Screen readers: Two navigational links to follow.Skip to site navigation.Skip to page content.
The University of Iowa News Services
The University of Iowa News Services Home News Releases UI in the News Subscribe to UI News Contact Us

University of Iowa News Release


April 20, 2011

Iowa New Play Festival May 1-7 provides a sneak peek at tomorrow's theater

The University of Iowa Department of Theatre Arts will present the 2011 Iowa New Play Festival, the most ambitious new-play festival in collegiate theater, with readings and staged productions from Sunday, May 1, through Saturday, May 7, in the UI Theatre Building.

The full productions of new scripts from the Iowa Playwrights Workshop will be presented at 5:30 and 9 p.m. Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.

--Sunday, May 1: "Rogue's Dance" by Janet Schlapkohl in the David Thayer Theatre. What does it mean to be a deserter? Or to be deserted? "Rogue's Dance" follows the journeys of the women left behind during the Irish Potato Famine and Mexican-American War, and the men that stole their hearts. This production uses text, live music and dance to tell the stories of Maggie, Bridget, Patrick, James, Rosa and Mamma, whose worlds collide and connect through events beyond their control and understanding.

--Monday, May 2: "And Humbaba Came from His Strong House of Cedar" by Jen Silverman in Theatre B. The great mythic hero Gilgamesh and his trusty sidekick Enkidu set out for the cedar forest to destroy the monster Humbaba. As the three catapult through time, history repeats itself, and the three warriors are forced to wrestle with their dark desires for violence, power and destruction.

--Wednesday, May 4: "People of the Ditch," by Kevin Artigue in the David Thayer Theatre. In a remote military prison in Afghanistan during the early years of the War on Terror, Pvt. Gabby Lopez faces treatment of prisoners that becomes increasingly violent, absurd and terrifying. After becoming convinced a detainee under her watch is innocent, she is forced to transgress cultural boundaries, disobey orders and confront her own complicity.

--Friday, May 6: "Proficient" by Jessica Foster in Theatre B. In a world of No Child Left Behind and escalating government cuts to education, "Proficient" asks: Is what we are doing really serving our children?

--Saturday, May 7: "Landless" by Andrew P. Saito in the David Thayer Theatre. In southeastern Missouri, a road stretches between two centuries and two worlds. In 1838, a Cherokee family presses forward toward Indian Territory after being forced off their land in Georgia. A hundred years later, sharecroppers take all their possessions to the highway, protesting forced eviction from the cotton farms where they work. Slipping between these two worlds is Six, a young woman weighed down by grief. Her journey between the 19th and 20th centuries teaches her to move forward from her past and embrace life in the present.

Tickets for all the evening productions -- $5 for the general public and free for UI students with a valid UI ID -- will be on sale one hour before each of the performances. Tickets will also be on sale from noon to 1:30 p.m. Friday, April 29, and Monday through Friday of the festival at the Theatre Building box office.

A free evening event will be an Undergraduate Evening at 5:30 and 9 p.m. Tuesday, May 3, in the Catalano Acting Studio. Free tickets are required to ensure seating.

All the daytime readings and workshop productions are free, and the public is invited to attend in the Cosmo Catalano Acting Studio, Room 172, of the Theatre Building.

--Monday at 3 p.m.: "Jenga" by Deborah Yarchun.
--Tuesday at 2:30 p.m.: "Orange Julius" by Basil Kreimendahl.
--Wednesday at 2:30 p.m.: "Black intellectuals chew the flan waiting for death and/or tenure" by Iris Goodwin.
--Thursday at 3 p.m.: "christopher marlowe's chloroform dreams" by Kat Sherman.
--Friday at 2:30 p.m.: "The Lord of the Underworld's Home for Unwed Mothers" by Louisa Hill.

Several events in the New Play Festival may include material of an adult nature. Potential audience members who wish to decide if it is appropriate for them should contact the department at 319-335-2700 for additional information.

The New Play Festival requires the deployment of all the Department of Theatre Arts' resources -- acting, directing, dramaturgy, design, stage management and technical abilities -- to orchestrate an intense and event-packed festival that offers student playwrights the productions and feedback that are essential for their development. At the same time, the festival offers audiences an opportunity to participate in the creation of significant new American theater at the ground level and get a sneak peak at the theater of tomorrow.

The Iowa Playwrights Workshop -— the UI MFA Program in Playwriting -— is an intensive three-year program dedicated to educating playwrights for the professional theatre. The objective of the program is to train talented playwrights and collaborative theatre artists who will lead the American theater in the creation of new works and the training of future generations of playwrights.

The Iowa New Play Festival began in the 1960s as Critics Week and developed into the more public Iowa Playwrights Festival. The festival's name was changed to the Iowa New Play Festival to stress that the production of new plays was of educational value not only to the playwrights but to all students in the department.

Over the years, the festival has produced scripts by numerous young playwrights who have gone on to distinguished careers in theater, and many of the plays developed through the Iowa Playwrights Workshop and presented in the festival have gone on to successful professional productions, have been honored with theatrical awards or have been invited to theater festivals.

This year's Festival is dedicated to Cosmo Catalano, who died in January. He joined the UI Department of Theatre Arts in 1966 and was professor in charge of acting and directing, department chair and managing director of Iowa Summer Rep. Catalano directed more than 100 productions for the department. His numerous contributions to the community are detailed here:

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

UI arts events are searchable on the UI Master Calendar: Exhibitions are searchable at To receive UI arts news by e-mail, go to

STORY SOURCE: University News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACT: Winston Barclay,