A Scene from "Iphigenia Point Blank: Story of the First Refugee" Photo by Gus Ford

Partnership in the Arts

The Partnership in the Arts Program was established in 1992 to support the creation of major new works of theatrical art. The program is part of a long tradition of Iowa faculty and students collaborating with professional artists to develop new work.

The program has four goals:

  1. to foster the creation of major, innovative works of art, especially those which cross disciplinary lines;
  2. to make these works available beyond the university community, thereby contributing to the culture and helping create a climate where artistic experimentation is respected;
  3. to instruct and inspire young artists to become leaders in their fields;
  4. to present art at the cutting edge.

This effort grew out of an impulse to offer innovative theatre artists a place to work on projects that are too big or too unusual to find support elsewhere. Artists themselves are the source of their most original work, so rather than commission work to suit a concept we ask artists what they are eager to do. If it can involve students and bring artistic excitement to the campus, we give them an opportunity to do it.

The program usually brings teams of two to four artists to campus for at least seven weeks. They work with faculty, staff, students, and their collaborative team to create a new piece, which is presented on our season as a work in progress. We hope the work will go on to productions elsewhere – many have – but our most important goal is to provide a place where the artistic imagination can be free.

Iphigenia Point Blank: Story of the First Refugee

Written by Lisa Schlesinger
Directed by Marion Schoevaert
Film by Irina Patkanian
Music composed by Kinan Azmeh
November 2018

Iphigenia Point Blank: Story of the First Refugee, A film opera, is adapted from Euripides’ Iphigenia plays and ancient Greek laments from the Trojan War epics. The play follows Iphigenia, the first refugee depicted in western drama, through 2,500 years of history and across contemporary war zones to interrogate the current refugee crisis and change the ending of her story.



Rome Sweet Rome

Written, Directed, Choreographed, Composed by Q Brothers Collective (GQ, JQ, Jax, Pos)
September - October 2016

The Q Brothers are internationally known for their previous add-rap-tations: The Bomb-itty of ErrorsFunk It Up About Nothin'Othello: The Remix, and Q Brothers' Christmas Carol. This Fall, The Qs are excited to bring their unique brand of adaptation to another classic text. Over the course of five weeks, The Qs worked with twelve students from the University of Iowa to devise, revise, and remix Shakespeare's Julius Caesar into Rome Sweet Rome, a modern hip-hop musical exploring the themes of fate, betrayal, and political corruption.

Link to the ROME SWEET ROME page.



Created by Paola Coletto, Matteo Destro, Paul Kalina, John Rapson, and David Bills
Directed by Paola Coletto and Matteo Destro
October 2014

How do we embrace the individual talents of students and teachers without reducing them to data sheets, standardized testing, and government mandates? This year’s Iowa Partnership in the Arts production is a funny and touching new piece that explores how the Industrial Revolution still impacts our educational system. Utilizing a new form of masks by Italian mask creator Matteo Destro and original jazz compositions by UI Jazz Studies Director John Rapson, Crescendo examines how our technical evolution shapes today’s society.

Link to the CRESCENDO page.



Created by Darrah Cloud, Kim D. Sherman, Nick Demos
Directed/Choreographed by Nick Demos
Written by Darrah Cloud
Composed by Kim D. Sherman
Lighting & Projection Design by Bryon Winn
February 2014

Production Photos from MAKEOVER

Abandoned after World War II, a feisty mother parlayed her gift for glamour and gab into an empire catering to the dreams of women across the country. Told with insight and humor, and freely inspired by the lives of pioneer entrepreneurs Estée Lauder and Mary Kay, this new musical reflected a changing vision of women in our times. With book and lyrics by Darrah Cloud and an original score by Kim Sherman, "Makeover" spaned the styles that shaped popular music for 50 years — including boogie woogie, be-bop, rock and roll, disco, and more.

Link to the MAKEOVER page.


Out of the Pan into the Fire

Created by Steven Epp, Dominque Serrand and Nathan Keepers
Scenic Design by R. Eric Stone
February 2013

Production Photos from OUT OF THE PAN INTO THE FIRE

This innovative collaboration between UI Theatre and The Moving Company resulted in an original play based on the age-old world of fairy tales. Dark, funny and strange, the play was a delight in Iowa City, and then again in the Twin Cities, where it played just three months later.  The Moving Company, a Minneapolis-based theatre company, is co-led by Artistic Directors Dominique Serrand and Steven Epp and Artistic Associate Nathan Keepers. They formerly led Theatre de la Jeune Lune in Minneapolis, one of the most creative and innovative theatres in the United States. Their productions, including "Out of the Pan", are extraordinarily inventive and theatrical.

Link to the OUT OF THE PAN INTO THE FIRE page.


In the Night

Created by Martha Clarke
Lighting Designed by Chris Akerlind
Sound Designed by Arthur Solari
November 2010

In the Night

Beginning with the goal of connecting science and the arts, director-choreographer Martha Clarke explored the world of dreams. What happens in the brain when you dream? How are connections made between the waking world and the unconscious? Working with a cast of 17 students and faculty members drawn from the departments of theatre and dance, Martha created a haunted dreamscape. Figures raced across a grid high above the audience’s heads; a boat flowed through the space, half enveloped in fog; strange beings leapt from an unmade bed; the sound of words too distant to make out wrapped around a clown with a foolish nose; an old man in an overcoat grasped for memories scrawled on a million scraps of falling paper. For the audience, emerging from the performance was like waking from a strange, beautiful dream.

Link to the IN THE NIGHT page.


Eye Piece

Written, composed, and directed by Rinde Eckert
Scenic & Lighting Design by Bryon Winn
November 2009

Eye Piece

Eye Piece was presented in collaboration with Hancher Auditorium and supported by a major grant from the Doris Duke Foundation. Beginning with interviews of doctors, nurses, and patients in the UI Center for Macro-degeneration, Rinde Eckert created a music-theatre piece that explored the world of the blind. At the center of the play was a painter grappling with the agony of losing his sight. Surrounding that story were snatches of medical lectures, songs, dances, and scenes drawn from research. More than a story of the human body, Eye Piece was about the rich subject of blindness – social, cultural, and spiritual.


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Written and Directed by John Cameron
February 2008

Written and Directed by John Cameron

For the first time, the Partnership program sponsored a new work by a UI faculty member, John Cameron. The play, which drew on John’s personal experiences, told the story of a faculty member who is forced to reflect on the choices he made as a young man. In the mid-1970s he was one of 14 gay men, most of them Mormon students, who were subjects of a controversial “reparative therapy” experiment at Brigham Young University that used electro shock aversion therapy in an attempt to alter their homosexual behavior. 14 was a thoughtful reflection on good intentions, denial, the abuse of authority, and how all of the above can haunt one’s life.



A collaborative collage conceived and directed by David Schweitzer
With texts by many artists, including members of the Iowa Playwrights Workshop
Lighting Designed by Ed McCarthy
March 2007


Director David Schweitzer, fascinated since childhood by Versailles, asked a large and wildly diverse group of playwrights to contribute vignettes and short plays about the subject. Together they created a theatrical collage – a collection of scenes, moments, and images – ranging from the overly comical, even goofy, to the haunted and the elegiac. Using their broken narrative, the cast took the audience through a day in the life of the Sun King, with constant interruptions for side trips to other time zones and realities. Exploring not only Versailles, but the process of story-telling itself, the play caught a moment in history that reverberates still today.


Puzzle Locker

Written by David Hancock
Directed by Ian Belton
March 2006

Puzzle Locker

With Puzzle Locker, playwright David Hancock set out to create archetypes that would pile up against one another and create surprising situations. A Soccer Mom, a State Trooper, a Park Manager, a female Army Deserter, a Dead Cheerleader, Drowned Jimmy, Big Foot, Superhero Girl, Vampire Boy, and others came together in a constantly changing environment illuminated by projections and accompanied by a landscape of music. The characters existed to pose surprising questions – ones we know but don’t want to think about -- and to explore the relationship between the stage and the audience.  It was a heady brew.


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Shadows of the Reef

Written and Directed by Anton Juan
Assisted by Reuben Chua
Choreographed by Myra Beltran
November 2004

Shadows of the Reef

Rays of light penetrate the ocean surface. Below a young boy in shorts and makeshift goggles swims down to a bed of seaweed, hitting the fronds with a rock, seeking pearls. His job done, he makes for the surface but a huge net drops down around him, trapping and drowning him. His body is hauled to the surface with the day’s catch. So begins this play by the Philippine writer/director, Anton Juan. Using powerful, innovative, theatrical devices and Christian imagery Shadows of the Reef told the story of Filipino mothers who lost their sons to a cruel fishing industry. Weaving through time, the play, with beautiful music, followed one mother who, having lost her son, found work the only way she could: by selling herself to sailors. The play posed questions about desperate acts, poverty and forgiveness.


The Seven

Adapted by Will Power
Directed by Steven Sapp
February 2004

The Seven

The Seven was the first Partnership foray into Hip-Hop culture, a vibrant celebration of rhythmic speech, singing, and dance. Adapted by Will Power from Seven Against Thebes, the Greek play about war and peace, The Seven found modern relevance and urgency in old material. Under the direction of the Hip-Hop pioneer and New York stage director, Steven Sapp, the play was filled with music. The striking blend of cultures, nationalities, time periods, and aesthetics proved to be especially meaningful to student audiences for whom the genre of Hip-Hop was both immediately appealing and appealingly immediate. Power further developed the piece for production off-Broadway in 2005.


Klub Ka, The Blues Legend

James V. Hatch and Suzanne Noguere
Directed by Tisch Jones
February 2003

Klub Ka, The Blues Legend

Klub Ka, The Blues Legend was a play with music, adapted by the authors James V. Hatch and Suzanne Noguere from their book The Stone House, A Blues Legend, and directed by UI faculty member, Tisch Jones. It was by turns delightful, disturbing, theatrical, and epic, travelling from a little girl’s bedroom across time and space, with Egyptian gods, Victorian poets, and The Fates helping her grow to womanhood out of a frightening past. The production featured puppets, stilt walking, dance, and a rhythm-and-blues combo to enhance the frightening journey through dreams, fantasy, and a terrible reality. After its run in Iowa City, the production travelled to New York, where it played at the Experimental Theatre, La MaMa ETC.


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The Making of Americans

Gertrude Stein Repertory Theatre, Cheryl Faver Artistic Director
April 2002

The Making of Americans

The Making of Americans was the Department’s robust leap into 21st Century information technologies. Partnered with New York’s Gertrude Stein Rep (Cheryl Faver directing and the charismatic and brilliant playwright, Leon Katz adapting), the department took on the enigmatic, multi-layered modern classic by Gertrude Stein. The Gertrude Stein Rep was a pioneer in exploring how computer technologies, complex projections, and off-site, simultaneous performance feeds could enhance the theatrical moment. The approach required highly imaginative thinking, sophisticated computer hardware and software, and the committed collaboration of many skilled people from within the theatre and the technology community. The result was as challenging as the material, providing a glimpse into the American national spirit in a highly complex theatrical event.


When the Angels of Heaven Saw the Daughters of Man

Created by the cast under the direction of Erik Ehn
With Laurie Carlos, Grisha Coleman, Maja Mitic, and Sanja Krsmanovic Tasic
November 2000

When the Angles of Heaven Saw the Daughters of Man

For the first time, a Partnership production was dedicated to creating a theatre piece entirely through improvisation and exploration in rehearsal. The cast, composed of two members of Belgrade’s Dah Theatre, two American actresses, UI students, and community members, worked under Erik Ehn’s guidance in response to a passage from the Bible: “And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, that the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair, and they took them wives of all which they chose… There were giants in the earth in those days…” A windmill, a river, a strange mountain, and a cast of angels made up a gorgeous landscape.


A Tale We Told the Queen on the Evening of the Fourth Day of our Journey to the East

Written and directed by Rinde Eckert
Music composed by Virginia Leishman
February 1999

A Tale We Told the Queen...

Using a mixture of Asian and American music and movement, Rinde Eckert created a new theatre piece loosely inspired by Kobayashi’s film Samurai Rebellion. Instead of focusing on older, male figures, however, Rinde thought in terms of women. The play takes place in a single evening, between dusk and dawn. A story is told and, as the characters drift in and out of sleep, they dream as the story unfolds.


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Everything that Rises Must Converge

From stories by Flannery O’Connor
Adapted and Directed by Karin Coonrod
With Ledlie Borgerhoff
November 1998

Everything that Rises Must Converge

Director Karin Coonrod, along with actor Ledlie Borgerhoff and a cast of faculty and students, brought three of Flannery O’Connor’s stories to the stage without changing a single word of text. A View from the Woods offered a violent and murderous intrusion of truth as the main character came to grips with his own spiritual blindness. Animal husbandry took on a frightening and supernatural form for the obsessive and persnickety Mrs. May in Greenleaf. And in Everything that Rises Must Converge Julian was forced to see the reality of his own hypocrisy after tormenting his mother beyond the point of no return. This production was presented at the New York Theatre Workshop in 2000.



Written by Migdalia Cruz
Directed by Juan Ramirez
February 1998


Salt was inspired by John Ford’s ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore. The idea for it began when Migdalia Cruz read about boy prostitutes living in salt mounds on the edge of the East River Drive, under the tunnels and aqueducts of New York City. It gained further life when she saw child prostitutes tied to shacks in Cambodia. Salt followed the lives of such children living in a mountain of salt used for road clearing in the Southside of Chicago.


Ideas of Good and Evil

Written and directed by Erik Ehn
Music Composed by Lisa Bielawa
March 1996

Ideas of Good and Evil production photo

Ideas of Good and Evil was a collection of three plays with music. The first play, In It was Erik’s personal response to historical impressions of the Lower East Side of New York City. Characters were confronted with varying kinds of bad news. There was just enough room in their crowded lives to accommodate the pain and almost none left over to make sense of the losses. Some Small Rooms explored the case of a man who recognized moral distinctions, but couldn’t let opposites settle. He thought it was possible to rest and be safe. It was not. Phrenic Crush examined the effects of tuberculosis on those who find it difficult to seek treatment – the poor, the immigrant, the drug addict. Together the three plays posed questions about what is good, what is evil, and why. The play/opera was later presented in San Francisco.


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Ibsen and the Actress

Written and Directed by Maria Irene Fornes
With Patricia Mattick
November 1994

Ibsen and the Actress

Irene Fornes created this piece in close collaboration with visiting actor Patricia Mattick and her student cast. Arriving on campus with only an outline and a few scenes, she developed a play that explored the events surrounding the first English production of Hedda Gabler. The character of Hedda is so strange, dangerous, and foreign, that actors and critics have always found it difficult to encounter. By examining how Elizabeth Robins, who first played Hedda in London, dealt with the character, Ms. Fornes explored the tendency of people to see the world around them, and the lives of others, in terms of their own values, and in frames of reference that exist only in their own society. The play was later produced in New York City.


The History of Medicine

Conceived and directed by Theodora Skipitares
Texts by Erik Ehn, Diana Son, and members of the cast
November 1993

The History of Medicine

The History of Medicine was performed by student and faculty actors, as well as puppets and objects. Scenes were presented in half a dozen spaces throughout the Theatre Building and audiences were led through them in small groups. Some of the spaces were cramped and inhabited only by puppets. Others, such as one set up as an operating theatre, invited the audience to sit and observe. Theodora made use of the University of Iowa’s extensive collection of medical publications and surgical instruments, and students wrote texts to explore individual topics. Following its premier in Iowa, the play was presented at La Mama in New York City with the title Under the Knife.


Marathon Dancing

Conceived and directed by Ann Bogart
Script by Laura Harrington, dramaturgy by Carol Martin
November 1992

Marathon Dancing

The first Partnership in the Arts production was led by Ann Bogart, artistic director of the SITI Company. Marathon Dancing was the second in a trilogy of works on American popular theatre history. Centered on a group of social outcasts – from an unemployed World War I veteran to an embittered chanteuse – the play presented a world struggling to find joy. It was built around more than a dozen songs of the period and centered on the last 100 hours of a marathon dancing event.  Following its premier in Iowa, Marathon Dancing was produced by En Garde Arts in New York City.


Listing of Primary artists for Partnership of the Arts
Year Title Primary Artists
2014-15 Cresendo Paola Coletto & Matteo Destro
2013-14 Makeover Darrah Cloud & Kim D. Sherman
2012-13 Out of the Pan into the Fire Dominique Serrand
2010-11 In the Night Martha Clarke
2009-10 Eye Piece Rinde Eckart
2007-08  14  John Cameron 
2006-07 Versailles David Schweitzer
2005-06 Puzzle Locker David Hancock
2004-05 Shadows of the Reef Anton Juan
2003-04 The Seven Steven Sapp
2002-03 Klub Ka, The Blues Legend James V. Hatch & Suzanne Noguere
2001-02 Making of Americans The Gertrude Stein Repertory Theatre 
2000-01 When the Angels of Heaven. . . Dah Theatre & Erik Ehn
1999-2000 A Tale We Told the Queen. . . Rinde Eckert
1998-99 Everything that Rises Must Converge  Karin Coonrod
1997-98 Salt Migdalia Cruz
1995-96 Ideas of Good and Evil Erik Ehn
1994-95 Ibsen and the Actress Maria Irene Fornes
1993-94 The History of Medicine Theodora Skipitares
1992-93 Marathon Dancing Ann Bogart