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University of Iowa News Release


Jan. 20, 2012

2012 Gallery series opens with plays by Yarchun and Hill

The 2012 Gallery series, presented by the University of Iowa Department of Theatre Arts, will open with works by UI Playwrights Workshop students Louisa V. Hill and Deborah Yarchun in Theatre B of the UI Theatre Building.

Hill's The Lord of the Underworld's Home for Unwed Mothers will be performed at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Jan. 27 and 28, and at 2 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 29. And Yarchun's Jenga will be performed at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Feb. 3 and 4, and at 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 5.

The Lord of the Underworld's Home for Unwed Mothers, directed by David Hanzal, combines Catholicism, horticulture, and death metal in a re-imagining of the Demeter and Persephone myth.

When Dee meets the daughter she surrendered 25 years ago, their reunion falls short of her romanticized dreams. Corie, her daughter, is a death metal enthusiast who isn't interested in being a part of Dee's life, since she believes she was given up because she wasn't wanted.

To show her otherwise, Dee must dive into her 1960s teenage years -- navigating love and lust, faith and fate -- to help Corie understand the circumstances that led to giving her up.

Will her story be enough to convince her daughter to give her another chance? Again and again, Dee must venture to the pits of hell to retrieve her daughter. But if Dee finds her, will she be the daughter she wants?

Yarchun says that with Jenga, "I wanted to write a psychological thriller where denial is the monster in the room."

In the production directed by Patrick Reynolds, Yelena returns to her childhood home for the first time in 12 years only to discover that her older sister, Simone, has transformed it into a "Burning Man"-inspired, booby-trapped game-room of fairy wings and glitter. As monstrous noises filter in from an offstage room, the two sisters battle in a series of escalating games over whether or not to finally confront a violent incident in their past.

Dramaturg, Kristi Banker, explains: "The play moves through labyrinthine language and word games that become increasingly dangerous and fascinating."

Read an extensive 2010 interview with Yarchun at

Both plays include adult material and smoke. Potential audience members who are concerned about whether the shows are appropriate for them should contact the department at 319-335-2700 for additional information.

Admission to Gallery shows is free for UI students with a valid UI ID, and $5 for all other audience members. Tickets will be available one hour before curtain time at the door.

UI arts events are searchable on the UI Master Calendar: To receive UI arts news by e-mail, go to

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACT: Winston Barclay,