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February 19, 1974 - Image 5

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1974-02-19

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Page Five


s f
shun7: from gn

leader to
This spring Chris Christian mate lang
will direct a one-act play he vulgar is
wrote, "The Killers" From E-1, "Killing, t
at the Residential College thea- The Kill
ter. action of
To put some of the most vi- mates who
brant black language of the late into cell b
1950's "in the museum" is the fight the
aim of The Killers, Christian's main cell
first play. The language belongs Christian
to what some social scientists subject he
termed "corner - boy culture," play is de
a life style based on street gang imaginatio
rule. "Corner - boy culture" ma is base
lasted only four or five years tian actu
during the late "1950's and early feels it is
1960's. Although much has been of words,
written in Southern and urban felt into t
dialects "no one has ever taken literaturea
this language and preserved it," mitting p
Christian said. "the mind
Christian is a short, burly 30- people."

p laywrig
anguage. It's a legiti- they made their own laws."
uage. The thing that's When asked if he always
that cowboy" stuff. a fair fight like the gang le,
hat's vulgar." Crust, the main character in
ers deals with the re- Killers whom Christian base
four new prison in- himself, he became most
o upon being processed cere. "I always gave a
block E-1 will have to fight. It was for fame
"killers" from that glory." He added that it
block. "part fantasy," though he
n has written on the hold "the desire to see r
knows first hand. The done. I always had that attit
finitely a work of the You pay dearly for just b
n, but because the dra- yourself."

d on

NEXT WEEK, February 26 and 27, 1974
"Shamanistic Yogic Gnostic Socio
Economics (South America)"
Johnny Earles, Tues., 7:30, Angell Aud. D, "Inca Mind and Cosmology," Michael Horner, Wed., 3:00,
Angell Aud. A, "Shamanism and Hallucinogens," Mick Taussig, Wed., 7:30, Angell Aud. D, "Sham-
anism, Religion and Rural Capitalism"
Sponsored by the Office of Ethics and Reigon,
3rd floor, Michiga, Union, 764-7442
STAGECOACH (at 6:30 & 10:15)
John Ford's classic 1939 western is about the best ever made. A stagecoach containing the vrarious
characters of the West-a gambler, dance hall girl, an outlaw, a soldier's wife, a town drunk, a
whiskey salesman, and a dishonest banker-trqvels through Indian territory. John Wayne's first role
as the Ringo Kid is worthy of an Academy Award.
THE THIRD MAN (at 8:30)
Orson Welles and Joseph Cotton star in Carol Reed's 1949 thriller about a fascinating man of evil
and his haunting story in post-war Vienna. Contains the original "chase through the sewers" sequence.
I, --.- -- ' -- - -- -.'" I

eed on an ordeal Chris-
ally experienced, he
y"not just an account
" but rather "emotion
the words." He views
as a means for trans-
ersonal feelings into
s and hearts of other

A writer should function "to bring a person
inside (your vision) and let them see what's
there to see--'-teach them to see. And it's the
readers' duty to see what's there."
-Chris Christian
y. ;.ra h:: "....: :T: :e4i.{. 4< ?. ..;: a,} lg :iTggggsag ":nggg gg

year old black man currently
working on a Master's degree in
Urban Education at the Univer-
sity. "I love to be frank even
when it's painful," he says. "It's
an obsession to get things out
that are truly felt."
After reading the manuscript
of The Killers, Arthur Miller flat-
tered Christian by taking him out.
to dinner. Not having read Mil-
ler's works Christian "couldn't
say I read Death of a Salesman
or anything." Miller "just talked
about jails" and other writers..
"I talked about The Misfits" (a
film starring Marilyn Monroe
and Clark Gable for which Mil-
ler wrote the screen play). Chris-
tian, who has a keen phonetic
ear, said the interplay between
Monroe's soft voice and Gable's
harsh reply "really moved me."
Some may find the "hip" talk
used in The Killers vulgar. How-
ever, Christian says that "you
have to have the guts to use that

Christian was born in Philadel-
phia in 1944. When his mother
died he became "a ward of the
state of Pennsylvania"; never
experiencing any real parent-
child relationship. "The gang
was the family."' In and out of
reform school, his education
stopped at the fifth grade. "I
raised a lot of hell," he said.
In reform school his boxing
skill earned him a city-wide re-
putation. Owning to his legend-
ary reputation he became lead-
er of the Germantown T's street
gang. Looking back on his gang
experience Christian deemed "a
lot of it senseless." It was "a
sub-conscious form of self-ha-
tred." The result of a "real sub-
tle" type of "indoctrination -
through white motion pictures,"
to take one example. Gangs
were "a way to achieve" accept-
ance, As most gang members
were "ostracized, to compensate

In reform school Christian read
Huckleberry Finn which gave
him a "whole mode for writing.
I feel Mark Twain brought to-
gether the doctor and the third
grader in terms of language. A
guy with a PhD. can enjoy it."
As Christian believes "a writer
should be universal, sharing
with everyone" possible, he re-
gards today's elitest writers with
an intolerant eye. He describes
to the realist viewpoint that
writing should be "edifying to
human kind, helping people with
some kind of message." A writer
should function he says, "to
bring a person inside (your vi-
sion) and let them see what's
there to see-teach them to see.
And it's the readers' duty to see
what's there. I don't think that's
asking too iuch."
In 1965 when Christian was 21,
he boxed in the Golden Gloves
national championships in Wash-
ington, D. C. (He lost in the final
round to "Gypsy" Joe Harris,
who after turning pro beat the
world welterweight champion in
a non-title bout.) Returning to
Washington Christian "got real
sensitive" towards social prob-
lems and began doing volunteer
social work.
In those days it was just be-
coming "fashionable to be
black" and he got a job prepar-
ing Vista volunteers to work in
the inter-cities. At this time he
first gave serious thought to writ-
ing after reading David Walker,
the firebrand whose appeal was
the most powerful denouncement
of slavery of the 1820's. Along
with Walker, Christian mentions
the work of Ezra Pound, particu-
larly Hugh' Selwyn Mauberley,
and the minister Oswald Cham-
ber as his main influences.
In 1968 while working at a va-
riety of volunteer social occu-
pations Christian was asked by a
man he prefers not to name, to,
come to Ann Arbor to work with
children. Arriving in Ann Arbor,
Christianfound this person head-
ed a committee composed mostly
of whites. "I said what was on
my mind. Afterwards he said I
was supposed to play ball or not
get paid. To make a long story
short, after two weeks at the
YMCA I wound up on skid row in
a Cass Avenue (Detroit) flop
At this point he "surprisingly"
passed a G.E.D. test (the equiv-
alent of a high school diploma)
and entered Highland Park Corn-
munit College. After graduat-
ing he enrolled at the Univer-
"The Killers" From E-1 was
written last summer over a span
of thirteen weeks. The play is
published in the Winter Genera-
tion, a literary review. As Chris-
tian likes "to do everything for
social reasons," a portion of the
proceL'ds will be given to the Af-
rican Famine.
Christian is currently working
on a short piece of fiction entitled
The Niggy Man.

Last weekend's production of
S ha k esp ear e 's "Mea-
sure for Measure," performed by
the New York City Center Act-
ing Company, all in all captured
the rolicksome and boistrous
comedy of the bard, and, were
it not for the unduly heavy and
flawed first two acts of the play,
would have been a fine produc-
tion as a whole.
It's pretty hard to ruin Shake-
speare. Even in the most miser-
able of vehicles, Shakespeare's
poetry almost strives to rise
above the stuff and save itself.
And this production, directed by
John Houseman, is far from bad.
Norman Snow's interpretation
of the Duke may have been a bit
disconcerting to those who ima-
gined him as the wise and good
sovereign. Snow's Duke panto-
mimes a lesson in slowing his
buoyant gait to a friar's plod
while in disguise, and engages in
furiously hyperkinetic efforts to
insure a happy ending for all. In
short, Snow's Duke was more
like a well-intentioned but overly
exuberant puppy dog.
Granted, Snow had consider-
able help from other members of.
the cast, notably Sam Tsoutsou-
vas as the conniving Lucio; Jar-
ed Sakren as the hapless procur-
er for a whorehouse; and Rich-
ard Ooms as they patient and
all-enduring Escalus.
But the last three acts of the
play - from the riotous jail
scene to the last scene - depend
on the Duke as much as the first
two depend on Isabella.
And therein lies the flaw. Mary-
Jownan Negro looked every inch
the virtuous and beautiful of vo-
tarist of St. Clare. But she fail-
ed to see the innate gentleness
and naive purity that, in the
course of the play, causes two
men to fall in love with her. In-
stead, she is as hard and ram-
rod stiff as Angelo. She varies
between three emotional ex-
tremes: a teary tremulousness
which is as close as she comes
to softness; shreiking, hoarse
hysteria; and the toneless sever-

ity which is her norm.
Isabella's compromising prin-
ciples, the play leads us to be-
lieve, result m o r e from a
dreamy spirituality and shelter-
ed youth, rather than unbending
David Schramm, as Angelo,
properly conveys the harsh aus-
terity of his role, but fails to
convince us of his newfound
passion. His first scene' with Isa-
bella appears more of an intel-
lectual dilemma than a man en-
countering human emotion and
frailty for the first time.
It was equally difficult to en-
vision Houseman's 1850 setting
for the play.
Although the public has be-
come fairly well immunized from
the seemingly endless attempts
to "modernize" Shakespeare,
the 19th-century setting of "Mea-
sure for Measure" is wholly in-
Ignoring the fact that the hu-
mor of Shakespeare's "problem
play" is bawdy and typically
Elizabethan (ironically, 19th cen-
tury critics disliked the play for
what they considered to be its
baseness and crudeness), sever-
al more pointed incongruities
confront the audience.
Convents, priests, etc. play a
dominate role in the play, as
they did in Elizabethan world.
It is more difficult to envision
them with this importance and
high credibility in Strauss' Vien-
na. And, by the way, beheading
as a form of capital punishmentr
was long since demode in Eu-
rope by the 19th century.
s 3
Just Like Xerox Copies!
20 lb. Bond Paper 81/2x 1 I
: 11x19 COPIES 9C
' 524 E. WILLIAM-665-4321 '
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1 mm mm m m m m mm m mu mm m m m


Chris Christian

PTPs Measure.*
Fun, though flawed





8 P.M.

TICKETS: $2.50, $3.50 (general)
$4.50 (reserved)
AVAILABLE AT: Ann Arbor Music Mart, McKenny Union, Huckleberry
Party Store and J.L. Hudson's.

~Mass in B Minor'
handled admirably

The BachM ass in B Minor,
performed by the :.University
Choir and Orchestra,.cane off
well. It had its bad points, but
the piece and performance were
handled admirably.
The Mass itself, ;unlike other
extended religious choral works,
neither dragged much or bored.
The first part of the program.
went by quickly and only at the
intermission could it be realized
that an hour and a quarter had
passed. The second part went
more slowly, as Bach was caught
up. in a myriad ocf solemn choral
numbers. The soli and the duets
lent a relief to the rich texture
of the .choirt.t
The orchestra was offrthe te-
pa now and then, and the sing-
ers were often conscious of this
and 'struggled to. catch up to
their accompanists, rather than
vice versa,..They were very cer-
tain of the notes, and even oc-
casionally seemed to engage in
battle, the victor drowning out
the vanquished. Other than that,
the 'interpretation was worthy of
Bach and of the topic of the
The sopranos were a joy. As
far as volume, they often had to

fight being drowned out, and
were periodically sucked .under.
But their notes were clear as
bells, and wboth lilting and flex-
ible. .
The basses were also particu-
larly good, forming a convinc-
ing base for the tenors and al-
tos to build upon., The notes for
each of the above three sections
were true and the singers ob-
viously had an idea of what they
were singing and how they
should be singing it.
The auditorium was just over
half-full Friday night, and that
can have a depressing effect on
the performers. All those empty
seats can provide a damper for
spirits and ultimately vocal qual-
ity. But the choir and orchestra
succumbed to no such excuses.
They put on a show despite who
was there or wasn't.
The Music School has a fine
record with such choral perform-
ances. It can be seen as a combi-
nation of good judgment as to
what to perform, and a plain
and simple competence. They
proved this last term with the
performance of Mahler's Resur-
rection Symphony, and they add-
ed another feather to their col-
lective cap Friday with the

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Youve been BLACULA-RIZED and
SUPERFLY-ED -but now you re gonna be
glorified and filled-with-pride.
when you see
"FIVO on it

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