Cornell College writer, director create new stage play

What started as a poem has transformed into a stage play, “Conjure: A Cycle in Three Parts,” which will come to life on stage for the first time in August.

When: Friday, Aug. 11, 8 p.m. 

"Conjure" cast—Photo Credit Noel VanDenBosch
“Conjure” cast—Photo Credit Noel VanDenBosch

Where: CSPS Hall, 1103 3rd St. SE, Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Cornell College’s Director of the Center for Teaching and Learning Jen Rouse wrote the play and Cornell Professor of Theatre and Dance Janeve West is directing it.  Audience members will notice poetic words throughout the production because it began as a long poem about the relationship between a queen bee and one of her workers.

Professor of Theatre Janeve West
Professor of Theatre Janeve West
Director of the Center for Teaching and Learning Jen Rouse
Director of the Center for Teaching and Learning Jen Rouse

“I realized they needed room outside of that poetic space. With that realization, I began my first attempt at play writing,” Rouse said. “The other parts of Conjure were generated in a similar way, drifting in and out of poetry, catching hold of characters, grounding itself in imagery.”

Rouse and West started this project during the Underground New Play Festival held by Theatre Cedar Rapids in 2014. The two continued to work on it until the production was finished. SPT Theatre is producing this first workshop production, which emerged from its New Play Incubator Series.

“This play is about the strength, beauty, anguish, and wisdom shared in the intimate relationships between women at all stages of life,” Rouse said.

West selected the cast, and she says she’s astounded by the cast of fierce women.

“This is the most diverse cast that I have ever had the pleasure of working with and it is so empowering to see women from all backgrounds step into this space and tell this compelling story,” West said. “Jen tells a story like no other playwright I’ve worked with. The imagery, packed into such beautifully poetic language, tells such a vivid story of love, loss, and hope for redemption.”

*According to West, tickets are available online or at the event—$10 in advance or $15 at the door. This production is intended for mature audiences.