Jungle Theater cheapens itself to win young hearts


by Jay Gabler | March 15, 2009 • The fine arts have a dirty little secret: in many cases, they’re actually very inexpensive. Gallery shows are generally free—and you often get free booze if you show up for an opening or an art crawl. The MIA is free, too—though the wine there will cost you. Readings by the highfalutinest writers are usually free; the people you pay to see are the people whose books sell big in airport shops and at Target. The Minnesota Orchestra has more sales than Diamond Lake Furniture.

Your chances of getting in on the cheap are even better if you’re in a coveted demographic group…that is, any group other than post-midlife-crisis heterosexual white people. The Jungle Theater—which has what I regard as the best stage in town, at one of Minneapolis’s hottest intersections (Lyn-Lake), and routinely mounts some of the area’s very finest productions—is currently flogging its “30 Below Club,” which offers $10 tickets to anyone born after the Carter Administration. That’s a price in the neighborhood of what you’d pay to see a first-run movie, and less than half of what you’d pay to rent a DVD (presuming you’re like me and forget to return them until the Hollywood Video robot calls and threatens to sic Zoltar on you). Not bad.

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And what for those of us who are older than 29? What are we supposed to do while the bright young things are enjoying “the coolest theater afterparties with free food and drink specials, live music and more”? Well, we can act our age and curl up by the fire with a good book. Since, at our advanced age, the Sword of Damocles is apt to fall upon the head of any of us at any time, mercifully ending this parched existence where our afterparties are less cool and we must pay full price for those few theatrical entertainments left for us to enjoy before we succumb to the Grim Reaper, we might as well choose a story sufficiently entertaining to distract us from our plight. Mary brought this one to my attention; its author, Charles Baxter, is reading at Magers and Quinn on the 27th. Its title: The Dakota Cipher.

William Dietrich is back with another fast-paced new adventure—one that brings together Norse mythology, the American wilderness, and a swashbuckling explorer in an irresistible page-turner. Ethan Gage just wants to enjoy the fruits of victory after helping Napoleon win the Battle of Marengo and end an undeclared naval war with the United States. But a foolish tryst with Bonaparte’s married sister and the improbable schemes of a grizzled Norwegian named Magnus Bloodhammer soon send Ethan on a new treasure hunt on America’s frontier that will have him dodging scheming aristocrats and hostile Indians.

Photo: Who needs an afterparty? Tom Sherohman and Mikki Daniels in Hitchcock Blonde. Photo by Michal Daniel, courtesy Jungle Theater.