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July 17, 1979 - Image 6

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Publication:
Michigan Daily, 1979-07-17

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Page 6-Tuesday, July 17, 1979-The Michigan Daily
'Wedding Band'
By JOSHUA PECK defiantly, "we rise higher and grow-
The theatre department's heretofore stronger than what pulls us down,"
laudable effort to build a viable black while Julia's leaning toward tired
theatre program has, as of Friday mystical imagery reveals itself with
night, been sullied and disgraced. By her haunted yowl, "I dreamed I saw the
bringing Wedding Band, possibly the devil's face in the fire."
most poorly-scripted play ever to ap- Most disappointing of all is the scene
pesr undr y-sartedtaspiyesrto the Childress hoped would serve as a
pear under department auspices,tly suitable climax for her. tale of racial
Power Center stage, PTP has tacitly hatred. It misses by a mile. A sound
madeated the claim that there is no black- I issb ie on
oriented alternative that would have cathartic release to the situation's ten-
better served its cast's and audience's sion would have had the lovers either
talents and tolerance than the impotent making the difficult decision to hang on
1966 Alice Childress work. to their relationship, adversity not-
The play's action, set in World War I withstand g, or tearfully resigning
era South Carolina, concerns the sorry climaxsiolvess neither confrontation
romance of Julia, a poor black seam- climax involvestwenthe toleadin
stress (Janice Reid), and Herman, a nor counsel between the two leading
white baker (Leo McNamara).One first players. Instead, while Herman is
latches onto the idea that the text is carried out after a bout with influenza,
inexpertly fashioned when Julia, a new Julia engages in a hysterical five-
arrival in the neighborhood, begins to minute name-calling contest with the
disclose her most personal problems baker's mother. We are left witha
ten minutes after first meeting her new topological mystery. The action starts
neighbors. It seems the poor thing up toward a climax early on, comes
would like to marry her Caucasian down-way down-to a close at play's
lover, but owing to the harshly end, but has no peak to speak of. An un-
discriminatory state laws, the couple is fortunate enigma.
forced to get by on occasional sinful WEDDING BAND'S cast does
nights together. generally uninteresting work, but this
PLAYWRIGHT CHILDRESS is feature of the production ranks low on
evidently incapable of addressing her the list of problems. In addition to the
topic with any measure of subtlety or pitiable script, there is the distractingly
tact. Julia, having blurted out all the illogical way the set is used. It consists
expository details before most of the of the bases of two houhes, (Julia's and
audience members have even settled in Lula's) on top of which lie floors, but no
their seats, is almost immediately walls. No problem yet-wall-less
joined in bemoaning her dilemma by houses are a stage convention and
just-acquired friends Mattie and something of a necessity. But the walls
Lula-despite the fact that neither of Julia's house have mysteriously
thinks very highly of the interracial af- transient qualities. At times they can be
fair. Childress imagines herself obliged seen through by the characters, at
to burden the script with snippets of others they conceal the couple's
hackneyed street wisdom throughout lovemaking within. At one spot in the
the show's tepid four scenes. One of the first act, Julia's house seems to be her
neighbor ladies is compelled to mouth private domain, its walls her barriers
^.._____________ from the outside world. Later on, the
neighborhood kids run into the house as
Wedding Band shamelessly as if it were a playground.
Alice Childress The winner of the staging stupidity
July 14, 17, z2andAugustl3 , sweepstakes, though, is Julia's tossing
Julia Augustine ........................Janice Reid in a pile of her lover's clothes directly
Teeta ............................... Camille Horne through one wall (?) of her house.
Mattie.. . . ..Fran Washington The illogic of many of Wedding
Lula Green ............... Paula Walker Band's character's actions, both
Fanny Johnson......................Anna Aycox
Nelsn Green ... . Marin Pettway emotional and actual, is a quality it
Bell Man ...........Lurenass shares with the other of the Rep's
Princess.. . . ..Thais Fletcher weaker offerings-Much Ado About
Herman.. . . ..Leo McNamara Nothins (to be reviewed in full on
Annabelle ........................ Rebecca Stucki Friday). Its other feature in common
RHerman's Mother ..si ,.irec..r; Janicquelinealghwl with the Bard's comedy is Janice Reid.
ing; John WWodland, sts; Kaleen scisad, Reid is a heavenly gift to both shows,
costumes. and blameless for the errors each of her
directors commits. Often, when actors
speak of their voices as their "in-
struments," they speak vainly. Reid,
for her part, does the notion proud in
making every word, however badly
written, an aural treasure. Her vocal
talent extends to dialect, as she has
sounded quite entirely convincing as a
TONIGHT-8pm South African in spring's The River
Niger, asa Southerner in the current ef-
fort, and, best of all, as Beatrice, trip-
pingly spouting those most cumber-
some lines of Shakespearean verse.
lAN ISOLATED LOOK at cid'sra is
mented monologue after McNamara is

belligerently bad
carried out might have the audience McNamara's; a good thing, as his vocal
thinking good thoughts about the abilities are on a par with his leading
production as a whole. Her anguish lady's. One line in particular, is funny
transcends the words' insipidness and for its conveyance of the world-
seems for all the world the product of a weariness both partners are feeling:
tortured soul. Reid asks winsomely, "What would you
Leo McNamara has a rough time
with his role as Reid's admirer. To my
knowledge, the stage veteran has never
before been called on to enact the part $1R TSa
of a passionately driven lover, and he
doesn't seem to be quite up to the task.
Most of the blame, again, can be laid on have been if you went to college?" We
the script, but there need to be more hear a sigh from McNamara, and his an-
moments of just plain caring for Julia swer: "A baker with a degree." Sadly,
on Herman's part before he lets the this and the other lines that actually
racist environment cloud the issue of have someting fresh to say to us tend to
his affection. McNamara simply makes stick out like a sore thumb from the
the leap to agitation and fear too soon. general murk.
Please, Rep staff. No more Childress
The very few utterances in Wedding revivals. The playwright is a soggy,
Band of dramatic merit all seem to be maudlin bore.
Whi tmore Lake's
disguise as Nashville

By STEVE HOOK
The First Annual Southeastern
Michigan Bluegrass Festival strum-
med through the weekend in Whitmore
Lake. Amid the mud, humidity and
sweat of July, about 10,000 bluegrass
fans jammed the "back 65" of Marvin
Ramsey's place for the three-day
festival.
Ramsey, the Bill Veeck of bluegrass
in Washtenaw County, hosted the affair
despite persistent local objections. His
hand-picked combination of traditional
bluegrass bands performed for a total
of just under 30 hours, and clearly left
the audience satisfied.
THIRTEEN BANDS came for the
festival - some of national
fame like Ralph Stanley and Bill
Monroe, but most from the local area,
including Boone Esteps Ramblin'
Grass and Wade Mainer and the R.F.D.
Boys. The bluegrass was traditional, as
opposed to progressive, which ob-
viously pleased the predominantly
middle-aged audience.
Rather than attempt a blow-by-blow,
band-by-band review, which would be
monotonous and futile, a review of the
festival as a whole follows. Suffice it to
say that the headliners, banjo picking
Ralph Stanley and "father of the man-
dolin" Bill Monroe. were tremendous
crowd pleasers, along with the Laurel
Mountain Boys, the Kentucky Gen-
tlemen, and the McClain Family, who
seemed to catch on with the greatest
number of country lovers. Performan-
ces differed in style and tone, but each
was met with enthusiastic cheers from
at least a portion of the audience.
Bluegrass music can be broken down
into several categories, such as swing
and gospel, country and regional
bluegrass. But the
traditional/progressive distinction is

the easiest way to categorize the music
at Whitmore Lake.
TRADITIONAL BLUEGRASS is
more acoustic. You won't see Bill
Monroe's Bluegrass Boys plugging in
electric base guitars, or hauling,
heaven forbid, drums to the stage. The
pace is slower, the instrumental talen-
ts, while occasionally displayed, are
more often upstaged by howling, yodel-
like vocals. The Flatt and Scruggs
image comes to mind.
Progressive bluegrass musicians will
experiment with an electric base,
maybe some percussion, and they will
hotdog their pickinga bit more in lieu of
lyrics like: "That good old mountain
dew, that good old mountain dew, I'll
shut up my mug if you'll fill up my mug
with that good old mountain dew."
Stage presence differs dramatically
between the progressive and traditional
camps. While the bluegrass establish-
ment dons rhinestone suits and black
ties, contemporary bluegrass
musicians tend to hit the stage in their
jeans and work shirts. And the pearly
white grins, indicative of a seemingly
effortless picking style displayed by the
likes of Bill Monroe, are contrasted by
modern counterparts' ugly scowls as
they attack their instruments with no
attempt to conceal their efforts.
WHILE THE establishment tends to
feel bitterness towards the "new wave"
of bluegrass, the progressive musicians
feel a lack of understanding, but no
resentment, towards their prdecessors.
All this is intended to illustrate the
style of music at the Festival-very
traditional and on-target. Absent were
the young, shirtless followers of the
progressive style, replaced instead by
family-oriented fans. When a musician,
plugging a festival later in the summer,
would mention that the bluegrass would
be "TERDISSIONAL! ", the audience
would happily respond.
Marvin Ramsey's festival occurred
almost without incident. One elderly
woman sitting near her mobile home
had a heart attack, and was driven
away in an ambulance. Otherwise, the
sex, drugs, and rowdyism the neighbors
anticipated, and which a handsome
supply of police officers were there to
discourage, failed to materialize.
It was a peaceful, uneventful three
day weekend of bluegrass for the guests
of Marvin Ramsey, who insists that it
will all happen again, not only next year
at this time, buf next September.

by Alice
Childress

Powe Center
POWER CENTER Box Office opens at
6 PM, 763-3333. Mich. Rep. Ticket
Office in Mich. League Mon-Fri 12-5
pm, 764-0450. Tickets also available
through Hudson's
Tomorrow Nights Hay Fever

Ann Arbor Civic Theatre
Accepting resumes for directors, musical directors, and
designers for the 1979-80 season, celebrating our 50th
Please send resumes to AACT Directors,
POBox 1993, Ann Arbor, Ml48106
Sept 26-29: DEVIL'S DISCIPLE
Dec 12-16: KISS ME KATE
Feb 13-16: THE CURIOUS SAVAGE
Apr 9-12: THE CRUCIBLE
May 14-17: LADY LAMBERT (original)
June 18-22: GUYS AND DOLLS

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