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Clarke University Theatre and Expert Panel Promote Discussions on Brain Health

By Clarke News  |  March 25, 2022

With performances April 7-10, Clarke University Theatre is exploring brain health and wellness through its production of Gwen & Gwen. The psychological drama features local performers Hanna Hoftender ’22, Andrea Bednar ’74, Brenna Burgart ’17, and Traci Yeo ’14.  

Written by Nancy Kiefer, the play follows protagonist Gwen as she is released from psychiatric care and seeks to re-establish her life, identity, and relationships. Throughout the play, she is tormented by an alter-ego urging her towards self-destruction. According to Colin Muenster ’08, Clarke Theatre’s Director in Residence, the cast and crew were drawn to the piece for its powerful themes. 

Gwen and Gwen touches on themes like brain health, social work, and other topics that are relevant to society today,” said Muenster. “It presents an opportunity to take ideas beyond the performance and generate some real conversations in our community.

Following Friday’s performance, there will be a discussion panel focused on themes from the play including brain health, suicide, and the role of social work in the field of brain health. Panelists will include Lorie Murphy from Clarke University Counseling Services, Instructor of Social Work Lydia Wong, and Brenna Burgart ’17, who is a Counselor at Substance Abuse Services Center and Adjunct Instructor for Clarke Psychology. The panel will also be joined by a representative of Mental Health America of Dubuque County, an organization that provides services for Dubuque, IA and the surrounding communities. MHA DBQ works to collaborate, educate and advocate for individuals in need of mental health support. Audience members will also be invited to share their reactions to the play. 

Additionally, area high school students interested in theatre are invited to take part in a special Behind the Scenes event prior to the Friday performance. Students will meet the cast and crew of Gwen & Gwen, learn what goes in to a professional-caliber production, and learn more about life and involvement opportunities on the Clarke University campus. Information on this and all Clarke’s Visit events may be found at 

Gwen and Gwen features performances April 7-9 at 7:30 p.m. and a matinee at 2 p.m. on April 10. All performances are in Terence Donaghoe Hall at Clarke University. Tickets may be purchased at the door and are $10 for adults, $7 seniors, and $5 for non-Clarke students. More information is available at