Naomi Iizuka’s new play “Good Kids”, the inaugural effort of the Big Ten Theatre Consortium’s New Play Initiative, has concluded its run at the University of Michigan and will now continue its “rolling premiere”, being produced by theatre departments at several other Big Ten schools, including Indiana University, Purdue University, Michigan State, the University of Maryland and University of Iowa.
The Consortium plans to commission a new play for the Initiative every year for the next three years. Each commission will include a $10,000 payment to the artist, and the caveat that any Big Ten school will be able to produce the play, royalty-free.
Originally proposed by Alan MacVey, Director of the Performing Arts Division at the University of Iowa, the Initiative is meant to support female playwrights and to provide rich, interesting roles for young, female actors at both the university and professional levels; two things MacVey currently sees in short supply. In describing the Initiative, MacVey says:
“As educators and directors of theater training programs, we are uniquely positioned to address the problem from the ground level. With the commissions, we’re doing three things at once: developing challenging scripts for our female students, scripts that will make them stronger actors; supporting outstanding female playwrights; and encouraging the production of more plays by women, which we hope will be widely produced by colleges and professional theaters.”
Iizuka’s play, inspired by the events of the Steubenville rape case, explores a casual sexual encounter gone wrong, and its very public aftermath. Reviews from the Michigan production were effusively positive, with the Ann Arbor News writing:
“Iizuka’s play invites us to rethink our assumptions about gender and sexuality and have an honest discussion – a noble attempt to produce positive change from an ugly tragedy.”
URTA is proud to count 11 of its member schools among the Big Ten Consortium (in actuality, a group of 14 schools) including: Michigan State University, University of Maryland, University of Iowa, Indiana University, the Ohio State University, Northwestern University, Penn State, University of Wisconsin-Madison, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, University of Minnesota, and Purdue University.