April 30, 2007
Corporate Retailing And Palestinian Terrorism Combine In May 1 Production
The 2007 Iowa New Play Festival continues with "I Am Montana" -- winner of the Richard Maibaum Playwriting Award -- written by Iowa Playwrights Workshop student Samuel D. Hunter and directed by Department of Theatre Arts faculty member Carol MacVey, at 5:30 and 9 p.m. Tuesday, May 1, in the David Thayer Theatre of the University of Iowa Theatre Building.
Like Hunter's "Pigheart," which was produced for the festival last season and went on to become a 2007 PlayLabs semi-finalist, "I Am Montana" emerged from Hunter's personal experience in Palestine. This time that experience is melded with Hunter's early work experience as a teenager in Idaho to produce a dramatic vision of terrorism in America.
This script has already been invited to the 2007 Bay Area Playwrights Festival and the 2007 Seven Devils Playwrights Conference.
"I started writing 'I Am Montana' when I was teaching playwriting in the Palestinian Territories last summer," Hunter explains. "It was the second time I had traveled for an extended period to the West Bank.
"When you're in a place like that, it doesn't take long before you gain a horrific understanding of what creates an act of suicide terrorism. You begin to realize that most of the time, an act of terrorism isn't completely motivated by huge political or religious ideas; it's motivated by small things like having to go through checkpoints every day, being forced to obey curfews, being made fun of by soldiers."
Growing up in Moscow, Idaho, Hunter's first job was at a corporate chain store. "I've always wanted to write about Wal-Mart in some context, but strangely enough, it wasn't until going to the West Bank that I felt like I could really write about Wal-Mart," Hunter says. "And though it seems like a trite analogy, it's surprising to think how much corporatism has in common with military occupation.
"'I Am Montana' is ultimately my attempt to examine violence and fanaticism in a recognizable context, an American context. I think we can delude ourselves into thinking that terrorism is something reserved only for Muslims living in the Middle East without realizing that terrorism can be born and bred anywhere, as we saw in the recent massacre at Virginia Tech. It can be born and bred in America just as it can be in Iraq or Palestine."
Hunter received his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dramatic Writing from New York University's Tisch School of the Arts in 2004 and will receive his Master of Fine Arts in Playwriting this spring from the UI, where he has been an Iowa Arts Fellow.
Through connections he made at the UI with Palestinian playwright Iman Aoun, he has taught playwriting the last two summers, at Ayyam al-Musrah in Hebron and Ashtar Theater in Ramallah. At Ashtar he co-wrote "The Era of the Whales," which was produced in the West Bank and at the International Istanbul Theater Festival.
The Iowa New Play Festival, a tradition unique in American collegiate theater, will present more than a dozen new scripts from the Iowa Playwrights Workshop in productions and readings April 30 through May 5 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.
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 April 30 through May 5, and tickets will also be on sale noon to 1:30 p.m. each day of the festival at the Theatre Building box office.
"I Am Montana" contains material of an adult nature. Potential audience members who are concerned about whether it is appropriate for them should contact the Theater Department at 319-335-2700 for additional information.
The Department of Theatre Arts is part 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, go to http://list.uiowa.edu/archives/acr-news.html, click the link "Join or leave the list (or change settings)" and follow the instructions.
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