CONTACT: WINSTON BARCLAY
100 Old Public Library
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0073; fax (319) 384-0024
Release: Aug. 27, 1999
University Theatres season at UI presents timeless
theater for the millennium's turn
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The University Theatres Mainstage
season at the University of Iowa will greet the new millennium with a reminder
of the timelessness of great theater. A free brochure, "Looking Back, Looking
Forward," which includes series-subscription order forms, is now available
from the Hancher Auditorium box office or the UI department of theatre arts
Hancher box office hours are 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. weekdays,
11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday and 1-3 p.m. Sunday. From the local calling area or
outside Iowa, dial (319) 335-1160. Long distance within Iowa and western Illinois
is toll-free, 1-800-HANCHER. Fax to (319) 353-2284.
Season subscriptions, which offer discounts of 20
percent, are now on sale, and individual-play tickets will go on sale Sept.
7. University Theatres Mainstage season subscriptions are available in discounted
three-play or five-play packages.
The season will begin with an intriguing combination
of plays -- one that looks back at the comic genius of Oscar Wilde and a companion
play that examines Wilde's "trial of the century," which led to his public
disgrace and imprisonment.
Next, UI alumnus Rinde Eckert -- this year's Partnership
in the Arts guest playwright/director -- will draw inspiration from an ancient
Japanese tale as he sweeps audiences into the postnuclear future with the
world premiere of "A Tale We Told The Queen on the Evening of the Fourth Day
of our Journey to the East."
During the winter, University Theatres will produce
"The Firebugs," a theatrical fable created from the ashes of World War II,
revealing the consequences of neglecting social and moral responsibilities;
and "Orestes 2.0," in which Greek myths color a surreal portrait of contemporary
Finally, in the final spring Mainstage production,
the past is prologue in Shakespeare's classic fantasy "The Tempest," a story
about magic, romance, deception and forgiveness.
Oscar Wilde's "The Importance of Being Earnest" (Oct.
7-20) has been acknowledged to be one of the funniest plays ever written --
the quintessential comedy of manners that challenges assumptions about identity,
artifice and the search for happiness.
The provocative companion play "Gross Indecency: The
Three Trials of Oscar Wilde"
(Oct. 14-24) is taken from original transcripts and letters. This gripping
courtroom drama follows the most celebrated and notorious wit of Victorian
England from the height of his success through one of the most scandalous
sex trials in history. Featuring a cast of characters ranging from Queen Victoria
to George Bernard Shaw, the play sends us traveling back and forth in time
to comment on Wilde and grapple with issues of sexual prejudice, censorship,
and the role of the artist in society.
With the purchase of a "Wilde Card" theatergoers can
attend both of the season-opening plays, and get the second for half price.
Eckert, who grew up in Iowa City and graduated from
the UI School of Music, has become one of America's most adventurous playwrights,
composers, actors and recording artists. Several of his previous solo works
and collaborations with the Paul Dresher Ensemble have been commissioned by
the UI Hancher Auditorium. For his University Theatres partnership in the
arts project, he imagines this: As dusk settles on civilization as we know
it, a queen and her entourage are making their way home after a long journey.
When they stop to camp for the evening the attendants entertain the queen
with an old story that changes her forever. "A Tale We Told the Queen" will
run Nov. 11-20.
In the modern parable "The Firebugs" (Feb. 3-13) Max
Frisch interweaves hilarious antics with social commentary in a scathing political
satire on the inability of the common man to take responsibility for his inaction.
Gottlieb Biedermann is a hair-tonic magnate who will go to great lengths to
lead a quiet life. But the burg in which he lives is plagued by arsonists
who seem hell-bent to destroy everything. Certain that he can outsmart them,
Biedermann befriends the firebugs and invites them into his home. It seems
that nothing gets by Biedermann -- except, perhaps, those barrels of gasoline
in his attic.
In "Orestes 2.0" (Feb. 17-27) Charles Mee draws from
Euripides, Vogue magazine, the transcripts of the Menendez brothers' trial,
and a half-dozen other sources. Based on the myth of Orestes, who killed his
mother to avenge the murder of his father, the computer-age play ponders whether
a god will again descend from Mount Olympus to save us from our own traumatic
The timelessness of "The Tempest" was attested when
Hollywood adapted Shakespeare's tale into the classic sci-fi adventure "Forbidden
Planet." After twelve years shipwrecked on a desert island, Prospero finds
his enemies are in his control. Seeking revenge, he discovers forgiveness
and freedom -- but the journey is not easy. The fantastical Ariel and the
murderous Caliban are never far away, and magic and music are everywhere.
Spiritual and mysterious yet comic and romantic, "The Tempest" (April 6-16)
draws together the stories and concerns that animated the English language's
Five-play packages are $60 ($28 for UI students, senior
citizens and youth). Three-play packages are $36 ($18 for UI students, senior
citizens and youth). A Wilde Card for the two season-opening productions is
$22.50 ($10.50 for UI students, senior citizens and youth).
Individual-play ticket prices are $15 ($8 for UI students,
senior citizens and youth).