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University of Iowa News Release


June 8, 2006

Michael Hollinger's 'Incorruptible' Opens Iowa Summer Rep June 21

Iowa Summer Rep's "Comédie du Jour" festival will open with Michael Hollinger's madcap "Incorruptible" at 8 p.m. Thursday, June 21, in E.C. Mabie Theatre of the University of Iowa Theatre Building. Other performances will be at 8 p.m. June 22, 23, 29 and 30.

It's not the best of times for the rag-tag group of monks in a 13th century French monastery: The river flooded again last week, nobody's heard of the wheelbarrow yet and the abbey's patron saint hasn't produced a miracle -- or a paying pilgrim -- in 13 years.

The destitute monks feel their faith slipping away until they cross paths with a cunning, one-eyed traveling minstrel who teaches them an enterprising way to fill their empty offering plate.

"I think that everyone, regardless of their religious beliefs, wants to believe in miracles, and ultimately, 'Incorruptible' is a play about miracles," says director Rachel Edwards Harvith, who directed the hit production of "The Mystery of Irma Vep" for last season's Iowa Summer Rep. "Where do they come from? The bones of a little-known saint? One of the hairs of John the Baptist? A finger from St. Agnes of Antwerp? Or from ourselves, the faith within us and the faith we place in others?"

But, she adds, the play is also about the time-honored dramatic themes of corruption and redemption: "'Incorruptible' poses the age-old question, 'Does the end justify the means?' It is possible for us all to become corrupted, regardless of our station in life, regardless of our intentions. As a matter of fact, it's inevitable -- part of the human condition.

"The hope of 'Incorruptible,' as in life, lies in the constant possibility of redemption. Not redemption in a religious sense, but a personal sense -- through basic kindness and self-sacrifice. In learning to value others, we are able to surmount our personal pitfalls.

"You wouldn't think that you could pack all of this great thematic content into such an overtly fun play, but Hollinger masters the balance," Harvith says. "His craftsmanship throughout the play is really extraordinary. One minute you'll see farcical physical comedy, then suddenly the mood will shift to something quite tense. Add in moments of personal revelation and a mild dash of romance, and you've got quite a remarkable blend."

Other artistic contributors to the Iowa Summer Rep production of "Incorruptible" include Patty Koenigsaecker, scenic design; Jenny Nutting Kelchen, costume design; and emeritus faculty member David Thayer, lighting design.

Hailed as one of America's brightest new comic voices, celebrated for his razor-sharp wit and clever wordplay, Philadelphia-based Michael Hollinger is rapidly becoming one of the most successful and widely produced playwrights in this country and beyond. His plays have been produced in New York, in regional theatres around the country and throughout Europe. A production of his "Opus" opens off-Broadway this summer.

In addition, he has written three short films and co-authored the feature-length "Philadelphia Diary" for PBS.

His growing list of honors and achievements ranges from the Roger L. Stevens Award from the Kennedy Center's Fund for New American Plays to the Barrymore Award for Outstanding Play.

"This is a deft and colorful smorgasbord of plays: mixing into the salad something of the wildman craziness of a Steve Martin, say, with the wry emotional density of Chekhov and a touch of Noel Coward's wit," says artistic director Eric Forsythe, a faculty member in the UI Department of Theatre Arts. "Hollinger is absolutely unique -- clever and wise by turns."

Dinners before the evening shows will be offered again this year. A choice of several entrees, desserts and beverages will be available on the outdoor patio overlooking the Iowa River starting at 6 p.m., Wednesday through Saturday evenings. Reservations are strongly encouraged. Reservations will be taken beginning May 1; call 319-335-3105.

Iowa Summer Rep is an U/RTA (University/Resident Theatre Association) company employing Equity actors and stage managers, as well as students who earn points toward their Actors Equity card.

Iowa Summer Rep has carved out a unique niche in American professional summer theater by presenting single-playwright festivals.

Iowa Summer Rep 2007 is supported by the University of Iowa Community Credit Union.

Tickets for "Incorruptible" are $24 ($20 for senior citizens, and $12 for UI students and youth). Tickets may be purchased in advance from the Hancher Auditorium box office. Any remaining tickets for each performance will be available one hour before curtain time at the Theatre Building box office.

Tickets may also be purchased at a substantial discount as part of a Summer Rep subscription package. The other Holliger plays are "Red Herring," June 26 through July 15, and "An Empty Plate in the Café du Grand Boeuf," July 12-21.

Series packages for "Comédie du Jour" are $58 ($48 for senior citizens, and $30 for UI students and youth). Subscription packages will be available until "Incorruptible" closes on June 30. A brochure is available from the Hancher box office, or from the Department of Theatre Arts: 319-335-2700 or

Tickets may be purchased 24 hours a day, seven days a week, at For phone or ticket-window purchases, the box office is open 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. weekdays.

From the local calling area, dial 319-335-1160. Long distance is toll-free, 1-800-HANCHER. People with special needs for access, seating and auxiliary services should dial 319-335-1158, which is equipped with TDD for people with hearing impairment who use that technology.

Orders may be charged to VISA, MasterCard or American Express. UI students may charge their purchases to their university bills, and UI faculty and staff may select the option of payroll deduction.

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;

PHOTOS: available at