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October 26, 1980 - Image 15

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1980-10-26
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The Michigan Daily-Sunday,

Page 12-Sunday, October 26, 1980-The Michigan Daily

Phillips' departure will hurt Stratford

...and displaying window c

(Continued from Page 10)
behind you and hold you, or put his hand
on your forehead or something, touch
you while you're saying the lines ...
guiding you almost physically, calming
you down. He does an awful lot of im-
provisation, interestingly enough, but
in a way which scares a lot of actors.
Especially the sort of 'seasoned' actors
who don't want to be bothered. He's
very tender and gentle, but he can be
tough too. You trust him because you
know he's trying to get the best
One of the single most-discussed

productions at Stratford this past
season was Virginia, a striking
time-capsule" version of the life of
writer Virginia Woolf through a
freeform pastiche of her corresponden-
ce, diary entries and published work.
Maggie Smith played Woolf; Conolly's
Vita and Nicholas Pennell's Leonard
Woolf eased in and out of the scene
(confined entirely to two chairs or a
nearly bare stage) abstractly, like
figures in a dream. Conolly recalls,
"We were all concerned about how to
tackle the text, because on paper it's
sort of stream-of-consciousness

material. Fine, but how do you realize
that? We just started reading it, and
Robin said, 'Just simply read the wor-
ds, whether they mean anything to us or
not.' Of course, the minute you start
speaking, some reality gets born. Robin
began eliminating all the props-Edna
(O'Brien, Virginia's authoress) was
there all the time, and she was very
helpful, very sensitive, but she'd had an
awful lot of stage directions and props.
They weren't absolutely necessary, and
Robin cut all of it out."
Phillip's "sense of truth" led to some
offbeat rehearsal sessions. "One par-
ticular day," Conolly says, "we had a
rehearsal at Robin's house. We knew
the text so well by this time... we could
do it in any environment. In the middle
of it (a scene), he would beckon to us
and we would go out into the garden,
never stopping, never saying anything
but the dialogue; he'd pick flowers,
water the garden, and at one point, just
before my entrance, he simply took the
keys of his car and handed them to me,
with a look like, 'I know what Vita
meant. She meant, drive the car.' I was
slightly nervous, but I went outside and
honked the horn, hoping that it was
about the right time (in the script).
Nicholas and Maggie came right out,
continuing with their lines, got into the
car, and we did the dialogue as I
zoomed around Stratford."
BEYOND THE confusion surroun-
ding Phillips' resignation and the ap-
pointment of replacement figures, ad-
ditional controversy has arisen over the
plans to take an uncertain number of
this season's Stratford productions
overseas. Visiting artist Peter Ustinov
may sue the festival over the can-
cellation of his King Lear tour. The
production was scheduled to be tran-
sferred from its Stratford run this
summer to London, but will instead
close indefinitely next month with its
final Ontario performance, officially

due to a lack of funds. A simultaneous
London run of Virginia was also an-
nounced as being dropped, but accor-
ding to Patricia Conolly, the play "is
owned by someone who wants it to have
a future, so it looks like it's going to go.
They really want it to go on, and there
are agreements being settled now."
Next year's Stratford festival is likely
to be significantly changed from the 16-
play, four-month (with an additional
month of school performances in May)
schedule it was this year. Mervyn
Blake voiced concern-"They can't
keep going on like this. It's an enor-
mous amount, and I think they'll have
to cut down. They'll probably have a
smaller company than we've had
before, and a lesser number of plays,
because they'll have to invite in the
directors, and there won't be enough
directors to do (an equally large
schedule). Robin Phillips used to do
nearly all the plays himself. The direc-
tors won't be able to do the same
amount because they've got all kinds of
other problems to worry about with the
new season."
A new, committee-style form of ar-
tistic direction has been set for next
year, a board formed by Toronto.-direc-
tor Pam Brighton, director Peter Moss,
literary manager Urjo Kareda and ac-
tress/director Martha Henry.
There's no doubt that the whole tone
of the festival is likely to change with
Phillips' absence-he's been a true
auteur of the theatre, leaving a per-
sonal stamp on Stratford that has
nearly become its raison d'etre. Mer-
vyn Blake's outlook seems, like that of
most Stratford folk,, hopeful but
strained-"We have absolutely no idea
of what's going on next season. We can
only conjecture. We've got four won-
derful new directors coming up and we
wish the best amount of luck to them,
but they'll have to follow an enormously
successful act. It seems almost im-

"Are you the one who puts up
that display?"
"Yeah, I'm the one."
"You're sick."
This I get all the time-"You're
sick." It isn't easy giving the world
your soul in the form of displays. The
main quality you must have is a total
lack of respect for material things.
People are going to want to smash
whatever you put up. They will want to
make it their own personal display by
writing all manner of shocking words
on it. But you cannot let it bother you.
It's great to know that people are reac-
ting to your work rather than simply
ignoring it. If a piece from your display
is stolen, then you know that someone
liked it enough to risk being caught and
tossed into the slammer. If you catch
them, you may be tempted to beat them

You ve seen his art
Now read his story

ject of ar
signifies is
"Yeah, Ij
started a
life. They r
they simp
soul has be
say is "I
go on to sor
I will con
nobody wa
Reed Le

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up and lock them into the display case
as kinetic sculpture. Resist the desire.
Franz Kafka would have made a good
display case person. He had the right
idea; "Burn it all, Max. Burn it when
I'm dead." Of course, he should have
burned it himself, because many people
(including Max) want Art to last
forever, and feel duty bound to help it
do just that, regardless of what the ar-
tist thinks.
ONE GOOD THING about displays is
that you can put anything you like in
them. An old teddy bear, blood from
your big toe, the family dog-almost
anything becomes Great Art when put
behind glass. Of course, you don't want
to end up like Andy Warhol. He became
a god by ripping off Campbell Soup.
Gods don't create art, people do. And
people, not gods, look at art. So display
objects must have some human interest
or people will walk past without even
noticing that a display is there. Soup
cans are decidedly uninteresting. But
they could be interesting if they were
changed somehow, given a purpose
apart from being a soup can or a
silkscreened (misregistered)
photograph ofa soup can. If you run
over a can and put it in a toaster, it is
still a soup can, but it is something
more than a soup can, too. God knows
what, but it's more engaging than a can
on a shelf. And the toaster changes also.
Occasionally someone will not only
like what you do but will start to mass
produce it as well. A year and a half
ago, I took some Chapstick, screwed it
out about an inch and stuck a wick into
it. I lit it so it melted a little, then blew it
out and looked at it. The idea of it made
me laugh, so I made it part of a display.
Recently I have heard rumors that
some enterprising young woman in
Ohio (possibly connected with Junior
Achievement) is now selling Chapstick
Candlesticks as fast as Pet Rocks were
selling a few years ago. But am I going
to sue her? No. The point is Pet Rocks
don't sell anymore and people certainly
aren't going to pass down Chapstick
Candlesticks to their eldest children.
This woman isn't going to get very far

off of my idea. If a huge corporation
like Miller Morton (who make Chap-
stick) don't bother to sue her, why
should Reed one-room-no-pets Lenz
Of course, all this is to say that the ob-

Reed Lenz constructed this display window for the
Festival in 1979. How many of these things do you
going to run out and buy?

Daily photo by Maureen O'Malley
Name That Concept! This display win-
dow is a recent work by Reed Lenz at
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