Craig Owens, associate professor of English, has been selected as the winner of the seventh annual Tallgrass Theatre Company’s Iowa Playwrights Workshop Competition for his play, Open House.
Open House is a play about John and Mary, a Chicago couple that moves to a rural Iowa college town where John has secured an endowed professorship. While attracted to the charms of small-town life, the two also moved to leave behind some troubling history. On the morning of a neighborhood historic home tour, their college-aged son, Jesse, and his girlfriend, Emily, arrive unexpectedly. This visit reveals that history has an uncanny way of following them and that their efforts to escape have only hastened its pursuit. The four are soon faced with important decisions about life, love, and family that they are not fully prepared to make.
“Many of us accept the responsibilities that come with living among other people. We try to balance our need for the fulfillment of our desires with the needs of those we love,” Owens says. “This is a play about those things, how families can get things really wrong, despite the best intentions, upbringing, and circumstances.”
Inspiration for Open House came from an unlikely place: Owens’ home.
“I would lie awake in bed at night and listen to the noises of the house: dripping, creaking floorboards, animals in the walls. I began thinking what these sounds might mean. What was the house telling us?” Owens says. “And that’s where the play starts: two people, mulling over the meaning of their house creaking and groaning.”
Tallgrass Theatre Company will host a series of staged and unstaged readings of Open House in the coming months. Owens will work closely with a creative team of directors, actors, and designers to revise the play and bring it to life. A public staged reading of Open House will be held on Friday, Nov. 2 at 7:30 p.m., in West Des Moines’ Rex Mathes Auditorium.
“As a teacher, I’m excited about this opportunity to experience playwriting from a student’s point of view,” Owens says. “I’m looking forward to hearing what actors, directors, and members of the public think about the play, and to take on the challenge of revising and rethinking it before rehearsals begin.”
For more information, please contact Craig Owens at 515-271-3876 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.