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University of Iowa News Release


Feb. 19, 2009

University Theatres Mainstage presents comic fable 'Kid-Simple' March 5-14

The University Theatres Mainstage series will present Jordan Harrison's comic fable "Kid-Simple: A Radio Play in the Flesh," opening at 8 p.m. Thursday, March 5, in the David Thayer Theatre of the University of Iowa Theatre Building. Additional performances will be at 8 p.m. March 6-7 and 11-14, and at 2 p.m. Sunday, March 8.

Moll, child prodigy, wins the high-school science fair by inventing the Third Ear, a machine for hearing sounds that can't be heard, such as toenails growing on a field-mouse, the steps of water-spiders and even the sound of heartbreak. But when her invention is stolen (along with her heart) she must embark on a quest to save noise as we know it.

"Reading the play for the first time sent me back to childhood nights hidden under the covers in the dark, listening to radio plays with mysterious voices and sounds, creating images that took me far away inside my head," says director Meredith Alexander, a faculty member in the UI Department of Theatre Arts.

"Now I read a play on the page, the use of language intriguing, but what does this story look like 'in the flesh?' Most intriguing of all was thinking about what it means that visual images are made auditory, and sounds are made tangible. Surely we would need more than five senses to tell such a fantastical tale of the loss of innocence and experience, when a teenage girl prodigy strives to amplify the world around her, only to find she must listen to her own voice."

Misha Berson wrote for the Seattle Times, "Stuffed with whiz-bang sight and sonic gags, sci-fi tropes, fanciful language and self-referential pokes at its own loopiness, 'Kid-Simple' is the work of a fertile, rambunctious imagination. . . Harrison is an exhilarating wordsmith."

And Celia Wren's Washington Post review observed, "Harrison's gleefully loopy, language-drunk script is an esoteric melding of spy caper and modern fantasy -- James Bond meets 'The Phantom Tollbooth' . . . Adding a meta-theatrical spin, Harrison has written an onstage part for a sound-effects maestro, the Foley Artist, who generates the story's audibles -- from heartbeats to footfalls to the sluicing din of water torture -- in view of the audience."

Other artistic contributors include sound designer Mark Bruckner, scenic designer Sasha Olchefske, costume designer Ellen Erickson Alphonso, lighting designer Adam Boyer and dramaturgs Jeff Porter and Emily Ladendorf.

Harrison's plays, including "The Museum Play" and "Finn in the Underworld," have been produced and developed at Actors Theatre of Louisville, Sledgehammer Theatre, Perishable Theatre, Playwrights Horizons, the Empty Space Theater and Clubbed Thumb. "Kid-Simple" premiered in the 2004 Humana Festival at Actors Theatre of Louisville and has since been widely produced.

Harrison is the recipient of two Jerome Fellowships from the Playwrights' Center, the 2003 Heideman Award, and a 2001-02 Lucille Lortel Fellowship.

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

Tickets for "Kid Simple" are $17 ($12 for senior citizens and $8 for UI students and youth). Tickets can be ordered online at Any remaining tickets for each performance will be available one hour before showtime at the Theatre Building box office.

The Hancher box office is open for phone or walk-up business in Suite 107 in the south building of the Lindquist Center, at the corner of Madison and Burlington Streets, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. weekdays. Parking is available in the metered lot by the UI Main Library on Madison Street, or in the Old Capitol Town Center parking ramp at the corner of Clinton and Burlington Streets.

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 at

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 (office) 319-430-1013 (cell), 319-338-4274 (home),