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April 04, 1968 - Image 2

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The Michigan Daily, 1968-04-04

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Page Two

THE MICHIGAN DAILY

Thursdav. Argil 4. 969

PaeTlTH IHGA1AL

rThiurcac y r-- i i 4 r1..+1+

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theatre

'68 'Ensian: Nice To Look At

Antigone': Good Greek

By FRITZ LYON
Devoted classicists and ser-
vants of Greek tragedy are re-
warded this week by the Uni-
versity Players' production of
Sophocles' Antigone under the
direction of- Claribel Baird. As
a personal prejudice, I have no
reverence for Greek theatre,
and although this production
didn't change my mind, I found
little to criticize in the per-
formance, with one exception.
To enjoy Greek tragedy, one
must accept the conventions of
ritual theatre. But the key to
this acceptance, the mask, was
missing in Antigone. Without
the absolute separation that the
mask. permits, the formal style
of the play conflicts with the
semi-realistic style of the act-
ing.:

The characters on the. stage
often behave like real people,
but the form of the play is ob-
viously unnatural and unrealis-
tic. Most modlern productions of
Greek plays utilize the actor's
face rather than the tradition-
al mask, and- the consequent
ambivalence between styles is
not serious enough to bother,
most people. To me, however, if
the play is to be done formally,.
the elimination of the mask is
detrimental.
The actor is caught between
intoning the lines and acting
them, and.often tries to do
both. The sounds produced are
somewhere between song and
realistic speech. Sometimes, the
result leans toward recitation,
sometimes toward melodramatic
exaggeration. The -mask serves

A look at ...
'Guess Who's Coming To Dinner'
by Daniel Okrent
THE SIDNEY POITIER movie has reached its peak.
Long the repi'esentation of wholesome negritude, Poitier has,
yes, Uncle Tommed his way through feature after feature, making
it easy for white America to sit back and relax, and think about
all the "good" darkies there are, who don't push 'or shove or throw
Molotov cocktails.
But, in Guess Who's Coming To Dinner, Sidney has made all
his toil worthwhile. In coming home to visit Spencer Tracy and
Katharine Hepburn with their daughter (his fiancee) in- tow, he
has completed the long, arduous process of becoming so acceptable
that, even when he screams at his past-generation father at the
film's end, the audience is wholly, firmly on his side.
Guess Who's Coming To Dinner is not an artistic triumph.
But as a subtle representation of perfect propaganda, of slip-the-
knife-in-easy manipulation, it is glorious. No, there was no better
way for producer-director Stanley Kramer to send his message
home than to use the always-popular Tracy and Hepburn as his
messengers. No, Poitier shouldn't have' been a dew-ragger or a
regular 1' Joe - it makes it so much easier that, he is a world-
famous neurosuigeon. No, it's OK that not once does 'he kiss his
white fiancee (played syruply by Katharine Houghton); that
might be a bit too much.
SO, WE HAVE as a result a film that is often trite, cliched
and shop-worn. If you have already gotten used to seeing a white
girl with a black man, you will no doubt shrug and be a bit an-
noyed by the patronization. But not if you look at the film as
sincere proselytizing; in this sense, it couldn't .be better.
You see, when Sidney Poitier started out many years. ago
as Tony Curtis' partner on a chain gang in The Defiant Ones, he
never offended even the most militant of viewers. He was good,
at the beginning, because he was the Negro who got into the
American home, even before the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Since,
almost immediately after Lilies of the 'Field and his Academy
Award, Poitier has -been old hat. He was the "acceptable" black
man, as opposed to those who didn't have college educations. In-
tegration had become a vogue thing on a social level, and' for
that, no one had to be persuaded.
BUT NOW, KRAMER has crossed a new bridge: Sidney can
come into your home not as a next-door neighbor, but as a rela-
tive. By just so slowly breaking down Spencer Tracy's reluctance
to let his daughter marry the cultured Negro, Kramer says "Why
not?" to the rednecks, letting for-the-marriage Katharine Hep-
burn quiver her chin just ever so much prior to crying, letting
Poitier's mailman father be the old-fashioned Negro who is. so
evidently wrong, and letting the camera pan dramatically around
Tracy's face as he gives his climactic tear-jerker that sets every-,
thing straight.
Now, this film is nominated for 10 -Oscars, and it will no
doubt win its share, having just the right amount of sentimental
virtue to please the members of the Academy. Some doubt that
it deserves them. As so many of the New York critics have said,
this movie is stock, it is bland, it is formula. The critics have, all
resented the fact that Poitier is not a run-of-the-mill Negro, but
a Very Special Negro.. They have generally, seen nothing at all
that is new or exceptional. But what they have not seen, is that it
is perfect - for what it is. There is really nothing more that
you could ask.

to emphasize the song element
and prevent any attempt to re-
produce reality or to "act."
When the mask is gone, the
play is forced into personal
drama?.as well as the usual rit-
ualistic spectacle. It's difficult
for a modern audience to iden-
tify or empathize with the
tragic characters, which causes
an indifference to the personal
drama and a weakening of the
symbolic ceremony.
Despite a fine ensemble per-
formance by the University
Players cast, I was left indif-
ferent. However, this was my
own picayune problem, and the
enthusiastic response by the
audience in Trueblood suggests
that few shared my doubts.
Most outstanding in Profes-
sor Baird's production was the
chorus. The ritual here was un-
diluted; the thirteen men in
the chorus sang counterpoint to
the individual solos with a
strong, integrated, and un-
usually articulate voice. The
musical bridges and accompan-
iments, composed and directed
by Bruce Fisher, heightened
and enhanced the poetry, and
the dance, choreographed by
Kathleen Thompson, gave it
visual form.
The individual performances
were not as uniform nor as ef-
fective as that of the chorus.
Robert Elliott, as the guard,
projected a baritone-horn voice
with powerful resonance, but
his mellow tones were mostly
wasted on a comic role. His
skillful performance set the
standard.
In comparison, Mack Owen
as Creon expends twice the en-
ergy to reach half the volume,
so he compensates with force
and power in his acting. To his
credit, Owen dominates the
stage throughout the play, even
without vocal command.
Jack McLaughlin as Teiresias
and Peter Coffield as the mes-
senger combine both voice and
acting, giving added impact
and support to the play in sec-
ondary roles.
Selecting a few performances
for attention leaves out so
many others, in this case, even
some of the leads. All of the
performances were capable,
though few, in my opinion, were
magnificent. The entire pro-
duction, from concept to exe-
cution, (including the unmen-
tioned technical aspects) was
noticeably lacking in notice-
able flaws.
If you're already appreciative
of Greek tragedy, I expect An-
tigone will be a satisfying ex-
perience. If you're undecided,
this p oduction, because it'san
excellent performance of the
play, will at least give you a
fair chance to judge for your-
self.
a'....,, T1 U U 3I
3020 Washtenaw - 434-1782
Wednesday-Saturday-Sunday

By PHIL S. STEIN
Susan Matross is a freshman
from Glencoe, Illinois, who has
a strikingly pretty face, though
not what might conventionally
be considered beautiful. She is the
type of girl who, when she smiles
at you, makes you feel happy and
honored. Everybody has the op-
portunity to see that smile on
page 6 of this year's Michigan-
ensian, now on sale.
Of course, Susan Matross isn't
everything that the 'Ensian has
to offer, but her picture is in-
dicative of what this year's edit-
ors have tried to do, and how they
have succeeded.
The success that the 416-page
volume has attained is directly at-
tributable to the fact that pictures
of Susan Matross, of anti-war
pickets on the Diag, of Dennis
Brown reeling back to fire a pass,
of Staughton Lynd addressing a
teach-in crowd, have all been left
to speak for themselves. The '68
'Ensian is a picture book, and little
else; only when it tries to be more
does it fall on its face.
What should a yearbook be,
exactly? It is surely not meant
to be a chronicle of a year's events,
detailed with facts and figures and
statistics and quotes. Hopefully,
this is a function that a news-
paper can serve. A good yearbook
should merely be a tasteful, artful
representation of a subject, in this
case the University.
And so this particular yearbook
is, for the most part, a success.
The photographs, for which most
credit must be given to Photo
Editor Thomas R. Copi and his
talented staff, are generally excel-
lent; they breathe casualness and
ease, and are presented in unob-
trusive layouts by Design Editor
Bob Albertson. It is an attractive
book, and its appearance is marred
by only a few misses: some of the
I
DIAL 5-6290
ENDS TONIGHT
NOMINATED FOR
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group shots in the fraternity-
sorority section are blurred, poor-
ly-lit and out of focus, and the
color reproductions they have in-
troduced are often washed-out and
overly pale.
Still, the book looks good. How-
ever, when it tries to do more than
simply be attractive and enjoyable
on that basis alone, the 'Ensian
flops miserably. The division of
parts of the book into "Education,"
"Literature, Science and the Arts,"
"Rackham," etc., is pointless; the
use of sophomoric gibberish of
small dialogues for copy is insult-
ing (example: "Who's going to be
the new athletic director?" "I

don't know, but it really doesn't
matter." "Why?" "There'll never
be another Fritz.") Whoever was
responsible for the idea of repre-
sentation should be back in high
school, turning out niceties for a
gossip column in the school paper.
"Golly, gosh, wow' writing is less
than might be expected from or
for intelligent people.
Now, don't run out and buy the
Michiganensian if you expect
"meaning," or "tradition," or
"sensitivity." Rather, buy the book'
if you want a nice memory piece
with pleasant pictures, -and an
easy, unpretentious style. That, it
is.

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BEST
PICTURE
OF THE
YEAR!
BEST ACTOR
SPENCER TRACY
BEST ACTRESS
KATHARINE HEPBURN
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
CECIL KELLAWAY
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
BEAR RICHARDS
BEST DIRECTOR
STANLEY KRAMER
BEST SCREENPLAY
WILLIAM ROSE
BEST FILM EDITING
BEST ART DIRECTION
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

140

I

Truman Capote's
IN COLD
BLOOD
"LEAVES ONE
CHILLED
--N.Y.Times
Writen for the screen ond directed by
Richard Brooks
Positively no one under 16 admitted untes

i

COLUMBIA PICTURES presents a
Stanley Kramer
production
Spencer., ..SidneyKatharine
TRACY POITIER HEPBURN
r guess who's
V to dinner

-Ending Thursday-
FRIDAY
GEORGE SEGAL
PHYLLIS NEWMAN
GODFREY CAMBRIDGE
in
"BYE, BYE BRAVERMAN"

I , r and introducing
Katharine Houghton
Music by DeVOL - Written by WILLIAM ROSE + Produced and directed by STANLEY KRAMER
Heai the film's hitrecording'The Gtlory olove' and the Colgems soundtrack IP! TECHNICOLOR' t{ ;{

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"CAPITALISM: THE POLITICAL

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