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March 28, 1978 - Image 5

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1978-03-28

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Mass murdered by,
puppets and chorus
SUNDAY NIGHT Mendelssohn Theatre presented a strange mass. It was
performed in a combined effort of two groups: the Bread and Puppet
Theater and The Word of Mouth Chorus. The Bread and Puppet Theater is
the creation of the German sculptor Peter Schumann and consists primarily
of people in puppet costumes, papier-mache heads, masks and sundry
paraphenalia accented by small sculpted figures far from one's conven-
tional idea of puppetry. The Word of Mouth Chorus is comprised of singers
and musicians who perform a variety of medieval, renaissance and modern
folk tunes. The mass, Ave Maris Stella, is an irreverent, twisted rendition of.
Josquin des Pres' Catholic Mass in Latin.
The mass attempted to condense various Biblical stories into one tale. It
opens with a Mary/Eve figure leading a donkey through the audience to the
stage. The donkey wears a placard with "The Word" painted on it in blue. An
aluminum-winged Gabriel shouts a herald vocally through a trumpet raised
to his papier-mache head and then a tremendous mask, the Godhead, comes
to the stage, led through the audience by a Civil War soldier/Adam figure
shaking a bell on a stick with a tin foil star. The placard, "The Word," is
hung on the Godhead who then climbs a ladder out of sight. Like nearly all
the others, this scene stretched on too long.
SOON AFTER THIS, the Word of Mouth Chorus races to the stage
(through the ;audience again), dressed as devils; and banging drums,
clashing cymbals, blasting horns and kazoos, and shooting. Now the mass is
ready to begin. An Abe Lincoln type replete with beard and stove-pipe hat
announces each stage. "The first Thing is Good," he says as the satanic
chorus hisses. "The first Thing is Paradise."
The show continues on this line with a second Thing ("bad";
"ealamitv") a third Thine ("wnrse"- "more calamitv") and finally.

Wexler mixes film

The Michigan Daily-Tuesday, March 28, 1978-Page5
and politics

"J'M A (FEARLESS sonofabitch with
I the camera, but otherwise I'm a
real chicken," cinematographer/direc-
tor/political activist Haskell Wexler
told a student, audience last week
during a three-day festival of his films
sponsored by the Cinema Lecture
Series of the University Activities Cen-
Many of Wexler's remarks centered
around this theme of the artist's
responsibility. Wexler recalled an in-
cident in Vietnam which pointed to the
dijem'na which an artist like himself
frequently faces:
"... I was filming in Vietnam. I saw a
man hit by a land mine. Others ran out
to pick him up and carry him to the
hospital, but I just ran with the camera
and stuck with him.
"I COULD FEEL my heart pounding.
But I followed him right onto the
operating table, filming everything. It
wasn't until he died on the table that I
realized that the eyepiece on the
camera was fogged. I was crying."
"And then I started thinking. Maybe I
should have helped him. I lIad just
made Introduction to the Enemy with
Jane Fonda and Tom Hayd1en, and saw
the destruction and murder we were in-
flicting on this country. And here all I
want is the film. I really wondered if I
was some sort of voyeur."
Wexler stressed the importance -of
bringing the "unreal world of film" and
"the real world of politics" together.
He's done this in a variety of films,
several of which were shown during the
festival. Among them were Medium
Cool, which Wexler wrote, produced,
and directed. The film masterfully
combines the tragedy of the
Democratic Convention in Chicago with
an incisive essay on the relationship of
media and politics. While critically ac-
claimed, the film was not a commercial
success. Wexler is still looking to make
another feature.
WEXLER GOT INTO film by making
documentaries - films on packing
house workers, cotton mill workers,
and politician Henry Wallace. But first
he had to learn about life:

"I was a merchant seaman,,lived in.
South Africa and spent a couple of
weeks in a lifeboat. I was in the
Abraham Lincoln Brigade in the
Spanish Civil War as a courier. But I
still don't know who I am."
Along with fellow cinematographers
Conrad Hall and Gordon Willis, Wexler
runs a company which makes television
commercials. Among their clients are
Schlitz beer, Keds sneakers and STP
motor oil (made with his friend Robert
EVEN IN THE world of advertising,
Wexler's politics play a significant
role: "I like to think of myself as
somewhat pure. There are'some com-
Birth Defects
are forever

mercials we won't do - the Army,
feminine deodorants ... "But he did ad-
mit that "what we won't do has gotten
smaller and smaller."
Wexler denied that his politics have
cost him jobs but did briefly discuss a
case where his association with Chilean
premier Salvador Allende cost'him an
assignment for the Pepsi-Cola Com-
pany: "At the time a very rich man
from Chile was storing his valuable
paintings and wealth in Kendall's (the
president of the company) home
because of the political situation in
Chile. Anyway, word came down to kill
the project. The agency that hired me
was told by Pepsi not to have anything
to do with me."
Among show business circles,
Haskell Wexler is best known as a
cinematographer - and one of the best.
He has shot such films as Who's Afraid
of Virginia Woolf?, The Thomas Crown
Affair, American Grafitti, and Bound
for Glory. Virginia Woolf and Bound for

Glory won his Academy Awards.
Wexler is one of a few
cinematographers who actually does
some of his own camerawork. At a
screening of Bound for Glory, Wexler
related some stories about the film's
subject - Woody Guthrie ("He was
quite a ladies' man") - and when
questioned about the film's accuracy
remarked, "It captured his spirit ..
that's good enough for me."
Haskell Wexler is certainly a com-
plex figure. In no way is this better
demonstrated than in the past few days.
Prior to and in between his appearan-
ces on campus, Wexler was shooting
footage for a film comparing life in the
Soviet Union with that in the United
States. He, also wants to film inside
various auto plants. Although
scheduled for talks on Saturday,
Wexler had to leave suddenly and flyto
New York - to shoot a commercialfor
the gossipy Us magazine.

The Department of Philosophy Announces
a pair of important public lectures
Time: Friday, March 31, 3:30 p.m.
Place: Modern Languages Bldg., Lecture Room 1
Time: Saturday, April 1, 11:00 a-.m.
Place: Modern Languages Bldg., Lecture Room'2
funding for these lectures has been
provided by Tanner Foundation

Bread and Puppet Theater
culminates in a fourth Thing, "The worst of 'all. The Fourth Thing is the
Flood." The flood scene is a stage of prop wave and static cardboard figures
accompanied by a seemingly-endless chorus of thunder and hissing.
Throughout the show, the Mary/Eve figure's name had been twisted
with signs from Eva (Eve) to Vai (Latin: calamity) and finally, after the
flood, to Ave (Hail) as the Godhead impregnates her. Here Eva, with ropes
tied to her arms and legs by the devils (Sin leaves man only the Devil's pup-
pet, another of the production's far from subtle "symbolisms," is cut free by
Gabriel who chases away the devils.
AT THIS POINT a white-clad chorus returns, now wearing the announ-
cer's stove-pipe hat and proceeds to sing the mass. "Ave Maria" and a crate
is shoved under Mary's skirts. "Kyrie Eleison" and the letters of "Ave"
shoved in it by Gabriel. The "Gloria" and the tin foil star glimmers in a
flashlight through the backdrop window. The "Credo" and the announcer
cuts a loaf on a huge crate emblazoned "Breadbox," and mixes garlic for
blood. "Garlic," Schumann explains, "makes the germs daice and awakens
the brain. God is like garlic." The "Sanctus" and two hands hang from the
ceiling over Mary who clasps them in awe. Puppet people pass by the back-
drop window, take double looks, and crowd about to watch. Finally the
"Agnus Dei" is sung as a creche is set up and small papier-mache statues
are placed all around it. The end of the mass is sung as the cast comes out for
While in parts amusing, overall the show was lacking. No one faults the
production for lack of originality. Still, bizarre as it was, the wit inherent in
the symbolism was consistently overstated. The Word of Mouth Chorus
played and sang beautifully and yet the chaotic passes of wretched howling,
banging on drums and blasting on trumpets were far too drawn out, beyond
the stage of annoyance to plain tedium.
While the costumes and statue-like puppets were captivating, they too
displayed an unfortunate knack for overstatement. Indeed, this unfortunate
quality proved the flaw of what at least potentially could have been an in-
teresting evening.
Join the

/y /
--"'" i

Easter Art Show
Works by art faculty
of Calvin College
Grand Rapids, Michigan


Free Introductory Lectures
on the T.M. Program
TOMORROW, Wed., March 29 -8:00 p."n.
Multipurpose Room - UGLI
ALSO, lectures every Wednesday,
12 noon & 8:00 pm
Room 4111 Michigan Union
For more information phone

Program as taught by
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

Tuesday and Wednesday 12 noon-8 p.m.
Thursday and Friday 12 noon-5 p.m.
in sanctuary of CAMPUS CHAPEL
1236 Washtenaw Ct.
(I block north of S. University and Forest)



The No. 1 Rock-n-Roil Disco





Arts Staff
University of Michigan
Director needed for Fall Term pro-
duction (Nov. 29-Dec. 2, 1978).
Applicants for Dramatics, Musical
(Vocal/orchestral) or Set Designer/
Technical Director may contact the
Society by mail c/o Michigan League)
or Joseph Beitel (665-5244 evenings)
before March 30.
Petitioning meeting will be held Sat.
evening, April 1. Shows being con-
sidered are lolanthe, Princess Ida,
Utopia Limited and Trial by Jury.


$1 cover before 9 p.m. bartime
Rock Bottom Prices
Ladies Night
1/2 Off Cover Charge
no cover before 8:30 bartime
737 N. Huron
(at Lowell, just east of the E. M.LU. Campus)

01: ILowI A2 that [ailed
I) -eaii \ )ll i]h
UTlivcr-sitV Showcase
Trueblood Theatre/Wed.-Fri., Mar.29 -Apr. 1, 8p.m.

April 11 th
8 p.m.
Michigan Theatre
TICKETS $7.50 - $6.50 Reserved
Available at Michigan Theatre Box Office, Ann Arbor Music Mart, Bonzo
Records and all Hudson's stores.
A Son of Bamboo Production

'I'hrs. ktrclit'30. 81)111
Ircc A(inlissio n

Power Center

Sat., ApIr. 8,
special children's mat. 3p.m.

Fri, Apr.7, 8p.m.
Sat. Apr. 8, 8pm.
Sun., Apr.9, 3p.m.


Th 'n'cIiivrsity()*f tIic'Iigall
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