00 ($20 for senior citizens and $12 for UI students and youth.

Hancher Auditorium box office business hours are 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. weekdays and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays. From the local calling area, dial 319-335-1160. Long distance is toll-free, 1-800-HANCHER. People with special needs for access, seating and auxiliary services should dial 319-335-1158, which is equipped with TDD for people with hearing impairment who use that technology.

Orders may be charged to VISA, MasterCard or American Express. UI students may charge their purchases to their university bills, and UI faculty and staff may select the option of payroll deduction. Information and brochures may be requested by e-mail:

The Department of Theatre Arts is a unit of the Division of Performing Arts in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

For UI arts information and calendar updates, visit To receive UI arts news by e-mail, go to, click the link "Join or leave the list (or change settings)" and follow the instructions.

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; cell: 310-430-1013;