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Global Express: staged readings breathe life into works by IWP writers

On Sunday evening, writers, community members, and University of Iowa students gathered to see the works of nine current IWP residents performed by actors in the 12th annual edition of Global Express, a program of staged readings of works by IWP writers.

The evening’s entertainment, held in a large black-box theatre in the UI Theatre Building, featured works by Taleb Al Refai (Kuwait), Luis Bravo (Uruguay), TJ Dema (Botswana),  Dimitris Lyacos (Greece/Italy), Christopher Mlalazi (Zimbabwe), Choi Myung Sook (South Korea), Gulala Nouri (Iraq),  Pandora (Burma), and Bilal Tanweer (Pakistan),  directed by Saffron Henke with dramaturgy by Maggie Conroy.

Waiting in the lobby to meet with the actors after the performance, poet Pandora joked that after seeing her poem, “The Scene of the City Siege by the Daft,” so dramatically delivered it would be difficult for her to read it to an audience again herself. “The bar is set so high now,” she said.

The nine staged works, which included excerpts of plays, poems, and fiction as well as multimedia work, varied from the tragic to the comic. In Christopher Mlalazi’s play, “Election Day,” an exuberant president harangues an underling in a bid to justify overriding the results of a national vote—an amusing exchange replete with bathroom humor even as it comments on serious issues of political process (with Zimbabwe not far from the audience’s thoughts). In Choi Myoung Sook’s “Two Daughters,” a married couple faces the surreal challenge of distinguishing their daughter from a duplicate who has appeared in their house. Given the range of tone and emotion, IWP writer and audience member Alisa Ganieva (Russia) was impressed by how cohesive the performance felt. “It seemed like one collective [whole],” she said.

All in all, Global Express was a terrific send-off as the writers head out on the mid-residency travel period, which will take groups of IWP writers to New Orleans and San Francisco this week. While away, the writers will take part in a number of cultural and literary events, including a reading at Room 220 in New Orleans at 7pm on Thursday, September 27th, which will feature IWP writers Khaled Alberry (Egypt) and Lucy Fricke (Germany); check out the event listing in the New York Times Review of Books!

The writers will be back in Iowa at the end of the week, with normal IWP events resuming on Sunday, September 30th, with a reading by Lucy Fricke (Germany),  and Stephanie Ye (Singapore), joined by poet Grant Souders (Writers’ Workshop) at Prairie Lights, 4-5pm.

For more IWP news (including photos of weekly panels, readings, and a recent barn dance), visit us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

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