Hancher interns create writing contest


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If you've worked with a music teacher who had a great influence on you, went to a dance performance that took your breathe away, or saw a musical that made you cry with joy, Hancher wants to hear about it.

To stick with the theme of Hancher's current season, "Can't Contain Us," the performing arts company is providing another outlet for students who are more creative on paper than on stage.

Graduate or undergraduate students who want to participate should tell Hancher about a powerful performing-arts experience they have had either as a performer or observer.

Hancher wants pieces that are thoughtfully written and imaginative in 500 words or fewer. The deadline for the fall semester is Oct. 31; students will have a second chance to participate in the spring semester with a deadline on Jan. 31.

UI sophomore Amelia Peacock, who was hired as a Hancher summer intern in marketing, got together with the other interns to create a writing contest that was similar to the design contest Hancher provides for art students.

The interns worked with the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, the Division Performing Arts, and the English Department to reach a wide range of students.

"We thought it would be a great way for the students to get published and also experience the arts of Hancher," Peacock said.

Rob Cline, the Hancher director of marketing and communications, is excited to see what will happen with the project.

Many of his interns are interested in the writing portion of marketing, so they started talking about how Hancher can be a part of the literary community, he said.

"If there is one thing that we try to provide with the intern program, it's that we try out the ideas of the students and try real projects with real stakes," Cline said. "When they thought this was a good idea, we wanted to support their initiative, and because the design contest works very well, I can't see a reason why this writing component won't."

Cline and Peacock are interested in the ways students will portray their arts experiences in their entries.

While they value well-written and thoughtful essays, they also hope for something that will surprise them.

"I'm looking for some kind of piece that has eye-grabbing language or tells the story in a unique way," Peacock said. "It needs to present the performing arts in a very bright and flattering light."

The Hancher interns will read the submissions and select the winners. The number of winners selected will depend on the amount of free space in the Hancher playbills this fall; the first will appear for the big holiday event Hancher will produce right after Thanksgiving break.

Hancher employees believe this will be a great way for students to get their work published and possibly provide them with internships with the venue.

"We are very proud of our playbills, so the writing in them is already of a fairly high caliber," Cline said. "Plus those 15 minutes before the lights go down, you need something to do."

He and his team hope to continue the project in the years to come. They want students to know that Hancher isn't just about the performing arts.

"I'm very excited to see what happens with the final product and how this turns out," Peacock said. "I'm very receptive about it, so hopefully, the students will be, too."

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