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Release: Oct. 27, 2000

UI theatre arts department presents festival of one-acts by new directing students

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The University of Iowa department of theatre arts will present a two-week New Directors Festival with performances at 8 p.m. Nov. 9-11 and Nov. 16-18 in Theatre B of the University of Iowa Theatre Building. Each week the festival will present a different pair of one-act plays selected by new directing students in the department.

The Nov. 9-11 performances will feature Charles Mee’s "The Constitutional Convention: A Sequel" directed by Liza Williams, and "Hopscotch" by Israel Horovitz, directed by Andrew Golla.

The Nov. 16-18 performances will feature Caryl Churchill’s "Heart’s Decline" directed by Kristin Horton, and "Michi’s Blood" by Franz Xavier Kroetz, directed by Jeremy Wilhelm.

Eric Forsythe, the department’s director of theatre and head of the directing program says, "The New Directors Festival showcases the work of a fresh new crop of directing talent -- Master of Fine Arts directing students are brought in every three years. The directors are required to direct a short play during their first year that is seen by the public. It is a way of introducing them to the department through their work."

"The Constitutional Convention" is a comic montage of ideas and images that explore contemporary American problems that the constitution never anticipated. Director Williams says, "This is a humorous exploration of the extremes of the social behavior and how we are constrained by rules we impose on ourselves." Williams has a background in design, and she led the scenic, lighting and costume design for the production. Sound design is by Christopher Eschenbach.

In "Hopscotch" the meeting of two strangers in a park on a sunny autumn day moves from hopscotch and conversation to territory more provocative. "This is a compelling story written by a master storyteller, presenting a fantastic challenge for the actors," director Golla says.

"Heart’s Desire" is part of a recent collection of plays by Caryl Churchill entitled "Blue Heart." In "Heart’s Desire" a family waits for the return of their long-absent daughter from Australia. An experiment in theatrical structure, the play repeatedly stops and starts the action, occasionally going back to the beginning then fast-forwarding to pick up the scene midway, each time taking the story in a different direction. Director Horton says, "It’s a very nervous play about a very nervous family; the play structure itself is the manifestation of the family’s struggle to wait for an arrival and deal with anticipation and disappointment. All the complexities of a two-hour play are compressed into 30 minutes."

A West German playwright active in the1970s, Kroetz created theatrical worlds that embodied the disjointed speech and actions of a lower class. In "Michi’s Blood" two characters struggle to communicate amidst acts of violent sex and abortion. Wilhem says, "With the legalization of RU-486 and the possibility of a conservative Supreme Court in the near future, this play is a timely reminder that unheard voices do not benefit from social, economic or technological ‘advancement.’"

Admission to each evening of the New Directors Festival will be $5 ($3 for UI students, senior citizens and youth) at the door.

These productions include material of an adult nature. Potential audience members who are concerned about whether the productions are appropriate for them should contact the UI department of theatre arts, 319-335-2700, for additional information

For UI arts information, visit this new address -- www.uiowa.edu/artsiowa -- on the World Wide Web. To receive UI arts news by e-mail, contact <deborah-thumma@uiowa.edu>.