Book Wings helps collaborative art take flight
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The Book Wings project will link up the University of Iowa International Writing Program (IWP) with the Shanghai Dramatic Arts Centre and with the Moscow Art Theatre (established by Stanislavsky, home stage of Chekhov) for collaborative theatre performances on Tuesday, March 12, and Thursday, March 14, respectively.
Using the latest videoconferencing technology, theatre arts professionals and new media specialists bring together actors, playwrights, directors, dramaturges, and stages to produce two unified performances known as Book Wings China and Book Wings Russia. Working in conjunction with the UI Department of Theatre Arts, the Virtual Writing University, Information Technology Services, and UITV, these ambitious literary and theatrical events will connect stages 5,000 (Moscow) and 7,000 (Shanghai) miles apart.
Book Wings China will be held at 9 p.m. CST Tuesday, March 12, in Theatre B of the UI Theatre Building and the Shanghai Dramatic Arts Center; Book Wings Russia will be held at 10 a.m. CST Thursday, March 14, in Theatre B and the Moscow Art Theatre. Both performances are free, open to the public, bilingual (translation provided), and accessible worldwide via live Internet stream at www.writinguniversity.org.
Videoconferencing technology will enable the audience in Iowa City to see and hear the Moscow and Shanghai stages, and the Moscow and Shanghai audiences to see and hear the Iowa City stage. Audience members and Internet viewers may send comments and questions via Twitter for the live talk-back sessions following the events using the hashtag #bookw.
Building on the success of the Book Wings model for collaborative, digitally connected theatre pioneered in 2012 by IWP and the Moscow Art Theatre, Book Wings 2013 commissioned 10-minute plays from 12 distinguished young playwrights—six English-language, three Chinese, and three Russian—who collaborated with translators to refine translations of their counterparts’ work for the stage. Student actors in Iowa City, Moscow, and Shanghai will perform the plays.
The 12 short plays commissioned for Book Wings 2013 will take audiences from the battlefields of Afghanistan to labor camps for chickens, exploring the tragic and the comic dimensions of searching for common ground.
Book Wings China English-language playwrights include Whiting Award-winner Naomi Iizuka, who heads the playwriting program at UC San Diego; Sundance Institute Time Warner Fellow Dan O'Brien; and Singaporean playwright Chay Yew, winner of the London Fringe Award and artistic director of Victory Gardens Theater in Chicago; and well as Chinese playwrights Wang Haoran, Xu Yaqun, and Qian Jue.
Full bios can be found at iwp.uiowa.edu/programs/book-wings/node/2664/2013China.
Book Wings Russia Playwrights include Americans Sherry Kramer, winner of a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship who teaches playwriting at Bennington College; Ofner Prize-winner Carlos Murillo, who heads the Playwriting Program at DePaul University; and Francesca Primus Award-winning playwright Victoria Stewart; and Russian playwrights Marina Krapivina, Maksym Kurochkin, Natalya Moshina. Full bios can be found at iwp.uiowa.edu/programs/book-wings/2013Russia.
In the long term, Book Wings aims to provide a model for leveraging new media technologies to increase artistic collaboration internationally. The IWP is actively forming partnerships with arts institutions, theatres, literary organizations, high schools, colleges, and universities to arrange live viewings of the Book Wings 2013 performances. (More info at iwp.uiowa.edu/programs/book-wings/host-a-viewing-party.)
In 2014, Book Wings will feature Russian, American, and Iraqi prose writers.
Made possible by grant funds from the U.S. Department of State, Book Wings is a three-year collaborative exchange and performance initiative designed to bring together writers, actors, directors, and new media professionals in a virtual environment to foster cross-cultural conversation, spark new literary and dramatic ideas, and create an enduring body of work.
Since 1967, the IWP has hosted more than 1,400 writers from more than 140 countries, connecting well-established writers from around the globe, introducing American writers to other cultures through reading tours, publishing books and journals, pursuing cultural diplomacy, and organizing tours, conferences, and other events around the world. Learn more at iwp.uiowa.edu.