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University of Iowa News Release


Feb. 11, 2009

Iowa Summer Rep selects playwright, holds auditions for 2009 festival

Iowa Summer Rep, the professional company of the University of Iowa Department of Theatre Arts, has selected playwright Sarah Ruhl as its 2009 playwright, and will hold public auditions for its 2009 company on Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 21 and 22.

A playwright with a unique comic voice, perspective and sense of theater, Ruhl is among the most acclaimed and accomplished young playwrights on the contemporary scene. A Pulitzer Prize finalist and recent winner of a MacArthur "genius" grant, Ruhl is fast leaving her mark on the American stage with hundreds of stagings of her plays across the country and abroad.

Iowa Summer Rep will present two of her plays. "Clean House" is a sly comedy about a housecleaner who doesn't like to clean house and dreams of creating the perfect joke, a surgeon who falls in love with his patient, and two sisters caught in the middle. "Dead Man's Cell Phone," a comic meditation inspired by the proliferation of cell phones, is about a young woman who takes over a dead stranger's life by answering the calls on his cell phone.

General auditions will be 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 21, in Room 172 of the UI Theatre Building, with callbacks 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 22. Callbacks will be posted Saturday evening on the Theatre Building callboard.

Auditioners should prepare either one two-minute contemporary monologue or one four-minute contemporary scene with a partner. They may also be asked to perform cold readings from the festival shows.

Auditioners should also bring a resume and headshot/photo to the auditions. Perusal copies of the scripts may be borrowed from the main office of the Theatre Building.

Sign-up sheets for the audition are posted on the callboards in the north hallway of the Theatre Building. Out-of-town auditioners should contact David McGraw at 319-335-3906 or to sign up for an audition slot.

Actors of all ages and levels of experience are encouraged to audition. No connection with the UI or the Department of Theatre Arts is required, and color-blind casting is followed.

Iowa Summer Rep is an Actors Equity company, but membership in the union is not required for participation in the company. Because it is an U/RTA company, actors in the company can earn points toward their Actors Equity card.

San Francisco theatre critic Chad Jones considers Ruhl "a writer so attuned to the human heart that her work may actually be beneficial to your health. Love is a mess, Ruhl tells us. It's dirty (like a good joke), messy and, at its best, like really good homemade chocolate ice cream."

Variety observed, "Ruhl's zany probe of the razor-thin line between life and death delivers a fresh and humorous look at the times we live in." And Charles Isherwood wrote for the New York times, "'Clean House,' a fresh, funny play by the talented Sarah Ruhl, breathes life into the phrase 'romantic comedy.'"

The Department of Theatre Arts is part of the UI Division of Performing Arts in the 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 CONTACTS: SRO Artists, 608-664-8160,; Winston Barclay, Arts Center Relations, 319-384-0073 (office), 319-430-1013 (cell),