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Book Wings Round 2: IWP & Moscow Art Theatre link up for 2nd installment

"We blunder into wars we can’t get out it so inconceivable that the government might not be telling us everything?"--excerpt of Victoria Stewart's new play, PLANET X, to premiere at Book Wings Russia 2013.

Building on the successful partnership that led to the inaugural production of Book Wings in 2012, the International Writing Program (IWP) and the Moscow Art Theatre are linking up again (on March 14th 2013, 10:30am Iowa time, 7:30pm Moscow time) to present the second year of the three-year collaborative theatre initiative. The 2012 edition featured poetry; now, in 2013, Book Wings Russia presents six new 10-minute plays by young and distinguished playwrights in the U.S. and Russia. In collaboration with the University of Iowa Department of Theatre Arts, the Virtual Writing University, Information Technology Services, and UITV, Book Wings will use the latest high definition videoconferencing technology to link twin stages—one in Theatre B of the University of Iowa Theatre Building and another at the revered Moscow Art Theatre—to produce one unified dramatic performance.

Playwrights, translators, actors, directors, and new media specialists have come together across more than 5,000 miles to produce Book Wings Russia, a free evening of collaborative bilingual theatre, in English and Russian. The six never-before-seen plays were commissioned for Book Wings, with grant support from the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Dept of State. The playwrights, who include National Endowment for the Arts Fellow Sherry Kramer, Ofner Prize winner Carlos Murillo (who heads the Playwriting Program at DePaul University in Chicago), and Francesca Primus Award winner Victoria Stewart, created 10-minute plays on the central theme of “contact.” Their counterparts in Russia—Marina Krapivina, Maksym Kurochkin, and Natalya Moshina—did the same. The plays then went to the Book Wings translators and playwrights in both countries worked to refine the translations of their counterpart’s work for the stage.

Today’s performance will teleport the live audiences in Iowa City and Moscow back and forth between the two stages as artistic and production teams use videoconferencing technology to produce (in real time, across 10 time zones) a collaborative performance that strengthens creative and cultural ties between the two nations.

The complete scripts of the plays—complex, moving, and darkly funny—are printed in the program in both English and Russian, available on the Book Wings website. English supertitling will allow the Iowa City audience and live stream viewers to follow the Russian sections of the performance. The live audiences will be joined by viewing parties at the Women’s Cultural Center in Kuwait City, Bennington College, California State University—Long Beach and others around the world, all tuning in to watch the performance via the free live internet stream hosted by the Virtual Writing University. Audience members and viewers can tweet their questions for the live talk-back session to follow the performance using the hashtag #bookw.

The live stream will be archived online for later viewing and paper copies of the program containing the full texts of the plays are available to educators free of charge. Contact Book Wings Program Coordinator Ashley Davidson at ashley-r-davidson[at] for more information.

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