University of Iowa’s Department of Performing Arts Celebrates 100 Years During COVID-19

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The show will continue for the 100th anniversary of the University of Iowa’s Department of Theatrical Art, though organizers aren’t entirely sure what shape the season will take.

We “learned about flexibility this summer,” said Mary Beth Easley, chair of the UI’s theater arts department. “We had to work together a lot to figure things out.”

Earlier this year, the Theater Arts program plans to celebrate its centenary with a showcase of voices from the college’s past, such as playwright Tennessee Williams, actor Gene Wilder and UI graduate Jen Silverman. , one of the most produced playwrights of the past year.

However, those plans followed in the path of so many other machinations of mice and men in 2020 when the pandemic struck.

“(It’s) a shot of about 100 shots,” Bryon Winn, the university’s theater director, told Press-Citizen in mid-August, while sharing the latest iteration of the show’s performance program. ‘year.

“Everything we do this year is broadcast. We think it’s unlikely that we will have a live audience for anything,” Winn said. “Or if it’s a live audience, that would be some type of Zoom live audience or something that we could do outside.

“We could do some kind of reading outside or at the very end of April, maybe we could play outside,” he said.

Here is what the department currently has under construction:

100th Anniversary of the Theater Arts Main Stage Calendar

October 3 or 10: “Reflected: The Apogee Effigy”, 10-minute pieces of the ancients

“We’ve reached out to six of our African American alumni to write 10-minute pieces,” Winn said, “and we’re going to put them together in a collection.”

Micah Ariel James

Entitled “Reflected: The Apogee Effigy”, the collection features original works by Keith Josef Adkins, Kim Euell, Kirsten Greenidge, Micah Ariel James, Anton Jones and Levy Lee Simon.

At the time of the announcement, this first performance is scheduled for October 10 at 8 p.m.

November 14: “Essential workers: a portrait”

University of Iowa professor Alan MacVey is working on the creation of a play intended to reflect the state of the world based on interviews with people who worked as essential employees during the pandemic of COVID-19.

“This is a show where we’re going to interview eight essential workers,” Winn said. “We are working with (students from) the school of art and art history to create paintings of these essential workers, then – based on these interviews – we will create small pieces of five to seven minutes. “

March 5-7: “People before the park”

Keith Josef Adkins is an IU alumnus whose play “People Before the Park” was on the theater program this year before and has so far managed to survive the schedule changes of the past six months.

Keith Josef Adkins

Adkins’ play centers on a New Yorker father and son who are kicked out of their home in order to make room for a new park space.

“The point of this production is to put it on Mabie Stage and make a recording of it much like we did with ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream’ a few years ago,” Winn said. “Then we can have it for people to watch it on our website for people to watch in the future.”

End of April: artist project Untitled Grant Wood

“So every three years we have a visiting faculty member from the Grant Wood Colony,” who is usually involved in one of the department’s productions, Winn said.

This year that artist is Margarita Blush, who is working with two other UI faculty members to produce a new piece.

“The three of them decided to build a project with students for the spring semester,” Winn said. “We have no idea what that looks like. We’re just calling it the Grant Wood Artist Project at the moment because we don’t know what it is.”

Other programming throughout the season

Despite the limitations caused by COVID-19, almost all of the programming included in a typical theater year has made its way into the 2020 season – only in digital format. He understands:

Various voices: This new facet of the University of Iowa’s theatrical season was introduced last year with a reading from “Reconciliations” by native playwright Marisa Carr. This year, the department plans to host a reading by Marisela Treviño Orta as part of the series via Zoom.

New game festival: There are plans in place to produce the annual New Play Festival as has always been done, but filming versions of the performance.

Galleries / Workshop: Less publicized than the main production, but no less hallmarks of the University of Iowa, are the galleries and studio productions produced by the college. At the time of reporting, four workshop productions are scheduled for fall and six for spring.

10 minute game festival: A series of plays from UI undergraduates, the 10-minute Play Festival is expected to take place with social distancing and small cast sizes.

Those wishing to keep up to date with the UI theater season can check the website for the most recent performance venues / dates.

Isaac Hamlet covers arts, entertainment and culture at Press-Citizen. Contact him at [email protected] or (319) -688-4247, follow him on Twitter @IsaacHamlet.

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