The University of Iowa

WITCHING HOUR Festival 2019, November 1 - 2

October 28, 2019

The Englert Theatre and Little Village are proud to present Witching Hour 2019, returning to downtown Iowa City on November 1 & 2.

Witching Hour 2019 will feature performances, discussions, panels, and workshops from artists and thinkers pushing the boundaries of their craft in Iowa and beyond. Witching Hour’s fifth year will again boldly explore the unknown, discuss the creative process, and present new work. 

Witching Hour is where Iowa’s creative community gathers, where filmmakers engage with poets, and scientists compare processes with comedians. This year, attendees can see live performances, listen to panel discussions and lectures, or engage more directly with one of our workshops.

The core themes of this year’s event center on the acts of uncovering and understanding our history--from the personal to the global--and determining how we might design a better future. Composer Rachel Grimes reflects on her Kentucky-based family’s generational history in the Midwest premiere of her folk opera The Way Forth, speaker Marcelo Mena considers global climate policy in his keynote lecture, arts consultant Beatrice Thomas challenges us to amass our creative tools for a pending apocalypse, and in a rare and historic gathering, current members of the University of Iowa’s executive team assemble to discuss their vision for the institution in a shifting landscape.

Rachel Grimes

Rachel Grimes is a composer and pianist who creates music for chamber ensembles, orchestras, film, and collaborative live performances.The Way Forth, Grimes’ new folk opera and film, encompasses lush layers of voices and orchestrations in an experiential, non-linear investigation highlighting perspectives of Kentucky women from 1775 to today. Inspired by a treasure-trove of family documents, photos, and letters spanning several generations, Grimes began in 2016 to research some of the more vexing questions that came to the surface about these people, places, and events. As the Witching Hour Festival’s featured artist, festival attendees will encounter Grimes’ work in performance, exhibit, and lecture. 

Rachel’s work will be presented in partnership with multiple University of Iowa offices for this program including Stanley Museum of Art, Creative Matters, and the Iowa Women’s Archive.


Marcelo Mena (Free lecture @ The Englert)

Marcelo Mena served as Chile’s Minister of the Environment where he led nothing short of an environmental revolution – ratifying some of the world’s most progressive environmental policies, and bringing the global south to the forefront of international debate at multiple climate summits from 2006-2018. Mena is a University of Iowa Distinguished Alumni award recipient, having completed his phD work in Environmental Engineering right here in Iowa City. Currently serving as the World Bank’s climate advisor to the CEO, Mena will share his process for understanding a problem and how to address it, speaking as a scientist, a political figure, and a cultural leader.
This event is co-presented by the University of Iowa College of Engineering. Additional support is provided by the University of Iowa College of Public Health and the University of Iowa Public Policy Center.


UI Leadership (Free panel discussion @ The Englert)

The University of Iowa has faced many challenges over the past twenty years – floods, the great recession, changing demographics, and a generation of disinvestment in higher education – to name a few. These challenges created both short and long-term challenges for the UI but through challenges new opportunities have emerged.

In a rare and welcome event, University of Iowa leaders will discuss the strategic priorities of the university which will beget a promising future for our students, our community, our state, our nation, and world. Panelists will include Bruce Harreld, Monserrat Fuentes, Daniel Clay, and Lauren Lessing.



Shredders is the rap project from Doomtree members P.OS, Sims, Lazerbeak, and Paper Tiger. Their debut album Dangerous Jumps was released on Doomtree Records in late 2017. Shredders have shared the stage with a diverse range of acclaimed artists including Run The Jewels, The Underachievers, Bishop Briggs, Astronautalis, and Paper Diamond. Their new album, Great Hits, will be released on August 30, 2019. This event is co-presented with University of Iowa’s SCOPE Productions.


Julio Torres

Julio Torres is a Brooklyn-based comedian who moved to New York from El Salvador to study literature at the New School. Along with Fred Armisen and Ana Fabrega, he co-created and stars in Los Espookys, a Spanish language series intended for an English speaking audience, on HBO. Julio’s hour-long HBO special, My Favorite Shapes, was released in August 2019.


Iowan Artists and Presenters

As always, Witching Hour is proud to provide a platform for Iowa-based creative minds and thinkers. This year, over 20 Iowa based creatives will present new work and ideas at the festival.

Tickets and the program line up can be found at or the Englert Box Office.