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June 10, 1976 - Image 6

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1976-06-10

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Arts & Entertainment THE MICHIGAN DAILY
Ars& E tran e t Page Six Thursday, June 10, 1976


Wid, exhilirating


By CARA PRIESKORN helium-filled balloons tied to The worst show I have seen
Special To The Daily long strings (since they were thus far is Chi-Kanji: a three-
BALTIMORE, June 9-After audience volunteers to help tie) woman show with no plot, little
wo days of rather intensive which they let fly. That was it, dialogue and a few attempts at
heatregoing, I am both cynical behind schedule, they called for chanting. The main action con-
nd excited about the New and pardon the pun, but it was sists of butch-looking naked
heatre Festival (TNT). I have a letdown. I have not been women contorting themselves on
een some of the most idotic fascinated by helium ballons stage.
tuff ever to be classified as since I was nine years old.
heatre, but I have also had the BUT ON to the goodies.
hance to see some very moving s. arre (ACT) has a totally I have seen two excellent pro-
nd iebsiarreconcept of performance,ductions of what I would truly
The first show I attempted to whichthey do well. Their show call progressive theatre. The
ee was the Royal Canadian lasts over six hours, but most first was performed by Antioch's
erial Theatre. It sounded people I talked to left after 15 Flying Dust Company. It is an
ather kinky and they had some minutes. They leave the audi- existentialist play, Of a Silence
mpressive looking scaffolding ence, in groups of three, into a in the Sun by Mark J. Dunau.
assembled on the hillside. I pitch dark room with one dis- The drama has a single schizoid
rrived at the designated time, tinguishing feature, a diagonal character, but he is played si-
ound a patch of grass, parked line of light across tbe floor. multaneously by four actors. It
nyself and began to wait for One then begins to notice what moves quickly between games
he show. I was soon informed of reality and fantasy, probing
hat it would be delayed because flash fluorescent lights periodi- the question of choice. The
heir first balloon had "uncere- cally. seemingly nonsensical dialogue
noniously popped." is reminiscent of Beckett's Wait-
I looked down as a group of I managed to find safety in a ing for Godot.
estival volunteers cautiously in- row of chairs along the wall, The set was assembled in an
lated a large gray balloon and and from that vantage point I art studio two stories high. The
lumsily splattered it with blue was able to determine that those play is classified as an "en-
aint, trying to make a repre- egg-shaped objects were the vironmental' one, meaning that
entative globe. This was hoisted faces of some mysterious twelve- the action and the audience are
o a position about 30 feet above foot high creatures robed in spread all over their space.
he crowd between the scaffold- black. The idea is for the audi- Their props included all sorts
ig. After this was accomplish- ence to mix with these things, of torturous-looking contraptions,
d, two tin cans painted yellow communication begins and that along with some adult-sized toys.
nd a U.S. flag were raised. is how they derive the term They changed costumes as
The finale was dozens of black "theatre." quickly as they changed games
New theater shines atQuad

and all is done in front of the
THE OTHER excellent piece
I saw was from a professional
group out of Milwaukee, Theatre
K. They performed two plays,
both concerning fear. I had the
opportunity to see Razor Blade,
which puts fear at a very per-
sonal level; I thought the actors
were sincerely communicating
their own emotions and experi-
ences to the audience.
The first half was extremely
poignant, particularly J o h n
Schneider's tale of his participa-
tion in the first draft lottery.
This play is also of an existen-
tialist nature, revolving around
the theme of change and nega-
tive definition.

The play did have its serious
moments and though they were
done in a surrealistic manner,
they were very effective. A 3o
year-old woman who wants to
commit suicide thinks that per-
haps she died when she was a
baby and it has taken her this
long to write the death note.
They play does end with a light
touch--the five-member cast on-
stage using the threatening
razor blades for "normal" pur-
Theatre X has proven one of
the more popular and original
groups at the Festival; the audi-
ence gave them a well-deserved
standing ovation. I think this
surprised the actors, as they
gave the audience a gushy thank
See BALTIMORE, Page 10

P rine eto show
at Ark festival

questionable business. Not questionable in
its worth, but in its effect on an audience. While
Steve Kronovet's play The North Beach Gang
raises questions that probably aren't answered
until after the curtain call, it is unquestionably
a worthwhile experience.
A play is not a play until it has had an
audience, and for this reason premier runs like
this week's at the Residential College Auditorium
are especially exciting, experimental, though
also prone to weakness and miscalculation. Even
with its flaws and occasional slowness, how-
ever, The North Beach Gang is rich and in-
The story is of the disintegration of a gang
as it wages an unprovoked war on an inter-
national exposition in 1914, as the world disin-
tegrates in another equally senseless war. Eggs
thrown at the President become real bullets soon
enough, and the members of The North Beach
Gang are victims as much as the peasants in
France are. Here, though, it's harder to sympa-
thize with their plight than it is to feel for
those on the front pages.
Unfortunately, these complex relationships do
not take hold until a third of the play has passed.
Some aspects of Christine Child's staging do not
help this slowness, and the audience is often
lost during the first half. This may be due to
the many blackouts dividing the numerous, often
very short scenes. They gave parts of the pro-
duction a choppy feeling, too often lessening the
tensions and too rarely making statements.
THIS FLAW COULD BE countered by short-
ening the duration of these blackouts, gaining a
quickness that is dictated by the multiplicity of
scenes. This juxtaposition of scene method be-
gins to work very well later on, when some
scenes have crashing impact on the ones that
immediately follow. I particularly liked having
the previous scene frozen onstage during the
next, and more of the same might have helped
pace and transitional problems.
The acting was spirited and energetic, but
sometimes quite puzzling. Levanich (Bob Honey-
man), leader of t'e gang, lacked the silent
power and defiance that was needed to portray
a character with so much control over others.
He was too likable and graceful to strike outs
as viciously as his character should have.

The rest of the gang was held up by Jimmy
Robbins' Glenny, the conspired-against nice guy.
Another gang member, Roberts, is homeless,
friendless, searching, was played by Drew Al-
lison, and eventually captured our hearts. His
tragic situation was helped by a fine perform-
ance by Heather Phillips as the elusive girl-
friend Alice.
One of the most successful scenes in the
show had Jeff Wine portraying the President
of the Exposition. His character had animation,
boldness, and a striking sense of entertain-
ment, even while expertly revealing his bom-
bastic hypocrisy.
In another highlight, author Steve Kronovet
appeared shortly as a sharply defined gateman
to the exposition.- His sense of the comic con-
trasted greatly with the comedy that was more
forced than funny at other points in the play..
Also good was the Mayor of San Francisco
(Lee Johnson), who tried valiantly to resist
his politically pompous impulses, failing ex-
cellently each time.
A character not used enough, but quite valu-
able nonetheless, was Levanich's grandfather,
┬░played by Eddie Miller. His wisdom, addresses
to the audience and vantage point (the after-
world) made him a completely trustful soul.
The audience needed some of the special guid-
ance that Grandfather could offer, even though
his insights were appreciated as they stood,
The unanswered questions raised by the play
were both strengths and weaknesses. They caus-
ed a lot of thought on the part of the specta-
tors throughout the show as well as after, I'm
sure. However, this imposed a gap at the be-
ginning that was difficult for the company to
gap. The strength of lines and scenes in the
last half permitted this essential bridging, to
the success of the work.
Kronovet's original play is fresh and exciting,
and since it is still in the evolutionary process,
providing theatregoers, a chance rarely offered
anywhere: the opportunity to participate in a
playwright's creative- development. Also rare is
the chance to see a work never before per-
formed. It should not be passed up, if we are
to encourage and receive new and alive drama
from playwrights in the future.
Rest assured that changes will be made in
the script. The final question comes to mind: will
the public help make these changes? That's what
is really exciting.-

A RATHER special event will
take place at Power Center
this Sunday. Starting at two
o'clock, an all-day festival fea-
turing a diverse lineup of out-
standig folk artists will be held
in an attempt to raise money
for the Ark Coffeehouse, which
recently lost its federal and
state grants due to red tape
and bureaucratic semantics.
The concert has been well
publicized. Wih John Prine as
emcee, Ramblin' Jack Elliott,
and cheap ticket prices, the
show should effectively help put
the Ark back in working shape,
to bring their message to Ann
The closest anyone has been
able to come towards defining
the message is by describing
the Ark as having a certain
spirit about it that transcends
people's differences and brings
them together through a music
that they can all share. In fact,
in many ways the Ark not only
fulfills the expectations of its
original church sponsors, but
replicates their religious exper-
ience as well, for it serves a
community of people who share
a common goal, and gives them
a place to feel at peace with
People who really get involved
with the Ark become prosely-
tizers of a sort, and the upcom-
ing benefit concert as well as
the activity surrounding it, is a
case in point. When Linda and
David Siglin first approached
Prine with the idea of doing a
benefit, he in turn contacted
other musicians, all of whom
have played at the Ark prev-
iously, and illustrated their com-
mitment to keeping it open by
agreeing to appear for nothing,
save the cost of transportation.
The net result snowballed to in-
clude not only the present lineup
of eight artists, but a number of
surprise guest artists as well.
SIMILARLY, local musicians
have offered theirhelp through
holding benefit concerts at the
Ark on weekends. Even more
heartening are the many people
who have simply walked off the
street and donated $5, $10, or
whatever they can afford. Clear-
ly, musicianshare not the only
people who have a vested in-
terest in keeping the Ark afloat;
it has a claim on a far larger,

less specialized sector of the
Last year, in an attempt to
augment its funding, the Ark
put out a calendar which fea-
tured photographs taken by lo-
cal photographers of some of
the many different artists who
perform there. Looking through
it not only provides some fas-
cinating portraits of artists at
work and how they interact
with their audiences here, but
also offers some clues about the
artists who will be featured at
this Sunday's concert.
Actually, the word concert is
a little misleading; festival is
a more accurate description.
Like the programming of the
Ark itself, Sunday's benefit will
try to give an overview of the
many different kinds of folk
music there are, and the range
is wide indeed. The calendar
shows us a short-haired bearded
John Prine, whose acrid, coun-
try-like songs are held in great
PICTURED here also are a
benign-looking Owen McBride,
a popular snger of traditional
Irish songs, who will help Prine
host the afternomn part of the
festival; a rather subdued Jack
Elliott, who travelled with
Woody Guthrie, learned much of
his repertoire from rodeo work-
ers, and had a decided influ-
ence upon the young Bob Dylan;
Paul Geremia, a blues singer
who once reduced an Ark audi.
ence to hysterics with his orig
inal rendition of "Johnny Be
Good;" a sweaty David Amram
hitting what looks like a home
run - from this photo you'd
never guess he was once the
resident composer of the New
York Philharmonic; the ever-
inscrutable Leon R e d b o n e,
whose perfect renditions of '24s
and '30s popular songs have
made some wonder if he is a
human jukebox with a bunch of
old '78's; and, finally, that wild-
haired folk comedienne, Diana
Marcovitz. Not shown are: Jay
Unger and Lyn Hardy who fort
half of the Putnam County
String Band, and Bryan Bow
ers, an autoharp virtuoso.
THIS IS NOT the first time
the Ark has experienced finan-
cial difficulties; it has happened
several times over the years.
Yet, it has always managed to
keep afloat. Community re
sponse refuses to let it sink.

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