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March 23, 1980 - Image 11

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1980-03-23
This is a tabloid page

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Page 8-Surday, March 23, 1980--The Mic

=hian liv 24

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(Continued from Page 3)
The show's title refers to a 'piece by a
former company member. She had
been married 'to a man for several
years, the story goes, and when Shirley
Chisolm ran for president in 1972, she
asked her husband if he would cast his
vote for her. No, the man said,
explaining he could not vote for
Chisolm because she was a woman. The
former member thought, "bitch, you
crazy for putting up with all this shit for
all these years." Eventually she
divorced him.
"The night we opened Bitch,''
Stephanie remembers, laughing in awe
of herself and the company, "none of us
had slept for two days. I had had an
exam that afternoon from four to six
and at 6:10, I was at the theatre for
warmups. Technically, the show was a
mess. But the audience was packed and
we were on. We didn't drop a line."
After a piece about natural childbirth
which Stephanie says was "heart-
wrenching," the company performed
a motorcycle gang number in wigs and
leather jackets, singing, "shoobop,
shoobop!" "The audience was still
blowing their noses from the childbirth
piece. But that's okay," Stephanie
smiles. "We like to keep people on their
toes so they don't sink into an emotion
for too long. We also performed 'A
Bicentennial Minute.' We couldn't
resist." For this sketch, three women
pretended to be marching cadettes and
said, "200 years ago our forefathers
came to this country and our mothers
were never even mentioned."
In June of that year, on Stephanie's
insistence, her parents came to Ann
Arbor to see Bitch, You Crazy. She had
worn a wedding gown in one of the
sketches-a satire on a television game
show called "Catch Him And You Keep
Him''-and afterwards, Stephanie
remembers, "My mother said, half
kiddingly, 'You look lovely in that
wedding gown.' My dad said, 'Look, I
was a communist at your age. This is
nothing new.' They're old style
Democrats. They were gradually
After Bitch, which the company
played about twenty times in Ann
Arbor, the unit went on tour: its final
performance was at the National NOW
Convention in Detroit. ('I had a 102-

degree fever during the performance,"
Stephanie recalls, "but it was
fantastic performing for 800
women."). It was there that the issue of
male' performers in the company was
brought up. "To put it mildly,"
Stephanie says, "there was a lot of
controversy. We didn't listen to each
other as well in those days. Now we give
each other equal time about an issue.
That's simple but really important."
The company decided to accept male
performers and also, at that time, its

production reflects the company's
perspective now that it has taken a
second, more thoughtful look at the
feminist and gay movements. Written
by Stephanie, Elise Bryant, Loren
Siegal and Debra Sheldon (who is no
longer with the company), the piece "is
a reuniting with our mothers." It was
conceived in Stephanie's living room.
"The four of us sat around a candle,"
Stephanie explains, "and then spon-
taneously, Elise said, 'Go back to when
you were three or four. What were you

birthday and I'm taking my daughter
out to lunch.' Deb, at the time, thought
that was the coolest."
Now the company is in a major
transitional period; they are working on
getting grants, discussing whether- to
stay in Ann Arbor or move elsewhere,
and preparing for a spring tour to St.
Louis, Chicago; and Champaign-Ur-
bana. "We've begun to define ourselves
in professional terms," Stephanie says.
The company is also trying now to
make statements on the liberation of
others besides women and gays. The
desire to explore issues such as
education, the justice system, and the
influence of multi-national corporations
exists, but there has been little time for
researching those topics. (Stephanie
works 30 hours a week as a waitress;
the other members hold jobs ranging
from teaching special need children to
secretarial work to coordinating at the
Produce Co-op). Feminism and gay
rights have been the company's most
accessible resources in the past
because they are most personal to the
"The hardest thing," says Stephanie,
"is fighting off people who say we're too
idealistic or that art and politics don't
mix. I'm sick of it. I don't want to hear
it anymore. All things start from wild
ideas. I know that's cliche, but I believe
it. And now I can speak from experien-
ce; the company is a fantasy come true
for me. When I was 15, I saw the San
Francisco Mime Troupe in the Village.
Seeing how riled that audience was, I
wanted to do it too. I wanted to rally
people for those kinds of reasons.
"I've known people who at first were
antagonistic towards us, but they come
to see us again. That, to me, is what's
important. They're thinking about
something they haven't before.
"What do I want now in terms of
Theatre Company?" she sighs. "I want
to be paid for this. I don't even care how
much right now. I want to tour exten-
sively, to be able to devote a lot of time
to performing without thinking it's my
spare time. I want to keep reaching,
keep getting better. My goal is for ex-
treme conservatives and extreme
radicals to actively get something from
our shows." Stephanie pauses, getting
closer to the edge of her chair. "I want
world change," she says.



sense of collectivism began to evolve.
Earlier on, after each production, the
company took in too many performers.
"It was so intense sometimes,"
Stephanie says, "it was like having
twelve lovers at once. We realized after
Bitch, that we needed policies on
membership and leadership, and a
concept of commitment.
"It took us two years to get the next
show (At Second Site) together. We
overdid on the collective stuff. Those
were hard times. There were bad
feelings; we lacked cohesiveness .. .
leadership. Most have been worked out
For the most part, the writings in At
Second Site are original. First
performed last December, this~

wearing? What were you doing with
your mother? Remember the first time
you realized you were a sepairate being
from your mother, the first time she
gave you respect, the first time she
treated you disrespectfully.'
"We each shared a round," Stephanie
continues. "I told the story of my
parakeet, Chirpie, who died when it
flew out a window I'd left open. I was
about eleven, and my mother cried
hysterically because she was worried
about my reaction. This was my
responsibility, my own pain. There was
no way she could take away or influen-
ce what I had done.
"Deb remembered one day wvhen she
was in second grade, her mother came
to school and announced, 'It's my 31st


(Continued from Page 7)
one photograph, Bukovski is seen sit-
ting in a cafe sparsely occupied by a
few old German men, drinking and
thinking alone. He becomes a part of
them: "Their faces were very red but I
could feel them thinking about the days
and years of their lives. They were
waiting to die but they were in no par-
ticular hurry; there were many things
to think about." Lafer, on the train ride
back to Paris the picturesque small
towns are all reduced to places where
people are "waiting for death."

Shakespeare Never Did This is an af-
firmation of the direct daily experien-
ce. All of the small things become
poignant, and occasionally, in the
author's references to death, those
things become heavy with a wonderful-
ly poetic sense of melancholy. As soon
as he and Linda arrive back in Los
Angeles and get into a taxi Bukowski
realizes that a book has somehow been
created for him in the last five days. All
he has to do is simply "write it one
more time."
The end of the book is telling us in ef-

feet to write from direct experience and
forget about the symbolism and order
which pervert that reality. Bukowski
may not always see the value of
everyday life as art (he seems disdain-
ful of that word sometimes) but we see
his product as art. You may not.always
like Bukowski, but at least you wind up
knowing him.
Shakespeare Never Did This is en-
couraging about creating something
yourself. ,It makes you realize how

spontaneous, accessible ant ever-
present poetry-indeed all art-can be.
Anything has the capability of
becoming aesthetic. A Jackson Pollack
painting or a Ginsberg poem resemble
Bukowski's Shakespeare Never Did
This in that the composition appears
very simple. If you're contemptuous of
such spontaneous art you might say
something like "I could write that.
Anybody could." But remember, you
didn't write down what seemed so
banal-even Shakespeare didn't.

james dean's

(Continued from Page 6)
"Social activity distracts me from
my studies."
" Write on another person's memo
board that he or she is gay.
" Penny-in the hall geek.
* Think of all the nasty, one-syllable
words there are, and put them on a list
in the bathroom. Start with "butt."

* Flush all toilets at once, causing
pipes to burst.
" Pull the fire alarms and watch
'fuddy-duddy' grow annoyed.
" Yank down the ceiling tiles and
play frisbee with them.
" Steal Ann Rogers Harvey's under-
Open your window and yell
scurrilous oaths at anyone who might
be able to hear you.
* Go to a University football game
and swear in unison-at unfortunate tur-
ns of events.


Elisa Isaacson

Rd Smjth

Putting politics
on stage
Supplement to The Michigan Doily

E-Z steps to
living properly

Burping oi

Cover Photos by Paul Engstrom and Howard Witt

Ann Arbor, Michigan-Sunday, March 23, 1980

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