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University of Iowa News Release

June 15, 2006

The Second Iowa Summer Rep "Summer Camp" Show Opens June 29

The Iowa summer will become even campier with the opening of "The Artificial Jungle" by Charles Ludlam, the second production of "Summer Camp": Iowa Summer Rep 2006, at 8 p.m. Thursday, June 29, in the David Thayer Theatre of the University of Iowa Theatre Building. Other performances will be at 8 p.m. June 30 and July 1, 2, 6, 11, 12, 16, 18, 19, 20 and 23.

"A send-up of the film noir classic 'The Postman Always Rings Twice,' 'The Artificial Jungle,' has it all -- murder, romance, pop culture and wild farcical comedy," says director Mary Beth Easley, an Iowa Summer Rep regular. "Charles Ludlum was the master of biting social satire."

In his last play for the Ridiculous Theatrical Company before his death in 1987, Ludlam created his self-proclaimed, "masterpiece of suspense." It tells the totally trashy story of an odd love triangle. Chester Nurdiger (Jim VanValen) is a crude, aging owner of a sleazy New York pet shop. His wife, Roxanne (Elena Passarello), is a dolled-up strumpet who married him because he was the first man who ever asked. When Chester hires Zach (Josh Adler), a horny, leather-clad young punk with indiscriminate taste in women, the stage is set for mayhem.

"The Artificial Jungle" marks the Iowa Summer Rep debut of Equity actress Passarello, a graduate student in the UI Non-Fiction Writing Program who boasts impressive professional acting credentials -- she originated roles in the world premieres of Christopher Durang's "Mrs. Bob Cratchit's Wild Christmas Binge" at City Theatre and David Turkel's "Wild Signs" and "Holler" at the Bricolage Theatre. She won the 2000 New Works Festival prize for Best Actress with the Unseam'd Shakespeare Company in Pittsburgh.

Other artistic contributors to the Iowa Summer Rep production of "The Artificial Jungle" include scene designer William Moser, costume designer Andre Harrington, lighting designer Jim Albert and sound designer Mark Bruckner.

This production includes material of an adult nature. Potential audience members who are concerned about whether it is appropriate for them should contact the Department of Theatre Arts at 319-335-2700 for additional information.

Again this season, Iowa Summer Rep evening performances will be accompanied by the popular "Dinner on the Patio" fare, with casual seating overlooking the Iowa River. Dinner reservations, which are strongly encouraged, can be made by calling 319-335-3105.

Iowa Summer Rep is an U/RTA (University/Resident Theatre Association) company employing Equity actors and stage managers, as well as students who earn points toward their Actors Equity card.

Iowa Summer Rep has carved out a unique niche in American professional summer theater by presenting single-playwright festivals. This season Iowa Summer Rep is deviating from that formula by presenting works in a single genre, by two playwrights.

"Our single-playwright summer festivals are a popular and wonderful tradition in Iowa City," artistic director Eric Forsythe wrote in his welcome letter for the Summer Rep playbill. "I look forward to each festival with great pleasure, particularly so this year because I'm such a fan of the playwrights. Yes, that's 'playwrights' with an 's!' This year we've selected plays by two contemporary playwrights whose work is related stylistically and in the "camp" tradition.

"The season as a whole revels in the world of humor, nostalgia, wit and irony. In a year of divisiveness and stress, it's been wonderful for us to find refuge in work with so much laughter and wit. . . . Iowa Summer Rep is the first company to present these two playwrights in their own season together."

Joining "The Artificial Jungle" in "Summer Camp" are Ludlam's "The Mystery of Irma Vep" and "The Allergist's Wife" by Charles Busch. Ludlam transformed the ridiculous into high art. He emerged in the 1960s to break all stage and social conventions with his signature extravagant mix of camp, pop culture, literary and movie parody, gender-bending and cross-dressing.

After Ludlam's death in 1987 the banner of ridiculous theater was taken up by Busch, who wrote and starred in his own theater pieces, broke into Broadway and is now a rising movie star.

Iowa Summer Rep 2006 is supported by the University of Iowa Community Credit Union.

Tickets for "The Artificial Jungle" are $23 ($18 for senior citizens, and $10 for UI students and youth). 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.

Tickets may also be purchased at a substantial discount as part of a Summer Rep subscription package. Series packages for Summer Camp are $55, $43 for senior citizens, and $25 for UI students and youth. Subscription packages will be available until "The Mystery of Irma Vep" closes on July 9. A "Summer Camp" brochure is available from the Hancher box office, or from the Department of Theatre Arts: 319-335-2700 or

Tickets may be purchased 24 hours a day, seven days a week, at For phone or ticket-window purchases, the box office is open 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. weekdays.

From the local calling area, dial 319-335-1160. Long distance is toll-free, 1-800-HANCHER. People with special needs for access, seating and auxiliary services should dial 319-335-1158, which is equipped with TDD for people with hearing impairment who use that technology.

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.

The Department of Theatre Arts is a unit of the Division of Performing Arts in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

For UI arts information and calendar updates, visit To receive UI arts news by e-mail,

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Arts Center Relations, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 351, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Winston Barclay, 319-384-0073,

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