The Michigan Daily
Saturday, March 21, 1981
By ANNE GADON
I think the Residential College
players invented the word chutzpah -
they never just present a play; they
research the original style of perfor-
mance, the playwright's philosophy of
theatre, what the writer's mother ate
for breakfast, and so on.
Their latest production ,Well of the
Saints, has an' admirably Irish-folk
touch. Author J.M. Synge was a
'linguist, but you don't need to be told
that little bit of history; it's obvious af-
The well of the Saints
By J. M. Synge
Residental College Auditorium,
March 19-22, 26-28
Martin Doul...... ..........P. Arden Ray
Mary Doul....................Dominique Lowell
Timmy ........,.......Michael Morrissey
Molly Byrne ..............Shawn Yardley
The Saint......... ............Blake Ratcliffe
Directed by Martin Walsh
Lighting designed by John C. Breckenridge
Costumes designed by Sylvia Westlake
Sets designed by Jennifer C. Shikes
ter sitting through one of his plays. The
cadence of his language is almost
musical; the sound is as crucial an
eleiment of the play as the plot.
WELL OF THE SAINTS is a quite
respectable production on most counts,.
'ekcept, alas, language. The dialogue is
hurried, boy is it hurried. The 80
minutes I spent in the Residential
'College Auditorium went by fast, I
strained to listen as the blur of dialogue
passed me by, not exactly the most en-
joyable way to spend an evening.
Synge was a sort of anthropological
playwright. He liked to hang out with
the down-and-out Irish peasant folk,
beggars, and a wide variety of other
salt-of-the-earth types which he used as
the subjects of his plays.
Well of the Saints is the tale of two,
blind beggars, Martin and Mary Doul,
who are cured of their blindness by a
saint (Blake Ratcliffe). In their days
Irish with Synge
the smith gladly performs the task.
In the next few months, Martin and
Mary slowly lose their sight and are
much happier for it. They reunite and
content themselves with a life of
begging. Then the saint returns,
gratuitously offering to give them back
their sight permanently. But the world
of seeing is no longer appealing to Mary
and Martin. They reject the saint's of-
fer in favor of the world of darkness.
So the final question which is better,
the saint's world of puritanical
Christianity or the nature-oriented
Christianity of the Douls? The saint,
portrayed by Ratcliffe like a slimy
hawker of penny cure-als, burns with
the zeal to do good. He trods the Irish
hills in bare, bleeding feet, spreading
God's word hisway.
MARTIN DOUL, as performed byP.
Arden Ray, is a fantastical,' fiery little
creatures, who forages off the land,
battling the powers of "goodness." And
thanks to Ray's winning charac-
terization, we end up rooting for Doul.
The beggar may be spiteful and ornery
but he has a spirit and zest for life that
his priggish fellow peasants lack. Much
credit goes to Ray for bringing this
puckish man to life. The young actor
surpasses the barriers of age,
movement, and dialect to produce an
impressive performance, bless his little
Dominique Lowell, as Mary Doul
holds her own next to Ray. She's a
steady presence, an aged woman weary
of life but too proud to give up. Shawn
Yardly, however, as the comely Molly
Byrne is nothing short of boring. She's
hardly more than a decorative presen-
ce, although she does try a few times to
be expressive by pouting in frustration.
If the RC Players would only stop
trying to beat the clock, they would
have a top-notch production. As it stan-
ds now, it's certainly not bad. Maybe
they should do two performances a
night, one at their present speed and
one in slow motion replay.
Eclipse Jazz will once again be
sponsoring a series of open jam
sessions that will take place on,
Tuesday nights, March 24, April 7,
and April 21 in the University Club of
the Michigan Union, from 9:30 p.m.
to 1:00 a.m. each night.
Eclipse will provide a four-piece
rhythm section headed by David
Swain, best known for leading two
local bands, The Urbations and the
II-V-I Orchestra. All interested
musicians are invited to bring their
instruments and participate. Non-
musicians are also encouraged to
share in the fun - there will be no
cover charge and there is a cash bar.
The jam sessions are presented in
conjunction with' the Jazz Im-
provisation Workshops. Two
workshops are held each week, one
for advanced players and one for in-
termediate musicians. The advan-
ced workshop is held every Sunday
from 3-5 p.m. in the Michigan Union,
and is led by Peter Klaver. The in-
termediate session, led by David
Swain, is held every Tuesday from 7
to 9 p.m., also in the Michigan
Union. These are informal nstruc'
tional classes which cover the basic
rudiments of jass improvisation.
[t NDIVIDUFAL THEiATRES
Z A-5. . b e', 761",.970011~
goes t#o .
5AT, SUN-1:20, 3:20, 5:20, 7:10, 9:00
Daily Discount Matinees
TUESDAY BUCK DAY
P. Arden Ray and Dominique Lowell.portray Martin and Mary Doul in J. M.
Synge's 'The Well of the Saints.' This production, playing this weekend and
next at the Residential College Auditorium in East Quad, is one of the
highlights of the fourth annual Theater Festival.
- BARGAIN MATINEES -
WED. SAT. SUN $2.00 til 6:00
STARTS APRIL 3
"LA CAGE AUX FOLI:ES II"
before sight, their fellow villagers keep
up Mary's and Martin's spirits by
telling them that they are attractive. In
reality, the Douls are ugly, and they are
confronted with this truth when they
gain their vision.
THE DOULS, however, find the
responsibilites of the seeing world less
than appealing. Timmy the smith em-
ploys Martin but finds the man to be
lazy and ungrateful. Bitterly disappoin-
ted by his wife, Mary's, appearance,
Martin spurns her in favor of chasing
the pretty Molly Byrne. But Byrne will
have none of Doul; she tells her fiance,
Timmy, to chase Doul out of town and
3rd & FINA L WEE
- - +
By JANE CARL
The Pittsburgh Symphbiiy Orchestra,'
under the baton of Andre Previn, has
gained well-deserved national attention
partially as a result of its highly suc-
cessful series on PBS entitled, "Previn
and the Pittsburgh." With the com-
bination of music and media, Previn
has given living room exposure to the
purportedly intellectual (and therefore
dull) phenomenons of classical music,
giving it animation through versatility
of format and simple good musician-
ship. This certainly was the case at
Thursday evening's -Hill Auditorium
The first work in this highly varied
concert program was Haydn's "Sym-
phony No. 82 in C major," subtitled
"The Bear." One of the six so-called
"Paris Symphonies" commissioned by
Le Gros (a 'well-known concert enter-
preneur of the day), "Symphony No.
82" earned its unusual nickname from
the rather clumsy ostinato bass that is
the basis of the fourth movement.
The first movement; marked "Viv-
ce," is characterized by insistent
rhythmic energy. Its interpretation by
Previn is heaven
the Pittsburgh Sym'phony ,was that of lightheartedlyf the movement provided
distinctive elassicism;being wholy non- -"a fitting emotional and structural
Baroque and devoid of Romantic over- climax.
tones. Its only flaw was a poor ensem-
ble sensitivity in the solo bassoon and Ravel's "Rhapsodie Espagnole" is in
violins that seemed to indicate that they itself not a unique piece, it bears con-
might have been watching different siderable resemblance to Debussy's
conductors. "Iberia," both in form and date of com-
The second movement, an position. It was nevertheless enjoyable.
"Allegretto" in the startling key of E The "Prelude a la nuit" has a typically
flat, (in contrast to the first misty French beginning full of color
movement's key of C major) featured and effect. Using a repeating musical
an enchanting little theme begun by the pattern as its basis, the piece rose and
strings and continued with a sense of then fell, aided by lush strings, into an
delicacy and proportion. An exposed etheral section in which the celeste
sort of piece, the movement demon- adopted the ostinato pattern. The
strated the symphony's fine abilities at Malaguena" movement contained
a normally precarious level. The some notable solo efforts by the trum-
"Menuetto" was light and restrained. pet and English horn, and a spritely
The tempo was nicely reserved, giving bass line punctuated by the bass'
a majestic sound to an otherwise com- clarinet and contrabassoon..
mon dance tune. The "Habanera" was full of
The finale, marked "Vivace assai," "Bolero"-ish overtones. Supposedly,
was the crovning glory of the piece. A the dance was taught by the Africans to
virile, hearty work, the theme grows the Cubans and then to the Spanish -
out of the growling, humorous bass. but whatever the case, it was a
This hummable tune incorporates ideas languorous dance full of effective
borrowed from folk music, a novel idea hesitations. Tlhe final "Feria," tran-
in 178$. Played brilliantly and slated to mean "fair," was much more
by Prokofiev. Composed in 1944, it is a
war effort of sorts, reflecting both
World War II and the composer's
ongoing struggle with the Russian
government. The score was dedicated
to "the spirit of man." The "Andante"
opened with a heroic, lyric theme that
was virile and at the same time
evocative. Using very sonorous in-
strumentation, the effect was powerful,
but not Wagnerian (with the possible
exception of the low brass, which were
sometimes too Wagnerian for words).
The tympani were thunderous and
The "Allegro marcato" is a scherzo
movement masterfully placed between
the two weightier works. It is an ob-
vious outgrowth from Beethoven's Nin-
th Symphony. The theme of this
movement is continually amazing; set
in an ever-changing context, it is both
whimsical and full of meaning.
The following "Adagio" is a com-
bination of melancholy lament and
exalted heroism. Tragedy and drama
abound in Prokofiev's poighant themes.
The final movement was a nervous
"Allegro giocoso" that pulsated with
life.. The conversational, fragmented
melodies seemed to chase each other
around the stage. A carnival spirit was
attained, then released by a tranquil
flute solo distinguished by its control
and facility. The incredible vitality
built to cannon-like tympani shots and
the final feeling of the night was that
the "spirit of man" had struggled and
emerged victorious . . . as had the Pit-
B !r .o,,c F'Im;SPesennncw
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A very spacey
Africa and Islam
explored in 'Ceddo
rhythmically active than the last three-
movements. Here, the comparison with
Debussy's "Iberia" was too adamant to
be ignored. The final movement of
"Iberia" is entitled "The Morning of a
Feast Day." Although the piece is sim-
ple in basic design, the details are com-
plex. The melancholy English horn solo
was played especially well.
The final work of the concert was the
blockbuster "Symphony No. 5, Op. 100"
By ROBERT WINSHALL
In West Africa, Islam has been a
growing force since the 11th century.
Today, it is not only acquiring new
adherents among the few remaining
animists but is even making some
headway among historically Christian
communities. In Sahelian West Africa,
(Senegal, Gambia, Mali, Mauritania,
Upper Volta and Niger).Islam occupies.
a nearly sacrosanct position.
It is interesting, then, to encounter a
work by a Sengalese Muslim that raises
some questions about Islam's past in
West Africa and analyzes its negative
impact on the indigenous culture. In his
most recent film, Ceddo, (showing at
Auditorium A this Sunday at 7 and 9
pym.) Ousmane Sembene takes a look
at the disruptive influence of Islam on a
Senegalese village sometime in the in-
A split develops between the common
people ("ceddo") and the rulers, when
the king and his nobles become
Miuslims. The ceddo, some of whom had
The filmalternates between two
stories - the refusal of the people to be
further disenfranchised in the name of
religion, and the princess's growing
awareness of the plight of her people.
These characters are pitted against and
contrasted with the ambitious and
ruthless imam (Muslim leader), who
initially joins the royal court, only to
later depose the king.
Ceddo is Sembene's most ambitious
and iconoclastic film. The fact that it is
banned in Senegal attests to this,
although the government maintains
that its banning is only a result of the
film title's violation of recently-passed
orthographic laws for the national
languages. ("Cedo" is the official
the ann arbor
The U-M Professional Theatre Program
Michigan Ensemble Theatre
Ann Arbor's Own
Resident Professional Theatre Company