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University of Iowa News Release


June 22, 2007

'Comédie du Jour' Sets Iowa Summer Rep Advance-Sales Record

"Comédie du Jour," the festival of plays by young American playwright Michael Hollinger running June 21 through July 22 in the University of Iowa Theatre Building, has set an all-time advance-sales record for Iowa Summer Rep.

With 3,241 tickets sold before opening day, the Hollinger festival has outpaced even big-name playwrights Neil Simon (3,028 advance tickets in 1997) and Tom Stoppard (3,019 in 2003). Each season Iowa Summer Rep presents a festival of plays by a single contemporary playwright, carving out a unique niche in summer theater.

"We're gratified that our audience has picked up on the news that Michael Hollinger is a rising star in American comic theater," says Iowa Summer Rep Artistic Director Eric Forsythe, a faculty member in the UI Department of Theatre Arts. "And they are not going to be disappointed. They are going to love these plays."

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 1950s, 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.

Summer Rep will also include a staged reading of Hollinger's "Opus," July 18 in the David Thayer Theatre. Hollinger's most recent play -- opening off-Broadway this summer -- 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.

Iowa Summer Rep is an U/RTA (University/Resident Theatre Association) company employing Equity actors and stage managers, as well as students who earn points toward their Actors Equity card.

Iowa Summer Rep 2007 is supported by the University of Iowa Community Credit Union.

Tickets may be purchased 24 hours a day, seven days a week, at For phone or ticket-window purchases, the box office is open 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. weekdays.

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 bill, and UI faculty and staff may select the option of payroll deduction.

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;