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Release: June 28, 2000

EDITORS NOTE: Director Judith Lyons is reachable through the Department of Theatre Arts office, 319-335-2700.

Humans, lizards teach each other about life, love in Albee's 'Seascape'

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- What happens when a couple's quiet picnic on the beach is interrupted by the arrival of a pair of giant, talking sea lizards, perhaps the mutant products of some evolutionary leap? Well, they begin to bridge the interspecies gap through a far-ranging discussion -- laced with humor, warmth and insight -- about the meaning of life and love. At least that's what happens in Edward Albee's Pulitzer Prize-winning "Seascape," the final production of Iowa Summer Rep 2000.

"Seascape," directed by University of Iowa Theatre Arts alumna and Iowa Summer Rep veteran Judith Lyons, will open at 8 p.m. Tuesday, July 11, in the David Thayer Theatre of the UI Theatre Building. Additional performances will be at 8 p.m. July 12-16 and 18-22, and at 3 p.m. Sunday, July 23.

When "Seascape" opened in New York in 1975, a review in the New York Times proclaimed, "Hats off, and up in the air!" describing the play as "a major dramatic event."

" 'Seascape' is surprisingly funny, despite its serious themes," Lyons says. "It is a fantastical encounter between lizard and man; it is an experience in evolution; it is an examination of prejudice; it is an assessment of marriage; it is the clash of reason and emotion; it stares at death. But it does so with gentle humor and visual delight."

Lyons explains that this production is set on a beach, on the edge of the world. "In the year 2000 we sit poised on the edge of a new millennium, and despite the advances in our scientific knowledge, we are still asking the same questions about our lives. More often than not it is some event, some challenge or terror, that forces us to explain and define who we are. Just such an event for Charlie and Nancy is the arrival of English-speaking lizards. The play ends with the possibilities for the future: 'All right. Begin.'"

Other artistic contributors to the Iowa Summer Rep production of "Seascape" are costume designer Loyce Arthur, set designer Leonard Curtis, lighting designer Troy Hornung and sound designer Mark Bruckner.

Beginning in the late 1950s, Albee established a reputation for creating dramatic tension while simultaneously voicing serious social criticism. In addition to "Seascape" he won the Pulitzer Prize for "Three Tall Women" and "A Delicate Balance." His three Pulitzers rank second only to Eugene O'Neill's four. Tony Awards for Broadway productions went to "A Delicate Balance" and also to "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?"

In 1996, Albee received a Kennedy Center Lifetime Achievement Award, and in 1997 he was awarded the National Medal of Arts. At the Kennedy Center Honors ceremony in 1996, Albee was praised for his impact on American drama: "Edward Albee burst into the American theatrical scene in the late 1950s with a variety of plays that detailed the agonies and disillusionment of that decade and the transition from the placid Eisenhower years to the turbulent 1960s. Albee's plays, with their intensity, their grappling with modern themes, and their experiments in form, startled critics and audiences alike while changing the landscape of American drama."

"To me, Edward Albee means power and wit combined in breathtaking ways," says UI Department of Theatre Arts faculty member Eric Forsythe, artistic director of Iowa Summer Rep. "He audaciously jumps into your living room or into your beach party and shakes things up. I can't imagine a more exhilarating roller-coaster ride!"

For many seasons Iowa Summer Rep has pursued a unique focus in American summer theater with its single-playwright, festivals, and last season Iowa Summer Rep also became an Actor's Equity Company, elevating its status as a professional theater company.

Tickets for the Iowa Summer Rep 2000 production of "Seascape" are $17 ($13 for senior citizens, and $9 for students). Tickets may be purchased in advance from the Hancher Auditorium box office. Any remaining tickets for each performance will be available one hour before curtain time at the Theatre Building box office.

Hancher box office summer hours are 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. weekdays. From the local calling area, dial 335-1160. Long distance is toll-free, 1-800-HANCHER. Fax to (319) 353-2284. Orders may be charged to VISA, MasterCard or American Express. UI students may charge their purchases to their university bills, and UI faculty and staff may select the option of payroll deduction. Information and brochures may be requested by e-mail at <>.

People with special needs for access, seating and auxiliary services should dial 335-1158. This line is equipped with TDD for people with hearing impairment who use that technology.

Iowa Summer Rep ticketholders may complete their theatrical outing with a choice of picnic-box dinners at Eddie's Landing, overlooking the Iowa River. Reservations are required: Call 319-335-3105. Orders must be received before 5 p.m. one day in advance.

Reservation forms are available at the Hancher box office or the Department of Theatre Arts. Reservations may also be placed on the World Wide Web at <>. Picnics are available for 8 p.m. performances only, and will be available for pick-up at 6 p.m.

For UI arts information, visit <> on the World Wide Web. To receive UI arts news by e-mail, contact <>.