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October 13, 1970 - Image 2

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The Michigan Daily, 1970-10-13

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Page Two

THE MICHIGAN DAILY

Tuesday; October 13, 1970

Page Two THE MICHIGAN DAILY

Tuesday. October 13. 1970

I

Power Center: Artistic

reply to

theatre

needs

By GLORIA SMITH
It is a work of art. An alive,
festive sculpture that speaks of
the dramatic experience itself.
The Power Center for t h e
Performing Arts is presently
under construction just one
block east of the Frieze Builld-
on Central Campus.
Its six large, eight-foot col-
umns support concrete beams
that thrust dynamically out
from the building's middle.
When completed, these beams
will form the ceiling for t h e
lobby. The Power Center's
front will be one massive glass
wall which, during the daytime,
will reflect the greenery in Felch'
Park. In darkness, the wall
will be backlighted, exposing to
passersby the entire front lobby
with its two unique glass-en-
cased,.spiraling staircases.
The interior space will be
roughly divided in two, provid-
ing room for both the auditor-
ium and service facilities such as
rehearsal halls, dressing rooms
and business offices.
In 1961, the University in-
vited Robert C. Schnitzer and
Marcella Cisney to come from
New York, where they were
well-known producers and di-
rectors, to establish a Profes-
sibnal Theater Program on cam-
pus. At that time, University
President Harlan Hatcher sug-
gested that a new theater be
built. But the Schnitzers refused
the offer, explaining that a
successful program was needed
before plans for a building
could begin.
"This is the only basic, or-
ganic approach," Miss Cisney,
Artistic Director for PTP ex-
plained. "The program must

come first. Too many campuses
today have built magnificent
buildings but have nothing to
fill them.' We wanted to in-
sure a substantial, healthy si-
tuation in which a successful
program had first demonstrated
its need for a theater. I
Both Prof. Schnitzer, Execu-
tive Director for PTP, and Miss
Cisney, vehemently explained
exactly what the needs of PTP
are, and why none of the pre-
sent University facilities satis-
fy them.
To begin with, neither Hill
nor Mendelssohn provide a suit-
able stage. In Hill, where t h e
platform -is shallow, the actors
nearly fall off the edge and
into the orchestra pit.
Plays which open in Men-
delssohn Theatre sometimes
need to be re-built when they
move to New York. PTP has
lost companies because of this
problem. For example, PTP
brought the Stratford Ontario
Shakespeare Festival to the
Mendelssohn Theatre for two
years and then simply surrend-
ered. It proved impossible to
adjust the Festival to such limit-
ed space.
A second problem PTP en-
counters is the physical layout
of the available theaters. Men-
delssohn is attractive because of
its intimacy, yet the seating ca-
pacity is insufficient for t h e
crowds at 'sell out' productions.
Hill, on the other hand, is'large
enough to accommodate large
audiences, but from the second
balcony it is difficult to be-
come involved with even the
best dramatic performance.
There is also a need for more
modern backstage equipment.

This is especially obvious in
Hill, which is a concert plat-
form, not a theatrical stage.
The new Power Center w il l
provide a solution to all of
these problens.
For one of the most exciting
facets of the Power Center are
the two stages. It' has not only
a standard proscenium stage,
but also a convertable thrust
stage (where the audience forms
a horseshoe around the plat-
form). The proscenium stage
will be 54' wide and 28' high
and the thrust 'stage 28' wide,
projecting 16' into the auditor-
ium. To further increase flexi-
bility, provisions can also be
made to allow the thrust stage
to be completely surrounded by
seats, thus creating a theater-
in-the-round.
The theater will have a seat-
ing capacity of 1,426, yet no
seat will be more than 72' from
the stage. This will provide a
unique intimacy for so large
a group.
Backstage, the equipment will
be engineered for efficiency wit\
an electronic switchboard and
lighting control'center.
Much of the interior will not
be finished by the time of the
Center's opening in the fall of
1971. The Green Room, the
business offices and the work-
shops are all parts of 'Phase
Two', which will hopefully be
completed. within the next five
years. The reason for this par-
tial delay is a simple lack of
funds. Since plans to build the
Center first began in 1965, con-
struction prices have soared be-
yond any original estimate.
For the most part, existing
funds have been provided by
Eugene B. Power, former chair-
man of the University's Board
of Regents.
The Power Center is an archi-
tectural feat, and the men re-
sponsible for its classical-mo-
dern design are Kevin Roche
and John Dinkeloo, formerly of
Saarinen Associates of Connect-
icut.
Jo Mielziner is the interior co-
designer for the Center. Dis-
tinguished Dean of Broadway
scenic artists, Mielziner is a
winner of seven Tony awards
and is responsible for the design
of the thrust and prosenium
stages and the lighting equip-
ment of the Power Center.
This skillfully designed Power<
Center is under construction to-
day because of the deter-
mined efforts of many people.
Yet is basic catalyst has been
the PTP) a program w h i c h1
first demonstrated a vital need
and then demanded that the
need be met.
PTP has been successful be-
cause it satisfies a broad variety
of theatrical tastes, providing a
spectrum of drama which rang-
es from Greek tragedy, to
Shakespeare, to established
Broadway and Off-Broadway
hits, to works from talented,
new, young playwrights-in-resi-
dence.j
In a sense, PTP is attempt-
ing to bridge the 'generation
gap. Their plays havedealt
with problems which everyone

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"WOMEN IN LOVE"
and "TOM JONES"

-Balthazar Korab; Birmingham, Mich.
Architects' model of the Power Center for the Performing Arts

audiences do not want to cut
the umbillical cord to the dra-
matic past," Miss Cisney said.
"We find that they respond
to the prophetic ,to the vision-
ary, and to the poetic as well as
to the theatre of the 'now'."
"PTP audiences average 60
per cent students, and are keen
and responsive to the theater of
wide scope and diversity,"
Schnitzer added.
"Satisfying dramatic exper-
ience should be somewhat like
the sex act," he explained. "We
can see the performers as the
male, and the audience as the
female. Through an interaction
F of both participants, a climax
is reached."
An appreciation of professional
drama is not new to the city
of Ann Arbor. Begining in 1928,
Valentine Windt directed a n d

produced a five-week Drama
Festival each spring for many
years. After his death, fifteen
years ago, there was a period
of creative inactivity which, for
the past nine years, has been"
filled by PTP.
Ann Arbor is a noted leader
and a pioneer in cultural activ-
ity. The new Power Center for
the Performing Arts, which will
house presentations from t h e
School of Music, the G i1 b e rt
and Sullivan Society, the Pro-
fessional Theater Program,
Musket, and others, is one giant
step in continuing Ann Arbor's
tradition of excellence in the
arts.
(EDITOR'S NOTE: The PTP
opens this evening in Lydia
Mendelssohn Theatre with "in
the matter of j. robert oppen-
heimer.")

KILLER SALE!
STUDENT 200K SRVICQ
1215 S. University
2Oo0 OFF LIST ON NEW BOOKS
50% OFF LIST ON USED BOOKS
STARTS MONDAY, OCTOBER 12

I

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TTHERFD BOYS
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at
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-Daily-Sara Krulwich

letters
From IBrecht to slapstick

To the Daily:
One wonders how many of those
exposed to Brecht's Caucasion
Chalk Circle for the first time,
in Mr. Coakley's 'U' Players pro-
duction understood that the
play is a masterfully developed
attack on traditional concepts
of "ownership," including the
whole legal apparatus that legi-
timizes and perpetuates ,prop-
erty "rights." The reason why
this number is probably minute
is simple: As the "Director's
Note" :explains, the production
aimed at conveying the "roman-
tic dreams' of a "promise of
forgiveness and redemption
through love" instead, executed
according to Brecht's most im-
portant intention, which was
"to please."~
Coakley's production achieved
what it set out to do: With the
cutting- of the prologue, the so-
cial context and the contem-
porary relevance were elimi-
nated, and the rest of the text
was deprived of its meaning
through an unending flow of
gimmicky distractions. 'Brecht
turned out to be a dramatist in
the best American slapstick tra-
dition, and one wonders why
Coakley stopped short of mak-
ing a musical adaptation of the
play. (the ending showed his
ambitions in that direction).
Perhaps one is doing Coak-
ley an inustice, nowever. After

all, Brecht himself observed (in
Brecht on Theatre - highly
recommended to Coakley) that
"the modern epic theatre . . .
cannot by any means be prac-
ticed universally. Most of the
great nations today are not dis-
posed to use the theatre for
ventilating their problems." Of
course, that was in 1936. But
maybe Coakley is merely selling
out to the unchanged likes and
dislikes of the American theater
goer thirty-some years later? Or
is he, by any chance, under-
estimating t h e development
away from the craving for un-
challenging entertainment and
prote c t i v e narrowmindedness
that might have takenh lace
since, at least among theatre
goers in a university commu-
nity?
--Helga Goldberg
Oct. 10
The Michigan Daily, edited and man-
age6. by students at the University of
Micnigan. 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.

1421 Hill

15c

161 -1451

must face, yet about which
youth are especially concerned.
For example, The Trojan Wo-
men, by Euripides (presented in
1966) speaks out against war
with much the same emotional
impact as the contemporary
anti-war play, Summertree, (to
be presented in October).
"We have learned that our

ii~

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THURS., OCT. 22
STEVE MILLER
BAND
SAT., OCT. 24
TEN WHEEL
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4

Every TUESDAY:
Apple Wine Night-reduced prices
THURSDAY, OCT. 15
LOVE'S ALCHEMY
9:30-1 :30--Women half prices
FRIDAY, OCT. 16
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9:30- 1 :30
SATURDAY, OCT. 17
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