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University of Iowa News Release

April 15, 2005

Iowa High School Students Attended 'Glass Menagerie' At UI

More than 400 Iowa high-school students attended a special matinee performance of the University Theatres production of "The Glass Menagerie," by Tennessee Williams, April 13 in the University of Iowa Theatre Building. This Theatre Field Trip was organized by the UI Arts Share program.

The production honored one of the UI Department of Theatre Arts most distinguished alumni by marking the 60th anniversary of Tennessee Williams' Broadway coming-out.

The success of "The Glass Menagerie" on Broadway in the 1944-1945 season marked the arrival of a playwright now generally acknowledged as one of America's greatest dramatic writers. The starkly autobiographical drama -- depicting Williams' agony and guilt about the fate of his sister, whose emotional problems were "cured" by a lobotomy -- remains a frequently produced staple of American dramatic literature.

Before he graduated from the UI in 1938, Williams picked up the new nickname he adopted as his nom de plume. "The fellows in my class could only remember that I was from a southern state with a long name. And when they couldn't think of Mississippi, they settled on Tennessee. That was all right with me, so when it stuck, I changed it permanently," Williams recalled in "Conversations with Tennessee Williams."

"The Glass Menagerie," which Williams adapted from a screenplay rejected by MGM, won the New York Drama Critics Circle award. During the next decade he twice won the Pulitzer Prize, for "A Streetcar Named Desire" and "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof." These, and several other of Williams' plays -- including the 1961-62 honoree of the New York critics, "The Night of the Iguana" -- were successfully transferred to the screen.

Williams died in 1983, and the next year Iowa Summer Rep produced a festival of his work, launching a unique single-playwright summer tradition that continues at the UI to this day.

Attending schools the April 13 matinee, with the number of participating students, were:

BELLE PLAINE: Belle Plaine High School, 106

CASCADE: Cascade High School, 25

CLINTON: Prince of Peace School, 67

COMANCHE: Camanche High School, 30

FT. DODGE: St. Edmond High School, 8

IOWA CITY: City High, 106

KALONA: Iowa Mennonite School, 11

KEOKUK: Cardinal Stritch High School, 14

MANLY: North Central High School, 12

MARENGO: Iowa Valley High School, 31

The goal of Arts Share is to strengthen the arts in underserved areas and to provide access to life-enriching arts experiences throughout Iowa. To serve that goal, Arts Share makes artists available in music, theater, dance, the visual arts and creative writing. The available activities range from workshops to ensemble coaching to concerts to lectures -- and even special, custom-designed projects.

The 2004-05 Arts Share roster includes more than 100 individual artists and ensembles, with options to fit a variety of needs and budgets. Many schools have scheduled several Arts Share artists to create a concentrated arts day, or have engaged an artist to make multiple visits, enabling their guidance of long-term projects.

The Department of Theatre Arts and the Arts Share program are units 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.

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