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April 15, 1980 - Image 7

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The Michigan Daily, 1980-04-15

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Politics, drama meet at Loft

The Michigan Doily-Tuesday, April 15, 1980-Page 7
Thursday, April 17, 1980
IROWBLACK
Department of Neurology
Cornell Medical Center
Regulation of Neuronal Development
MHRI Conference room 1057
3:45 to 5:00 p.m.
TEA 3:15 p.m. MHRI lounge

By GILLIAN BOLLING
. Athol Fugrard's plays prove that
political theater can be exciting, power-
ful and moving. Featured as part of the
Canterbury Loft's Festival of South
African culture, The Island and
Statements After an Arrest Under the
Immorality Act are two plays which
grab the viewer and won't let go. This is
intense drama and the issues raised
here are not easy to look away from.
Fugard spent most of his life in South
Africa and his personal involvement in
issues of racial discrimination adds to
the emotional nature of the plays.
Brought to the Loft through a grant
from the U-M Committee on South
Africa, Fugard has found an extremely
talented group to work with.
The Island features Rhoonie
Washington and Roy Harris as John
and Winston, two men sentenced to
prison terms for their beliefs and their,
race. The play is assembled from a
eries of improvisations from Fugard
and fellow authors John Kani and Win-
ston Ntshona, telling the story of
colleagues who spent time in the island
prison.
The play begins with the two men
working in a quarry. They are then
shoved into their cell and the audience
with them, as we witness the
unraveling of their stories.

Actors Washington and Harris
exhibited very physical acting. The
agony of imprisonment which went
beyond words is shown through their
grimaces, breathing, andtthe ripple of
their muscles. The two men have spent
almost three years in the same cell and
Washington and Harris recreate their
interaction with power and sensitivity.
They show the sensual attachment of
the two men venting their frustration on
each other while keeping each other
alive mentally.
DIRECTOR Kay Long uses the small
platform with a simple burlap back-
drop very creatively in forming the
cell. Movement is constricted and
claustrophobic but never monotonous,
giving just the right feel of how it would
be to live day in and day out in this
small space.
Throughout the Island there were
both sibtle and overt shifts of emotion
keeping the tempo lively. Washington
takes the audience from laughter to
solemnity in a sequence where the two
men fake a phone call to a friend in the
outside world. Their questions about
their families and responses about life
in the cell are at first funny, then
become unbearable as the game
highlights their loneliness and isolation.
Washington swings through several
shades of characterization. He displays

unleashed joy at news of his release,
frustration at his need to wait, and sad-
ness at what he has been reduced to.
Each mood is precise, distinct and
carries the play through each sequence.
HARRIS' character is totally
engrossing. Even without seeing the
sweat roll from his brow, it is evident
that Harris was working tremendously
hard. He displays each emotion to its
peak. From the pure satisfaction he
displayed when he closes his eyes and
puffs on a stolen cigarette to the rage of
jealousy he feels at his cgllmate's
release, he acts with a ferocious in-
volvement.
During a long speech when Harris
begs not to be forgotten and tells of his
fear of turning to stone in his sentence
of "living death," Harris lowers his
voice to a lilting rumble, holding the
audience in a vise-like grip.
The Island contains exhaustingly
dynamic acting and a strong theme.
Wound through the play is a version Qf
The Trial and Punishment of Antigone
which the prisoners perform. This
raises an interesting parallel to the
issues of honor and resistance to the
law which the men themselves are
facing.
THE SECOND play, Statements Af-
ter an Arres Under the Immorality Act
concerns the relationship between a

BEBOP AT MICHIGAN THEATRE:

black man and a white woman. It is in-
spired by an account of arrest due to the
law in South Africa which forbids sex
between the races.
The lights went up on the nude couple
and the playwright's point is clearly
seen when he stated that the nudity was
"not a gimmick. It adds to the
vulnerability of the couple." The nudity
works very well and heightens the
sexual theme and sense of laying bare
the couple's thoughts and fears as well
as their bodies.
Unfortunately, Statements suffers
throughout from problems of pacing.
Director Long has the actors stand and
step forward during speeches as if they
were making pronouncements and this
leads to a rather choppy effect and
minimizes the physical believability of
the situation. By the end of the piece,
pauses are agonizingly slow and lines
drag.
WHAT STARTS as a languid glow
between Pat Kihn as the white woman
and Marvin Leon Sims as the black.
man soon deteriorates into stilted lines
and posed pauses. Each actor fares bet-
ter when they drift into talking about
themselves and their lives, but when
they come together, the needed mag-
netism isn't there. The woman's
declaration of guilt without shame at
being found by the policeman (Martin
Walsh) ends up sounding a bit over-
dramatic in the light of the rather tepid
union between the biracial couple.
All four actors make the audience
feel the oppression of the world beyond
the cells. In the second play, the "cell"
is the woman's office where the man
was forced to sneak in the back door
and hide from the oppressive rules of
society. In the first play, the cell is real
and the oppressors are those who
literally keep men imprisoned because
of their ideals.
The space in the Loft is ideally suited.
in creating the intimate atmosphere for
these two personal, impassioned plays.
Fugard's plays provide a forum for
ideas and a display of talents but they
also refuse to let the viewer sit and be
passively entertained. Instead they
take advantage of one of the best
properties of theatre - to stimulate
thought and awareness while allowing
the audience to enjoy themselves at the
same time.

NIGHT HAWKm
-after 7 p.m.
Buy 1 fragel or 2 cookies and get
FREE
1 drink or another f ragel

*Also--Were reducing our amazi
cake from $1.00 to only $.79-a
cludes a FREE drink!
"Come in for a Night Nosh!I"
BAGEL FACTORY
1306 S. University

ing che
nd tha
"I
Oper
8:30-11:1
Untilrn
Fri.c
IG SOON:
EAL DEAL

'@S@'
itin-
rn7 days 4
:00 p.M.
midnight
and Sat. F

Gtfin keeps the faith

L COMING APRIL 22 ICOMIPJ
1-2-3 FREE SPECIAL. I 25O MI

BY MARK COLEMAN
All of a sudden, it's cool to be a little
old fashioned. There's a lot of rein-
yestigation and rediscovery of roots
Wmong jazz musicians of all stripes.
Some of the heretofore forward-looking
experimenters have turned around to
explore the tradition that preceded

Griffin injects this well-established
style with a torrent of fresh musical
ideas and improvisation. While not a
domineering presence, Griffin is one of
the most authoritative voices perfor-
ming today. A master of sparcity as
well as energetic abandon, the rest of
the quartet seemed to play off the shifts

chordal melody, the refrain em-
phasized through a crashing rhythmic
rejoinder. On Duke Ellington's
"Sophisticated Lady" the group's well-
balanced versatility was solidified.
Griffin's'combination of restraint and
offbeat inspiration lends a unique ap-
proach to ballads. Griffin decorated the
Ellington classic with respectful care,
neither becoming overly ornate, or
sloppily sentimental. Again the interac-
tion between band members lent a
dramatic but unobtrusive edge as the
rhythm section gradually accelerated
the beat to meet Griffin in- an
exhilarating uptempo finale.
The open-ended diversity of the Grif-
fin Quartet's approach to bebop proved
a marked contrast to the academically
accurate but somewhat stiff readings of
the vopening act, Richie Cole's- Alto'
Madness Quintet. Cole, a thirtyish
altoist, is more than proficient
technically but for him bebop seems a
stylistic limitation rather than a
liberating point of departure. He's
remarkably faithful in his adulation,
but faithful to the point that his music
seems a lifeless artifact rather than a
reaffirmation. Cole's sense of history
was best displayed in his work with
vocalist Eddie Jefferson: he doesn't in-
fuse enough of his own personality to
make a distinctive impression as a
leader. Unfortunately, his sidemen
Saturday night seemed nervous, afraid
(or maybe unable) to step out of their
leader's shadow. Though their per-
cussionist (whose introduction was
inaudible) added some grainy texture
to the cymbal-heavy highs with his
visually exciting use of congas and
assorted shakers, Alto Madness' set
was a bit too sane and predictable.
COLE GOT a chance to prove his
chops with the Griffin band during their
encore and he rallied to the cause with
considerably more aplomb than he
exhibited previously. Joined in the
straight blues of "Now is the Time,"
Griffin and Cole contrasted the tonal
differences in their respective sounds in
the tight harmony of the refrain, then
broke up for some sinewy soloing: Cole
asserting the reedy strain of his alto
and Griffin releasing the full bodied
thunder of his tenor in tentative,
dramatic bursts.
Bebop is a familiar and well-
developed style, and Saturday night's
performance offered some solid sup-
port for its continued importance. No
matter what stylistic upheavals may
overturn. Bebop will never be con-
sidered an anachronism, at least not
while Johnny Griffin is still around.

-4
Now PEyin at ButterfieldTheatres
ADULTS FRI~ SAT: SUN.
WEDNESDAY IS EVE 8HOLIDAYS $3.5o MONDAY NIGHT IS
"BARGAIN DAY" EVENINGS . Soo "GUEST NIGHT"
$1.50 UNTIL 5:30Ex MATINEES:UNTIL30 TWO FOR $3.00
EXEPT WAYSD CILDREN 14 UNDER $I 50 EXCEPT WAYSIDE

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MON, TUE, THUR FRI 7:30-9 15
SAT SUN, WED 1 30-3 30-5 30-
7:30-9:15
3020 whenaw 434-178
Mon, Tue, Thur, Fri 7 &9
Sat, Sun, Wed 1-3-5-7-9
Wed Matinee Adults $1.50
,,. Until2;00 PM.

"honor thy wife and everyone else's"
MARTIN MULL-SALLY KELLERMAN

92 Walt Disney's
Lady$'rm

SUMMER JOBS

Daily Photo by PETER SERLING
Tenor saxophonist Johnny Griffin and bassist Ray Brown coax a
recalcitrant note or two during their appearance at the Michigan Theatre
last Saturday night. Also appearing was alto saxophonist Richie Cole and his
group Alto Madness.
*hem. Highly touted New York and pauses in his playing as much as
saxophonist Arthur Blythe is reworking the riffs themselves. On their standard
styles from swing to sixties avant- opener "Autumn Leaves" they pushed
garde with his new group In The the melodic line past its breaking point
Tradition, while the innovative trio Air through this tense interplay, effor-
have released an album of adventurous tlessly sliding into a slowed-down vamp
ragtime. behind Griffin's luxurious, lilting sax
This re-focusing is refreshing, and it only to unexpectedly restate the
helps shed a little more light on some original theme in swiftly swinging
other performers who've diligently fashion. This number set a precedent of
worked their style long since it was sorts for the evening: expect the unex-
ashionable or trendy. One of the most pected within an established musical
deserving (and unrecognized) con- context.
stituents of bebop, Johnny Griffin, has BUT THEY are by no means con-
returned to America after more than a stricted by their devotion to bebop. On
decade of self-imposed exile. And after pianist Ronnie Matthew's composition
just two years, Johnny Griffin has "Jean Marie' the tone changed from
helped reacquaint an eager new hot bop to cool, with Griffin coloring
audience with one of the most impor- rich tonal shades over Matthews' stark
tant and innovative movements in jazz.
BEBOP BROUGHT improvisation to
the fore-front of jazz and though it's
come a long way since the nineteen for- The Wrlters-n-R
ies, bop has never strayed too far from at the Resid
the indigenous swing that Charlie
Parker and Lester Young incorporated presents c
in their ground-breaking solos. "It don't
:. mean a thing if it ain't got that swing" D o na ld
Johnny Griffin told the crowd at the
Michigan Theatre Saturday night, but author of 10 novels in
that was the closest this veteran tenor
saxophonist got to repeating any
timeworn musical cliche. " "
ENTER Toni

TA M-rVUGA
Located in beautiful Northern
Michigan. Interviews Friday,.
April 18 at Career Planning
and Placement. Call 764-7456
to arrange appointment.

i
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Mon, Tue, Thur, Fri
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a reading by
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