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January 31, 1968 - Image 2

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The Michigan Daily, 1968-01-31

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PAGE TWO

THE 1~MICHIGAN it 1A ll.

PAGE WO -.-~ 111 L ' - 1 ./ U l F ' a Ul" LA A Ad

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 31, 1968

I

arts

festival

I

theatre

Guitarist Griffith
With Good, Varied

uceeds

Foundation Backs Negro Theatre Group

By MARK LEHMAN

<?

Peter Griffith played a delight-
ful and varied program of guitar
music, both ancient and modern,
before a full Union Ballroom last
night.
The ancient pieces included
works by Bach, Sor, and several
Renaissance composers. Griffith,
captured the grace and charm of
these pieces without exertion; he
clearly enjoys playing for people.
The Bach selections, a little pre-
lude in d minor and a transcrip-
tion from one of the unaccom-
panied cello suites, along with a
trio of Sor etudes, demonstrated
Griffith's moderate technique to
advantage.
The modern selections included
a prelude by Villa-Lobos, a tran-
scription from Mussorgsky's "Pic-
tures at an Exhibition", jazzy ver-
sions of the themes from "Black
Orpheus" and "A Man and A
Woman." and an Albeniz prelude
in flamenco style.
Griffith's playing was relaxed,
poetic and musical, never osten-
tatious. The audience clearly en-
joyed his music. The Mussorgsky
piece, sounded rather strange on
the guitar; it is questionable
whether the instrument suited the
music.
The highlight of the program,
part of the Creative Arts Festival,
was unquestionably Griffith's own
compositions. Prefacing his per-
formances with programmatic ex-
planations of the pieces, he was
obviously having fun with the
audience.
The pieces consisted of two sets-
of songs for hiss baby son. They
were whimsicaleand melodic, dem-
onstrating a clear influence from
folk music with their simple mel-
odies and ostinato bass accom-
paniments, and thoroughly de-
lightful. Griffith's modest but
playful compositions brought'
forth, his finest' playing and in-
deed made for the most pleasant
listening during the .concert.
The second half of the concert
offered Herb David playing the
guitar and .lute. He struggled
through several,.modern guitar
compositions, in the Spanishi
style, but it was painfully evident{
that he had bitten off more than
he "could chew.
His technique was simply not
adequate for these demanding
pieces.

Pg aBy ART GOLDBERG
1g a Liberation News Service
NEW YORK, N.Y.-In August
1967, Douglas Turner Ward, a 37-
year-old black playwright, wrote
an article for the New York Times
Sunday theatre section. Ward,
who won an "obie" for the best
off-broadway play of 1966-67,
casually mentioned that he would
like to work in a Negro-oriented
theatre.
Faster than he could say "Mc-
George Bundy," the Ford Founda-
tion approached and asked him to
make a proposal for the type of
theatre he envisioned. Ward turn-
ed to the two men who had been
instrumental in getting his award-
winning ' one-act plays, "Happy
Ending" and "Day of Absence"
produced. They were Negro actor'
Robert Hooks, and producer Ger-
ald S. Krone, a white man.
The Ward-Hooks-Krone prp-
posal resulted in a $430,000 grant
from the foundation, and this past1
fall the Negro Ensemble Company
(NEC) was formed. On Jan. 2, the
company opened its first produc-
tion, "The Song of the Lusitanianl
Bogey," at the St. Marks Play-1
house in the East Village.I
Favorable Notices
The notices were largely favor-
able. Several reviewers were not
enchanted with the play, but al-1
most everyone had high praise for
-Daily-Bernie Baker the acting company. No one
riffith seemed to notice, however, that the
___first play chosen by the ensemble,
company was by a white man, Pe-
G"9 ter Weiss, the German-born,
Swedish author of "Marat/Sade."
This was easy to overlook be-1
r~ P l n iwrn cause the play is much an over-
gindictment of Portugese
colonialism in Angola, a colonial-"
ism that Weiss suggests is doomed.
w-i r ,g- f-, - The cast is all black, as is the
dir ector, scenic designer, lighting
man and stage crew. And, as one
designer, and Mrs. Claire Bern- of the directors of the company
stein is the costumed esigner. said, "We are doing something
With the help of the people. the that speaks for the American Ne-
young members of the organiza- gro, and reflects on him and his
tion completely mounted the pro- problems."
ilduction themselves, doing every- This does not mean that the1
thing from singing and dancing plays must be writtennby a black
to building sets and sewing cos- man. It does mean that they
tumes. should have what is described as a
Tickets for "Take Me Along" are "Negro orientation." If there is any
available through the Ann Arbor guiding philosophy behind thet
Recreation Dept., daily 8-5 p.m., company, that is it.
401 N. Division St. They will also No Policy
be available at the door before The NEC claims it has no estab-E
both performances. lished policy towards the type of1
After three months of rehear- plays it plans to produce. It says
sals every Saturday morning, the it is trying hard not to start outf
group has just moved into the with a set political viewpoint.
Tappan Auditorium for its final "We don't have to say any-f
days of rehearsals, and the mem- thing," says Ward, now the com-C
bership looks forward to a pany's artistic director. "We are!"
swinging" first show. NEC maintains it will focus on
"Take Me Along" is a complete- plays about, or of concern to the
ly light-hearted show, fine fare American Negro. It will try to do
for the whole family, and maybe-. plays where what is being said can
just maybe, you'll see a little of best be said by black people.
yourself in it. Come and find out. What about plays by militant

A:

blacks? Or black nationalists? NEC many Negroes, not accustomed to
points out that there could hardly theatre-going, are not in the habit
be a more militant play than its of buying tickets ahead of time. In
first one, "The Song of the Lusi- New York, this can be disastrous,
tanian Bogey." an any good show sells out long
In one dramatic scene, a voice in advance.
describes the conditions Africans The NEC feels that the black
must live and work under in An- audience it does develop will be
gola, while at the same time, over an audience raised on quality
an insistent drum beat, the roll theatre. "They won't be getting
of the European and American Broadway re-runs, or Negro ver-
companies with large investments sions of 'Hello Dolly,'" a company
in Angola is called: "Chase Man- spokesman says. "They'll be a bet-
hattan . . . Royal Dutch Shell . . . ter group of theatre-goers."
the Beers Mining . . ." The critics More Responsive
saw the relevance to the black m refi Res -oive -

players are listed alphabetically, The members of the groups will
and in the first production, were be encouraged to become a part
not even identified with the parts of the general theatre force. Ar-
they played. rangements will be made for peo- *
This made it impossible for the ple to work in other theatres, then
critics to -single out individual per- return periodically to the NEC if
formances. They all stressed the they wish,
strength of the ensemble playing, The company hopes to become a
a rare accomplishment for an magnet that will attract talented
American group, especially one black people to the theatre. "The
that has been together such a Song of the Lusitanian Bogey"was
short time. directed by Michael A. Schultz, a
If the plays represent the NEC young black director who walked
to the public, some members of the into the theatre one day and ask-
group believe that the real con- ed for the opportunity to direct a
tribution the company is making play.
is in its training programs. The The NEC seems to have gotten
13 professionals in the ensemble off to a fine start with a militant
are given advanced training in dramatic, well-acted play of real .
acting, voice and dance. relevance to black people. The
More important, however, is the question is, how long will Mc-

Peter G

"TAKE ME ALON(
Local Stu
MusicalP
EDITOR'S NOTE: The authors of
this article are 9th graders at Tap-
pan Junior High School and mem-
bers of Ann Arbor MusicalaTheatre.
Miss Eldersveld is the assistant di-
rector and Miss Hassinger plays
Muriel.
By LUCY ELDERSVELD
and SARA HASSINGER 1
If you have been keeping your
eyes and ears open, you are aware
of a new musical theatre group
sponsored -by the Ann Arbor
Recreation Department, including
young' people in grades nine
through twelve.
Its first production will be,
"Take Me Alone," the musical"
version of Eugene O'Neill's " Ah
Wilderness." It will be presented
in Tappan Junior Highr School
Auditorium on Feb. 1 and 2 at
'8 p~m.
The show takes place on July1
4th and 5th 1906, and it is thef
story of the Miller family of Cen-
terville, Conn. It recalls the trials
of their son Richard, in love fory
the very first time. The story of-
fers a parallel between Richard's
young love with Muriel and Uncle
Sid's old love for Aunt Lily.
The idea for Musical Theatre
originated with Mrs. Barbara
Cartwright of the Recreation De-
partment's Cultural Arts program.
The only adults working on the
production serve as designer-di-
rectors. Michael Harrah directs
music and dramation, Mrs. Cart-
wright is the technical director-

ghettos in the U.S.
Ward, as artistic director, is
chiefly responsible for choosing
the plays. He, along with Hooks,
now the company's executive di-
rector, and Krone, the adminis-
trative director, have final say on
what is to be produced.
Second Play
NEC's second production will be
by a white playwright also, Aus-
tralian Ray Lawler, whose "Sum-
mer of the 17th Doll" will open in'
February. It deals with the humani
problems of itinerant cane cut-
ters, a group distinctly outside the
mainstream of Australian society.
By changing the locale to Louisi-
ana, the company believes it will
develop a play of significance to
the black community.
The final two plays of the NEC
season will be by black men. One3
is by the Nigerian playwright
Wole Soyinka, and deals with an,
internal political struggle in an
African country. Soyinka has re-
cently been imprisoned by one of
the factions in his country's civil
war.
"Daddy Goodness," a comic sa-
tire on religion by Richard Wright,
the late Negro expatriate novelist,
will close the company's first sea-
son. The work is unusual in that
it is Wright's only known play, and
because Wright had never been
known to write in a comic vein.
The plays at the St. Marks Play-
house will be directed at black
audiences, but 70 per cent of the
people who have come to see the
opening show have been whites.
One of the NEC's major goals is to
develop a Negro theatre audience.
It has concentrated its adver-
tising in black localities all over
the New York area. It advertises
in media which reach black people
and offers special discounts to"
Negro groups. It has mounted a
special promotional campaign to
encourage black theatre-goers.
For each performance, it sets
aside a block of tickets which can
only be sold a half-hour before
curtain time. This is done because1

Th'I'ne NEC finds predominantly
black audiences more responsive
than predominantly white audi-
ences. They find that black people
come to the theatre with less pre-
conceptions than do white people,
and that their reactions are
"freer.
If the company was pleased with
the reception given to its opening
production, it is nevertheless de-
termined to avoid the "success
syndrome." "We are not shooting
for one or two big hits," says
Krone. "We are thinking of the
program as a whole."
Accordingly, "The Song of the
Lusitanian Bogey" will close early
in February, even though it is a
sellout, to make room for "Sum-
mer of the 17th Doll."
Since the NEC is an ensemble
group, there are no "stars." The
761r9700

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I

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HOLT
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CHIL DR-EN'S COMMUNITY

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training given to the 85 students
and 15 on-the-job trainees. They
too receive instruction in acting,
voice and dance, but they also
learn about scenic design, lighting,
stage management and front-of-
the-house operation.
"We hope to develop a cadre of
people who will not only feed this
company, but will also go out and
work with other groups," a
spokesman for the NEC says.

George Bundy and the Ford Foun-
dation continue to subsidize such
a theatre? Will the NEC produce
a play by LeRoi Jones?
Thes are interesting.questions in
the light of disclosures in the Na-
tional Guardian that the Ford
Foundation, which contributes
heavily to CORE, SCLC, the Urban
League and NAACP, has hopes of
controlling and channeling the
black liberation movement.

10

BOGART
THE KING-
IS BACK WITH
"THE QUEEN"

Schorling Aud.-University High School
(Corner of Monroe and E. University)

i
I

Iii#---

__

I

Creative Arts
Festival
Wednesday, Jan. 31
PAUL KRASSNER
Union Assembly Room,
7:30 p.m.
Student Laboratory Theatre
Frieze Arena, 4 p.m.
Thursday, Feb. 1
STAN VANDERBEEK
Architecture Aud.,
7 and 9 p.m.
LORD CHAMBERLAIN'S
PLAYERS
"Salome"
Angell Hall Foyer, 8 p.m.
STUDENT LABORATORY
THEATRE .
Frieze Arena, 4 p.m.L

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Religion and literature

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BOB FRANKE
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And others

TONIGHT
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Can Jewish Worship
Express the Anxiety of Our Age .
H illel answers this question with:
Specially prepared supplements with poems and
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Program Information 2-6264

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CLINT EASTWOOD
"THE GOOD
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DAY, JAN. 31
PERIMENTAL FILMS
PROGRAM NO. 2
AY, FEB. 1
'AN VANDERBEEK
The New York film maker will appear,
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HARLIE CHAPLIN
NIGHT
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