Published: April 22, 1998

It wasn’t a marriage made in heaven. And now, after years of bickering, the partnership between the urban and rural West is on the rocks.

In a program that is both fun and serious, the Center of the American West at the University of Colorado at Boulder will explore the complex relationship between urban and rural interests and cast it in very human terms.

"The Urban-Rural Divorce in the American West," will begin at 1 p.m. May 9 at the Boulder Public Library Auditorium, 1000 Canyon Blvd. The event is free and open to the public.

Drawing on several public figures including former Boulder Mayor Leslie Durgin and state Sen. Dorothy Rupert, the hearing will select a jury from the audience to decide whether the divorce should be granted.

The production stars Jamie Sudler, assistant disciplinary counsel for the Colorado Supreme Court, as Sandy Greenhills West, who files for divorce citing "irreconcilable differences," and CU-Boulder history Professor Patricia Limerick as Urbana Asphalt West, his "misunderstood" wife.

In a 1-1/2 hour mock court hearing, the characters and a cast of witnesses debate the many difficult issues faced by the urban and rural west. For example, Sandy charges Urbana with turning the children against him, despoiling his home with waste dumps and brown clouds, corrupting the family with violence and sensationalism, and various other sins.

Urbana, on the other hand, believes Sandy is "badly in need of counseling." She admits to having been busy but says she cannot be the cause of all the things that have gone wrong with Sandy’s life. He must, she says, face up to the fact that the world has been changing, economically and politically, and traditional rural enterprises have been changing most of all.

Guest stars in the program include:

o Ryan Bernard, a graduate of the Center of the American West certificate program, as the Wests’ dysfunctional child, Subby Urban West.

o Dorothy Rupert, Colorado state senator, as Subby’s counselor.

o Bill Riebsame, editor of the "Atlas of the New West," as a witness for Sandy.

o Mel Coleman, founder and president of Coleman Natural Beef, as a witness for Sandy.

o Leslie Durgin, former mayor of Boulder, as a witness for Urbana.

o Chips Barry, manager of Denver Water, as a witness for Urbana.

o Senior U.S. District Judge John Kane, Jr., as the judge.

The show will be the 13th performance of the Urban-Rural Divorce, which has been taken on the road to Western cities and towns including Rock Springs, Wyo.; Boise, Idaho; and Gunnison, Colo.

The upcoming program is sponsored by the Center of the American West, EVEREN Securities and the Boulder Public Library Foundation. A reception will follow the performance.

For more information, call the Center of the American West at (303) 492-4879.