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State Historical Society of Iowa Press Release

For immediate release September 23, 2010

Contact: Jeff Morgan, Jeff.Morgan@iowa.gov, (515) 281-3858

“Thursday’s Children” musical premieres next month at State Historical Building

Unexpected Company’s theatrical production inspired by 1960s Tinker civil rights case

(DES MOINES) – A locally-produced musical inspired by the landmark civil rights case of Tinker v. the Des Moines Independent Community School District will premiere next month at the State Historical Building in Des Moines.

“Thursday’s Children,” written and produced by Unexpected Company, will begin an eight-performance run at 7:30 p.m., Oct. 23, 2010, at the State Historical Building, 600 E. Locust Street in Des Moines. Tickets are $18 for adults, $15 for students and seniors 65 and older, at www.midwestix.com.

“This is a unique opportunity for Iowans to learn about or revisit the monumental court case that greatly impacted First Amendment rights,” Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs Director Cyndi Pederson said. “This theater production is highly entertaining and informative, and I encourage all Iowans with an interest in the Tinker case, free speech or history in general to come and enjoy it.”

In December 1965, John and Mary Beth Tinker, along with a few other students, wore armbands to school to protest America’s involvement in Vietnam. The Tinkers and other students were suspended on disciplinary grounds that were upheld in federal court.

The students took their case to the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing that they had been denied their right of freedom of expression under the First Amendment. In 1969, the Court ruled in their favor, determining that armbands did not constitute a sufficient reason to abridge free speech – a decision that helped provide a legal foundation for subsequent anti-war protests.

Inspired by the Tinker case, Brian R. Lynner and Lisa Norris-Lynner of Unexpected Company developed and wrote the musical for the State Historical Museum’s History Through the Arts theater program. Brian Lynner was a sophomore at Roosevelt High School in Des Moines at the time of the armband demonstration.

Act One takes place in 1965 in the days leading to the armband protest and follows a group of fictional Roosevelt High School students as they consider how wearing the armband may affect their friendships, families and futures.

Act Two shows the future, visiting the characters and their children some 25 years later, at the beginning of the First Gulf War.

The show’s title – “Thursday’s Children” – is taken from the Mother Goose rhyme that begins, “Monday’s child is fair of face....” Thursday's Child, according to the rhyme, “has far to go.”

More information about the production, cast and crew can be found at www.thursdays-children.com. Following is the show’s performance and program schedule:

Saturday, Oct. 23 – 7:30 p.m.
Includes pre-show panel discussion about civil rights and protest with the following:
Mary Beth Tinker
Dan Johnston, who represented the plaintiffs
Mikel Johnson of the Quaker Church
Ben Stone – American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa executive director
Darrell Hoelfing – Special Forces Green Beret
Dr. Nancy Sebring – Des Moines Public Schools Superintendent
Judge Celeste Bremer
Judge Robert W. Pratt

Sunday, Oct. 24 – 2:00 p.m.
Includes post-show discussion with “Thursday’s Children” authors/composers Brian Lynner and Lisa Norris-Lynner

Thursday, Oct. 28 – 7:30 p.m.

Friday, Oct. 29 – 7:30 p.m.
Includes pre-show panel discussion with legal community representatives about the First Amendment

Saturday, Oct. 30 – 7:30 p.m.
Halloween Special: $3 off of regular ticket price for audience members who come in 1960s costume
Post-show 1960s Sock Hop at Gateway Dance Theater, 315 E. 5th Street in Des Moines

Sunday, Oct. 31 – 2:00 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 6 – 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, Nov. 7 – 2:00 p.m.

Unexpected Company’s production of “Thursday’s Children” is co-sponsored by the State Historical Society of Iowa and is supported by Humanities Iowa, National Endowment for the Arts, Iowa Arts Council, State Historical Library, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa, American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa, Iowa Friends of Civil Rights, Des Moines Public Library, Principal Financial Group, MetLife Creative Connections Meet the Composer program, Alhers & Cooney, P.C., Gateway Dance Theater, Westminster Presbyterian Church and Image Solutions.

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Founded by Brian R. Lynner and Lisa Norris-Lynner, Unexpected Company employs a revolving group of theatre and multidisciplinary artists who work together on projects ranging from educational workshops and concert pieces to full theatrical productions. The founding partners have developed several original productions, including the full-length musical “Hearts of Freedom” and original performance pieces including “Shakespeare On Love” and “Voices of the Civil War.” Other past projects have included producing the Pulitzer Prize-winning play “J.B” for the Westminster Fne Arts Series, and sponsoring a new play competition for Iowa playwrights. The company also offers a variety of creative services including educational workshops, scriptwriting and musical composition. Unexpected Company is listed on the Iowa Arts Council’s Roster of Performing Artists. www.unexpectedcompany.com

The State Historical Society of Iowa is a division of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, and is a trustee of Iowa's historical legacy and an advocate for understanding Iowa's past. It identifies, records, collects, preserves, manages and provides access to Iowa's historical resources. Its dual mission of preservation and education serves Iowans of all ages, conducts and stimulates research, disseminates information, and encourages and supports historical preservation and education efforts of others throughout the state. Visit www.iowahistory.org or call 515-281-5111 for more information.

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