Compiled by Carol Bodensteiner
The town name Mayberry evokes an image of simpler times when crime rates were low and families were rooted in their communities. “But those times are mostly gone,” says Sean Lewis, an award-winning playwright renowned for tackling sensitive social topics.
Lewis’s newest play, Mayberry, explores the challenges and opportunities that face his own community on the southeast side of Iowa City. The neighborhood has seen an influx of newcomers (many from other Midwest cities) with a changing mix of black and white, liberal and conservative, well-to-do and low-income. The characters in the play are based on interviews with nearly 100 individuals — local residents, politicians, and officials — who have been directly affected, positively or negatively, by this demographic shift.
While the facts are specific to one Iowa neighborhood, the issues are familiar to many Iowa communities. Lewis’s goal is to show how a community in transition “creates an honest conversation” about the often competing needs and desires of all its members. — M.G.
Mayberry will be performed at the Riverside Theatre in Iowa City April 27–29. For information on Sean Lewis and the Working Group Theatre or to obtain tickets, visit workinggrouptheatre.org or www.hancher.uiowa.edu.
Company members Martin Andrews, Jennifer Fawcett, Sean Lewis. Photo courtesy Ben Partridge