THE MICHIGAN DAILY Saturday, January 25, 1969
The short, sad stay
of Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
By DANIEL OKRENT
. Feature Editor
Kurt Vonnegut, Jr; is going home.
Contracted for a two week stay as the second of
this year's Writers-in-Residence, Vonnegut is leaving
Monday for his. home on Cape Cod. He says he's saving
money for the Writer-in-Residence Committee.
But it isn't simply a philanthropic urge that will be
sending Vongut home, just halfway into his planned
stay. Rather, he's ruri out of things to say.. .
A few nights ago, he visited an American Studies
seminar and, with the conversation not going all that
well; 5onnegut commented, "I don't particularly like
to talk to people, or listen to people."
One student asked, "Why are you here?"
Vonnegut .replied, "We aren't necessarily rational
beings, you know."
What do you ask Kurt Vonnegut when you talk to
him? He's written six novels, five of which have been
popular: in our age group and the forthcoming one,
The. Slaughterhouse Five, will probably do even better.
He started writing to make a living. He kept with it
because it was a good thing for him, personally, to do,
So what do. you ask him? What does Kurt Vonnegut
know that you don't know, but that you wish to know?,
He's not a literary historian, a political commen-
tator, an anti-science crusader, a nuclear physicist. He
writes down words.
"Little marks on paper," he says. "Words' are just
theselittle -marks on 'paper. A man once wrote to me
arid told me he cried when the robot took himself apart
in Sirens of Titans, He cried! At little marks on paper!"
Someone, outside of Rackham after Vonnegut's
opening lecture said that the big man with the self-
pleasinglaugh arid the quick wit was all form, no
Vonnegut might not disagree. "There's too much
explaining, -too much asking why. Explainers are tire-
S he keeps away from it. He's been asked to do too
much 'explaining, and -he's going home. In his room in
Sunday! At the
South Quad, he sat drinking straight White Horse in
small, silver shot glasses, and said, "If you were my
PR man, I'd tell you to tell the paper that I felt I had
to wind things up after one week, instead of after two
But Vonnegut doesn't needf to explain. His audiences,
which consisted first of his cult (which is considerable
in size) and second of the curious or those dutifully
respectful of visiting dignitaries, may have realized
there was only so much to say.
Especially with speeches every day, consultations
every hour, people to see at every meal. They all ask the
same things, too.
But; still, Vonnegut came to Ann Arbor. And he's
done it before; he spent a week at Notre Dame once, too.
Its not entirely like he didn't know what he was in for.
"I came here," he says, "to have a good time."
He says he hasn't had a good time, though.
And he doesn't feel he owes an obligation to his
reading public, that he owes them the chance to see
him in the flesh.
"It makes more sense, for me and for my audience,
for me to go home and write more."
That's the thing about writers., They're safer in
print than in person; they can edit their comments,
or they can take time off and do nothing for a while.
Vonnegut agrees. He's better in print, and he knows
But certain of the elements of his writing rub off
in his speaking. His sense of humor. His feel for an
anecdote. His awareness of exactly what his limitations
are, exactly how far he can go without boring himself
and his readers, without spouting words because he
feels he has to.
He's going home to Cape Cod thisMonday.
By BARBARA WEISS
The Creative Arts Festival has
come to town. And, they say,
"Spend Sunday at the Union."
First on the program is Clive
Barnes, drama and dance crit-
ic for the New York Times. He
sees the aims of his profession
as three fold: "First, serious
criticism . . . Second, a certain
amount of entertainment ..,
Third, a consumer service."
Don't treat critics seriously,"
Barnes advises. "Treat them as
Barnes. who is especially in-
terested in avante-garde thea-
tre, has reviewed The Believers,
The Alvin Ailey American
Dance Theatre, and Dionysus
in 69, all of which may be seen
during the two-week Festival.
His own role in the schedule
involves a speech entitled,
"Theatre '69: New and Living."
Barnes may be seen and
heard at 2:00 p.m. Sunday in
the Union Ballroom. Admission
is $.75 for students and $1.25
Barnes will be followed by
Les Levine, creator of "dispos-
able environmental art." From
a career which moved from
making spray paintings of
chairs to chair environments to
plastic-coated chairs,. Levine
took the mediums of plastic and
electricity and turned them into
"When I invented, disposable
art, I wanted to create a non-
object," Levine says. "It con-
cern is not with ownership. It is
concerned with active experi-
"Environmental art that is
concerned with imagistic kinds
of things is merely electric
painting, nothing more."
Levine is bringing his en-
vironment along with him as
his contribution to "Experi-
ment in the Arts." The environ-
ment he creates utilizes color,
light and electric current to
produce a total effect of "elec-
Les Levine and his environ-
ment can be experienced on the
CAF's special Sunday, tomor-
row at 6:30 p.m. in the Union's
Ropm 3-C. The "Electric Shock"
exhibit will remain on display
for the duration of the Festival.
Later that same, and also the
following, evening, Dionysus in
69 will probably be staged. A
contemporary adaptation of
Euripides' The Bacchae, Diony-
sus is in thetrealm of "environ-
Coming to the University from
a successful Off-Off-Broadway
run, "Dionysus" places empha-
sis on participatory, theatre in,
a Greenwich Village garage-
based play of casual atmos-
The production may be seen,
unless Lt. Staudenmaier finds
it too casual, tomorrow a n d
Monday at 8:30 p.m. in the Un-
ion Ballroom. Admission is
$2.00 for students and $3.00 for
On Tuesday evening, Greek
artist and sculptress Chryssa
will speak on her latest work, a
synthesis of art and technology
through neon sculpture. Crea-
tor of the "Experiment in the
Arts" poster designed especially
for the Festival. Chryssa is an
artist whose imaginative ideas
are put to work in machinery.
"When the vision of the ar-
tist and the technology of light
coalesce, there is a miracul-
ous moment," she says.
Chryssa will discuss her work
at 7:00 p.m. in the Union As-
sembly Room. A limited num-
ber of "Experiments in the Arts"
posters signed by the artist are
available to the public through
the Creative Arts Festival by
Following Chryssa will be a
performance of mixed-media
theatre given by the Eastbound
Mound. Guitars, druniW, an or-
gan and drama all combine to
form a fully sensory experience
in which the audience in invited
to participate. The Eastbound
Mound will be in the Union
Ballroom Tuesday, Jan. 28 at
And there's lots more to come.
SATUkDAY and SUNDAY
THE SOFT SKIN
Directed by Francois Truffaut, 1964
From the director of The 400 Blows,
Shoot The Piano Player, Jules and Jim,
Starring FRANCOISE DORLEAC
"Truffaut was born to make films."
7:00 & 9:05 lARCHITECTURE
662-8871 75c' AUDITORIUM
F(F~~fil- .-1. A m0 -
do Aolk so wo%
Experimental chickens shed no
By RICHARD KELLER SIMON
The Theatre of Cruelty pro-
duction of Paduma put itself
together during the last two
evenings of performance at Can-
What began on Thursday
night as an awkward rehearsal
became a serious theatrical
ritual on Friday night. Flaws
that remain should disappear
for the final performance Sun-
Paduma, a nineteenth cen-
tury Burmese play, attempts a
definition of Buddhahood and
of the forgiveness of "Karma.
Paduma, the Prince, is sent out
of the city of civilization by the
King, who explains, "It is for
your own good that I hate you."
During his wanderings with his
royal family, Paduma comes to
an understanding of the neces-
sary and unnecessary pains of
The play begins with the cere-
monial execution of a living
chicken, and ends on a state-
ment about the jaws of the al-
ligator. Paduma, dressed in beak
and feathers, with a bird on his
hand, refuse the animalistic
cannibalism of his brothers, and
eventually accepts the more na-
utral wisdom of the alligator,
The play -does not attempt to
communicate wildom in any
rational way. Mysteries remain
mysteries, although glimpses of
the process become clearer. Pa-
duma's wife deserts her hus-
band for an armless, legless,
earless, noseless man during the
exile. At first she is revolted at
the sight and calls the stars
"ugly." She turns around and,
without any explainable transi-
tion, proceeds to talk the Stump
into marrying her.
Whether she has found her
own necessary answer to fate,
dr is merely one of the women
the play dumps upon, is never
But this may be an unfair
criticism. The production is
after all, non-verbal and ritual-
istic. Paduma dances as he
speaks-and is always followed
around by a female alter-ego.
The characters in the play walk
and speak among the audience.
Four musicians sit on the floor
performing. The theatre is fill-
ed with incense (unfortunately,
on Friday night it was straw-
berry-scented) and a black light
flashes intermittently. Char-
acters speak at the same time
that the speaker system calls
their lines out to them.
The co-directors of Paduma,
Mel Gordon and Gail Lenhoff,
have presented their own inter-
pretation of the Theatre of
Cruelty-more humanistic and
meaningful than Julian Beck's
Living Theatre. "Paduma" did
not, assault the audience-al-
though it certainly required it
to participate, and it did rely
on shock techniques. "Paduma"
works best with a sympathetic
audience; the Living Theatre
works best in hostility.
There was a certain' amount
oft nudity, or partial nudity in
the play. Mary Barkey has ex-
ceedingly fine breasts. Her role,
as the alter image of Paduma,
was vague at best, but certain-
ly pleasant. Whatever hint herI
breasts provided (in contrast to
the other women) was totally
obscured by the sudden appear-
ance of a male-in-jockstrap at
the very end of the play. His
partial nudity seemed grat.uitous,
and rather too late in the play
for any shock effect to have
Richard Keller Simon is the
temporary playwright laureate
of Marquette, Mich. He is cur-
rently visiting Ann Arbor for a
week, offering himself as a pos-
sible replacement for Kurt Von-
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Hague Philharmonic: Balanced brilliance
AS TBUIJIT '
jnsaiearTO m RMATrnl Asj UENT NICOLORO ROM WARNER BIOSAIMYNRS ODI
NATIONAL OENERAL CORP
By JIM PETERS
Way back in the early days of
the 1900's, The Hague was a,
pretty important city, t h e
league of Nations and every-
thing, you know. And though
you don't hear The Hague men-
tionedmuch on the Huntley-
Brinkley report these days, it
can still take ~credit for having
an excellent symphony orches-
tra in residence.
"Under the gracious patronage
of Her Majesty Queen Juliana
of the Netherlands," the Ha-
gue philhariinoriic' (Het Resi-
dentie-Orkest) stopped in Ann
Arbor last night at Hill Aud.
on their wide-ranging tour of
the United States.
Conductor, Willem Van Otter-
loo's program was anything but
light; and yet the - balance- in
the pieces-.performed; :-and the-
all-round brilliance of the per-
formers, 'made the evening very
worthwhile for even the.spclety
Hendrik Andriessen's "Sym-
phonic Study" was the f ir s t
piece. I wondered about open-
ung a concert that would even-.
tually conclude with a long
Bruckner symphony on such a
serious note. The "Study" is a
series of variations composed in
1952 in four movements.
I expected much more from it
than I should have; in fact,
it was a fine concert-opener be-
cause although it isn't very good
music, it is bright and enjoy-
able. The listener hears pretty
music with an overpowering
theatrical flair, which would
probably do very well as a score
for some movie or television
The basic problem is orches-
tration; with the harp solos
over sugary strings, the harp
and cymbals runs over orches-
tral turbulence which sounded
very much like a ship in distress
on the high seas, the piece lost
-all serious character for me.
But the Philharmonic played
it very well, squeezing all t h e
emotion out of the atonal lines,
especially in the adagio section,
and establishing themselves as
The up mood continued with
Mozart's 38th symphony, the
"Prague.", Here was music to
match the greatness of the or-
chestra. Composed after Mo-
zart's big success with "Le Nozze
di Figaro" in Prague, the sym-
phony is a gift to the city. A
long adagio begins the work
with tr.umpet and drum flour-
ishes; this must be controlled
and sustained in order for the
allegro section to explode with
the proper effect.
Van Otterloo understands Mo-
zart very well; the lively melo-
dies of the first movement, very
reminiscent of the overture to
"Figaro," bounced along; yet
the nuances were there, the
shadings in a turn of a phrase.
A Bruckner symphony is
something to reckon with. You
can thro.w around words like
"tour de force" and "jugger-
naut"; but when you ask most
people to listen to a Bruckner,
they invariably ask "How long
is this one?" And even music-
ians tire at the complexity built
from meager resources.
You sit there and are over-
whelmed with the massive scope
of his compositions. But Bruck-
ner's "Symphony No. 6 in A
Major" is of reasonable length
even for a disciple of Wagner.
The four movements introduce
theme after theme which are
mixed and singled out in long,
long development sections.
How does one keep an orches-
tra going strong for such a long
time, playing their best and
playing with intelligent under-
standing? I don't know what
the trick it, but maestro V a n
Otterloo has found the secret.
The fanfares of the third move-
ment, the real beauty of the
melodies In the second, the sav-
age principal theme of the first
-all were superb.
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