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University of Iowa News Release


Feb. 9, 2007

'The American Black Box' Reflects On Contemporary Human Rights Abuses

The University Theatres Gallery series will present "The American Black Box" by Iowa Playwrights Workshop member Scott Pardue at 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, Feb. 22-24, and at 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 25, in Theatre B of the University of Iowa Theatre Building.

Pardue raises questions about the policy of "extraordinary rendition" and the social forces that have made it possible. The play follows a software engineer named Eric who works for an international chemical company. When a potent weed killing agent -- which can be used for creating bombs -- is found to be missing all the arrows point toward the new Syrian manager, Yasser.

The story was inspired by an actual case, in which a software engineer falsely accused of being a terrorist by Canadian police was shipped by U.S. officials to Syria, where he was imprisoned and tortured.

Pardue says, "'The American Black Box' was written in Sydne Mahone's advanced playwriting class where she challenged us to respond to world events in a personal way. My focus was on the Middle East and how 9/11 has shaped our perspective.

"As those events drift further into the past, I could not help but recognize the changes that have resulted -- more specifically, where fear and privilege have taken us as a country, as evidenced by the Military Commissions Act of 2006 and the numerous worldwide charges of human rights abuses by our government. The real underlying question, however, is not what our government is doing, but why everyday people like me are allowing it."

Pardue's writing biography can be viewed online at:

"American Black Box" features set design by Cassandra Reardon, lighting design by Stephanie Bell and costume design by Amanda Clark.

This production includes material of an adult nature. Potential audience members who are concerned about whether it is appropriate for them should contact the Department of Theatre Arts, 319-335-2700, for additional information.

Admission to "The American Black Box" will be $6 ($4 for students) at the door.

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;