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October 26, 1980 - Image 17

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


The Michigan daily-Sunday, 'Oct

The future of Ontario's Stratford
Festival is uncertain now, with the
resignation of artistic director Robin
Phillips confirmed amidfa flurry of
other controversies. A two-tiered direc-
torate of artistic and resident
management, designed to run the
festival next year, has disintegrated
with the resignation of William Hutt,
Brian Bedford and Len Cariou. The
question of how the festival will fare
without Phillips' leadership seems to
hang over the company like a shroud.
Robin Phillips has been Stratford's
artistic director for the last six seasons,
personally directing or co-directing an
astonishing 36 shows out of the 75
staged during that time. Residents of
Stratford and Festival spokespersons
talk about the famous names who've
appeared in recent years with affection
and some friendly criticism, but when
the subject of Phillips comes up, their
mood turns to something bordering on
awe. Barely over 30 years old when he
handled his first Festival season,
Phillips is regarded as a sort of boy
wonder, the man who pushed Stratford
into the international spotlight and held
it there through seasons of extraor-
dinarily ambitious and audacious
productions (many of which he direc&
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an era at Stratord

I tossed it at the movies

ted). Constantly inviting flack, driving
himself to exhaustion, and threatening
resignation, he's consistently built the
festival's reputation as the most ex-
citing event of its kind in North
Patricia Conolly and Mervyn Blake
spoke with the Daily about Phillips' role
in the past and present festivals.
Stratford veteran Blake has been a
member of the company longer than
any other actor, returning each spring
for 24 years, dating back to the erection
of the Festival Theatre in 1957. He's
worked under all four of the artistic
directors who have served terms since
the launching of the festival in 1953.
"Tony Guthrie got the whole thing
going with his great energy and spirit.
Once he's got something started, he
leaves it in other hands, so having got
us started, he left," Blake says.
Guthrie's successor, Michael
Langham, helped form "a very strong
repertory company," laying the foun-
dation for Jean Gascon's leadership
from 1968 through 1974. Gascon gave
the festival wide exposure, taking the
company on tour to Russia and Europe
one year, Australia the next. "Then
Robin Phillips came and, I think,
generally eclipsed them all," according
to Blake. "His reputation managed to
bring in an enormous amount of big
stars like Maggie Smith and Peter
Ustinov and Brian Bedford, Hume
Cronyn and Jessica Tandy, Roberta
Maxwell ... Over the time since Robin
came, he's come into an enormous
amount of controversy, which has kept
this theatre in the news all the time.
He's done fantastic things with this
company. His direction is brilliant, ab-
solutely amazing. It's a great shame
he's leaving."

Every student has gotten the treat-
ment. It comes from a parent or some
other vocal oldster-they sit you up on
their knee (or try), and talk about those
golden days of the old neighborhood
movie palace. You know the speech:
they used to give out free plates and
silverware, they used to show two
features, three newsreels, a coupla car-
toons, they used to hire an organ player
to lead sing-alongs inbetween features.
All of that may very well be true, but
that's not to say we don't have any

JUJUBES: Glucose rex-The un-
disputed king of the candy counter.
These may be the oddest, most
satisfyingly shaped objects this side of
sculpture by surrealist Jan Arp. Just
close your eyes and imagine you are a
Jujube, okay? Pretend you are one of
those little things that is sort of shaped
like a fish but not quite, or one of them
that looks like a banana but has a trio of
little bumps on the top side. Heaven,
ain't it? These were the candies that
always made you limp when they stuck
to your heel-and they always got all

( -.
- ~9-

of candy beads starting in the corner of
your mouth and leading down to your
CANDY CORN: Where, I grew up
there were a lot of kids who would
wedge these things onto their finger-
nails and teeth, crawling around like
lions and tigers in the aisles.
"Grrroowlllll!," they went. Assholes.
BLACK CROWS: A lost icon in Ann
Arbor-and the. best lost icon. All sorts
of candies have bitten the dust over the
years, but this one, I would venture, is
the most sorely missed. Sort of like
mini gumdrops, they had a blackness
about them that spread all over your
mouth as soon as you chewed one. That
was nice; you took a little bit of each
Black Crow with you for a long, long
time. Black Crows were perhaps the
John Anderson of cinema candy-they
had a difference
but people weren't interested.
kind of candy to encounter when
walking down .the aisle, although Jor-
dan Almonds could topple you almost
as quickly. Whose idea was it anyway to
make a candy look like a baked bean?
Why do people buy them????
HOT TAMALES: One of the first
signs of the warming relationship bet-
ween Mexico and the United States,
although not necessarily one of the best.
R.J. Smith is an ex-Arts page
editor. His body is presently avail-
able for public viewing at the Cam-
pus Theatre box office.



314 E.1

Peter Ustinov, with William Hutt as the Fool, plays the title role in the
current Stratford Festival restaging of Robin Phillips' 1979 production of
King Lear. Though one of the Ontario festival's biggest box-office successes,
the production has recently caused problems, with Ustinov threatening to
sue the festival over its cancellation of a projected London run.


is love,
and Pappagallo lovers have a
look-a cachet -that
suggests they know the dif-
ference between a silent butler
and a dumb waiter:
veneer and Vermeer,"
seers and Sears; Baggies and
-baguettes, King Kong
and King Lear:
ermine and vermine,

Patricia Conolly appeared with the Stratford
-tii company for the first time this season,
playing the central role of Viola in
Twelfth Night, the dashing Vita Sack-
ville-West in the world premiere of Ed-
na O'Brien's Virginia, and the
villainous Regan in King Lear.
"I had been asked to come here four
or five years ago, but was unable to ...
I really wanted to come. There was a
t magic associated with this place," she
says. "I had worked with Robin Phillips
a very long time ago, when he was an
actor. This was years ago, on another
O thrust stage, at Chichester, Sussex in
England. Olivier was the director, and
it was a real star-studded company. We
O had Michael Redgrave, Dame Sybil
Thorndike, Joan Plowright. . . the list
goes on. Robin was playing juvenile
R leads, and I was doing bits . . . we
always remembered that as being a
sort of golden 'time. I think the begin-
nings of theatre experience (for a per-

former) are always special. It amazed
me that Robin remembered ... there's
a kind of intuition of his. We had liked
each other, and maybe he could see
something in me then. Of course, I've
gotten some kind of reputation among
my peers of classical theatre that I
know what I'm about, but I didn't do
much in those days."
DESPITE HIS exhaustive
schedule-directing or co-directing
eight plays this season in addition to his
general duties-Phillips is heavily in-
volved in the rehearsal process for each
of his productions. Conolly explains the
rehearsal atmosphere as Very quiet..
The discipline is extraordinary . . . it
almost feels like being in church, that
sort of dedication. He's got a marvelous
eye and ear for sensing anything that's
untrue-you can be a good actor, and
you can be using technique and soun-
ding very sincere, and most directors
would let that by, alone. Robin will say,
'Why are you doing that? You're
pushing too hard.' He'll just come up
See PHILIPS, Page 12

reason for bending the ears of future ov
generations. Because us kids brought sec
up in post-1960 movie theatres are part ten
of a new age; we are all kith and kin to Do
the Schlock Candy Generation. Do
ONCE, MOVIE house fare was the got
same stuff you'd get at the drugstore. poi
Of course, you can still get Hershey Juj
Bars and Milk Duds and all kinds of S
mainstream drugstore sweets at movie mo
theatres, but in the last 20 years, a nar
great change has taken place. It started Ch(
with theatre-sized items: candy bars an
that became either strangely large or cou
conveniently bite-sized. All sorts of tin
other confections started to come sp
packaged in odd new boxes and bags. int
Soon, the trend toward distinguishing
theatre candy from store candy
escalated. Quietly there cropped up
candy corporations making stuff ex-
pressly for the popcorn stand, first a
couple, and then more . . . more .
There's something eerie about these
wrong-sized packages, something un-
settling about the appearance of sweets
in the candy counter- that are found
nowhere else in the universe. Candy
Hats, Dots, Beachballs,.Red Hot
We'll probably never know. So the
key thing to do is just sit back and sim-
ply enjoy the stomachache-on-a-
carousel glee of your neighborhood
cinema candy stand. Ann Arbor's a
particularly good spot for that; as an
off-and-on pretty face behind the coun-
ter at the Campus Theatre, I can vouch
for all kinds of quirky confections. I've
seen "Trail Mix" that was only slightly
better for you than a set of Mallo Cups;
I've seen acidic rainbow-hued cotton
candy sold in foil packaging that NASA
might have designed.
AND THAT'S NOT to mention pop-
corn. What follows is a look at some of
the better stuff you can get at movie
houses these days, with or .without an
admission ticket:.(usually-they'Ikletyou ." ,.
go in just to speculate on the edibles).

er the floor because they were the
cond-best projectiles to lob at the kid
rows in front of you. (First Prize:
ts, in every other way inferior).
n't forget the nasty way these things
t lodged in your back teeth to the
nt of simulating lockjaw. That's
Jubes-a dentist's best friend.
NO CAPS: Q: How many
viegoers remember the alternate
me of these incredible edibles? (A:
ocolate non pariels). These were soft
A indistinguishable enough that you
uld never be sure that you were get-
g all of the little white dots that
eckled the underlying chocolate lump
o your mouth. The result was a trail





f riday, november 7 rpIh 21 n

Dennis Harvey is co-editor of the

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