Exploring the Unknown


AJ Boulund

The Witching Hour

From Art to Jazz, Iowa City is no stranger to festivals. But the newest addition to the Iowa City festival scene is looking to do things a little differently.“The Witching Hour is a brand new festival that we are starting with Little Village magazine,” Aly High, Director of Marketing at the Englert Theater, explained. “It’s a 2 day festival from November 6th to 7th, and it’s very multidisciplinary.”

The Witching Hour is hoping to set itself apart from other festivals in a number of ways. First, the festival only began booking performers in June, relatively early compared to similar festivals. Along with that, the festival has had curators from many different groups, including the Englert Theatre, the Little Village Magazine, Sphere Studios, Mission Creek Festival, and FilmScene. But most notably, the Witching Hour will have a specific theme: the unknown.Untitled Infographic

“Some people are taking the idea of the unknown very literally,” High said. “Cornelia Lang, an astrophysicist at the University of Iowa, is delving into what’s in a black hole, but then Brian Posehn, a comedian, is trying crazy stuff where he is both a metal musician and a comedian.”

The organizers hope the theme of the unknown will allow both groups and individuals at the Witching Hour to engage in greater dialogue with their audience as well as their fellow performers within their own disciplines.
“I believe the intersection of art, culture and science is a very interesting and vibrant place to be working and thinking,” Dr. Cornelia Lang, associate professor at the University of Iowa said. “I like the idea of combining performances and disciplines around a theme, rather than to always be stuck in the ‘silos’ of what we are supposed to be doing.”

For Lang, the festival is also an opportunity for people to learn about the unknown from sources they wouldn’t normally come in contact with.

“The unknown is an exciting place. In astronomy, we often refer to the unknown as the ‘Known Unknown’ because there are things we don’t understand but we know are out there,” Lang explained.

The structure and format of the festival builds upon the theme, and allows both performers and speakers to have a specific time for their performances.

“Witching Hour is in the time of day where it turns from day to night and so it’s a mysterious, spooky unknown,” High explained. “The festival is laid out with performances at night and discussion during the day.”
For frequent festival-goers like Sophie Gottler ‘17, the Witching Hour is a welcome addition to the scene.

“I have been to the Jazz Fest and the Arts Fest, and you can really see how performance can bring people together there,” Gottler said. “I think the Witching Hour could really bring something new and interesting to Iowa City.”

Both the layout and the artists at Witching Hour mean that the festival can appeal to a people with different backgrounds and various interests.

“I know that sounds very generic, but there is something there that will make you feel something at Witching Hour,” High said.

High hopes that the unconventional setup and organization of the festival will make it a particularly enlightening experience.

“It’s important for young people to go out and really figure out what they like and not just what their peers like,” High said. “I think Witching Hour is a really great opportunity for that.”