9/20/2004

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Contact: Charla Jenkins, University Theatre, (785) 864-2684, cjenkins@ku.edu

KU Theatre to stage alum's prize-winning play 'Amber Waves' in October

LAWRENCE -- "Amber Waves," a prize-winning play written by 1982 University of Kansas graduate James Still, will be staged by the University of Kansas Department of Theatre and Film and the University Theatre as the opening production in the 2004-05 mainstage season.

Performances are at 8 p.m. Oct. 1 and 2, 2:30 p.m. October 3 and 7:30 p.m. Oct. 7-9 in the Crafton-Preyer Theatre. The first weekend's performances are part of the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the KU Theatre for Young People.

The work was commissioned by and premiered at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., as a one-act play. In 1992 it won the Distinguished Play of the Year Award from the American Alliance for Theatre & Education. In 2000, the Indiana Repertory Theatre commissioned Still to expand it to a full-length, two-act play.

The KU production is directed by Doug Weaver, a lecturer in theatre and film who was a fellow theatre student of Still's. Scenic design is by Mark Reaney, professor of theatre and film; costume design is by Kay Traver, Lawrence graduate student; lighting design is by Nicholas C. Mosher, Lawrence senior.

"Amber Waves" is about a year in the life of the Olsens, a contemporary farm family in northeast Kansas, not far from Lawrence, Weaver said. It focuses on the children in a family struggling with financial and spiritual despair while trying to hold on to their farm and each other.

Still said he was thrilled that Ron Willis, a former professor and mentor, had been coaxed out of retirement to play the role of the Olsons' neighbor, Johnny Diamond.

A native of Pomona, Kan., Still now lives in Venice, Calif. He is in his seventh season as playwright in residence at Indiana Repertory Theatre in Indianapolis. Among other awards, he has won the William Inge Festival's New Voices in American Theatre Award and the Charlotte B. Chorpenning Playwright Award for Distinguished Body of Work. Three of his works have received the Distinguished Play Award from the American Alliance for Theatre & Education.

Still's plays include "Looking Over the President's Shoulder"; "He Held Me Grand"; "And Then They Came for Me"; "A Village Fable"; and "Hush: An Interview With America," which was staged by KU Theatre for Young People in 1996. His newest play, "Searching for Eden," a riff on Mark Twain's Adam and Eve short stories, recently premiered at the American Heartland Theatre in Kansas City, Mo.

Still also has been nominated for two Emmy Awards, the Humanitas Prize and a Television Critics Association Award. He is producer/head writer for the series "Paz," airing daily on TLC and Discovery Kids. He wrote the feature film "The Velocity of Gary," based on his one-person play.

Reserved seat tickets for "Amber Waves" are on sale at the University Theatre, (785) 864-3982; the Lied Center, (785) 864-ARTS; and online at http://www.kutheatre.com. Tickets cost $12 for the general public, $11 for senior citizens and KU faculty and staff; and $10 for students. VISA and Mastercard are accepted.

Information for "Amber Waves" cast and playwright is listed by hometown; major, parents' names and high school attended (when available); and role.

ANDERSON COUNTY
From Garnett
Katrina Alford. (See Coffey County)

COFFEY COUNTY
From Burlington
Katrina Alford, senior in theatre and film, daughter of Joel and Rebecca Vannocker, Burlington, and Rocky and Debbie Alford, Garnett; Burlington High School; Julie.

DOUGLAS COUNTY
From Lawrence
Ron Willis, professor emeritus of theatre and film, Johnny.

FRANKLIN COUNTY
From Pomona
James Still, 1982 bachelor's degree in general studies/speech and drama, son of Dean and Bonnie Olson; Pomona High School; playwright.

JOHNSON COUNTY
From Overland Park
Courtney Schweitzer, sophomore in theatre and film, daughter of Ken and Linda Schweitzer; Blue Valley High Schoo; Deb.

MORTON COUNTY
From Elkhart
James Horton, senior in theatre and film, son of Kenneth and Peggy Horton; Elkhart High School; Scott.

PAWNEE COUNTY
From Larned
Kate Giessel, junior majoring in linguistics and theatre and film, daughter of Tom and Sheryl Giessel; Larned High School; Penny.

MAINE
From Falmouth
Carter Royce Waite, freshman majoring in pre-journalism and theatre and film, son of David Waite and Dede Waite; Falmouth High School; Mike.

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