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University of Iowa News Release


Sept. 22, 2006

Woman Puts Too Much Of Self Into Her Baking, Literally, In 'Manna' Oct. 5-8

The University Theatres Gallery Series will present "Manna or The Book of Madeleine" by Cheri Magid, former Literary Manager of New Dramatists, at 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, Oct. 5-7, and at 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct 8, in Theatre B of the University of Iowa Theatre Building. 

"Manna or the Book of Madeleine" is the story of Madeleine, a woman who reconnects with her Jewish heritage through baking: she believes angels are whispering recipes to her.

Are the angels real? Certainly, the food Madeleine makes becomes an addiction to all who try it. There is something about her cooking that is so personal, and reminds all who try it of history and dreams long deferred or forgotten. But the problem is that Madeleine's putting TOO much of herself into it -- literally.

"I discovered 'Manna or the Book of Madeleine' before I came to the UI, when I was working as a literary associate at Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven, Conn.," explains director Rachel Edwards Harvith, a graduate student in the UI Department of Theatre Arts who recently directed "The Mystery of Irma Vep" for Iowa Summer Rep. "At the time, I was spending full eight-hour workdays reading script submissions. Out of the tons of plays I read, 'Manna or The Book of Madeleine' immediately caught my attention.

"Here is a story of a woman striving to find meaning in her life, and to connect to the world. Ironically, though, by seeking out that connection -- to her community and to God -- Madeleine only serves to isolate herself more and more. She believes she has found religion, but really she is missing the point about what I believe true religion is really about -- the test of it is not in your relationship to some higher power, but in how that relationship affects the actions you take on earth."

Other artistic contributors to the production include assistant director Jacy Jo Fitzpatrick, scenic designer Cassandra Reardon, lighting designer Karl Alfonso, costume designer Emma Tremmel and composer/sound designer Ben Hunter.

Tickets for "Manna or The Book of Madeleine" are $6 ($4 for UI students) and will be available at the door one hour before curtain time. For more information please visit

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 To receive UI arts news by e-mail, go to, click the link "Join or leave the list (or change settings)" and follow the instructions.

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; cell: 310-430-1013;