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Release: Oct. 25, 2001

Suzuki Company will perform its Japanese version of 'Dionysus' at UI Nov. 17-18

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The Suzuki Company from the Shizuoka Performing Arts Center in Japan will perform its distinctly Japanese version of "Dionysus," based on the "Bacchae" by ancient Greek dramatist Euripides, at 8 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 17-18, in E.C. Mabie Theatre of the University of Iowa Theatre Building. American actress Ellen Lauren will head a cast of 25 in this bilingual production with English supertitles.

The production, touring for the Japan Society in New York, is presented by Hancher Auditorium.

"Dionysus" is inspired by Greek mythology and drama: The story traces the conflict between the god Dionysus and King Pentheus of Thebes. But in the vision of director Tadashi Suzuki -- renowned for his elegant, musical and intensely physical versions of classical theater -- the story becomes an expression of the primal power of group values in conflict with the doubts of alienated and scapegoated individuals.

Writing about the production, Suzuki commented: "Consciousness is a prison, and the walls of the prison are history. History emerges out of the relationship between the spirit of exuberant communal unity and the spirit of alienated individuality. These two modes of being form the two poles at either end of the arch of spiritual history."

Parents in all parts of America are familiar with the Suzuki Method of music training, created by violin teacher Shinichi Suzuki. But Tadashi Suzuki, who is both a director and a theatrical theorist, has established another innovative and influential Suzuki Method less well known to the general public: the Suzuki Method of Actor Training. The cornerstones of his philosophy are the beliefs that humans can tap into the expressive power of animal energy, and that theatre is socially and spiritually crucial as a stage for this expression.

Tadashi Suzuki founded his company in 1966. In addition to "Dionysus," his works include "On the Dramatic Passions," "The Trojan Women," "Lear," "Cyrano de Bergerac," "Oedipus Rex," "Electra" and the opera "Vision of Lear."

Suzuki has articulated his theories in a number of books. A collection of his writings in English, "The Way of Acting" is published by the Theatre Communications Group in the United States.

He writes of his vision of "Dionysus," "the phenomenon of processing experience into stories or narratives has always played an important role in human life. Whether in the form of myths, legends, fairy tales or histories, a 'story' in this sense is any agreed-upon grouping of information or feelings within a given community. Indeed, stories are the very element of cohesion bringing together and spiritually unifying individuals into communities. They can also give structure and form to rebellion against a community, and provide a way to deal with communal oppression. . . .

"Story is a sword with two edges. Both the attraction towards the comfort and cohesion offered by stories, and the will to rebel against the repression that results, are within us as individuals as well as within mankind as a whole. . . Both sides of this dichotomy are presented on stage simultaneously. A dramatic coexistence of opposites. A compelling juxtaposition."

Cantebury Inn and Suites is the local corporate sponsor of the Suzuki Company's "Dionysus," through the University of Iowa Foundation.

Tickets are $30 -- $10 for UI students, $24 for senior citizens and $15 for youth -- from the Hancher box office. Any remaining tickets will be available one hour before curtain time at the Theatre Building box office.

Hancher Auditorium box office business hours are 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. weekdays and 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturdays. From the local calling area, dial (319) 335-1160. Long distance is toll-free, 1-800-HANCHER. Fax to (319) 353-2284. People with special needs for access, seating and auxiliary services should dial (319) 335-1158, which is equipped with TDD for people with hearing impairment who use that technology.

Tickets may be ordered on-line 24 hours a day, seven days a week through Hancher's website:<http://www.uiowa.edu/hancher>.

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. Information and brochures may be requested by e-mail: <hancherboxoffice@uiowa.edu>.

Visit the Shizuoka Performing Arts Center and the Suzuki Company at <http://www.spac.or.jp>. For UI arts information and calendar updates, visit <www.uiowa.edu/artsiowa>. To receive UI arts news by e-mail, contact <deborah-thumma@uiowa.edu>.