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June 09, 1976 - Image 6

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1976-06-09

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Arts & Entertainment
Page Six Wednesday, June 9, 1976
TNT festival at Baltimore: Wacky

Special To The Daily
is exploding all over the Univer-
sity of Maryland at Baltimore.
I am not refering literally to
fireworks, but to The New
Theatre Festival - the event of
the year in alternative theatre.
The festival orginated in Ann
Arbor two years ago under the
direction of Don Boros, and has
grown quickly since then. This
year there will be twenty four
grouns participating including
professional, college and inter-
national ensembles. Both Michi-
gan and MSU have groups se-
lected to perform.
I arrived in Baltimore to cover
this event Sinday nicht. dishev-
eled and exhausted after ten

bours of driving. The UMBC
campus is new and sterile, but
TNT has brought some color to
it: circus tents pitched on the
lawn, banners heralding the
event, and the inevitable hoard
of volunteers in TNT T-shirts.
Trying to register, I was di-
rected to just less than six dif-
ferent people, each of whom was
to "take care" of me. I was
finally pointed toward my room
in a dormitory, originally called
Residence One. I had forgotten
how starched sheets felt and
how disenchanting it is to wake
up to hospital-green cement
THE CROWD here is a sordid
one, including performers,
would-be performers, has-been

performers and press. Most
people are housed in the dormi-
tories, presenting some new
problems to University officials;
"We brought our babies - is
there anywhere we can keep his
formula?" "No, we are not mar-
ried, but we want to room to-
However, the old problems are
present as well;; one lady com-
plained that she had a male
roommate; various groups do
not have. enough room, and nat-
urally, no toilet paper in the en-
tire residence.
The University is keeping a
close watch on everyone; one
has to present an ID card to
enter the building, guests must
be escorted in and be out by
2 a.m. The campus police wan-
der in and out of both the dorms
and the performances. They are
making sure that this conglom-
eration of theatre people do not
get any 'funny' ideas.
The Hospitality Room contains
a variety of types, each trying
to be more eccentric than the
next. One group brought their
own organic lunch and proceed-

ed to picnic in the middle of
the room. A man demanded hot
water because he had brought
his own herbal teas. Groups of
artsy parents dragged their dis-
interested teenagers to the fes-
tival, and they in turn spent
most of their time begging to
go sight-seeing in Washington.
One must be careful when walk-
ing around the area to watch
for people meditating. It is very
easy to step on one of them. And
they don't take too kindly to
THE CROWD is a performance
in itself; it consists mainly of
theatre students with sprink-
lings of older but obviously
'mod' people. Appearances
range from pimply sunburned
lbacks to older women with
waist-length grey hair in jeans
and gauzy tops.
For those of you who are won-
dering just what is being worn
at theatre festivals this season,
I have the latest word. Cut-offs
are making a comeback and
appear to be very popular. Sta-
tus T-shirts are the best thing

Jeffrey Selbst.
On using the brain
as a Bart of life--
more on dinner theater

Well, I promised to let you in on the best of my correspond-
ence and I'm certainly not going back on my word. I've received
several pieces of fairly sizzling stuff, but never have I been so
roundly and soundly contradicted as I have recently by a Ms.
Anne White. I don't agree with her, yet I certainly feel the points
she brings up are worth discussion.--
First her letter:
"Dear Mr. Selbst,
In regards to your 'general crabbing' about the dinner theatre
being so closely tied to the "American celebration of the medio-
cre', I think the situation will seem less dismal when you stop
confusing plain ole (sic) entertainment with your own cultural
and intellectual pursuit and enjoyment. Entertainment by defini-
tion requires little thinking, its purpose being to "divert and
amuse" ..."
But this is not all. She goes on: "Now when Mr. and Mrs.
Jones (her typical tragedy-besotted Everycouple) want a night
out, when they are in dire need of distraction, of entertainment,
Mr. Selbst asks do they actually "like this deadening mental and
physical inactivity" of the dinner theater?
You're damn right they do! They not only want it but need it."
The letter goes on and on in this fashion, but the subtle im-
plications are 'nothing short of terrifying. I see the fallacies husly:
first, we are told that the essence of entertainment lies in not thus-
ly thinking (to quote another section, "In dealing with the daily
complexities of life, one must stop periodically to 'not think'..."),
we are informed that people actually need not think and of course,
Ms. White misses the whole point of my tirade-that is, not that I
don't like Fiddler on the Roof or musicals or that sort of thing,
but rather that the dinner theater itself is the Kraft processed
cheese food of entertainment, all there in nicely-wrapped, uniform
singles. It isn't necessary to sit through Medea while one dines,
but if it's going to be Fiddler on the Roof, why not a good Fid-
dler? Dinner theater seems to be endemic to the whole idea of
Which brings up another point in her letter. By alluding to
the mythical middle-class (read virtuous) Jones family, she is
evidencing a frightening strain of anti-intellectual lowbrowism that
is too common in this country. Sweetness and light doth not enter-
tainment make. If Shakespeare had followed her dicta, we would-
n't have King Lear, because what serf after a hard day of work
wants to see some old king's problems? Honestly.
By supposedly sympathizing with this middle-class couple she
has invented, she is on the one hand patronizing them (they don't
wish to broaden their minds, why force them?) and on the other
degrading them (why should they want to see this stuff - they
can't understand it anyway). This is why 1 find this anti-intellect-
ualism so terrifying.
Because if we haven't got art, we haven't got civilization. And
if everyone is of Ms. White's opinion, that we cannot forcefeed
art to everyone, and that indeed it is an insult to try, then there
will be no more art. Cerainly here are people for whom great
drama or literature is a total loss. But it doesn't have to be that
way, and I hope I never have to see the day when it actually
insults someone to offer them a little mental exercise. Tell me,
Ms. White, what of the people who keep Music Hall Center and
various subscription theaters open with their patronage? Can we
assume that these people do not work for a living, or that, if
they do so, and still can find time for art, they are some special
breed that ought to be viewed with caution and pity?
More letters are welcome on this or any other subject. I con-
sider the question quite far from at rest.

to complement the shorts, but
a leotard will do. Leather sand-
als are a must, along with some
form of woven handbag. The
perfect accessory to achieve
that 'theatrical look' is silver,
and lots of it. Several rings
and bracelets, with a few taste-
ful strands of liquid silver will
pull your outfit together. These
simple guidelines will make you
comfortable at any such occasion
and can be followed by both
THE FESTIVAL people, easily
identified by their T-shirts, do
not have any coherent idea of
what is happening. There ap-
pears to be six people doing
the same job, while five other
jobs are ignored. There was a
major crisis this morning over
where they would find more
cream for the coffee. A confer-
ence was called, a representa-
tive was elected, and was soon
sent off to find some cream. A
sigh of relief.
The groups performing here
are all competing to see who
can hand out the most informa-
tion about themselves, with the
greatest amount of positive press
and photos of them in action.
T-shirts are another strong area
of contention. A well-prepared
ensemble would arrive with a
gross of multi-colored shirts
bearing their name and ensignia
to sell. The shirts are an instant
status symbol and woe to the
group that does not have them,
if only for their own members.
EVENTS are happening all
over the campus, with the Fine
Arts Building housing many
shows, along with several out-
side stages. The campus has
been fully engulfed by the festi-
val people and it is not unusual
to see ten-foot puppets mased
by three people being transpo>t
ed across the commons.
There are various workshops
being held in the morning, by
such notables as Packer, Louis
Balbez and Krishan Nambudira
Topics ranges from sex and
violence in the theatre to the
applied uses of multi-media
Performances run from noon
until midnight all week long.
There are a series of free con-
certs and "living poems."
s as film
life starved of feeling and pur-
pose. Everyday problems and
cares become, for both, neurotic
obsessions and fears. Though
they long for a more romantic
and exciting life, the fear of
losing thir precarious sense of
order and security prevents
them. .
They are left, finally, to only
dream of possibilities without
the desire to ever realize them.
The half-hearted acceptance of
sterile convention is made be-
cause the price of freedom is too
Though The Romantic English-
woman presents these themes in
the course of the story, it fails
to develop them to any meaing-
ful conclusion. It is, indeed, as
if Lewis had been writing the
script all along. There is ee
an attempt at the end to mae
the faltering script into a semi-
The characters and plot be-
come remote and uninteresng
because we can never distin-
guish between the script Lewis
See ENGLISH, Page 10

Baile's Strand as performed by the Yeats Ensemble. This is
the University of Michigan Theater Department's contribution
to the Baltimore TNT festival this week.
Englishwoman fail.

The Romantic Englishwoman
(now playing at the Fifth
Forum) is an engaging psycho-
logical parody of modern day
frustrations and obsessions. Its
merits, unfortunately, become
tangled in self-concious pessi-
mism, until the film becomes a
parody of itself.
Starring Glenda Jackson and
Michael Caine, the story cen-
ters on Elizabeth Fielding, a
discontented housewife, a n d
L e w i s, her novelist-husband.
Their life is secure, ordered and
successful, yet painfully empty
and unimaginative. The subject
is all too familiar by now, yet
this film provides an interesting
twist by examining the rela-
tionship, if not the fusion, be-
tween cinema and real life.
It becomes, in fact, an ex-
cessively anti-romantic movie,
displaying the hopeless illusions
and obsessions of the characters
which lead them to despair. Our,
expectations, like those of the
characters, are for a more

meaningful, if not exciting, ex-
perience. Instead, possibilities
turn into mundane and limiting
We first see Elizabeth escap-
ing England and her family for
the romance and adventure of a
European resort. At Baden-
Baden, she meets Thomas (Hel-
mut Berger), an inept dope
smuggler-turned-gigolo. Thomas
provides Elizabeth the perfect
chance for an affair, yet she
coolly rejects him and returns
unliberated, to her secure,
middle-class existence.
Back in England, husband
Lewis ironically begins work on
a film script about his wife's
very situation. Yet bored with
the idea of simply depicting a
woman "finding herself" in
Europe, Lewis decides to make
it into a romantic thriller.
As Lewis' script falls into
empty cliches, his life with
Elizabeth, and the film itself,
become uninspired and dull.
Lewis' jealous fantasies about
Elizabeth's affairs in Europe
feed not only his script but a

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