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April 11, 1969 - Image 2

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1969-04-11

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Page Two

THE MICHIGAN DAILY

Friday. April 11. 1969

Page Twb THE MICHIGAN DAILY

theatre

poetry and prose
Anon and Anon

Hot,

heavy

Lysistra(a'

By MICHAEL ALLEN
Blessed are the peacemakes
for they shall be called the chil-
dren of God when you get them
to bed. Aristophanes' Lysistrata
notorious for its bawdiness, and
there was the hoped for abund-
ance of it last night in the Uni-
versity Players racy production,
directed by James Coakley. We
had Spartan erections; the
heroine in a diaphanous blue
whatsit and her rebel wives in
a Spring selection of frilly bed-
wear; we had one poor Athenian,
Kinesias, in a fine fit of frustra-
tration right outside the Acro-
polis.
What's more, every war refer-j
ence is a dirty joke. Word after'
word, which we would normally
associate only with death, in the
mouths of the Athenian women
becomes charged with life. In
fact, the bawdiness itself is a
festival of lif: there is nothing
depraved or depressing or sick
about 'it. It simply points up
the sense of health and warmth
which should be the natural con-
dition of man.
It is here that the director
scored. Scene after scene was

charged with gaiety and exuber-
ance and invention--verybody
on the stage seemed marvel-
lously happy. For one thing
there's the music-Beethoven's
fifth, jazz, bee-bop, the sugar
plum fairy. There's the dancing
which made us feel completely
at home in the Greek chorus.
There's the wonderful fight
when the tracksuited sorority
girls of Athens beat up the old
incompetents left to guard the
city while the younger ones are
off fighting the Spartans. This
reached its climax when the
whole, stage was transformed
into a movie screen by pulsating
strobe lights resulting in stills
of the two choruses following
each other in rapid succession.
Here the dancing became a
sequence of live photographs;
and some of the effects start-
lingly rich.
In all this the director was
helped by the translator, Dou-
glass Parker, who has recreated
Aristophanes into a completely
modern experience, Literal equi-
valence has been sacrificed for
a metaphorical or, indeed, cul-
tural equivalence. So, we. get

Homer, as Chaucer;r the Spar-
tans as lads from Arkansas;
Concord as Miss America.
However, Aristophanes was
also writing about piecemakers
out of bed. The play, as we well
know was written at the height
of the disastrous Peloponnesian
war when Athens was about to
go under. Lysistrata (Georgette
Weremiuk) is a symbol of all
those things that war destroys
-.love, good sense, home, pros-
perity. She's someone that any
man would love to sleep with
and yet be proud to have as his
prime minister. She's like those
Shakesperian heroines who see
so much more clearly what is'
good and natural than the
grown-up b o y s surrounding
them who are just playing at
being men. She makes them see
what is natural by forcing the
women to be unnatural. She too
fights an inane war with Spar-
ta, but only to reduce the whole
thing to the level of the ludic-
rous. And there is nothing more
ludicrous than the two Athenian
and the t w o Spartan envoys
standing there in public say-
ing, "T'aint the heat, it's the
humidity."
Inevitably, at times the pace
was overstrained, the gestures
too wild, the romp too much of
a burlesque. The Commissioner
of Public Safety (Richard Bee-
be) was a case in point. Though,
much of what he did and said
was funny, too often it was hea-
vy-handed with the comic ten-
sion degenerating into slap-
stick. Indeed, some people might
feel that there were too many
gimmicks throughout;-too many
over-obviously topical allusions
distracting us all the time for
the more serious heart of the
comedy to come across. But it
seems to ie that t h e energy'
and liveliness carry the day. We
accept the caryatids in the set
with their ban-the-bomb flags,
and the choruses going into hud-
dles and suchlike. They make
the comedy alive for us here and
now; and they make the tragedy
that underlies it alive also. Af-
ter this feast to the honour of
right reason, the Players' sea
son has been happily laid.

By ELIZABETH WISSMAN
The vagueries of the title
notwithstanding, "Anon" is here
and "Anon" is now: a review
of prose and poetry connected
-umbilically or directly-with
the University and making its
second annual appearance. Al-
though I am frankly a partisan
of this particular review, as a
"pure concept" of publication it
deserves genuine, non-sectarian
attention. When even the nice
glossy, good - to - your - fingers,
type of magazine is folding, the
"Little Review" is an especially,
sensitive plant. Love it, honor
it - for without it, Literature
above the level of pablum might
be dead.
Not that- "Anon" is remark-
ably adventurous; some of the
best work is by established
authors in a language grown
long ago comfortable and fa-
miliar. The poetry at times be-
trays a nostalgia for what con-
tinues to be called "modern-
ism" or for the safe, essentially
timeless rhetoric of a Dickey.
(Perhaps this reflects its roots
in the academy.) But, there is
equally little that is sloppy or
rash in the collection, with no
adolescent lust for easy opposi-
tions and avant-guardism. In
fact, one of the finest things
about "Anon" as a whole is the
obvious rigor of selection.
But I began by saying "Anon"
was here and now, and it is so,
effortlessly. Even its defects are
contemporary. The dearth of
prose fiction (there are only
five pieces, and at least one-
"Duellas In Time"--is a hybrid
prose poem) is no greater than
that which faced the selection
committee for the recent Na-
tional Book Awards. Indeed, the
longest story is a translation
from Zamyatin - not even au
courant, but part of the "dis-
covery" of those satirists of Rus-
sian Revolution such as Bulga-
kov. The purist will be offended
further by Zamyatin's use of-
oh hideous-conventions of plot
and suspense. (But oh doesn't it
feel somehow fine to read once
again with a; sense of discovery
and combat? To experience the
dynamic accretion of insight,

and to arrive at an irony-or
comey or tragedy-that is not,
for once, automatic?) John
Conron's and Myron Kantor's
translation seems excellent; es-
pecially so since the story turns
upon puns and _ifinitessimal
repetitions.
Overall, the range of success
and failure of "Anon's" in-
genue authors can be gauged
according to their embarrass-
ment of voice. How to credibly
limit the vantage of the poem,
how to create both drama and
unity right at the tonic surface,
is a problem confronting every
creative writer. At its worst,
the poem becomes a subterfuge,
-like a handkerchief dabbed at
an oldwoman's mouth. But this
is very rare-more often the
poetry in "Anon" is fully auto-
nomous. The multi-foliate dic-
tion of Lemuel Johnson, the
tangled and intricate construc-
tion of Lardas, are rewarding,
even though expected of Hop-
wood winners. Along with Pro-
fessor Hall, the faculty are Well
represented bypoetry ranging
from the dense organics, of
Squires to the delicate picares-
que of Stilwell. But, for me, one
of the most exciting and fully
realized of the poems was by
an unfamiliar name, Warren
Jay Hecht. It is for moments
like these; when language ex-
pands into an activity, that a
literary review strives through
all its eclectics:
There the hour one o'clock
holds different meaning
than the hour
struck one hour away from
home .. .
I -

SEPTEMBER 16-28

SMRYAN'S
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