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February 13, 1981 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 1981-02-13

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Page 5

The Michigan Daily

Friday, February 13, 1981

A fluttering 'Birds Sing'

8mmfest this weekend

You can compare it with a commer-
cial network adopting a public
television format - there's a sudden in-
flux of the new and different. In the past
*few months, for each established play
produced in Ann Arbor, an original
work has come out also. With I Can't
Hear the Birds Singing, the University
has joined the plethora of theatre
groups mounting original shows.
I Can't Hear the Birds Singing,by
budding dramatist Brenda Faye Collie,
depicts a struggle common to many
other plays about black life - that of
the black man wanting to improve his
station in life. Walt, Collie's central
character, is not hurt so much by
racism as by his past. Fifteen years
earlier, Walt was involved in the killing
of one of his best friends in the factory
where he works. Retribution is coming
- Walt cannot escape punishment, and
causes his downfall through the fear of
An old co-worker of Walt's demand
$10,000 from Walt, threatening he'll tell
of alt's involvement in his friend's
odearth. Walt, scared that such a
revelation would lose him his
promotion, realizes that he is trapped
and must get the money. Shortly after
he learns that he was not given the
promotion, but he continues to search
fop the money, possessed by his guilt
over his dead buddy.
Walt has a double-edged spirit, but
the two sides don't match. One one
hand, he's a proud man, wanting to
support his wife in only the best man-
ner, offering a home to the son of his
0 dyad friend. But he's also driven with
guilt intense enough to keep him sear-
ching for the $10,000 which will keep his
co-worker silent on the issue of his
friend's death. Walt is determined to
tell all in his path to wipe out his
history. And, of course, it doesn't work.
It's also not believable. Neither is
buddy One Arm's freakout or the
struggling relationship between Allen,
the dead friend's son, and his wife, Bev.
0 Collie is in too much of a hurry to
bring her characters' problems out into
the open and then solve them. The

Janice Reid (above) and guest artist Earl D. A. Smith are husband and wife
in 'I Can't Hear the Birds Singing,' an original drama running this weekend
at the Power Center. Brenda Faye Collie's play has some structural
problems but the performances are impressive overall.

result is overwhelming. The play seems
to have clear-cut secondary characters
- each of them has enough history
behind them to have a play of his or her
Guest Artist Earl D.A. Smith does his
best with Walt, but the playwright has
left him too many loose ends for him to
coalesce the pieces of character into a
solid performance. There is no doubt to
the man's professionalism - he moves
about the stage with an air that simply
commands notice. His role may be
shrouded with inconsistencies, but he is
a consistent performer, trying in vain
to pull the meat of the drama to the sur-
face. The script doesn't work, exactly,
and Smith doesn't know how to save it.
Janice Reid as Lady, Walt's wife,
exudes class, as usual. The others
around her do not fare so well, and
again it is mostly due to gaps in Collie's

writing. Charles Jackson as Allen, the
quintessential modern young black
man wanting the best for his people. At
least that's how Collie begins. But when
his wife starts to nag, he turni into a
bastard. She leaves him and then she
comes back, but nothing really
changes. There's still that mutual
anger burning underneath. Jackson
and Catrina Ganey as Bev are trying,
but it's difficult to follow Collie's
character maze. Goodness knows they
try, impressively so.
Brenda Faye Collie's main fault is
that she tries to do too much. She needs
to pare down her play and concentrate
her energies more heavily on one or two
characters rather than shooting for
equal representation and a modern day
version of Greek drama. What she has
to say is worth hearing, but she needs a
smoother way to say it.

Independent and experimental film-
making in Ann Arbor doesn't begin and
end with the spring's 16mm Festival,
though that event still tends to grab the
majority of attention in the media and
film world.
Its less heralded, but no weaker,
younger sister will launch its 11th year
tonight as the annual Ann Arbor Eight
Millimeter Festival opens, with shows
at 7 and 9, in the School of Education's
Whitney Auditorium.
As the sophistication of 8mm equip-
ment and filmmakers has grown
(fueled by the increasing expense of
working in the 16mm mode), the A
Festival has become a widely respected
showcase for works of surprising polish
and imagination. Prize offers amoun-
ting to more than $2200 help encourage
entries by those who may never have
considered, or had the opportunity to,
publicly exhibit their work before.
ACCORDING TO Festival Coor-
dinators Tim Artist and John Fialka,
getting public reaction is essential to
the development of the beginning
filmmaker as a means of judging his
success as an artist. 8mm film is unique
in its attractiveness to the amateur sec-
tor the Festival is trying to reach.
"Eight millimeter film enables the
filmmaker to carry around a much
lighter camera," says Fialka. The film
is much cheaper, and technically you
can do almost anything with it. It's a
good means for the independent film-
maker - he can totally control his own
This year's entries are among the
best ever received, Artist and Fialka
claim, with films submitted from 25.
states, Canada, and as far away as
Yugoslavia. They cover genres ranging
from clay animation and pure visual
experimentation to documentaries and
detective dramas. Popular them~es
haven't changed much from previous
years - back again is the perennial
favorite, beer-can pixillation, among
other standards. An indication of the
bizarre fun to be expected is one entry
Fialka says to look out for: the unique
Sneeze Through The Ages, which offers
a historical view of sneezing, as seen
thorugh various satirized moviemaking
styles (the Ingmar Bergman sneeze,
for example).
JUDGING WILL take place during
the public screening on Friday and
Saturday and the winners will be an-
nounced Sunday. The top money prize
will be the Keith Clarke Memorial of
$125, with the most valuable prize, wor-
th $192, being an animation stand. The
majority of other prizes will consist of

manufacturer-donated equipment, lab
service certificates and smaller cash
awards provided by the Ann Arbor
Film Cooperative, who is sponsoring
the event.
The judges will be - Gary Todd,
from the University of North Carolina,
Greensboro, freelance filmmaker of in-
dustrial and educational films, Bob
Madigo, producer for instructive
television at the University of
Maryland, Baltimore; Rob Zibell, in-
dependent filmmaker and coordinator
for the Ann Arbor 16mm Film Festival;
John Kelly, film theoretician, and Barb
Tannnembaum, both Ph.D. candidates
at the University of Michigan.

The thirteen hours of film being
judged this weekend were selected
through an intensive initial screening
process of approximately two hundred
entries. Artist says, "We were looking for
technique, style, content, originality
and self-expressiveness." The winning
films will hopefully show "good signs of
craftsmanship and originality."
The Ann Arbor Festival is the oldest
film festival in the country devoted ex-
clusively to eight millimeter film. In its
eleventh year, its prestige among 8mm
film festivals throughout North
America is substantial, although Fialka
admits, "Toronto h s us beat." The
event will be covered by a Canadian
Cable Television Station.

Test Anxious-
Performance Anxious?
MASON 2402
9-11 AM.
Under the direction of Dr. James Papsdorf,
Laboratory for Applied Psychology

Students and staff: $25.00
Non U of M: $75.00

Dorothy Holinger, 996-1704

I, U


eveningsand weekends.
Low hourly cost. Dedicated full-
time staff.
Complete TEST-n-TAPESMfacilities
for review of class lessons and
supplementary materials.
Small classes taught by skilled

ss Opportunity to make up missed
Volumnos home"study materials
constantly updated by research-
ers expert in their field.
" Opportunity to transfer to and
continue study st. any of our
over 80 centers.


SParadise Theatre '-the best of plastic

. . . (313) 662-3149,
w .,,Ann Arbor, Michigan,

The best thing that can be said about
Styx is that they know their market.
While other groups have lost popularity
by expanding on their music, Styx
remains loyal to its original success
formula. The hollow lyrics, dense in-,
strumentation, ordinary vocals, and
catchy melodies that have been the
group's trademark are all alive and
w~el on Styx's newest album, Paradise
The theme (or gimmick) of the album
is a show honoring a defunct palatial
building in Chicago once known as the
Paradise Theatre. Even though the
songs relate to this theme, do not be
mislead - this is no Sgt. Pepper.
SIDE ONE (or Act One as it is called
on the album) is by far the most worth-
while part of the album. The high point
is "Rockin' The Paradise", a new song
that shows the Styx formula at its best.'
The song features an excellent, fast-
moving melody that makes the whole
tune easy on the ears. Despite the corny
lyrics, "The Best Of Times" also goes
over well for the same reasons.
Although the rest of side one is pretty
much void of value it' is not too ap-
While side one generally emphasizes
the group's assets, side two is mostly
filfer, or what should be called filler.
The first track on the side, "Lonely
People" is terribly annoying with all of
- ii needless instrumentation. A com-
$ex sound need not be bad (as Yes has
proved), but here it is just wretched ex-
ess. Not all of side two is as bad as
"Lonely People" but most of it is not
much better.
As long as there are people who crave
the slick, commercial sound, there will

be groups like Styx. Those who loved
Cornerstone and Pieces of Eight will
probably love Paradise Theatre too
because there is nothing new or in-

novative on the album. But if you ex-
pect something more than a plastic
sound, Paradise Theatre is not for you.
-David Ritter

WHEN: Four consecutive Tuesdays, starting on
March 3, 1981.
TIME: Counseling Services, R. 3100 Union.
WHO: Couples-living together, planning to
live together, getting married in the
near future, or recently married.
LIMITED ENROLLMENT-Please call Anne at
764-8312 by February 16 for screening interview.
a play by
Feb. 13 & 14 at 8:00pm.
matina Feb. 15 at 4:00m.

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313 -291-5400

THE AIR FORCE has immediate openings for Dental
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Air Force. A great way of life.

Take a Sentimental Journey..

with the Friars
joined by
The Harmonettes and

followed by a
Campus Inn Regency



The Grnyons(space limited to 300)
The &.runyons IIILUL
10 p.m.
8 p.m. Big Band music by the Ambassadors

- L :. -iJ 0 .J l . .I '..J I. UT'om'I*. ... {j .

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