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June 15, 1976 - Image 11

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1976-06-15

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Arts & Entertainment

Tuesday, June 1 5, 1976 Page Eleven

TNT Baltimore: Snappy ending

NEW Theatre Festival,
a dramatic combination of
Disneyland and Woodstock, has
come to an end after an inten-
sive week of performances. The
festival was considered a suc-
cess by most people involved;
cynicism, however, was ram-
pant. Ted Hoffman, the driving
force behind Alternative Thea-
tre, was asked what was new in
the area, to which he replied
nothing that one would see at
this festival.
The quality of the perform-
ances was definitely varied and
I would say that a great deal
of it was junk, but the other
shows were excellent. The vari-
ety of theatrical styles was con-
stant, ranging from whimsical
to intense to nostalgic. There
were far too many groups pres-
ent who used their own inter-
pretation of U.S. History for
subject matter.
it is interesting to note that
although many of the groups
were politically oriented, there
was little or no talk of the
primaries that occurred during
the run of the festival.
Friday night the festival
eached a peak in its feeling of
iommunity. That night was the
tll moon that officially marked
te beginning of the Aquarian
Age; a stage was erected on the
lside and various activities
arranged to commemorate this
event. The Theatre of the Greenn
Light was the first to 'perform';
they have a white sheet span-
ning the back of the stage and
they project various colors and
forms of light from behind it.
This would all be very mundane
f it were not for the violinists
)INE KNOB'S opening show
was topped by a tight and
nnovative set by Lauro Nyro.
Using a competent new band,
tiro took some chances and
Cored victories among the af-
fuent, affectionate crowd.
Perhaps this feeling was in-
luced by the outdoor atmosphere
as much as by the music, no
matter how pleasing the latter
was. It's difficult to be unhappy
with the cool evening air on
iour face, listening to the music
mix with the breeze-bent trees.
lowever, at this year's prices,
ome might have been.
As the smoothly plastic voice
u ged "a warm Pine Knob wel-
come for Leon Redbone," most
of the audience members were
just digging into their picnic
baskets and coolers. Even in
the pavilion part of the seating
area, wine, fruit and cheese,
not to mention snack bar items,
were the order of the day.
Redbone, the mysterious pur-
eyor of mint-condition early
nineteen-hundreds jazz, started
the show with his usual three-
peice suit, cigar and near dis-
regard. I found it fitting that
his swinging, suburban supper
crowd would find more impor-
ant things to do than listen to
-ally Roll Morton or Wilton
Crowley reincarnated.
THOSE IN the audience who
weren't talking must not have
had anything to say, for the
attention and applause given

who played to the light and
changed as it did.
AFTER THAT, Krishnan (an
Indian dancer) performed fol-
lowed by a Native Amarican
who told some Indian legends-
this is where the Woodstock part
winds its way into the story. A
couple with the Florida Studio
Theatre decided that the 'vibes'
at this festival were right and
this was the time to get mar-
ried. They did so on stage in a
Native American ceremony per-
formed by the medicine man,
complete with wing of .uividal
hawk, corn and chants. The
ceremony would have made a
nice touch to the whole week
had it not lasted on for an hour.
Saturday was the last day of
performances and I saw several
asinine things. Spiderwomen, a.
feminist group presented Wo-
men in Violence, a collection of
various personal experiences,
supposedlyaheld together with
old jokes and the throwing of
cottage cheese at each other.
The company tried to relate
some important feminine is-
sues (e.g. rape, divorce, drugs)
but they never chose a mode
that would work successfully
for them.
They did everything possible
to make themselves physically
unattractive, supposedly look-
ing like clowns and opening
their show with their own cyni-
cal version of "Send in the
Clowns." Their conception of a
clown show is painting whiskers
on their faces, lots of running,
screaming and stomping, while
someone bangs on a pail a'i'h a
hammer. The group does nave
talent but no material-Helen
Keller jokes are a bit passe.
Reality Theatre of Boston per-

formed in Class, a satire on
going to school, but I only made
it throughthe sixth gradeof
their performance. They have
a clever idea and pointed stereo-
types, but a d u l t s running
around on their knees, pretend-
lng to be short is rnot too enter-
CARLOS TRAFIC does a one-
man show called Okay Doc
which is a vehicle for him to
display his vocal range - :hat
of an asthmatic mule. He does
a series of gags that fail to
amuse-making love to a bal-
loon, dumping catsup on his
lap and breaking a table.
Saturday also had another
event which made it special. It
is customary for the large nigh
school in Baltimore to hold
their graduation ceremonies in
the field house of area univer-
As I approached the festival
tents that afternoon I noticed
something totally foreign to the
event - a man wearing a tie,
a woman in a polyester double-
knit dress with matching white
patent shoes and bandbag.
Seniors in yellow robes began
to parade through the area look-
ing bored and sweaty. The big-
gest show of enthusiasm I saw
was when these graduates dis-
covered that the beer tent was
not asking for any identification.
Overall, the performances that
I saw ranged from improvisa-
tions to groups using specific
scripts. The most successful per-
formances combined the two
styles; their scripts were de-
rived from the group's own im-
provisations. The best shows of
the festival, Signals by the Bear
Republic Theatre and Razor

Blades by Theatre X used this
THEY BOTH had points to
make and knew how they were
going to do it, but since their
style and scripts were products
of the actors, their performances
were very personal and sincere
experiences. The actors were
sharing their lives with the audi-
ence and we felt it.
One thig that alternative thea-
tre does have in common with
'legitimate' theatre is preten
sion, perhaps even more so.
People do not design or act in
experimental theatre, they "re-
alize" as the programs will tell
you. Conversations vary from
one man explaining that the
highway is a manifestation of
the human character or, "When
I worked with Bergman last
summer, oh - you must look
up Ingmar when you are in
Stockholm . . . "
The one very frustrating
thing that the theatre officials
and the ensembles did not ad-
here to was the time limit. Per-
formances are often scheduled

every hour and most groups
ran over that and one had to
miss the next show.
Henry Hughes of Saturday
Review remarked that he pre-
ferred the Ann Arbor location
to Baltimore. We were located
at a branch of the Univerity
of Maryland outside the city
and there was nothing but Uni-
versity surrounding us. The
town of Ann Arbor and the uni-
versity are so physically mesh-
ed that if one wanted a break
from theatre it was not too
hard to find.
I thought the week was very
successful and I would definite-
ly go to another festival of this
type. I would like to see a bet-
ter screening of the groups re-
garding subject - there were
so many history themes I often
felt that I was at a Bicenten-
niaal celebration. I hope the
fluidity of the ensembles will
increase along with further
melding of the improvisation
and the disciplined.

shines at Knob

this important, entertaining his-
torical expert was sparse at
best. As people began to finish
dinner, and as Redbone pulled
out his crowd-pleasing nose
trumpet and yodeling, some ap-
preaciation was shown the man
with no past.
Redbone played some of his
old-time favorites, such as
"Sheik of Araby," "Somebody
Stole My Gal," "Ditty-Wah-
Ditty" and the great "Walking
Stick." When he growls that he'd
never leave his house without
his walking stick, he's got to be
believed. He is too unreal to be
anything but totally real.
But Leon Redbone was not the
person most of the people paid
to see. With a lot of the evening
light left. Laura Nyro's musi-
cians wandered onstage unnan-
nounced, followed soon by the
star herself. Nobody had to be
told who the young woman in
red was. Squeals of delight gave
it away.
Nyro began on guitar with
"Sexy Mama," from her latest
album, "Smile." In all, he
played six out of eight cuts
from that album, and it is 'p-
parent that she is taking a dif-
ferent approach than cefore. An
upbeat, modern jazz bent dom-
inated the set, including such
standards as "When I Die" and
THIS contrasts with the some-
what depressing, always ro-
mantic and hauting lyrics and
melodies of the old Laura Nyro.
Her previous albums have ap-

pealed to only a limited cult,
however, and it looks as if Nyro
might be on the upswing.
She used her voice generously
but effectively, balancing it
wit hthe instrumental work ift a
surprisingly tight back-up band.
It is quite an accomplishment
for the musicians behind a star
to forge identities of their own
in the course of a concert, but
these men and women did. They
were helped vastly by a shy,
quite definitely humble Laura
Nyro. She was even placed fur-
ther back than anyone else in
the band, an unheard of ma-
nuever -in these days of suer-
Only leaving the stage during
the free-form, chaotic, experi-
mental potty break I have ever
seen, Nyro stuck with her band
until the very end. On what she
termed her "drinkin' s>ng,"
"Sweet Blindness," she was ac-
companied only by guitarist
John Tropea, with herself on
piano. The simplicity and to-
getherness of the interplay was
perfect for the song and the
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