CONTACT: WINSTON BARCLAY
100 Old Public Library
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0073; fax (319) 384-0024
Release: Oct. 29, 1999
UI alumnus Rinde Eckert directs world premiere of A
Tale We Told the Queen
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Internationally acclaimed theater
artist Rinde Eckert, a native of Iowa City and an alumnus of the University
of Iowa, will direct the world premiere of his "A Tale We Told the Queen
on the Evening of the Fourth Day of our Journey to the East" on the University
Theatres Mainstage season Nov. 11-21.
The production, this years Partnership in the
Arts project in the UI department of theatre arts, will be presented at 8
p.m. Nov. 11-13 and 17-20, and at 3 p.m. Sundays, Nov. 14 and 21, in the David
Thayer Theatre of the UI Theatre Building.
On the eve of the millennium, "A Tale We Told
the Queen" combines an ancient Japanese Samurai tale and a fantastical
vision of the future. A queen and her entourage are making their way home
after a long journey. When they camp for the evening her attendants entertain
her with an old story that changes her forever.
"Pretty soon the story has completely taken over
the company of the court of this queen and in fact there is no audience left;
theyre all performing the story," Eckert explains. "Its
a tragic story that turns into a kind of farce, which ends with an hilarious
battle. When we staged it I was laughing so hard I couldnt open my eyes.
They had to stop because I couldnt see anything anymore."
Partnership in the Arts is an annual department of
theatre arts project that invites prominent theater artists to develop significant
new work for the stage in collaboration with UI students, faculty and staff.
Accompanying Eckert as a visiting artist is composer
and music director Virginia Leishman, a founding member of the Kamikaze Ground
Crew and the Mr. Wau Wa Band. Her method of composition for this piece began
with building a vocabulary of basic patterns of rhythm, pitch and melody that
she brought to the actors, allowing them to share in the creation of the score.
"Its a more organic process than coming
in with a finished composition," Leishman says. "Its not being
put on them; they are part of the creation, and therefore they can truly own
it on stage. We have the good fortune of building a piece from the ground
up with the actors. It is tailored to the people who are performing and the
available resources, not to any preconceived idea of what it should sound
like or look like."
Eckert also developed "A Tale We Told the Queen"
in collaboration with the student actors in the cast, combining his storyline
and text with materials developed through structured improvisations.
"We took basically the first three weeks in that
process," Eckert explains. "You can spend three weeks on something
very simple, a simple movement and it in itself might not be a part of the
piece but the quality of mind thats brought to bear on that movement
will be reflected in every movement thats done in the entire piece.
"In the writing of it Im taking into account
the personalities of the actors, so Im writing for them, in a way. They
collaborate in a sense through the fact of their personality rather than specific
contributions to the text. We have taken it to some fun and interesting places."
Few artists can match the many facets of Eckerts
Renaissance-man career. He is a singer, composer, recording artist, actor,
dancer, multi-instrumentalist, director and designer, noted for uniting searching
intellectual rigor and bold theatricality in poetic, larger-than-life multi-media
works that defy categorization.
He has performed numerous times in the UI Hancher
Auditorium, including solo works, and productions with the Margaret Jenkins
Dance Company ("Shorebirds Atlantic") and the Paul Dresher Ensemble
("Slow Fire," "Pioneer," "Power Failure" and
Hancher presented the world premieres of his "The
Gardening of Thomas D" and "The Idiot Variations," which toured
internationally. The critic of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune called "The
Idiot Variations," which is still touring, "a weirdly stunning adventure
of imagination and stagecraft . . . out of the mists, the sheer power of the
poet is capable of sweeping us away."
Most recently, he performed the one-man show "Romeo
Sierra Tango" in Hancher as preparation for the New York Shakespeare
Festival. Eckert won a rave review in the New York Times last season for his
performances in the one-man opera "Ravenshead," for which he also
wrote the libretto: "Eckert climbed, dangled, dodged and danced, hauntingly
depicting not only the physical trials of the misbegotten journey but also
the unraveling of a mind and personality."
Other artistic contributors to "A Tale We Told
the Queen" include Erin Howell-Gritsch, costumes; Vicki Grube, set; and
Michael OConnell, lighting.
Tickets for "A Tale We Told the Queen" are
$15 ($7 for UI students, senior citizens and youth). They may be purchased
in advance from the Hancher Auditorium box office. Any remaining tickets for
each performance will be on sale one hour before curtain time at the Theatre
Building box office.
Tickets may also be purchased at a substantial discount
as part of University Theatres three-play season package. Remaining choices
in the Mainstage season are "The Firebugs" by Max Frisch, Feb. 3-13;
"Orestes 2.0" by Charles Mee, Feb. 17-27; and Shakespeares
"The Tempest," April 6-16.
Hancher box office hours are 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. weekdays,
and 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday. 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. 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.
People with special needs for access, seating and auxiliary services should
dial (319) 335-1158. The line is equipped with TDD for people with hearing
impairment who use that technology.
For more information on Rinde Eckert, visit < http://www.songtone.com/Artists/Eckert/>
on the World Wide Web. For UI arts news and information, and arts calendar
updates, visit the ArtsIowa website, <www.uiowa.edu/~uiowacr>.
(NOTE TO BROADCASTERS: Rinde is pronounced
RINN-dee. He is reachable for interviews at the City Plaza Hotel, 319-337-4058.)