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University of Iowa News Release

May 1, 2006

Euell's Professional Experience Brings Tony-Nominated Actress to Iowa New Play Festival

Playwrights Workshop graduate student Kim Euell, whose "Otto Bingo" will be presented in a reading at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 3 in Theatre B of the University of Iowa Theatre Building as part of the Iowa New Play Festival, has been described with a label that might sound like a self-contradiction -- "well-known dramaturg." Most people don't even know what a dramaturg is, so the idea that one could be "well-known" might seem ludicrous.

Well, people in theater world certainly know what dramaturgs are, and good ones are highly valued. They are the silent partner in theater, particularly in the development and production of new work. They are scholars of theater history and comparative dramatic literature; they sit in rehearsals as another set of eyes highly skilled in what works (and doesn't work) on stage; they offer constructive criticism, encouragement and insight. They don't get much credit, and they don't take curtain calls, but their contributions can be crucial.

As a "well-known dramaturg," Euell has been a busy, in-demand theater professional: She's been the director of the Mark Taper Forum's Blacksmyths Play Development and Playwrights Lab, director of play development and the New America Playwrights Festival for the San Jose Repertory Theatre, the director of new play development for the Hartford Stage Company, a writer in residence at St. Mary's College in California and a member of the artistic staff of the Sundance Theatre Lab.

She has served as a panelist, advisor and/or adjudicator for the National Endowment for the Arts, the California Arts Commission, the Colorado Arts Commission, the Seattle Arts Commission, the City of San Jose Cultural Affairs Commission, the City of Hartford Film and Video Commission, the Theater Communications Group, the Pew Fellowship in the Arts and the Princess Grace Playwriting Award.

Euell has also written for the African American Review and American Theater; co-edited "Playz From the Boom Box Galaxy: An Anthology from the Hip Hop Generation" with playwright Robert Alexander, an alumnus of the Iowa Playwrights Workshop; and most recently was the August Wilson Fellow, a MacArthur Scholar and a DOVE Fellow in the theater department at the University of Minnesota.

While she was in Minneapolis her play "The Diva Daughters DuPree" was produced by the Penumbra Theatre Company and named Outstanding New Play of 2004 by theater critics at the Star Tribune in their year-end review.

Which is to say, in a long-winded way, that she's been around, and she has worked with both upcoming and prominent playwrights, directors and actors throughout the country.

One of those many contacts was actress and playwright Charlayne Woodard, an Obie Award winner and Tony Award nominee who first hit the big time in "Ain't Misbehavin'" on Broadway. Woodard (no relation to the UI's Fredrick Woodard) has appeared in nearly than 50 films and TVs shows, including recurring TV roles in "Law and Order," "Chicago Hope," "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air," "Days of Our Lives" and "Roseanne."

But Euell worked with her repeatedly in the "legitimate theater" world, where Woodard is not only an actress, but also a playwright who has performed her own acclaimed one-person shows. So when it was time to present "Otto Bingo" -- a two-person play that begins as a monlogue by Harlem Renaissance poet Anne Spencer -- she immediately thought of Woodard.

"This is a script that requires very strong actors," Euell says. "And Charlayne just has an amazing presence. So I sent her the script, and she really liked it and agreed to come to Iowa for the festival."

In "Otto Bingo," Woodard will be paired with UI theater faculty member Eric Forstythe under the direction of faculty member Tisch Jones. Forsythe, the artistic director of Iowa Summer Rep, is also a well-traveled professional actor, with appearances in the John Sayles film "Return of the Secaucus Seven" and the "George Washington" miniseries on TV, and a recurring role on "As the World Turns."

The Iowa New Play Festival, a tradition unique in American collegiate theater, will present a dozen new scripts from the Iowa Playwrights Workshop in productions and readings May 1-6 in the University of Iowa Theatre Building. The UI Department of Theatre Arts concludes each spring semester by dedicating all its resources -- acting, directing, design, stage management and technical -- to an intense and event-packed festival that offers student playwrights the productions and feedback that are essential for their development and offers audiences an opportunity to participate in the creation of significant new American theater at the ground level.

A new play, written by a student in the Master of Fine Arts program in playwriting, will be premiered each evening of the 2006 festival, with performances at 5:30 and 9 p.m. (7:30 p.m. on Wednesday). The daytime will feature readings in Room 172.

Tickets for all the evening productions -- $6 for the general public and $4 for UI students, senior citizens and youth -- will be on sale one hour before each of the performances. May 1-6, and tickets will also be on sale noon to 1:30 p.m. Monday through Friday of festival week at the Theatre Building box office.

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.

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