THE WGT MISSION
Working Group Theatre’s original plays, events, and educational programs are created in collaboration with artists and community partners to engage a diverse audience and present the untold stories in the world around us.
Our shows are followed by post show talkbacks with local experts and WGT company members, allowing our audiences to engage and reflect on the subject matter of the shows. We believe theatre can build connections within a community by providing space for meaningful dialogue about issues facing us today.
Working Group Theatre was founded in 2009 by Sean Lewis, Martin Andrews, and Jennifer Fawcett, three MFA Graduates from the University of Iowa. Since its founding, Working Group has created over 30 new plays and events, fostering community dialogue around important issues and gaining a national reputation for challenging and insightful work.
Based in Iowa City, Iowa, WGT has formed close relationships with local theatre presenters including Riverside Theatre (NNPN Member), the Englert Civic Theatre and Hancher Auditorium/University of Iowa. In 2012, Hancher commissioned Working Group to create a play that addressed the changes happening in Iowa City as an influx of residents from Chicago’s housing projects arrived after their homes were destroyed. Not only did the play, MAYBERRY, create an important community dialogue around race, it helped lead to the changing of bus routes to better serve these new residents. Four more commissions from Hancher followed: THE BROKEN CHORD, a play that examined the role of the caregiver in dealing with Alzheimer’s patients, two versions of OUT OF BOUNDS (one for middle school students and one for general audiences) looking at the effects of cyberbullying on multiple generations, and most recently, ALL RECIPES ARE HOME, a collaboration between WGT and a female folk band called the Awful Purdies that explored the role of food in our identity and family histories. In 2014, Working Group was awarded the NEFA National Theatre Project for OUT OF BOUNDS. This award will help support a national tour of OUT OF BOUNDS in 2016.
In 2010, Working Group began a monthly spoken word and music show at the Engert Theatre called WAS THE WORD. A portion of proceeds from each show go to benefit local non-profits. As a result of the series Working Group has raised over $8000 for local non-profits.
Our first show was performed in a backyard in and around a swimming pool (Drinks by the Pool, by Mary Elizabeth Hamilton, 2009) and our second (Odysseus, Iowa, by Sean Christopher Lewis and Jennifer Fawcett) was a promenade on a working farm. 2015 marks a return to our roots, performing in non-traditional spaces. Ghost Story, WGT’s newest play is an interactive performance that takes audience members on a journey into the unseen parts of a theatre to tell the haunting tale of a lonely box office attendant searching for his murdered sister.
Awards & Recognition
2014 – New England Foundation for the Arts, National Theatre Project (Out of Bounds)
2013 – Rick Graf Award, Iowa City Human Rights Commission
2012 – MetLife/APAP “All In” Community Participation Grantee, with Hancher Auditorium (The Broken Chord)
2012 – Excerpt of Rust (by Austin Bunn and Working Group Theatre) published in the New York Times Magazine http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/08/magazine/end-of-the-line.html
2011 – Iowa Partners in Progress, Iowa Pride Network (Make it Better, Iowa)
2011 – Acclaim Awards from the League of Cincinnati Critics, Best Director, Best Script and Best Ensemble (Denali)
2009 – National Performance Network Creation Fund Grant (Rust)