The Senior Project informs Working Group and Hancher's 'Broken Chord' efforts, gets more than 100 people writing
Wednesday, March 20, 2013
Teacher and student seated at a table looking at a script
Jennifer Fawcett (left) of Working Group Theatre works with high school student Natasha Nachazel on a piece of writing for The Senior Project. Photo by Cassidy Bringle.

Iowa City’s Working Group Theatre is connecting high school juniors with senior citizens in Iowa City for a unique writing project. The effort is part of Working Group Theatre’s collaboration with the University of Iowa’s Hancher, which will culminate in the presentation of The Broken Chord, a new play concerned with issues of memory.

Jennifer Fawcett, the associate artistic director of Working Group Theatre, has spent a large part of this year bringing The Senior Project to fruition.

"I thought it was really important in a town that is very age segregated to bring the generations together," Fawcett says. The Senior Project is an intergenerational community writing project that pairs local seniors with students from City High School to write portraits of one another.

A written portrait is a short biographical piece that aims to capture the essence of a person in the same way a photograph might. Involving more than 100 people ranging in age from 16 to 94 years old, and spanning eight months, The Senior Project is a community writing project on a large scale. The written portraits will be presented at the world premiere of The Broken Chord at the Englert Theatre Friday through Sunday, April 12-14.

Other project activities include a memory saving Postcard Project, a volunteer relationship with Iowa City Hospice, and a series of benefits for area nonprofits as part of Was the Word, a monthly storytelling series.

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.

The project has involved activities in classes and across the UI campus including work with College of Public Health, College of Nursing, Center for Human Rights, School of Social Work, and Department of Rhetoric, and The Examined Life Conference. Additionally, project activities have engaged the Iowa City community including collaborations and activities with The Alzheimer's Association Eastern Iowa Chapter, Iowa City Hospice, The Senior Center of Johnson County, City High School, Oaknoll Retirement Residence, and other elder care facilities in and around Johnson County.

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 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 University of Iowa sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires a reasonable accommodation in order to participate in this program, please contact Hancher in advance at 319-335-1158.