News from University of Iowa Theatre Arts
News from University of Iowa Theatre Arts

Dear Iowa Theatre Alumni and Friends:

With the end of the semester quickly approaching, we are all thankful for the Thanksgiving break, a much-needed breath after a fall full of compelling performances and events. Our students and faculty have worked so hard, and I couldn’t be more excited to share updates from the last month.

In November, I had the pleasure of directing Men on Boats by Jaclyn Backhaus in collaboration with new faculty member Johanna Kasimow who served as movement director. Please enjoy the production photos where you can see the stunning, lighting-dappled scenery and relive the treacherous conditions, and raging rapids expertly navigated by our wonderful, beautifully costumed, all-female cast with assistance from a standout crew.

As always, we genuinely love staying connected with our alumni and we are eager to hear your updates. If you have news to share about your accomplishments or the work of a fellow Iowa Theatre grad, please let us know.  

Sending you warm wishes for a lovely holiday season!


Mary Beth Easley  

Chair of the Department of Theatre Arts 

Associate Professor, Head of Directing 

Wilder Hill Players Holiday Performance

 December 10, 2023
 Stanley Museum of Art

Home is Where the TV Is

By James Guldon
 Jan 26 to Jan 27, 2024
 Alan MacVey Theatre

Borderless Presents: A Soul Celebration

 February 1, 2023
Alan MacVey Theatre

Dance Nation

By Clare Barron
Feb 2 to Feb 10, 2024

Directed by Sarah Gazdowicz
David Thayer Theatre

Men On Boats Photo Gallery

Jaclyn Backhaus' Men on Boats, presented November 3-11, 2023 in David Thayer Theatre


Department News

  • If you haven’t heard, The Department of Theatre Arts has a New Website! To explore the new site and keep up to date on events and departmental news, please follow this link.
  • From October 11-21, Hancher Auditorium held their new multidisciplinary Infinite Dream Festival. The festival explored the complex fabric of the American Story through the lens of the arts. Graduate Students in Theatre had the opportunity to work with Jillian Walker and Emma Orme from The TEAM, a Brooklyn-based ensemble dedicated to creating new work about the experience of living in America today. The workshop was a part of “RECONSTRUCTING: Who & How Are we Together?a conversation on process moderated by Theatre Assistant Professor Johanna Kasimow. Additionally, Theatre Assistant Professor Daniel Fine collaborated with Andrew Schneider and Jecca Barry to build N O W I S W H E N W E A R E, an immersive performance installation, on Hancher’s Hadley Stage. Fine’s Installation & Interactive Performance students were given the opportunity to work with Andrew Schneider and received a backstage tour of the installation.

Daniel Fine and Class behind the scenes of Andrew Schneider's N O W I S W H E N W E A R E

  • The Graduate College is highlighting the work of Katie Gucik (MFA, Acting) in a special Behind-the-Curtain video profile this December. Katie is also starring in the Riverside Theatre’s production of Brontë: The World Without Charlotte Brontë.


Find Department of Theatre Arts News and Updates Anytime HERE.

Alumni News


Help us celebrate the exciting work being done by Department of Theatre Arts alumni!

  • Samuel D. Hunter (2007 MFA, Playwriting) is the recipient of the CLAS Alumni Fellow Award. The award was established in 1999 to formally recognize CLAS graduates or former students for their outstanding contributions to society, their professions, the college, and the University of Iowa. The program is made possible by funds from the UI Alumni Association Dean’s Chair in the Liberal Arts and Sciences. READ MORE.

Samuel Hunter receives Alumni Fellow Award from CLAS Dean Sara Sanders in Alan MacVey Theatre  

  • Alison Ruth (2017 MFA, Dramaturgy) has taken on the role of Associate Director of Artistic Programming at the Jungle Theater in Minneapolis. She has also brought the work of fellow Iowa MFAs to the Jungle Theater for readings, workshops, and audio drama including Eric Micha Holmes’s Mondo Tragic, Nina Morrison’s Hearts on Fire, Sarah Cho’s Stains, and Margot Connolly’s Quiz Out. 
  • Nic Steffes (2018 BA) joined the stage management team of Sweeney Todd on Broadway starring Josh Groban and Annaleigh Ashford as a sub-stage manager.
  • Kirsten Greenidge (2001 MFA, Playwriting) is an Associate Professor of Theatre at Boston University's School of Theatre, where she is Chair of Theatre Arts, Co-Chair of Performance and Artist in Residence at Company One Theatre. Her adaptation of the libretto for The Anonymous Lover is being produced by Boston Lyric Opera in Winter, 2024. She is writing the book for a musical rendition of journalist Lauren Sanders' This Is All I Got, with music and lyrics by Crystal Monae Hall in development with Fourth Wall Theatricals. Other projects include a theatrical rendering of Anna Karenina, a new play about climate change, commissioned by A.R.T., and a micro commission entitled Matilde from the Lucille Lortel Theatre.
  • Lukas Brasherfons (2016 MFA, Dramaturgy) serves as Associate Artistic Director of Shakespearean Youth Theatre in St Paul, MN.
  • Westphalia by Helen Banner premiered at Luna Stage in New Jersey Directed by Lila Rachel Becker (2020 MFA, Directing). Westphalia imagines a futuristic world in which citizenship can be bought and sold, and AI determines an individual's psychological fitness to make bold life choices. The Lighting and Projection Design was done by Courtney Gaston (2020 MFA, Lighting Design). READ MORE.

Lila Rachel Becker and Courtney Gaston behind the scenes of Helen Banner's Westphalia

  • Meg Thalken (1976 BA) continues to live and work as an actor in Chicago. Thalken is currently acting in Becky Nurse of Salem at Trinity Repertory in Providence, RI. This winter she will be acting in Wipeout at Rivendell Theater Company in Chicago. In the spring she'll be doing Judgement Day at the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre.
  • Eric Marlin (2019 MFA, Playwriting) is in residence at the Baryshnikov Arts Center, working on a new play, Short List, with dramaturg Luke Daniel White (2020 MFA, Dramaturgy).
  • Over the past five years, Kim Euell (2008 MFA, Playwriting) has served as dramaturg on Candrice Jones’ Flex, which had its off-Broadway debut at the Lincoln Center in summer, 2023. Flex’s journey began when Candrice Jones brought an early draft to a workshop Euell conducted for Voices of the Nation (VONA) in the summer of 2017. Euell has written about Flex’s journey to the Lincoln Center and her dramaturgical work on the project for American Theatre. READ MORE.
  • Sarah Johnson (2014 MFA, Dramaturgy) has begun her first year as Head of the MFA Dramaturgy Program at Indiana University.
  • Brian Quijada (2011 BA) and his brother, Marvin Quijada, were featured in American Theatre. The Quijada brothers are celebrated for their innovative theatrical practices that honor their history and heritage. Brian’s new musical, Mexodus, is a live-looped hip-hop composed in real time, that explores the often-untold stories of the Underground Railroad that led enslaved people to freedom in Mexico. Mexodus is a collaboration between Brian Quijada and Nygel D. Robinson that had a limited run at the Wirtz Center on Northwestern University’s Chicago campus and has 2024 productions scheduled at Baltimore Center Stage and Mosaic Theater Company. READ MORE.

Marvin and Brian Quijada pose at The John F Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts ahead of "Kid Prince and Pablo"

  • Cristina Pippa (2005 MFA, Playwriting) was commissioned by 92NY to write an adaptation of The Tempest, which was recommended by The New York Times this spring. Her new show, Ice Queen, opens at 92NY early in the new year, along with her musical adaptation of Dragons Love Tacos at Stages Theatre Company. Pippa is also the Director of the MFA in Dramatic Writing and Screenwriting Programs at Missouri State University.
  • Cyndi Coyne (2003 MFA, Playwriting) had her acting debut on Broadway at The Lyceum Theater in Grey House by Levi Holloway, directed by Joe Mantello in Spring 2023. Previously her play When The Ghost Walks was produced in New York at New Circle, directed by Janet Bentley (2004 MFA, Dramaturgy).


Faculty News

  • The Spoleto Festival has announced its commission of Layale Chaker and Lisa Schlesinger’s new opera Ruinous Gods, which will make its world premiere at the 2024 Festival. READ MORE. 
  • Lisa Schlesinger’s IPHIGENIA POINT BLANK, a thought-provoking and timely production that weaves together the age-old myth of Iphigenia with the modern-day refugee crisis through music, film, theater, and dance, will premiere December 5-9, 2023, at The Sheen Center for Thought and Culture. University alumni actors Crystal Stewart and Shahzeb Hussain are featured in their original roles, with lighting design by UIowa Professor Bryon Winn. This project was developed in the Theatre Arts’ 2019 Partnership in the Arts with generous support from the Obermann Center for Advanced Studies, CLAS, the Office of the Vice President for Research, AHI standard and major grants, the Center for Institutional Advancement, and the University of Iowa Center for Human Rights. READ MORE.


Still from Lisa Schlesinger's IPHIGENIA POINT BLANK

  • Body Concert, written and performed by Kevin Augustine of NYC’s Lone Wolf Tribe, and featuring Mark Bruckner’s original score and ambisonic sound design won the Grand Prize for Best Show in the recent 2023 International Puppetry Festiva  Lalka Też Człowiekin Warsaw, Poland. It also won a citation and prize during its Festival  appearance at Държавен куклен театър Пловдив in Plovdiv, Bulfaria for “Provocative  Unity of Performing, Music and Puppetry."  This piece will be touring EU, South America and the US in 2024.
  • Megan Gogerty will be participating in the comedy studies working group at the American Society of Theatre Researchers annual conference, where she will be presenting her research on bombing.

Coming Soon to Hancher

Harper Lee's To Kill A Mocking Bird

Play by Aaron Sorkin, Directed by Bartlett Sher
Jan 19 to Jan 21, 2024
Hancher Auditorium

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