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University of Iowa News Release

April 22, 2003

Hatch, UI Alumnus And 2003 Theater Arts Guest, Wins Freedley Award

James V. Hatch, the University of Iowa alumnus who returned last season for the UI Department of Theatre Arts' premiere of his musical collaboration, "Klub Ka: The Blues Legend," is the winner of a 2004 Freedley Memorial Award from the Theatre Library Association.

The award, which will be presented June 4 in the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center, honors his book, "A History of African American Theatre," co-written with Errol G. Hill.

The Freedley Award is named for George Freedley, the first curator of the New York Public Library's Theatre Collection, and first president of the Theatre Library Association. It is presented annually for the best book on live theater published in the United States in the previous year. Past winners include John Houseman, Brooks Atkinson and Mel Gussow.

A native of Oelwein, Iowa who holds degrees from both the University of Northern Iowa and the UI, Hatch spent much of his career as a professor of English and theater at City College of New York. He is a filmmaker, producer, writer, educator, lecturer, consultant and curator -- and one of the most distinguished historians and scholars of African-American theater. With his wife, visual artist Camille Billops, he directs the Hatch-Billops Collection, an important archive of recordings and documents of historical African-American culture.

The Freeley Award adds to Hatch's long list of honors, including the George Washington Honor Medal Award from Freedom's Foundation, an Obie Award for the best Off-Broadway musical, the Unity Award of Better Race Relations Bureau of Hollywood and, with Billops, the first prize at the Atlanta Film Festival, the New Directors Series award of the Museum of Modern Art and the Grand Jury Award Prize at Sundance Film Festival. He has also been honored with the Life Achievement Award from American Theatre in Higher Education.

The musical "Klub Ka," premiered at the UI in the fall of 2002, was based on the book "The Stone House: A Blues Legend," written by Hatch and poet Suzanne Noguere and illustrated by Billops. The story begins with a location from Hatch's childhood -- the stone house his father built in Oelwein, which still stands on City Park Road. Somewhere between "Alice in Wonderland" and classical mythological journeys to the underworld, the musical -- composed by Christa Victoria -- follows an abused young girl as she discovers healing and meaning in the blues.

The production was part of the UI Department of Theatre Arts' "Partnership in the Arts" program, which annually brings prominent guest artists to the UI to develop ambitious new works for the stage, in collaboration with UI theater students, faculty and staff. Like most previous projects in the program, "Klub Ka" went on to a professional production. An Iowa team, including UI faculty members Tisch Jones, David Thayer and Eric Forsythe, were intimately involved in a February 2004 production at La MaMa in New York.

Paul Pierog of nycBigCityLit.com, wrote that the piece "is a rich folklore fantasy full of striking symbolic events resonating with inner psychic life and meanings. It's plain mental fun -- disturbing, humorous, and vividly entertaining ... The elements are blended well together to make a lively collage for the audience to put together like a puzzle."

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.

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