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January 29, 1971 - Image 5

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1971-01-29

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pry29, 1974 THE MICHIGAN DAILY

Page F

The

Ann

Arbor

estival.. .

drama

in

the

making

...

By LARRY LEMPERT
A SMALL coffeehouse, packed with people;
a haze of rising smoke softens the lights
and a low, easy mumble fills the air. This must
be the right atmosphere for drama. Actor and
audience blend together and, whatever is hap-
pening, it's happening all around you.
This kind of atmosphere could be generated
by tonight's opening at Canterbury House of
the Ann Arbor Drama Festival. For a whole
month, the festival will produce shows Thurs-
day through Sunday nights and drama work-
shops on Monday evenings. At the least, it will
be an attempt to awaken Ann Arbor to the
possibilities of local, original off-campus the-
ater, and those'possibilities are worth looking
into.
University organizations and professional
companies bring a lot of very good theater into
Ann Arbor. But Debbie Nathan, in charge of
organizing the festival, explains, "Many kinds
of theater are not done at the University. We
found a lot of people, students and non-stu-
dents, who felt they had something to offer
but they couldn't find a place to do it."
Richard Lees, who opens tonight with a set
of short plays, says the festival will provide
an outlet for people who have established no
professional credibility. He hopes the festival
will "convince the community that there are
serious people a r o u n d interested in doing
drama."
Peter Wilde is directing one show and is
doing the lighting for a number of others. He
has been involved with off-campus theater in
Ann Arbor for five years, working with "pro-
ductions outside the usual strain of campus
drama activities."
"We're not obliged to do certain things or
use certain styles in order -to earn brownie
points," says Wilde. "We have more freedom

Photos by Jim Judkis,
Tom Gottlieb and Jim Wallace

to experiment, to work outside conventions,
out of the straightjacket."
THE RESULT is a grab-bag of styles, forms
and ideas, to be presented throughout the
month at Canterbury House. Reaching at
random into the grab-bag, one might find:
MUZEEKA, which director Cal Vornburger
of the Residential College describes as a "very
contemporary play." "It's political theater,"
says Vornburger, "from an artistic standpoint."
More subtle than a movement to political ac-
tion, he explains, the involvement is emotional
rather than intellectual.
"We like the play," Vornburger says. "It's
about a perceptive guy who looks at the wrong
things. The story seems to tell how Americans
are being manipulated."
CHILDREN'S THEATER, by another group
of Residential College people. One of the pro-
ductions, "Frogs," to be presented in Saturday
afternoon matinees, is meant for children but
can be enjoyed by others.
"The best kind of children's theater," says
Adele Ahronheim who is involved in the pro-
duction, "is one that all audiences can appre-
ciate at different levels. Children aren't as
stupid as adults think they are. They're a very
appreciative audience, too-they're not wor-
ried about sophistication."
CONTEMPORARY I)ANCE, an informal col-
lection of works in progress, finished pieces,
solos, and improvisations. For Diane Elliot,
dance is a "completely different impulse" than
drama. She is interested in the "harnassing
of energy within a -specific spatial area, the
exploration of space through energy."
She and the dancers working with her want
to make 'the audience "sensitive to qualities
of space and time within that space." In danc-
ing, they "attempt to explore farther; it's
self-expression through movement."
IMPROVISATIONAL ACTING, represented
by a series of vignettes on a central theme.
The Free U Improv Group begins with per-
sonal experiences and working situations, ex-
plains Erica Fox, improvising a script through
acting rather than writing.
MIME, in several d i f f e r e n t programs
throughout the festival. Mime involves "the
essence of relationships," says Klaus Berg-
mann, director of a mime by the Austrian
writer Peter Handke. The mime by Handke
deals with the master-slave relationship and
is very philosophical, according to Bergmann.
Yet Bergmann seeks to use only "bodies and
the way they communicate" to transmit the
philosophical message.
"The audience should be able to complete-
ly forget there is no dialogue," says Bergmann.
"Everything should be absolutely clear."

ROCK OPERA, a musical based on the
Orpheus legend taking place in Northern
Germany. Fred Pidgonski, writer and director
of "Johann Orpheus," describes it as "bizarre,
leaning toward funny." Tile music is "rock-
flavored, with a country-western heritage."
rTHE GRAB-BAG, as one keeps reaching,
seems bottomless. The festival will include
programs by Pioneer High School drama stu-
dents, a Detroit group known as the Poor Sid
Theater Co., the Lord Chamberlain Players,
and a number of other individuals and groups.
The Monday night workshops, which are
open to the public, will provide an opportunity
for interaction between the many groups work-
ing on the festival. Greg Jarboe, who origi-
nated the idea of the festival and did much of
the organizing, explains that the groups are
often too busy to see Awhat others are doing.
The workshops, says Jarboe, are a chance
for "performers to get aware of each other"
and for anyone who is interested to come and
discuss techniques and styles.
Three workshops are now scheduled. They
will focus on liturgical drama, dance and
movement, and mixed media. "People can ex-
plain, demonstrate, learn and rap with other
people doing the same thing they are-in a
different way," Jarboe says.
Mime, dance, improv, music, theater of the
emotion, of the intellect, of the ekes and ears,
speaking and moving, experimenting and cre-
ating and having a good time doing it-this
is the Ann Arbor Drama Festival.
This drama will not meet rigid academic
standards and it will lack a professional flare.
But it can be spontaneous, original and cre-
ative, spirited and immediate. And without
spending a great deal of money and without
rehearsing for months on end, drama is in the
making.

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