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August 12, 1976 - Image 6

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Michigan Daily, 1976-08-12

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Aim ePage Six
Arts & Entertainent °

Thursday, August 12, 1976

PTP finishes season
with two final thuds

(EDITOR'S NOTE: Due to the in-
transigence of the Professional The-
arcProgram and TherDaily's fi-
nancial situation, we were not able
to cover most of the Michigan Rep-
ertory's summer program. And as
the tickets for both of the plays
reviewed below were purchased out
of the reviewer's pocket, we would
like to state that the running of
this piece in no way constitutes
a compliance with the PTP's self-
serving policies.)
'Hedda Gabler'
[N THE HANDS of the Uni-
versity's Repertory Com-
pany last weekend, Hedda Gab-
ler - the story of a complex,
highly neurotic woman caught
in a stultifying atmosphere with
a clod of a husband - became
more of a Norwegian Mary
Hartman, Mary Hartman than
the dark Naturalistic drama
Henrik Ibsen intended it to be.
The settings, designed by David
Ziolko, were appropriately stark
and heavy; Stuart Sacks' light-
ing was appropriately ominous;
but the characters who sat on
the brocade and moved through
the shade turned in, for the
most part, unconvincing and
shallow performances.
Ibsen, like O'Neill, is not a
wise choice for a young com-
pany. The varying gray tones
with which Ibsen drawsthis
characters become simple black
and white portraits in the hands
of amateurs or semi-profession-
als. In this production at Pow-
er Center, characters were eith-
er victims or victimizers, and
there was no evidence of any
depth or growth in them from
one act to the next.
One of the difficulties with
Hedda Gabler is that it is a
play about people caught up in
an unbelievably cloying world,
and it is a hit of a trick for
a character to convey boredom
without turning in a boring per-
formance. Director Diane Kamp
Daverman apparently tried to

avoid the problem entirely by
having her cast play for laughs,
laughs often coming at inappro-
priate moments; and by relega-
ting the play to something of
a soap opera with everything
and everyone neatly marked
out for the audience - good
characters on one side, bad
ones on the other, and all about
as substantial as cardboard.
FIRST FOR THE white char-
acters: Henry Van Kuiken as
the well-meaning but doltish
husband of Hedda was fine.
Since the character of George
Tesman is essentially, a flat
one, the audience should expect
little change from him as the
play progresses. Kathryn Ness
as George's Aunt Julia was
arch, too arch for my taste,
and her characterization seem-
ed built for gathering as many
guffaws as possible. But let me
reserve my carping for the rest
of the performances - Sally
Bublitz's Thea Elvsted, John
Wojda's Eilert Lovborg and
Carol Ann Skimin's Hedda.
A reading of the play would
lead us to believe that Thea
is a woman with at least the
capacity for strength. But Bub-
litz was more reminiscent of
the poor waif who lives* only
to be tied to railroad tracks
than of a woman who flouts
convention for what she believes
in and who inspires the artist
in an apathetic man like Lov-
And what about John Wojda
as Lovborg? His portrayal gave
no sense of a man who would
be worth inspiring or worth the
attentions of the young, spirited
Hedda. That he could be cap-,
able of writing a world-shatter-
ing book was put beyond credi-
HEDDA GABLER is a deep-
ly troubled, deeply unhappy
woman. But she is not anything
like a female Iago or a Wicked
Witch of the West, and that is

rather how Skimin played her.
Admittedly, she was not especi-
ally helped by her supporting
cast, but the Michigan Rep's
Hedda came out as unmitigat-
ingly black as the dress she
wore in her final scene.
The final line of the play be-
longs to Judge Brack, who
gasps that "people don't do
things like that." Let me amend
that slightly: the Michigan
Repertory Company shouldn't
have done a thing like Hedda
I don't think it fair to an
audience to see Ibsen done.poor-
ly. Neither do I think it fair
for an obviously talented com-
pany to let itself be shown to
such poor advantage.
'Once in a
WHILE THE REP was busy
with Hedda last week, they were
also putting on a production of
Kaufman and Hart's Once in a
Lifetime - and not doing much
of a better job of that.
Lunacy was the order of the
ovening. The play is about three
small-time vaudevillians who
scrap their old act and take up
a new one - a speech and
elocution school - and hightail
it to Hollywood to help movie-
land ease into the talkies. And
what they findcis a Hollywood
that's just as crazy as we al-
ways thought it would be. The
cigarette girls look like star-
lets, the bellboys are dead ring-
ers for John Gilbert, and every-
one but everyone, dahling, is
trying to get his or her face
on the silver, no longer silent
screen and a name written in
klieg lights.
And that is what the vaude-
villians, May (Kathy Bade-
grow), George (John Wojda)
and Jerry (Mark Forth) plan
to help everyone do. A lot goes
See PTP, Page 7

Jeffrey Selbst
'nep Presidents,
edeification, and
crossword puzzles
INDEPENDENCE, Mo. - This is the city where Bess Truman
lives out her remaining years, a place now gone to fast food
joints, charming old houses, and lots of road signs. Right off
Highway 24, in an imposing stone structure, reposes the Harry
S Truman Memorial Library and Museum, which includes, among
other things, HST's gravesite.
Tourists make their various pilgrimages from everywhere-
Nebraska, Ohio, Kansas. There is a register that they sign, inside
the room that contains Margaret Truman's wedding dress. The
museum includes such delightful items as this: the china from
the Presidential yacht, a mural by Thomas Hart Benton, and the
"convention room," including memorabilia from the 1948 Re-
publican and Democratic shindigs.
Somewhere in the recesses of this edifice lies the Harry S
Truman Library, which contains, or so the slide show tells us,
over 10 million papers collected during the Truman administra-
tions, 1945-53. HST wanted the public to be able to study the
inner workings of his presidency, and so this for posterity.
The town is Truman-happy, much as Grand Rapids is Ford-
happy. Though one suspects that Independence has rather more
reason, the reverence with which people approach the gravesite
forces one to wonder whether it is correct to make a god of a
mere government executive. If indeed it is true that one aspect
of the American myth includes the foolish notion that any child
may grow up to be President, isn't this in fact a glorification of
the ordinary, perhaps even a celebration of the mediocre?
The slide show in the museum's auditorium also tells us, and
rather gratuitously, that we may visit the Eisenhower Memorial
Library in Abilene, Kansas. But by any account, Dwight D. Eisen-
hower was a smiling, popular, ultimately do-nothing president
and one of the worst we've had. Certainly his papers are worth
an historical and possibly a voyeuristic peek, yet if the same
exposition of all the minutiae of his career are concomitant, where
do we draw the line between a proper reverence and the worship
of manufactured idols? America loves celebrities; I guess that ex-
plains Charo's appeal. God knows she can't do anything.
I JUST RECEIVED, the day before I left, the most incredible
book. Entitled The World's Most Difficult Crossword Puzzles,
it is a compendium of puzzles by and submitted to the London
Observer's Crossword Editor, Azed (Jonathan Crowley).
The English like their crossword puzzles somewhat different
than what we are used to. Instead of the definition variety, as we
have in the U. S., they have cryptic puzzles, where all words do
not necessarily cross-check, where each clue is a tiny word-
puzzle in itself: and they are absolutely diabolical.
The English version, however, seems more experimental. The
puzzles are more free-form, substituting on occasion groups of let-
ters rather than merely one, or taking gross liberties in style,
puzzle shape, and direction. The closest thing America has to
offer in this area is the diagramless, and though a puzzle fana-
tic myself, I'd never try one of those. Well, perhaps in a couple
of decades.
We are also at a disadvantage, seeing as how we don't even
speak the same language as our English cousins, when it comes
to blinkin' idioms. Good luck.
Cellist Piatigorsky dead
LOS ANGELES (P) - Gregor Piatigorsky, who became
well known as one of the world's greatest cellists, died last
Friday at age 73. Cause of death has not been disclosed,
but a spokesman for the University of Southern Californsa
(USC), where Piatigorsky had taught since 1962, said the
Russian-born musician had been ill for a long time.
Piatigorsky learned to play the cello during his teen
years in Russia. During his accomplished 45-year career,
the cellist performed throughout the world, gaining honor-
ary musical degrees and top posts at many universities,
especially in the U. S. - where he immigrated in 1929 and
lived the larger part of his life.
LAST FEBRUARY, the musician gave one of his last
performances on his 261-year-old Stradivarius cello for the
opening of the USC School of Gerontology.
During his later years, Piatigorsky became interested in
the plight of senior citizens.
"Old fiddles sound the best, old wine tastes the best,"
was a popular saying of the elderly musician.
He is survived by his widow, Jacqueline de Rothschild;
a daughter, Mrs. Jephta Drachman of Baltimore, and a
son, Dr. Joram Piatigorsky, of Bethesda, Md.
The mellow tones of his careful bow wil be sorely
missed by musical audiences across the world.

Gretry on
WHEN THE average music-
lover is asked to name
composers of the classical per-
iod, two come to mind imme-
diately - Haydn and Mozart.
There were others, forgotten
for the best of reasons. But an
exception among these lesser-
knowns is Andre Gretry, whose
music is noteworthy for a col-
orful use of the orchestra far
in advance of its time, and an-
ticipating Berlioz.
Now, some of Gretry's most
delightful scores can be heard
as performed by Paul Strauss
and the Orchestra de Liege, on
Seraphim S-60268. On this re-
cording, one delight follows an-
other. There are three over-
tures: L'Epreuve villageoise,
Les Mariages samnites, and
Richard Coeur de Lion. Each
is characterized by Gretry's
amazing melodic gift, which
in some areas is almost as rich
as Mozart's.
MAKE NO mistake, this mu-
sic is never overly-sweetened,
like so much French operatic

music from the pens of Auber,
Thomas or Meyerbeer. The
lovely tunes are always offset
by dramatic interludes and
contrasting episodes; and not
one bar of music lacks inspira-
Gretry has often been criticiz-
ed for his lack of solid theoreti-
cal training. This, the pundits
claim, results in thin instru-
mentation (often with nothing
at all between the soprano and
bass voices in his arias) and
strange harmonies. But to look
at this composer's music sole-
ly from a theoretical standpoint
is to miss the magic of his
Auber. commenting on a por-
tion of Gretry's work, once re-
marked, "This harmony is cer-
tainly not correct, and would
never have entered the mind of
what is called a musical savant.
And yet, if you try to change
it, you may make it more ac-
curate, bit it will be wanting
in relief and expression."
tlrv critic Oscar Commetant to
say, "That is because the awk-

wardness of Gretry is the awk-
wardness of an artistic genius,
and that is a thousand times
better than the accuracy of a
cold and unimaginative musi-
However, Gretry's ability to
develop material symphonically
never rivals Haydn or Mozart,
and indeed he is far better in
less ambitious musical forms
such as arias and dances. The
ballet music on this disc in-
cludes a suite, entitled Danses
Villageoisis, compiled by Gev-
aert and drawn from various
operas; as well as containing
dances from Cephale et Procris.
Gretry's tones can be spright-
ly and brilliant as in the "Tam-
borin" from Cephale, or tender
and majestically proportioned
as in the "Minuet" which fol-
lows it. Either way the result
is a pure joy for the listener,
ftll of beautiful melody and
dramatic power. The perform-
ance by the Orchestre de Liege
is wonderful, and while this is
the first time I have heard its
forces in action, I sincerely
hope it will not be the last.

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