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Release: Feb. 20, 2001

Iowa Summer Rep announces 2001 playwright, sets March 3 auditions for season’s actors

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Iowa Summer Rep, the professional theater company of the University of Iowa department of theatre arts, has selected prolific Canadian comic playwright George F. Walker as its featured playwright of the 2001 season. Each summer the company stages a festival of plays by a single contemporary playwright.

Public auditions for the 2001 Iowa Summer Rep company will be from10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, March 3 in the UI Theatre Building. Men and women of all ages are invited to audition. Auditioners should prepare one brief contemporary monologue and may be asked to read from a script. To reserve an audition time and receive additional information, call the theatre arts department at (319) 335-2700.

The 2001 Iowa Summer Rep season will feature Walker’s "Escape From Happiness," directed by UI theater faculty member John Cameron, June 21-July 12; "Risk Everything," directed by Iowa Summer Rep Artistic Director Eric Forsythe, June 28-July 22; and "Zastrozzi: The Master of Discipline" directed by Michael Sokoloff, July 5-7, 13 & 14.

Forsythe says: "George F. Walker is not a household name in the United States, unlike many of the playwrights we’ve worked with over the years. He’s as celebrated in Canada as Neil Simon is here, and just as prolific. He’s simply a great playwright I’m proud to produce -- and, oh, so funny."

Walker is one of Canada’s most widely produced playwrights, and his scripts have been translated into more than a half-dozen languages. In Canada he is well known to TV and radio audiences as well as theatergoers: His work for television includes the series "Due South" and "The Newsroom," and the made-for-TV movies "Salvation" and "Filthy Rich," and he has written several scripts for the CBC’s "Sunday Showcase" radio program.

Among his many honors in Canada are the Governor General’s Awards for Drama for "Nothing Sacred" and "Criminals in Love"; the Chalmers Canadian Play Award six times; and three Outstanding Play Awards in the DORA Awards.

Walker’s recognition has not been limited to Canada. He spent a year as playwright-in-residence at the New York Shakespeare Festival, and the Los Angeles Times proclaimed his "Nothing Sacred" its "play of the year."

A Chicago Sun-Times review declared, "No other living playwright pushes the boundaries of comedy as far, with often stunning results." A Village Voice review described his work as "black comedy with a depth of character that ravishes," and a review in the Washington Post said Walker creates a world "where humor and horror waltz drunkenly around in each other’s arms."

For many seasons Iowa Summer Rep has pursued a unique focus in American summer theater with its single-playwright festivals, but two seasons ago Iowa Summer Rep also became an Actor’s Equity Company, elevating its status as a professional theater company.

The department of theatre arts is part of the Division of Performing Arts in the UI College of Liberal Arts.

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>.