A scene from IN THE NIGHT, Partnership in the Arts 2010

Summer Partnership in the Arts

The Department of Theatre Arts' long tradition of presenting exciting work each summer began anew in 2018, with Summer Partnership in the Arts. Building on nearly a century of Iowa Summer Rep and twenty-five years of the academic year Partnership program, the department now offers students and audiences something new.

The purpose of the Summer Partnership program is to bring one or more guest artists to campus to work with students during a four-week residency and create a new theatrical piece. This developmental project will be presented as a small-scale production or a showing of work in process. It might follow the traditional new play development format or explore a highly experimental collaborative process.


  • Provide opportunities for students to work with professionals on the development of a new work and possibly a new way of making theatre.
  • Maximize student impact and participation during a period when they are unencumbered by their regular class load. 
  • Offer this paid opportunity to both graduate and undergraduate students in every field of theatre arts.
  • Engage the local community by offering audiences the opportunity to participate in the development of a play through pre-show and post-show discussions.

The inaugural project was a devised work directed by Vanessa Stalling in collaboration with 12 actors, as well as designers, a director, a stage manager, and a dramaturg. Read more about We Might Fall Apart Before Too Long.

Vanessa Stalling is a theatre director. Most recently, she directed Lauren Yee's Hookman at Steep Theatre. Prior to that she adapted and directed United Flight 232 from the book Flight 232, by Laurence Gonzales, for The House Theatre of Chicago, which won Jeff Awards for Best Production Midsize and Best Ensemble. Upcoming productions include Sarah DeLappe's The Wolves at The Goodman Theatre.

Vanessa was a primary artist at Redmoon Theater where she served as a director, performer, and Associate Artistic Director. As an artist at Redmoon, she directed several productions including a remount of The Cabinet, which toured Brazil as part of the FILO Festival, Last of My SpeciesWinter Pageant, Princess ClubTwilight Orchard, and roaming performances for President Obama's Halloween celebrations at The White House.

She has held teaching positions at Roosevelt University, Columbia College, and the University of Chicago, and is an assistant professor of directing at UC San Diego's Department of Theatre & Dance.

History of Iowa Summer Rep

For nearly a century Iowa Summer Rep was a central part of Eastern Iowa’s cultural life. Beginning with Edward C. Mabie's arrival on campus in 1920, summer play production became a regular feature at the University of Iowa. In the early 1920s, summer productions were part of the Drama Department curriculum and performances were given by a community/university group called The Out-of-Door Players. Performances were presented at several locations including City Park, the slope to the west of Old Capitol, and the Quadrangle courtyard. Performances were so popular that one performance during the summer of 1921 was reported to have had an audience of 2,000.

Beginning in 1939 and continuing for more than 40 years, summer theatre productions were a part of the University's Fine Arts Festival, which included programs, lectures, and performances from the Departments of Art, Music, Dramatic Art, and Dance. Beginning in 1961, Summer Repertory Theatre was established and presented four plays simultaneously in an alternating rep, providing audiences the opportunity to see actors performing in a variety of roles. In 1984, Iowa Summer Rep presented its first single-playwright season, offering a unique focus in American summer theater. In 2000, Summer Rep also became an Actors' Equity Company, elevating its status as a professional theater company.

Between 2008 and 2014 Summer Rep was disrupted or cancelled three times because of flooding. Financial pressures accompanied these events, and the final performance of Summer Rep was presented in 2017. Summer Partnership in the Arts is forever indebted to those artists and audiences who made Summer Rep what it was – a special place where imagination and creativity took center stage.