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February 07, 1969 - Image 2

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1969-02-07

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Friday, February 7, 1969


FrIdy Febr-uary 7 1969 I-




loots: Local culture and the ONCE Group

America's standards for its
culture/arts are indeed bizarre
- the artist closest to or on
either coastal extremity has a
much better chance of making
it. So here we are in Anr Ar-
bor -~ se-yen hundred miles from
the NeT York critics and
twenty five hundred miles away
from the fantasies of Califor-
nia. By and large we, and teem-
ing millions of other Americans
in the country's midsection, ac-
cept and receive imported cul-
The Creative Arts Festival,
the current cultural extrava-
ganza, is a temptingly h a n d y
outline of contemporary Amer-
ican arts. The bulk of the peo-
ple on the schedule live and
work in New-York - the Per-
formance Group, Marisol, Stan-
ley Kauffman, etc. We learned
of them through the mass me-
dia, some word of mouth and
many books. Certainly one rea-
son why they came here was to
tell- us and show us our cur-
rent artistic culture, for in.
many ways they are the people
who dictate it..
A glance at the local people
taking part in the Creative Arts
Festival says much about the.
other side, particularly Ann Ar-
bor.'s place in' contemporary
arts. "Bang, Bang, Ydu're Dead,"
from the Speech Department;
Ancient Javanese Theatre.
It might have been nice if the
Creative Arts Festival could
have displayed one of Marisol's
blocky eight foot sculptures.
They could have set it in the
middle of the diag so people
could poke and probe, ooh and
awe, and walked away smiling
at the whole whimsey of it.
But instead they brought
Marisol herself. And four hun-
dred people sat in Trueblood
Aud.. last night waiting for
Marisol to say just what in-
spired each piece and w h a t
type of glue held it together.

The Eastbound Mound, rock
music and impromptu comedy
and drama. There was also the
Black Poets Festival (writers
mainly from Detroit), the Lord
Chamberlain Players, and the
ONCE Group, which will per-
form on Friday and Saturday.
In 'rather unannounced form
it appears that America's ur-
ban areas have recently begun
to support and spout out sur-
prising numbers of local writ-
ers and artists. On the f i r s t
level, part of this is a politi-
cally slick response to urban
racial and economic chaos. Get
them to write, paint and m a k e
films, and perhaps they will for-
get about the rest. Projects such
as Bud Schulberg's Watts Writ-
ers Program give out an aura
of this sort.
Behind any political slickness
there is apparently a real desire
to create urban communities to
turn the city into a place where
there is some form of associa-
tion and communication among
residents. This is as applicable
to the Black Panthers as it is
to the Performance Group or
the Living Theatre. Only the
approach to communication dif-
fers; they and many others see
artists as the best bond of com-
The arts in a small univer-
sity community such as A n n
Arbor differ from the trend of
larger urban areas. Support of
terpretation. Photographs f o r
heads, massive block-like bod-
ies, a three sided face with two
eyes, three legged women and
children using adults as toys.
Yet just as people got hung up
trying to find out what the soup
cans that Warhol made were
supposed to say, Marisol quiet-
ly dismissed such speculation,
saying she neyer really thought
why. "I just thought certain
ideas are interesting."

current trends in the thea-
trical and avant guarde arts be-
gan early. One can trace a line-
age back to the late 1940's,
when local and university peo-
ple organized the Interarts Un-
ion. In 1949, in University High
School, they first performed.
Sartre's No Exit (translated by
Interarts Union member Mar-
vin Felheim, , assistant profes-
sor newly arrived). - On the
strength of their success, the
Interarts Union movedi down-
town to permanent headquart-
ers above Metzger's Restaurant.
The Union was reorganized
into the Dramatic Arts Center
in 1954 with a new emphasis
on the group acting as an arts
community center rather than
limiting themselves to their
sponsorship and their own per-
formances. Their painting,
children's theatre and adult -
dance classes succeeded, The
city took over the classes which
have since grown into extensive
programs involving many of
the townspeople. The theatre
activity evolved into the APA
Having given up these' func-
tions to the city and the Uni-
versity, the Dramatic Arts Cen-
ter continued as a sponsoring
group notably for the Ann Arbor
Film Festival and the ONCE
The ONCE Group, performing
The Trial of Anne Opie Wehrer
hers), slides of her beautifully
grotesque people flashed on be-
hind her.
"When I started, all sculp-
tures were gray and on pedes-
tals. So I put mine on the ground
and added color. Now people
can be closer, they can touch
them," she explains.
It's even OK to laugh if you
feel like it. "My people are not
ridiculing anyone or supposed to
be nasty. They're just us."
So while the audience asked
if the hair on her seven foot
babies was real ,how much her
paintings cost, how she gets
her pieces into museum, per-
liaps Marisol's view of the aud-
lence might provide the inspir-
ation for another sculpture -
the four hundred gaping mouths
of Trueblood Aud.

tonight in the League Ball-
room, is probably now the most
awesome and incredible local
artistic phenomena. ONCE is
what remains of the extensive
live creative local (independent
of town and University control)
community of the 1950's. The
origin of ONCE was laid in the
years 1957-1960 with the co-
operative and independent work
of local experimental musicians,
architects and artists. In 1960,
under bramatic Arts Center
sponsorship the group formally
cohesed as ONCE and offered
a festival of concerts of contem-
porary music. Through 1964,
there were ONCE Festivals of
contemporary music (with some
film and drama) each February.
The concerts developed into
national performing center for
contemporary musicians. The
ONCE Group musicians attained
fame; they were recognized _by
New York critics, as well as the
communicating national musi-
cians. They went to the Sao
Paulo and the Venice Biennales.
ONCE Again is perhaps the
best remembered show. If you
have been here for four or more
years you might recall the Sep-
tember, 1965 ONCE performance
on top the Thompson Street
parking structure. The back-
ground to,the giant performance
on the asphalt was an enormous
screen projecting Fred Astaire
dancing in the film Top Hat.
Activities layered over this were
Marta Minujin:
a "Minu" movie.
Aud. B, 7:00 p.m.
The ONCE Group:
"The Trial of Annie Opie
Wehrer and Unknown Ac-
complices for Crimes
Against Humanity."
League Ballroom,
8:30 p.m.

performances by members of
the Judson Dance Theatre the
tour ensemble of the ONCE
Group. John Cage and David
Tudor provided the music.
The ONCE group originally
was aimed at providing con-
temporary music and getting
the composers together infor-
mally. Since ONCE Again.
ONCE has turned toward a more
total synthesis of sound and
live performance, shown best by
Morning, the piece done for
last year's Creative Arts Fest-
ival. The piece, which is pre-
sented much in the manner of
a happening, was translated in-
to Japanese. Robert Ashley,
head of the ONCE Group, is in
Japan now where he directed
the Japanese performance of
Morning in a Festival of con-
temporary drama an music.
The Trail of Annie Opie
Wehrer and Unknown Accom-
plices for Crimes Against Hu-
manity tonight and tomorrow's,
ONCE piece, promises to be, as
they say, a triumph. In reading
over a Village Voice review of
the ONCE performance of The
Trial this summer in Wisconsin,
there is found the usual re-
sponse to the ONCE Group.
They are good - incredibly
good. And they are warm peo-

ple from Ann Arbor, Michigan,
many of them somehow con-
nected to that mammoth Uni-
George Manupelli, now on
leave at the University of Il-
linois, teaches film in the Ar-
chitecture & Design School and
runs the Ann Arbor Film Fes-
tival. Joe Wehrer (whose wife
is the star, Anne Wehrer),
teaches Architecture there. Cyn-
thia Liddell runs and owns-
Plaster of Paris, the dress shop
at the corner of Maynard and.
William. Robert Ashley is what
might be called a free l a n c e
sound man. They have perform-
ed The Trial in California, Wis-
consin and eight or so other
places, and now they li a v e
brought it home.

February 7 and 8
Jason Roba rds
Barbara Harris
NOTE: More seating available at
7 P. M. showing
"Oh Goodie"-B.G







With Special Guest Stars .
FRI., FEB. 7 at 8:30 P.M.
Tickets: $5.75, $4.75,
$3.75, $2.75
Available at-Cobo Arena
and all J. L. Hudson &
Grinnell stores.
An Irving Granz Production





+I' ________

$1 .50-$200-$2.50
Tickets Still Available





"Deeply moving film. Must strike "Definitely one to see. Patricia Neal
audiences with unusual force!" scores a personal triumph!"-
-Archer Winstein, N. Y. Post --Ann Guarino, N.Y. Daiy Newst
"Explosive, revealing drama brought
to the screen with extraordinary skill. "One of the finest films of the year!
No trio of stars could collectively, Go see it, at least once!"
turn in greater acting jobs!" -Frances, Taylor, L. . Press
-William Wolf, Cue



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in Frank D. Gilrov s Pulitzer Prize winnina

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