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Witching Hour announces Richard Hell, Aasif Mandvi, Here Lies Man


Witching Hour

Various venues — Friday and Saturday, Oct. 12-13

Obie winner and “Daily Show” correspondent Aasif Mandavi. — photo courtesy of Witching Hour

The fourth annual Witching Hour festival, co-presented by Little Village and the Englert Theatre, made its first line-up announcement today. The festival, which runs Oct. 12-13 this year, centers on celebrating new work and exploring the creative process.

For 2018, Witching Hour will feature groundbreaking writers, musicians and comedians from across a variety of genres.

“We’re bringing downtown NYC to Iowa City for two days,” said Little Village publisher Matthew Steele. “The literature, the comedy, the jazz, the conversations, the cuisine — will all be on point. I’m just afraid I won’t be able to find a black leather jacket at Second Act in time. I guess a black T-shirt will have to do.”

Punk rock pioneer, film critic and novelist Richard Hell will participate in two events at the festival. Notes from the Underground: A Reading also features Katherine Faw (Ultraluminous) and other authors yet to be announced. A panel discussion, titled Making a Scene: A Conversation about Downtown New York City, will be moderated by frequent Little Village contributor Kembrew McLeod and also features Lisa Jane Persky, returning to Iowa City after participating in the 2016 Mission Creek Festival.

Hell and his ’70s band the Voidoids released a 40th anniversary deluxe recording of their seminal album Blank Generation last fall which included previously unreleased material.

Punk rock pioneer Richard Hell. — photo by Rebecca Smeyne

Aasif Mandvi, most recently familiar to kidlit nerds as Uncle Monty in the Netflix reimagining of Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, made a name for himself as Senior Muslim Correspondent (as well as Senior Foreign Looking Correspondent and other tongue-in-cheek sobriquets) on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show.

His early career put his University of South Florida degree in Theatre to good use with stints both on and off-Broadway, including his Obie-award-winning off-Broadway one-man show Sakina’s Restaurant and a Broadway run in Tony Kushner’s Homebody/Kabul.

With their 2017 self-titled debut, L.A.’s Here Lies Man garnered a bevy of critical acclaim. They got right back at it without missing a beat, releasing their sophomore effort, You Will Know Nothing, in June of this year. Here Lies Man explores an intriguing fusion of deep groove-based genres, posing the question explicitly for listeners: “What if Black Sabbath played Afrobeat?”

Other artists and events include America’s Got Talent semi-finalist Puddles Pity Party; Pakistani-Kashmiri-American poet and co-creator of the web series Fatima Ashgar, headlining the returning Writers of Color reading series; jazz trumpeter Jaimie Branch; Do You Want to Play?, a workshop with local sexuality experts Natalie Benway (also a Little Village columnist) and Alison Oliver; and a presentation from the Crisis Center of Johnson County’s Sara Knox titled Reframing Pain: Using Acceptance and Connection to Confront Suicide.

Witching Hour will also present their first curated dinner this year. St. Burch chef de cuisine Gabe Branch will join with fellows in the University of Iowa International Writing Program to pair food and readings in a tribute to Anthony Bourdain. The dinner is priced separately from festival passes; tickets are on sale now.

All tickets are available online or at the Englert box office. Pricing is as follows:

Two-Day Pass/Regular — $55 + fees
Two-Day Pass/Student — $20 + fees (valid student ID required)
Parts Unknown Tribute Dinner — $60 + fees

One-day passes ($35 + fees) and individual event tickets will be available Aug. 28.


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