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July 12, 1968 - Image 2

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Michigan Daily, 1968-07-12

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Page Two

THE MICHIGAN DAILY

Friday, July 12, 1968

Page Two THE MICHIGAN DAILY

theatre

University Players:

to west depths

By FRITZ LYON
In the middle of the first act,
one of the characters warns: "You
mustn't talk so much!" Every-
body on the stage should have
heeded that advice, but they
didn't, and if I hadn't been ob-
ligated to write this review, I
would have walked out then and
saved myself two more hours of
noxious tedium.
The play , The Burnt Flower-
Bed by Ugo Betti, is being pre-
sented -this week, in Lydia Men-
delssohn, with a lot of nerve, with-
out much taste, by the University
Players, under the direction of
William Halstead.
And it's time to blame the
speech department for their con-
spicuous failure to bring modern,
living, contemporary theatre to
the University community.
Ironically, Flower-Bed is the
"contemporary" offering for the
summer season, contemporary in
quotes because it's a third-rate,
15-year-old play written in a 20-
year-old style. I used to read the
original Tom Swift books to laugh
at them-great-but Flower-Bed
doesn't even have that curiosity
going for it. It's not even quaint;
it's just old and bad and dead.
It's not even a play; it's a book,
and a dull book at that.
There is nothing to watch. It's
all talk, and while the characters
do walk around the stage while
ihey talk, there's nothing inher-
ently fascinating about people
walking around mouthing plati-
tudes. The stage is incidental, not
essential, to the play.
Flower-Bed is full of the ingre-
dients that make bad drama-
political-religious social message,
imitation Ibsen well-made plot,
pretentious symbolism, over-writ-
ten dialogue, bookish characters,
artificial stage devices, sentimen-
talism, lack of physical action, in-
organic plot surprises, and a. mel-
odrama climax-a good textbook
of clumsy writing if it weren't
so boring and humorless.
The production is consistent
with these faults, that is, there
seems to be little effort to offset
the bulk of deadweight in the
play. Examples:
" Act. I. Political intrique,
mystery of family tragedy. The
actors follow the cliches instead
of changing rhythms to escape
them. Mark Metcalf (as Tom-
asco) and Kathleen McGill (as
Luisa) don't have natural speak-
ing voices anyway, and both fall
into repetitious intonation pat-
terns that can't help but bore the
listeners-it's hard to pay atten-
tion. Nobody talks to anybody-
they say their lines and look in
the direction of the other actor.
The exchanges are so rapid and
sing-song that the characters
simply can't be listening, respond-
ing, and listening to each other.
When somebody runs into an
emotion, they force themselves
to it, like bad movie acting.
The details surrounding the
characters are just as distracting-
ly fake. "Yes, nothing passes
over these mountains except that
wind." Yessiree, Bob. Cue the
wind-fade up-four lines about
the- lonely winds-fade out until
the third act cue when the winds
get lonely again.
" Act. II. The scene where Rosa
talks to her dead father and Luisa
talks to her dead son is downright
embarrassing. If that isn't bad
enough, Miss McGill and Mau-
reen Anderman (Rosa) go for the
bait and play it like the movies
Again. Argh. You just can't be-
lieve it. There has to be some
way to play it or underplay it
besides diving into the hackneyed
melodrama.
* Act III. Each of the plot-
lines runs its predictable course.
"You hate everything around you
-you're responsible for our boy's
accidental death." "It was no
accident. He committed suicide. I
lied about it to protect you." Fade
up lonely wind. Rosa's appeal for
peace and humanity: "I don't

Dial 8-6416
ACADEMY
AWARD
WINNER
BEST
foreign language
film ..
BEST
screen story
"A

believe they'll shoot me." Sound
cue-bang. Rosa droops. Giovanni
carries her body out the door as
martyr sacrifice to peace, after
big speech . .. blah, blah, blah.
And the actors fall for this guff:
they play the lines just like they're
written on the page. Salvation
Army. Can't they do something?
Raniero, a previously unobtru-
sive character, delivers two pro-
phetic lines in this final act: "But
why all this talk?", which I took
to be a repetition of the main
theme rather than comic relief;
and "What's going on?", to which
some giggled and I applauded.
I object first of all to the play,
and secondly to the director. One
of us has a definite lack of taste
and judgment. Why did Dr. Hal-
stead choose this play? I see no
redeeming virtue to recommend
it, except to know that once this
antiquated style of writing was
popular. Even then, why suffer
through it to make that point?
The play is a mockery of the
issues it concerns, and a mockery
of plays that deal with impor-
tant issues in the first place.
Why the slam? Where's the
harm? It's just that this kind of
remote, irrelevant drama con-
vinces theatre-goers that the
theatre is suffocating due to a
dearth of serious, contemporary
playwrights. But a good look at
major productions of the last
decade shows that the speech de-
partment hasn't begun to tap the
resources-not one Beckett, not
one Genet, not one Ionesco, not
one Albee, and only one Pinter
(chosen by a guest director).
There are at least five first-rate
American playwrights from Off-
Broadway and Off-Off-Broadway,
and Ann Arbor hasn't seen one.
Certainly an intellectual, educa-
tional community can face the in-
securities and challenges and
risks of the real contemporary
theatre-why dig back to one of
the insignificant plays of a minor
playwright? It seems to me that
the speech department is ignor-
ing a responsibility-to keep the-
atre in this area new and alive
and relevant-and "experimental"
programs at the student lab the-
atre are poor compensation for
that failure.
It's harder to attach responsi-
bility to the actors. I'd like to
say: "Where are your values?
How can you be an artist if you
submit to this crap?" And they'd
answer: "To be an actor you have
to get on the stage and act. You
don't ask how good it is; you
take what you can get." Then too,
once you're in it, you become loyal
to what you create. That's a ne-
cessity. So although the actors
might not rave about the play's
merits, they probably don't think
it's as miserable as I do. An attack
on their play is an attack on
them.
If it's possible to separate the
technical acting from what was
being acted, a few bright spots
shine through. A reviewer can't
blast actors for not rising abovel

the play, like James Dean sur-
passed the script in the movie
Rebel Without a Cause. The two
actresses I accused of melodrama,
Miss McGill and Miss Anderman,
weren't all that bad. I don't think
that either had much to work
with, and at least they threw
themselves into their roles with-
out reserve.
After seeing Mack Owen play
many roles, I've come to the con-
clusion that he consistently turns
in good performances. As Gio-
vanni, the lead, he delivers ter-
rible lines and makes them cred-
ible, and to my mind he saves the
whole show from farce. Again, his
voice isn't full beyond the pros-
cenium, and he too forces him-
self to intensity occasionally. But
although he may not be faultless
and exceptionally gifted, Mr.

Owen is a hard-working, consis-
tent, and capable actor.
I haven't seen David Raher
(Nicola) before. He sounded more
real than the others, even dur-
ing melodramatic p a s s a g e s,
though he seems bothered at
times by jerky gestures.
I've already spoken of Mark
Metcalf (Tomaso). H a 1 f the
weight of the play falls on him,
but he doesn't have the natural
delivery of Owen or Raher, and
he's unable to sustain interest
during the long passages and
monologues.
When I asked members of th,
audience what they thought of
the actors and the play ,they said
the set was magnificent, which
may give some credit to designer
Alan Billings.
And that's about as much credit

as I can manage. Why did I get
so angry about a cruddy play?
Because I'm' disappointed. Be-
cause I go to the theatre, not to
be entertained or amused, but
to be excited, and what I saw
was a bad production of a bad
play by people whom I had once
trusted to know better. That
that sham, is what's suffocating
theatre.
One thing. I kept hoping, up
until the last, that lots of people
from the audience would leave
during intermission, or walk out
sometime, or sneak out. Nobody
did. They waited patiently and
applauded politely at the end, said
the play was "a bit talky." I
didn't find anybody who had liked
it, but nobody who had minded it
much either.
Still, folks, it was terrible.

DAILY OFFICIAL
BULLETIN
The Daily Official Bulletin is an
official publication of the Univer-
sity of Michigan for which The
Michigan Dailyassumes no editor-
ial responsibility. Notices should be
sent in TYPEWRITTEN form to
Room 3528 L. S. & A. Bldg., be-
before 2 p.m. of the day preceding
publication and by 2 p.m. Friday
for Saturday and Sunday. General
Notices may be published asmaxi-
mum of two times on request; Day
Calendar items appear only once.
Student organization notices are
not accepted for publication. For
more information call 764-9270.
FRIDAY, JULY 12
Day Calendar
Audio-Visual Education Center Sum-
mer Previews - "Navajos - Children
of the Gods," "Italian- Farm Family,"
and "Niko, Boy of Greece". Multipur-
pose Rm., Undergraduate Library, 1:30
P.M.
Midwest Community College Leader-
ship Council - Registration, Statler
Hilton Inn. 5:00 p.m.

Cinema Guild - Jacque Cousteau's
"The Silent World", Architecture Aud.,
S:00 and 9:05 p.m.
Department of Speech University
Players - Ugo Betti's "The Burnt
Flower Bed," Lydia Mendelssohn The-
atre, 8:00 p.m.
Attronomy Department Visitors'
Night. Fri., July 12, 10:00 p.m., Aud. B,
Angell. Hall, Prof. John A. Williams
will speak on "Stellar Photometry."
After the lecture the Student Observa-
tory on the fifth floor of Angell Hall
will be open for inspection and for
telescopic observations of a globular
cluster and a double star. Children
welcomed, but must be accompanied by
adults.
General Notices
TV Center Program: On Sun., July 14
the following program produced by the
TV Center willrhave its initial telecast
in Detroit:
12:00 Noon, WWJ-TV, Channel 4 -
AFTER EDEN: "The Garden Gateway."
Prio rto World War I, a rebirth of na-
tional pride and identity surged among
the Arab nations, following centuries
of Ottoman oppression.

Doctoral
Examinations
Clyde Arthur Morrison, Nuclear En-
gineering, Dissertation : "Direct Spin-
Crystal Field Interaction in Solids," on
Fri., July 12 at 10 a.m. in Auto Lab
Bldg..hConference Rm. Chairman: C.
Kikuchi.
Marvin John Erik Johnson, Educa-
tion, Dissertation: "The Effectiveness
of Programmed Instruction in Teaching.
Basic Gymnastics," on Fri., July 12 at
5 p.m. in W. Council Rm., Rackham.
Chairman: S. A. Howard.
Placement
BUREAU OF APPOINTMENTS
3200 SAB
GENERAL DIVISION
Current Position Openings received
by General Division by mail and
phone, please call 754-7460 for further
information.
Announcement:.
Last Day VISTA Team here, Head-
quarters in room 3524, S.A.B. No appts.
(Continued on Page 6)

i

Dial
NO 2-6264

Smusic
Ashkenazy displays 'stupendous' power

ATE

NOW

By R. A. PERRY
Stupendous is not a very
critical word but it nevertheless
describes the power and tech-
nique of Vladimir Ashkenazy,
past winner of the Moscow and
Brussels piano competitions.
Certainly no scarcity of out-
standing young pianists exists
today, and with record com-
panies vying for new talent,
young musicians quickly re-
ceive due attention. Ashkenazy
mu'st stand at the top of this
group, along with the brilliant-
ly mercurial Glenn Gould and
the more intellectual Ivan Mor-
avec.
Though not a banger at the
keyboard, Ashkenazy does not
make a point of dignified re-
serve; his steel-fingered tech-
nique and especially strong left
hand lead to a virile, impas-
sioned, and totally ebullient sort
of piano playing. At the same
time, he is a poet and his re-
cordings of Schubert and Cho-
pin approach the feeling that
Schnable and Lipatti brought
to the music.
What was so exciting about
his Rackham recital was that
he did not sit down to the piano
and perform a "set" piece that
carried the musty odor of pre-
determination; he made each
rendition a fresh discovery, and
thus his powers of expressive-
ness convinced me of their au-
thentic sincerity and involved
me in their artistic creation.
Ashkenazy's artistic person-
ality was immediately apparent
in the opening of Beethoven's
Sonata, Op. 27, No. 2, Called
the "Moonlight" Sonata by the
critic Rellstab, to whom the
piece conjured up memories of
Lake Lucerne, the piece's power

lies beyond the famed opening
adagio. In a way, this piece was
Beethoven's Bolero, a work
slowly building in tempo, en-
ergy and motive. In the final
presto of this sonata (consid-
ered basically experimental by
B e e t h o v e n), the composer
forges ahead, with obdurate
confidence into cascades of
sounds and masses of unheard
of chord structures. The equally
Romantic and equally confident
Ashkenazy, in full command of
the score, managed to convey
the giddiness in the surges of
sound that seemed almost about
to escape Beethoven's own con-
trol.
One of the most painfully ex-
quisite moments in piano liter-
ature comes at the beginning of
the Rondo of Beethoven's
"Waldstein" Sonata. The pre-
vious adagio serves no other
function than to create the
heavy atmosphere out of which
so naturally drop the tears of
the first Rondo theme. Beetho-
ven then takes this simple
theme, which Ashkenazy in-
trodweed and developed with
beautiful cantando feeling, and
varies, explores, and magnifies
it into his pass-key to Par-
nassus.
In the opening allegro, the
right and left hands weave the
warp and woof of the richest
aural texture, and Ashkenazy
chose not to give us the struc-
<------ --

ture of this carpet of sound, as
Brendel does on his Vox record-
ing, but to revel in each vital
strand of color and changing
form.
After the grandiloquence of
the Beethoven half of the pro-
gram, Chopin's Barcarolle Op.
60 emerged pretty near hearts
and flowers sentiment. Ashken-
azy's strong left hand proved
heavy here and he did not
achieve the perfect balance that
Lipatti has created.
Chopin's Twelve Etudes, op.
10, resemble the Paganini Ca-
prices; they are not very en-
grossing music, but their vir-

tuoso demands and display do
provide concert hall excitement.
The young Russian whipped
through them with astonishing
ease, variance of touch, and
expressive ardor. A witty little
bagatelle, perfect for encores,
provided the encore, and a
standing ovation, seldom given
in Ann Arbor, told the pianist
of the SRO audience's wonder-
ment.
David Bar-Illan, Jorge Bolet,
and Rudolf Firkusny will com-
plete the summer concert series,
all of the recitals taking place
in the remainder of this month.
Tickets are still available.

W! R I. A John BeckNAHO Producton s.ft,,
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JOHN MYHERS-MAKO.HENRYWILCOXON-.DICKSARGENT-CHRISTOPHEDARK
MICHAEL BRS.8I~ WEILMAN JR:ROBERT OONNER JACK GRNAE E-I%AIJJ CH OPHIlR
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a TECHNICOLOR'uimoi
SEE FEATURE AT 1 :25-3:25-5:25-7:30-9:35
NEXT: James Stewart in "BANDOLERO"
aussssamassanssnsaamanmanasam m :

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Russ Gibbs Production
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At the
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Direct from England

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"NO ONE WILL BE SEATED DURING THE LAST 88 MINUTES...
THEY'LL ALL BE ON THE FLOOR, LAUGHING!--LOOK MAGAZINE

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8 p.m.
Air-Conidit ioned
Lydia

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