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State Historical Society of Iowa Press Release

For immediate release March 18, 2011

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

Historical Building hosts “American Dreamer” and “Peace Through Corn”

Two-for-one theatrical presentation explores Henry A. Wallace; Garst/Khrushchev

(DES MOINES) – The State Historical Building will host a two-for-one theatrical presentation next week, featuring back-to-back plays about the life and times of Henry A. Wallace and the historical relationship of Roswell Garst and Nikita Khrushchev.

“American Dreamer: The Life and Times of Henry A. Wallace” will begin at 7 p.m. and “Peace Through Corn” will follow at 8 p.m. on Friday, March 25, 2011, in the State Historical Building’s Cowles-Kruidenier Auditorium, 600 E. Locust Street in Des Moines. Contact Maureen Korte at maureen.korte@iowa.gov or 515-281-4132 for more information.

The full schedule follows:

6 p.m. – Tickets, $10 per person, includes both shows – available at the door, or in advance by contacting Korte
7 p.m. – American Dreamer: The Life and Times of Henry A. Wallace
7:45 p.m. – Intermission
8 p.m. – Peace Through Corn
8:45 p.m. – Peace Through Corn Q & A with Liz or Rachel Garst (granddaughters of Roswell Garst)

American Dreamer is a one-act play based on the award-winning book by Senator John C. Culver and John Hyde. Actor Tom Milligan portrays Henry A. Wallace, the agricultural innovator and founder of Pioneer Hi-Bred seed corn company who became U.S. Secretary of Agriculture and, later, Vice President under Franklin Roosevelt. Admired by many and later branded as a Socialist during his controversial 1948 campaign for the presidency, Wallace always held out a vision for the future.

Peace Through Corn recounts the unprecedented personal friendship between Iowa farmer Roswell Garst and Soviet Union Premier Nikita Khrushchev. The production is based in part on actual dialogue as reflected in the two men’s letters, memoirs and speeches. During a fearful time when the world was poised at the brink of nuclear disaster, Garst and Khrushchev forged a unique human bond based on their mutual fascination with agricultural progress and their shared love of a good laugh and a ferocious debate. Garst’s personal outreach to political leaders across the Iron Curtain also represented one of the first instances of private citizen diplomacy during the post-war era. “Peace Through Corn” is supported by Humanities Iowa, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs. The play was written by Iowa playwright Cynthia Mercati and produced by Robert John Ford. Khrushchev is played by actor John Earl Robinson and Garst by Michael Cornelison.

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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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