Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Iowa Theatre Artists Company Opens New Show About Amana History

Mary Ann Fels of Amana shows an historic wedding dress to Lauren Gentry of ITAC
(photo by Meg Merckens)

Amana - "Co-Producers of the Iowa Theatre Artists Company (ITAC), Tom Johnson and Meg Merckens, are creating a “new” show about “old” Amana that takes a close look at how community members coped with the end of their communal way of life in 1932 known as “the Great Change.” The one-hour play is called “Oma Tales – Stories My Grandmother Told Me.” The show opens on June 13 and continues through August 17 with performance times on Thursday and Friday at 2:30 PM and Saturday at 12 PM and 2:30 PM. This new production features long-time ITAC performers Meg Merckens (South Amana) and Marshall Nielsen (Cedar Falls) and introduces the 2013 Internship members, Lauren Gentry (Omaha, NE) and Andrew Burlage (Cedar Rapids).

Over the past few weeks, Johnson and Merckens have interviewed Amana residents who came of age in 1932 or just after. They’ve read first-person accounts, oral history transcripts and the historical accounts describing those frenetic months of 1931-32. This was familiar territory for the couple. About a decade ago Johnson wrote a very well received, full-length play on Amana’s history, “Home On The Iowa.” More recently the couple adapted oral histories of communal Amana into a one-hour stage show, called "Stories of Old Amana" that was presented at ITAC during the summer of 2012, and before that another show based on Amana history, "Remain True" that ran for two years.

“So many of the things I’ve read or the work we’ve done as a theatre with the previous Amana historical dramas, have stopped when we reached 1932, the end of the communal times. We want to explore that period of time after the Change,” Johnson explained.

In addition, clothing and other items from the period will be displayed in the ITAC lobby. After each performance, the audience will have the opportunity to talk with the actors about the show and the topics it introduces. “We have found that audiences enjoy the ‘talkback’ sessions so much. They add to the overall experience for the visitor and they’re fun for the actors too,” Merckens said.

Seating is General Admission but ITAC encourages patrons to call the Box Office, 319-622-3222, and reserve tickets due to the limited seating of its 99-seat theatre. Ticket Prices are $10 for Adults and $5 for Students. “This is a wonderful show to share between generations. Though the youngest children may not be able to follow some of the stories, we think that this is an ideal show for fifth graders right on up to their grandparents,” Johnson added."

(Source: ITAC Press Release)

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