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University of Iowa News Release

June 20, 2003

Iowa Summer Rep's Stoppard Festival Expands With "Travesties"

"Tom-Foolery: Three Comedies by Tom Stoppard," the 20th-anniversary season of Iowa Summer Rep's unique single-playwright festival, will expand with the opening of the Tony Award-winning absurdist farce "Travesties" at 8 p.m. Tuesday, July 1 in the David Thayer Theatre of the University of Iowa Theatre Building.

Other performances will be at 8 p.m. July 2, 6, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 15 and 16. A 6 p.m. performance on July 4 was scheduled to enable audience members to attend fireworks displays after the show.

Iowa Summer Rep is the professional Actors' Equity company of the UI department of theatre arts.

"Travesties" -- which won a Tony Award for Best Comedy and the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Play -- imagines the table talk when Lenin, James Joyce and Tristan Tzara (a founder of Dadaism) were in Zurich simultaneously in 1917.

Since his breakthrough play, "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead," Stoppard has frequently returned to a focus on minor characters in major events. This time, the time-jumping proceedings are hosted by Henry Carr, a minor consular official who is a fleeting acquaintance of all three historical giants and who once performed in an amateur production of Oscar Wilde's "The Importance of Being Earnest" staged by Joyce. The action is filtered through his fading memory, and lines from "Earnest" are echoed and parodied throughout "Travesties."

With all of this thought behind the play, director Mary Beth Easley stressed that audiences do not need to read up on Joyce or study Wilde to enjoy the play, which she describes as "very theatrical" and "mad crazy."

"It's like a fun house, a house of mirrors," Easley said. "It's literate and at the same time very theatrical while poking fun at itself and historical figures and the conventions by which we know history."

Newsweek's critic called the result "a brilliant, theatrical masterstroke. Crunchingly witty with a thousand laughs and nine hundred thoughts."

A review in CurtainUp observed, "Like other Stoppard plays, 'Travesties' provides its own little dictionary of notable quotes. Some are more memorable than others, some may be sheer nonsense, but as one character puts it: 'It may be nonsense, but at least it's clever nonsense.'"

Easley has been a frequent Iowa Summer Rep and University Theatres contributor. Her previous Iowa Summer Rep productions include the 2000 production of Edward Albee's "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf," the 1999 production of August Wilson's "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom," the 1998 production of Alan Ayckbourn's "Bedroom Farce," and the 1997 production of Neil Simon's "Laughter on the 23rd Floor."

Other members of the "Travesties" artistic team are scene designer Edward Matthew Walter, costume designer Kaiome E. Malloy, lighting designer Bryon Winn and sound designer Mark Bruckner.

Actors' Equity member Randy Noojin heads the "Travesties" cast as Henry Carr.

Stoppard began as a journalist and theater critic in the late 1950s, but in 1967 the production of his first full-length play, "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead," catapulted him into the ranks of England's most famous comic playwrights. His learned silliness is now seen as part of a "classic" tradition that includes the Goon Show, "A Hard Day's Night" and Monty Python's Flying Circus.

"Shakespeare in Love," the 1999 Oscar winner, is one of several film scripts he has written, or on which he has collaborated, including Terry Gilliam's "Brazil," the adaptation of E.L. Doctorow's "Billy Bathgate," "The Russia House" and Steven Spielberg's "Empire of the Sun" and "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade."

Iowa Summer Rep is America's only professional company that makes each summer of festival of plays by a single contemporary playwright. Along with "Travesties," "Tom-Foolery" will feature Stoppard's "Rough Crossing" and "The Real Thing," as well as a reading of "The Real Inspector Hound."

Tickets to "Travesties" are $19 ($14 for senior citizens, and $10 for UI students and youth) from the Hancher box office. Any remaining tickets for each performance will be available one hour before curtain time at the Theatre Building box office.

A series package -- which includes tickets to all three "Tom-Foolery" productions -- is $46 ($34 for senior citizens, and $24 for UI students and youth). The series package offers a discount of more than 20 percent. Series packages are available until the closing of "Rough Crossing" on July 5.

Hancher Auditorium summer box office business hours are 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. weekdays.

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.

Ticket-holders may chose to complete their evening out with a pre-performance dinner on the Theatre Building Plaza, overlooking the Iowa River.

From 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., Iowa Memorial Union Catering will offer a choice of three entrees, plus a Florentine Cooke Basket desert selection. On July 4, dinner will be served 6-8 p.m. The entrees will be Grilled Sliced Breast of Chicken, Seared Salmon Filet, and Stuffed and Roasted Squash Boats, each with harmonious side dishes.

For dinner reservations, call the IMU Food Service at 319-335-3105.

Beverages will be also available before each performance and at intermission, and beverages and desserts will be served on the Plaza after each performance.

For UI arts information and calendar updates, visit http://www.uiowa.edu/artsiowa. To receive UI arts news by e-mail, ur-acr@uiowa.edu.

The Department of Theatre Arts is a unit of the Division of Performing Arts in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Arts Center Relations, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 351, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500.

CONTACTS: Media: Winston Barclay, 319-384-0073, winston-barclay@uiowa.edu Program: Eric Forsythe eric-forsythe@uiowa.edu.

PHOTOS are available at http://www.uiowa.edu/artsiowa/photos.html.