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University of Iowa News Release


April 27, 2007

Lewis' 'Brothers Dellapina' Opens 2007 Iowa New Play Festival April 30

The 2007 Iowa New Play Festival will open its evening production schedule with "The Brothers Dellapina," a comedy written by Sean Christopher Lewis and directed by Sean Paul Bryan, at 5:30 and 9 p.m. Monday, April 30, in E.C. Mabie Theatre of the University of Iowa Theatre Building. The cast includes Jack Cameron, the Department of Theatre Arts faculty member who heads the acting program.

Lewis describes the plot: "It's a comedy about two brothers, Matt and Phil, in the Bronx, who beat each other up, call each other names -- they live primarily like cavemen. Then their estranged father, an old time magician, returns home demanding his sons steal a magic box for him as a dying request. With Matt's girlfriend, Summer, the brothers head to San Francisco with a lot of family secrets and filial anger."

Lewis has been a remarkably prolific writer and performer during his time in the Iowa Playwrights Workshop, with productions at both the UI and Riverside Theatre. Most recently, his work was included in "The Evidence" at Riverside, the venue where he also brought to life Sean Boogie -- a mixed-up white rapper who only wants to be black -- in his nationally toured one-man show, "I Will Make You Orphans." His "Militant Language" opened the Iowa New Play Festival last season.

But last fall Lewis was struggling. "My father was dying, I was dealing with a lot of personal issues and was having a problem writing and really just going through day-to-day," he explains.

As an antidote, he did what he does: write. "To entertain myself I began writing these little scenes about a good friend of mine from college named Matt, who has a brother named Phil," Lewis says. "Matt and I have a very typical male friendship where we just call each other and insult one another. Matt had told me all the stories about Phil, who I never met, in which Phil would do these ridiculous things like tell Matt that his Christmas present this year would be watching Phil bench press things -- not weights, just random 'things'."

But as Lewis was writing these scenes to cheer himself up, his father kept "bursting through" in the process. "He was always a magician -- which is kind of how I see an estranged parent: When you're young they seem so amazing and magical and as you get older you believe in them less and just look for the strings.

"Me and my father were estranged, and my playwriting mind kind of just says 'yes' so if my dad keeps showing up I trust that's what has to happen and I just go with it. I'm glad I did. It makes the play really surprising -- you can't really tell what's gonna happen next."

Lewis does know what is happening next, however: He will receive his Master of Fine Arts degree this spring, and, after spending the summer teaching at the UCLA Arts Camp Workshop, he will be Emerging Playwright in Residence at InterAct Theater in Philadelphia next season. His 2006 Iowa New Play Festival script, "Militant Language," has been invited to PlayPenn, after being presented at the National Center for New Plays and the HotInk Festival of International Writing during the past year.

The Iowa New Play Festival, a tradition unique in American collegiate theater, will present more than a dozen new scripts from the Iowa Playwrights Workshop in productions and readings April 30 through May 5 in the University of Iowa Theatre Building. The UI Department of Theatre Arts concludes each spring semester by dedicating all its resources -- acting, directing, design, stage management and technical -- to an intense and event-packed festival that offers student playwrights the productions and feedback that are essential for their development and offers audiences an opportunity to participate in the creation of significant new American theater at the ground level.

Tickets for all the evening productions -- $6 for the general public and $4 for UI students, senior citizens and youth -- will be on sale one hour before each of the performances April 30 through May 5, and tickets will also be on sale noon to 1:30 p.m. each day of the festival at the Theatre Building box office.

"The Brothers Dallapina" contains material of an adult nature. Potential audience members who are concerned about whether it is appropriate for them should contact the Theater Department at 319-335-2700 for additional information.

The Department of Theatre Arts is part 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;