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University of Iowa News Release

March 27, 2003

Iowa Summer Rep Selects Tom Stoppard As 2003 Playwright

Iowa Summer Rep 2003 at the University of Iowa will be a festival of plays by English theatrical wit Tom Stoppard, who won a 1999 Academy Award for his "Shakespeare in Love" screenplay.

Iowa Summer Rep focuses on a single contemporary playwright each season, and 2003 will be the second time that the UT professional summer company has produced a festival of Stoppard's plays.

The first Tom Stoppard Summer was 1984, and the 2003 festival -- "Tom-Foolery: Three Comedies by Tom Stoppard" -- features plays that have not been produced at the UI before: "Rough Crossing," "Travesties" and "The Real Thing."

Performances will be held June 26 through July 26 in the UI Theatre Building. A subscription brochure for Iowa Summer Rep will be circulated in mid April, and individual tickets will go on sale in early May through the Hancher Auditorium box office.

Iowa Summer Rep Artistic Director Eric Forsythe, a faculty member in the UI Department of Theatre Arts, comments, "I look forward to a Stoppard play the way I might anticipate a wonderfully complex cheesecake or wine, or maybe the Sunday crossword. There's so much there to delight in! And it always seems fresh and vigorous. You suddenly and magically find yourself in the presence of a genius, but somehow you don't feel intimidated. How joyous!"

A.O. Scott recently wrote in MSNBC's Slate e-zine, "Stoppard's name, familiar to anyone who cares about modern theater . . . signifies a deft blend of high culture and high wit, deep thinking and schoolboy cleverness.

"Smart fun is Stoppard's stock in trade... Some writers demand erudition of their audiences. Stoppard supplies it."

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

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

"Rough Crossing" (June 26 through July 5), Stoppard's free adaptation of P.G. Wodehouse's "The Play's the Thing," is a romantic comedy with music composed by Andre Previn. "Rough Crossing" will be the first musical produced in Iowa Summer Rep's single-playwright festivals.

"Travesties" (July 1-16) imagines the table talk when Lenin, James Joyce and Tristan Tzara (a founder of Dadaism) were in Zurich simultaneously in 1917. Newsweek called the result "a brilliant, theatrical masterstroke. Crunchingly witty with a thousand laughs and nine hundred thoughts."

"The Real Thing" (July 17-26) won numerous Tony Awards for its 1984 Broadway debut starring Glenn Close and Jeremy Irons. With a plot that swirls around the power of writing and the wobbly confluences of life and art, "The Real Thing" is "a play which reminds you why you go to the theatre and why you fall in love. And why, just sometimes, it is all worth the effort." (Sheridan Morley, The Spectator)

"Tom-Foolery: Three Comedies by Tom Stoppard" will also include a July 23 reading.

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

Subscriptions for "Tom-Foolery: Three Comedies by Tom Stoppard" are $46 ($34 for senior citizens, and $24 for UI students and audience members 17 and younger).

Individual ticket prices will be $19 ($14 for senior citizens and $10 for UI students and audience members 17 and younger).

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>.

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

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.

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

CONTACT: Winston Barclay, 319-384-0073, winston-barclay@uiowa.edu.