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February 28, 1960 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 1960-02-28
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,, . ... .. . ... c .. . -

7-7

The Distinctive Art Form
TE FACT that it is possible to
identify the art of the cinema Film InsDeelops.iPhenom
so explicitly with the twentieth Dl
century which witnessed its birth
is one of the neat "coincidences"
of modern history. Truly, theW hich Describes Contem porary 1
movies are a phenomenon of the

present century.
They-reflect both the scientific
and the socio-psychological biases
of our times. And when one
grants that they are an art form,
then it follows that they become
the distinctive art form of modern
times.
Utilizing a number of tradition-
al arts (literature, music and de-
sign are the most obvious), the
film represents a kind of democ-
racy at work: the combination of
many talents to make one unified
creation. Immediately, a number
of problems are created: the re-
lationship of the cinema to the
other arts is a fascinating aes-
thetic u e s t i o n; further, the
puzzling matter of creative re-
sponsibility demands analysis.
Who is the creator? The writer?
Producer? Director? And can we
Ignore the designer, composer,
camera man?
INDEED, we are faced with a
need for some re-definition of
many of our traditional concepts
of creativity vis-a-vis the com-
pleted work of art. Or, let us con-
sider, for example, the origins of

By MARVIN FELHEIM

abstract art and note how it is, in
one sense, both a reaction to and
an extension - of cinematographic
technique.
Should we speculate about the
influence of the movies, since 1929,
on tendencies in modern music.
Certainly, in any account of
twentieth century realism in the
arts, or in any full treatment of
experimentation in the arts to-
day, one must be aware of the
rol of the cinema.
Moreover,, the art form we call
the movies is founded upon cer-
tain technological practices; these
practices involve highly special-
ized skills such as lighting, for
exam'kle, or the more obvious
manipilation of the camera it-
self. All art, of course, is rooted
in technique. But the twentieth-
century art of the film is especial-
ly a matter of technological skills.
And in this respect, again, it is
closely connected with the essen-
tial nature of the present century,
with its scientific bent.

If this is the age of the ma-
chine, the art form of the age is
appropriately the moving picture.
(It even comes in a can!) The
problem here is to relate an art
form to its obvious mechanical
devices, to develop an aesthetic
theory which will explain and de-
fine this new form.
A "LOSELY allied to this problem
- is the nature of the film in-
dustrv itself. Perhaps never be-
fore has an art form been so Inti-
mately integrated with business
methods. The exciting parallel be-
tween the biz business which we
loosely label "Hollywood" and the
automobile industry makes us
nause to speculate. Can an indus-
try produce an art? What effect
does merchandizing have upon thej
product? And related to these
considerations is the fact of pop-
ular taste. For the film is the
most popular art form that has
ever existed.
Millions of people are daily ad-

dicted to this form of
ment. What influence d
ert? And what dream
are projected in the d
theatre or living room?
pus room?)
Finally, the movies a
international art form.1
very beginnings, both i
the technical developm
camera as well as in th
the film itself, its use of
of current events, the m
known no political bar
language differences.
surmounted. Art hass
joyed this kind of disti
in the case of the film
been an accelerationo
tionalism: movie co
true international "set
4 LL OF THE above a
can, of course, be i
In the already existing
tation. The history oft
almost every major cou
world, has by now bee
and published. Film
have been analyzed
both for the amateu
professional. Indeed,
phies on both these su
on related topics as we]l
ing to fantastic length
Finally, statistics o:
are readily available to
popularity of the film
tendance figures to wee
A logical place for t1
the films would certa
University. True, a r
schools, mostly on the
west coasts, do curr
courses on the film. An
as indicated above, a g
of books on the subjec
But serious investi

of Today.
hampered by the conservatism of
ena facultiesand -administrators,'their
EU'~W/reluctance to admit such an un~
usual study into the curriculum,
" and the very real difficulty of
Ztfe finding instructors with sufficient
breadth of training and interest
to tackle such a broad field as
that represented by the film.
The best approach might be
the interdisciplinary.
entertain-
do they ex- R E G U L A R undergraduate
s of theirs course in the film could, none-
larkness of theless, be offered. The practical
(Or rum- problems are capable of solution.
The course could give three
re truly an hours of credit, meeting twice
From their weekly for lectures, once weekly
n terms of for a scheduled film showing (the
tent of the equivalent of a laboratory) with
e length of a third class hour devoted to a
f story line, discussion of the film. Enrollment
novies have should definitely be limited; pre-
riers. Even requisites (in literature, in sociol-
have been ogy, or in other fields) would have
always en- to be established.
nction. But Thp nurposes of such a course
there has would be:
of interna- 1) to study the history of the
lonies are cinema: here one would be faced
s." with a decision: should the his-
tory be Pong nAtional lines (i.e.,
ssumptions history of the German film) or
nvestigated intprnationAl. or should it in-
documen- volve a studv of certain tvoes
the film, in (comedy or musical) rather than
ntry of the try to cover the general develop-
n recorded ment:
techniques 2) to evaluate films as works of
at length, art- here is another set of prob-
b and the lems:the role of music, the ques-
bibliogra- tion of acting skills, etc.;
bjctsand 3) to comprehend thecultural
1 are grow- role of the cinema.
tS.
f all sorts This program is a big one, per-
o show the haps too ambitious. But the prob-
, from at- lems are fascinating. A beginning
kly grosses. needs to be made. Such existing
organizations as Cinema Guild
he study of. and the Gothic Film Society have
'demonstrated the interest.

Discusses Plays and Acting:
C~R
CLARIBEL
L SELMA SAWAYA

BA IRD

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"IF THE ACTING is really fine,
you know what's going on, no
matter what the language or the
play being performed."
During a sabbaticalleave in
Europe, Professor Claribel Baird
discovered that such a concept of
the theatre held true - even
through such a wide variety of
plays as . Euripides' "Medea" in
Greek, Brecht's "Mother Courage"
in German, and Lorca's "House
of Bernarda Alba" in Italian.'
With her husband, Professor
William Halstead, Professor Baird
made her theatrical "pilgrimage"
during the year of June, 1956-
May, 1957. Their travels took them
from England through France,t
Germany, Italy and Greece, where
they had the opportunity to ob-
serve and compare contemporary
theatre.
rPHE WORKS of Paul Claudel
interested me very much when
I saw them performed by the
Jean-Louis Barrault company in
Paris," Professor Baird recalled.
"I have always wanted to do a
Claudel, but I'm not sure that I'm
c.mable of communicating him at
this point-also, his plays require
extremely large casts." she added.
In England, she and Professor
Halstead had the opportunity of
seeine the Berliner Ensemble of
the Brecht company (headed by
the widow of Bertolt Brecht) per-
form "Mother Courage" - "in
some ways disappointing," Pro-
fessor Baird commented.
"We had expected to see a
demonstration of Brecht's 'aliena-
tion' theory of acting-in which
the playwright does not wish to
engage the audience's emotions in
the play, but is rather supposed to
keep the listeners cool and de-
tached-but the two performances
which we saw by this ensemble
failed to achieve this," she con-
tinued.
"HOWEVER, we later saw, in
Mannheim, Erwin Piscator's
production of Schiller's 'The Rob-
ber,' which was a magnificent
demonstration of this theory," she
remarked.
The problems of a foreign lan-
guage production were particu-
larly pointed in Greece, where the
traditional open-air performances
of such classics as "Medea" and
"Antigone" were presented in the
native language. However, Pro-
fessor Baird admitted, familiarity
with the l$ays in English transla-
tions makes it possible to follow
the performances, in Greece as in
the other countries of Europe. And

encourage this particularly -- itE
is not a wise or practical pursuit,
with the present professional thea-{
tre set-up. Of course, if we did
find a Christopher Plummer or
Julie Harris, we would certainly
give them all the direction and1
encouragement we-could. Our main
aim, though, is to give all our stu-
dents a keen appreciation of and
breadth of knowledge in their1
field."
PROFESSOR BAIRD, for many
years a member of the Uni-
versity's speech department,'
teaches courses in acting, modern
poetry, and interpretation of
Shakespearean drama and Greek
drama.
In addition to her teaching
duties, she has directed and acted
in a number of plays at the Uni-
versity; her most recent acting
performances were in the past
summer's Playbill production of
Richard Brinsley Sheridan's "The
Rivals," in which she portrayed
the classic Mrs. Malaprop, and this
fall's performance of "I Knock
at the Door."
This spring's Playbill perform-
ance of "Look Homeward, Angel,"
Ketti Frings' adaptation of the
monumental Thomas Wolfe novel,
will mark the 26th production
which Professor Baird has directed
in her tenure at the University.
Of plays which she has directed
in the past, she recalls "Richard
II" as a favorite-"there is prob-
ably no doubt that Shakespeare
is myfavorite playwright," she
said; then added, "I also enjoyed
directing Giraudoux, though."

Pr#,ccor aird as Mrs. Malaprop in the summer production
of "The Rivals."

ainy Ae a
number of
e east and
ently offer
nd there is,
growing list
t.
Jgatlon Is

Marvin Feiheim is an As-
sociate Professor in the Eng-
Lish department and serves on-
the Carnegie Corporation -
Honors Program Project.

ner
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as she pointed out earlier, if the
calibre of the acting is sufficiently
high, one can follow the play
quite comfortably.
"In fact," she recalled, "my only
distraction at the performance of
'Medea' was from a well-meaning
Athenian friend who persistently
whispered translations in my ear!"
IN ITALY, she continued, "we did
what one does in Italy - opera,
opera, opera! Hearing Callas at
La Scala, with an Italian audi-
ence, was a dramatic experience.
"But we found interesting plays
and some good performers," Pro-
fessor Baird said. "We saw Italy's
leading actor, Vittorio Gassman,
in Federico Zardi's 'I Tromboni,' a
play in twelve scenes and in which
Gassman played nine completely
different roles. It was not just a
stunt; with only slight changes of
costume and make-up he gave nine
effective and valid characteriza-
tions," she remarked.
During the fall semester of the
sabbatical year, Professor Baird
studied at the University of Lon-
don, "principally to observe teach-
ing methods of three outstanding
professors.
Questioned as to the "seeming
emphasis" on the musical comedy
form as opposed to "straight"
drama In the American theatre,
compared with the European thea-
tre, Professor Baird commented
that "there is not so much an
emphasis on musical comedy here,
as it is merely a matter of our

doing this type of theatre so much
better than they do in other coun-
tries.
"On the other hand, there are
fine acting companies in European
cities which can do excellent dra-
ma. in ways much better than we
can."
IN THE United States, she con-
tinued, "we don't have a situa-
tion such as existed, for example,
in the Moscow Art Theatre, or
with the Abbey Players of Dublin,
with a few students under a fairly
rigid discipline; nor do we have
anything parallel to the London
Academy as far as concentrated
discipline in the craft and art of
acting is concerned.
"The University theatre pro-
gram is obligated to give par-
ticipating students practice in all
facets of theatrical production,
and at the same time teach them
the history, theory, and aesthetics
of the theatre.
.Some of our students," she
continued, "have aspirations to1
act professionally, but we don't

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MAGAZINE
Sunday, February 28, 1960

Vol. VI, No. 6

PHOTOS: Page 3: 'Ension--Dove Giltrow; Page 4f Columbia Pie-
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Fox, right-Warner Bros.; Page 15: Daily-Jim Richman; Page
17: Theater World; Page 18: right-Daily; Page 19: Daily--Alan
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MAGAZINE EDITOR--Joan Koatz
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