Hancher to present world premiere of 'The Broken Chord' by Working Group Theatre

Hancher to present world premiere of 'The Broken Chord' by Working Group Theatre

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New play continues collaboration begun with 'Mayberry'
The Broken Chord graphic
Hancher will present The Broken Chord, April 12-14 at the Englert Theatre. Graphic courtesy of Hancher.

The University of Iowa’s Hancher will present The Broken Chord on April 12 and 13 at 7:30 p.m. and April 14 at 2 p.m. at the Englert Theatre in downtown Iowa City. This new play, written by Jennifer Fawcett with Working Group Theatre, is a culmination of a yearlong project examining the effects of Alzheimer’s disease on caregivers and communities.

Directed by Sean Christopher Lewis,The Broken Chord is a full length play that incorporates direct testimony and interviews with storytelling and poetry. The project was designed to collect, archive, and present the personal stories of those working on the front lines of memory and aging research and patient care, as well as those who are suffering from memory-related diseases. Featuring an interactive set-design, The Broken Chord uses professional actors and local community members to tell stories of how individuals, families, and communities understand memory and cope with its loss. The Broken Chord continues collaboration between Working Group Theatre and Hancher, following the successful development of Mayberry, a play dealing with race and class issues in Iowa City which premiered last spring.

For the development of this piece, Working Group Theatre conducted extensive research into the experience of the caregiver, not only through interviews, but also through personal experience. Company members spent over 100 hours working as certified hospice volunteers, facilitating TimeSlips storytelling sessions with dementia patients, leading free improvisation and creative writing classes through the Johnson County Senior Center, and conducting an intergenerational writing and photography project with 11th grade students and Iowa City seniors. University partners involved in the project include the College of Nursing, School of Social Work, College of Public Health, Center on Aging, and the Aging, Mind, and Brain Initiative. Members of Working Group have been visiting a variety of classes around campus as part of their partnership with Hancher including departments like Rhetoric, Anthropology, Nursing, Social Work, and Epidemiology.

Founded in 2009 by Sean Christopher Lewis, Martin Andrews, and Jennifer Fawcett, Working Group Theatre engages a diverse audience with original plays, events, and educational programming, created in collaboration with artists and community partners, and intends to uncover and present the untold stories around us. Working Group Theatre seeks to involve their audience in the stories they tell as commentators and collaborators, reaching out to new audiences by eliminating the social and economic barriers to arts participation. Their work has toured nationally and internationally, including numerous awards and a feature in The New York Times Magazine.

There will be a talk back with the artists after each performance.

The Broken Chord project is made possible in part by a grant from the Association of Performing Arts Presenters and MetLife Foundation All-In: Re-imagining Community Participation Program and a grant from the Iowa Arts Council. The performances are supported by the Englert Theatre, Oaknoll Retirement Residence, and the F. Wendell Miller Fund.

How to get tickets

Tickets for The Broken Chord are $35 and $25 for nonstudents, $31.50 and $22.50 for senior citizens, and $10 for college students and youth. Tickets are available from the Hancher Box Office, located on the first floor of the south end of the Old Capitol Mall near the parking ramp. The Hancher Box Office is open for phone (319-335-1160 or 800-HANCHER) or walk-up business from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. weekdays. Tickets may be ordered online at http://www.hancher.uiowa.edu. Any remaining tickets will be available for sale one hour before show time at the Englert Theatre.

Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all UI-sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires a reasonable accommodation in order to participate in this program, contact Hancher in advance at 319-335-1158.

To read a related story, visit Hancher and Working Group engage Alzheimer's patients with TimeSlips program.


Rob Cline, Hancher, 319-335-3827
Steve Parrott, University Communication and Marketing, 319-384-0037


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