Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein will be making some appearances on campus this week. And he may be wearing women's clothing. As usual, virtually nothing will be spared from parody by the all-male comedy troupe Mask and Wig in their fall production, Saddam and Gomorrah, and audience members should be prepared for anything, according to the group members. "People who are down on their luck, in despair, or having a hard time with life should definitely come to our show," said David Koff, co-director of the Mask & Wig show. "It may or may not help, but at least they'll be giving us their money." This year's fall show, which opens tonight at Houston Hall Auditorium, centers around about "life, love, and the feeling you get right after you go to the bathroom," said Koff, a College senior. And while they expect to draw people with the title drawing off the noteriety of the Iraqi leader, the majority of the show at Houston Hall Auditorium is composed of over a dozen comedic skits that students should relate to, Koff said. The comedy troupe's show will also give the audience a chance to get involved in the entertainment, but co-Producer Chris Heisen said he did not not want reveal any of the details of the intended participation. "It's a solid show," added Heisen. "It's fun entertainment that gives the audience a chance to get involved." Mask and Wig shows traditionally feature some of the group members costumed in women's clothing -- a unique drawing point for student performing arts shows. "Where else can you see guys legitimately dress up as women on stage?" said Heisen. While in the past, students have complained that Houston Hall Auditorium is not ideal for productions, both Koff and Heisen said that space is very intimate and will encourage the audience to get involved in the energy of the show. Heisen, a College senior, has worked on the production end of the Mask & Wig show for four years in a row and said he enjoys being at the helm of a performance for the first time. Heisen urged students to come to the show, claiming, "It will be one of the best nights they have at Penn." "Or maybe in their lives, or their entire families' lives," agreed Koff. Showtimes are Wednesday at 8 p.m. and Thursday through Saturday at 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Tickets are $5 for tonight's performance only, and $6 for other times. They can be purchased on Locust Walk.
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Interspersing colorful slides with humorous anecdotes, award-winning science fiction illustrator Don Maitz told an eager audience Friday night of the intricacies and difficulties he has had in the science fiction industry. In a two-hour presentation at International House, Maitz who was making his first American appearance since winning the prestigious Hugo Award in Holland earlier this year entertained about 50 members of the Philadelphia Science Fiction Society by showing dozens of slides of many of his previous paintings and book cover art. The program also featured Maitz' wife, Janny Wurts, who displayed a slide presentation of her own including the book jacket from an upcoming novel. During the program, Maitz stressed that research is the key to developing award-winning fantasy images, adding that raw talent and an active imagination help to embellish the art. Maitz, sporting a leopard-spotted black and white shirt with a dark fluorescent green tie, pointed to his current project involving the painting of an 18th-century ship full of pirates for which he has had to spend long hours researching the workings of eighteenth century sailing ships. "It's a lot of research trying to get it accurate," he added. During her presentation, Wurts criticized American publishers, saying that they often want to edit the books to their own preferences. Because of that, Wurts said she relies on English publishers making her books more difficult to buy in the United States. "My next six books are coming out in England, but I don't have a buyer yet in America," Wurts added. "I'm reluctant to commit all my books to a publisher who won't do a good job." Her next book, Servant of the Empire, which she wrote with Raymond Feist is the follow-up to her previous collaboration with Feist, Daughter of the Empire and is set to be released later this month. Audience members said afterwards that they found the presentation both inventive and fascinating. "It's always a great insight to see how authors wrote the books," said Wharton senior Bobby Pish. "It gives the books a lot more color."