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October 08, 1970 - Image 2

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The Michigan Daily, 1970-10-08

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Page Two

THE MICHIGAN DAILY

Thursday, October 8, 1970 *I

PageTwoTHE ICHGAN AIL

Thurrdy,.Ocober , 197

theatre
Laughably long'Chalk Circle'

DON'T MISS!.

By JIM HENNERTY
If you enjoy slapstick comedy,
Jackie Gleason imitations and
lisping fairies, you'll probably
be delighted with the University
Players' production of Bertolt
Brecht's The Caucasian Chalk
Circle. Unfortunately, director
James Coakley has packed more
'business' into the performance
than the play can withstand.
Brecht skillfully uses comedy
to put across a point, to give
insight into human character
and the follies perpetrated by
class society. The current pro-
duction is loaded with comic ac-
tion (a good three hours-plus
worth) but the point and in-
sight are quite invisible. Not
only does this approach misrep-
resent the play, but it quickly
becomes wearisome.
The kind of comedy employed
is questionable as well. Physical
action slapstick, double takes,

leering and so on-is present
ad nauseam. Because of the in-
terminable length of such 'busi-
ness,' several of Brecht's own
comic bits, (the doctors in the
first scene and the trial of the
cattle thief) are sacrificed to
the detriment of overall effect
of the play.
Brecht's concept of epic thea-
tre suffers in Coakley's produc-
tion. The director appears to
have chosen a basically' 'realist-
ic' approach, rejecting the au-
thor's concept of Verfremdung
as applied to drama. He has re-
tained some basic elements,
such as the singer-narrator
(dropping him, after all, would
be going a bit too far), and ob-
viously artificial scenery. The
use of masks for many charac-
ters was also a welcome bit of
relief from the realistic ap-
proach.
Paradoxically, he introduces

Players to produce
Black Theatre piece

a stuffed child with a wicker
basket head, an effect certainly
not sanctioned by Brecht who
has little Michael speak several
lines. The audience's reaction
was to laugh every time the
child-dummy was brought onto
the stage.
The whole effect leads me to
believe that Mr. Coakley is
either trying to milk every bit
of laughter possible, or doesn't
have any idea what the play
is about. The pantomimes per-
formed by the actors during the
songs were admirable conception
which became unsuccessful in
execution.
Coakley dismisses the pro-
logue as a not terribly import-
ant part of the play, choosing
to omit it. The prologue
(Brecht's text simply has it as
Scene I - not 'Prologue') is
not so crucial that the pro-
duction becomes invalid or in-
comprehensible. However, it
does present the occasion for
the parable of the Chalk Circle,
and indicates its relevance to
society. It frames the play and
makes clear the point the au-
thor is presenting. How mn a n y
people in the audience, I won-
der, knew what the last line of
the play meant: "and the val-
ley (shall be given) to the wat-
ers, that it may bring forth
fruit." Only in the context of
the prologue does it make sense.
The acting was quite good on
the whole. The principle fol-
lowed the director's intent well
and practiced a non-Brechtian
acting style rather adeptly.
James Baffico as Azdak prov-
ed himself agile and boisterous
although the "Wows" and leers
came straight from the less ef-
fective work of Jackie Gleason.
Priscilla Lindsay, as Grusha,
was more restrained and, conse-
quently, more effective in ser-
ious moments. James Harris,
Joan Susswein and Evan Jef-
fries also stood out in smaller
roles.
This was a most disappointing
production with which to begin
the season. It is somewhat en-
taining, but then so is "Laugh-
in." Last year's production of
Brecht's The Exception and the
Rule by the Residential Col-
lege was an excellent example of
the playwright's dramatic ef-
fectiveness. The University Play-
ers, alas, have a good deal to
learn about proper Brechtian
style.

3 4 f

PTP BOX OFFICE
OPEN M-F 10-1, 2-5

- ------

-Willis J. Spaulding
- -- -

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The University Players will
produce its first Black Theatre
production this December. The
play, Who's Got His Own, by
Ronald Milner, will be perform-
ed in the Lydia Mendelssohn
Theatre.
The play, first performed in
New York in 1965, was described
by Walter Kerr as a work "with
demon driven people . .. a play
of passionate fists and faces.
Hands cleave the air in spastic
urgency, bodies bolt toward one
another as though gale winds
were hurling them about, even
the footwork on the open floor
becomes a dance on a griddle."
To stage this play, the Play-
ers have made a departure from
tradition by going outside their
own ranks to appoint Leonard
G. Smith of Detroit for the Di-
rector's position. Smith is pres-
ently an instructor of the Black
Theatre at Wayne University.
Nobel Prize
in question
STOCKHOLM, Sweden ()--
The Royal Swedish Academy of
Letters announced it is award-
ing the Nobel Prize for Liter-
ature today.
The announcement came yes-
terday as a surprise because the
academy usually announces the
day of the award weeks ahead
of time.
Speculation in literary circles
was that. the academy had be-
come embarrassed by a press
campaign to get a Nobel Prize
for Soviet novelist Alexander
Solzhenitsyn. By announcing the
award today the campaign could
be brought to a quick end.
Solzhenitsyn's books are ban-
ned in the Soviet Union. The
Swedish Academy has not for-
gotten 1958 when the controver-
sial Soviet author Boris Paster-
nak was awarded the prize but
forced to refuse it by the Soviet
regime.
The Michigan Daily, edited and man-
aged by students at the University of
Michigan. News phone: 764-0552. Second
Class postage paid at Ann Arbor, Mich-
igan, 420 Maynard St., Ann Arbor,
Michigan 48104. Published daily Tues-
day through Sunday morning Univer-
sity year. Subscription rates: $10 by
carrier, $10 by mail.
Summer Session published Tuesday
through Saturday morning. Subscrip-
tion rates: $5. by carrier,.$5 by mail.

Playwright Ronald Milner is
a national leader in the Black
Theatre Movement. To under-
stand individual plays in this
literature, it is important to
grasp a picture of the movement
as a whole, for its ideal function
is intended to be quite different
for white theatre as it has
evolved today.
Black Theatre is an attempt
to explore the psychic conscious-
ness of black people and in so
doing to perform many func-
tions of theatre as in the most
primitive cultures where it was
the primary vehicle for t h e
transmission of cultural val-
ues, including simultaneously
elements of the spiritual, educa-
tional and political values. Mil-
ner is working toward this goal
with the black community on
Detroit's East Side.

CHILD CARE
MASS MEETING
TONITE 7:130 P.M.'
2nd Floor S.A.B.
-WOMENS LIBERATION COALITION
-CHILD CARE ACTION GROUP

PIONEER'

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FM Tuner Sensitivity:
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$299.95.

In trying to remain consist-
ent with these goals, University
Players sincerely hopes members
of the neighboring black com-
munity will audition for the play
this week. Director Smith will
hold auditions in Room 2518
of the Frieze Building (corner
of Huron Avenue and State St.)
at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday and
Friday evenings, October 8 and
9; also on Sunday afternoon,
October 11th from 2:30 to 5:00
p.m.
The performances,, December
2 through 5 will be part of the
regular season subscription,
available through Saturday at
the Trueblood Box Office.
.

TONIGHT
THE
LEAVES OF GRASS
Will Appear at
WILL YOU?
$1 .00(or so) 8:30-11:30

walnut cabinet. $199.95.

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Excellent for use in multi-
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walnut cabinet, lattice grille;
221/?" (H) x 13" (W) x
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4
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The Daily is anxious to cor-
rect errors or distortions in
news stories, features, reviews
or editorials. If you have a com-
plaint, please call Editor Mar-
tin Hirschman at 764-0562.

1L_

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IN THE NEWS!
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by

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ORDER BY MAIL
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1210 S. University, Ann Arbor
OPEN MONDAY EVENINGS 'TIL 9 P.M.

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BONDED ACRYLICS.............$2.50
(Reg. $3.50)
fl NEW LOCATION!
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"AN I M P R E S S IV E ACHIEVEMENT.
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Use Daily Classifieds

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the place to meet
interesting people .. .
BACH CLUB
PRESENTS
A talk by John Harwith
"TOSCANINI :
MYTH AND MUSIC!"
THURS., OCT. 8-8 P.M.
S. Quad-West Lounge
Refreshments & FUN after-
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musical knowledge needed).
Info: 663-2827, 769-2003,
663-9619.

4

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For the student body:
FLARES
by
Levi
Farah
. Wright

Thurs.-Fri.-Oct. 8-9
- SANSHO TH BALIFF
dir. KENJI MIZOGUCHI (1954)
Abduction and revenge in medieval Japan as de-
picted by one of Japan's trio of Masters. The movie
approaches the pity and terror of a Greek tragedy.

II

--LOS ANGELES TIMES
"REMARKABLY GOOD!"
- -N.Y. POST
4D.GH.GLawre'qe's
THE VIRGIN AND THE

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Color Prints by Movielab A CHEERON Pictures Release: a division of CinecomCorporation IT1

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