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February 04, 1983 - Image 14

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1983-02-04
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Menage
a trois
Three Sisters
Power Center
8p.m. February 9-13
By Coleen Egan
A NTON CHEKHOV'S plays present
many problems to those reading,
watching, or performing them. In
Three Sisters for example, actors and
directors must deal with the general
feeling and fallacy that it is depressing
and pessimistic. The University
players intend to overcome that and
other difficulties in, their productionof
Chekhov's often misunderstood play,
and present a passionate, optimistic,
and moving show which runs February
9-13 at the Power Center.
Director Mary Kelly finds the play
quite a challenge. "I have done this
show before set in America in the
1930's," says kelly, "but this way is
much more scary; we are not so
familiar with the time period, the class
of person, or the country." Kelly inten-
ds to follow Chekhov's work, exactly,
highlighting the oppressive, daily
trivialities of Russian provincial life in
the late 1800s and the dreams and
escape methods that surround those
trivialities.
Sally E. Chaney, a Ph.D candidate in
directing who plays the worn down,
preachy Olga, also finds the era hard to
work with. "The hard part for me in
Chekhov is the period...the lack of
taking action in your life," she says.
"It is almost hard for me as a woman of
the 1980s to understand why they don't

envision'ed-the eventual success of
man that he saw and critics in the past
have failed to see in his plays. To com-
bat the general pessimistic view, Kelly
suggests that "the show has to be
played against misery not for misery.
You can't dwell on it. I'm using as
much music as logically possible in the
play to convey that. You must make
the funny moments as important as the
miserable ones." To depict life
realistically, she says, you must deal
equally with the good and the bad-as
will the characters in Three Sisters.
As there is a balance in the importan-
ce of the good and bad times in the play,
there is also a definite balance in the
cast.. Chekhov's Three Sisters was the
first play written for the Moscow Art
Theatre Company in which creators
Konstantin Stanislavsky and
Nemirovich-Danchenko hoped to expel
the use of stars and instead focus on
teamwork and a sense of ensemble.
Clinton Carbon, company/publicity
manager for the show explains that "in
life there are no leads-we only have
our particular moments."
Similarly, in Chekhov's plays it is
only fitting then that the ensemble style
remain intact for a successful produc-
tion. Ms. Kelly feels her cast has come
close to what the Moscow Art Theatre
creators had in mind. "The cast is
great-they work with each other and
off of each other. There is more of an
ensemble feeling-a balance because
everybody's life is of relevance."
With a remarkably cooperative cast
and director who have paid particular
attentin to details, style, and ensemble
technique required for a respectable
Chekhov production, and a talented ar-
tistic staff which includes Jan Cham-
bers, Scenic designer; Kristine Flones-
Czeeski, costumes; and Mary Cole,
.lighting designer, _the University
Players production of Three Sisters
should successfully convey all the
tolerance, compassion,sympathy,
riducule, and above all, the hope
Chekhov had for man.

.....................

(

* Dancing
dream
Anna Pavlova:ierUfteand Art
by Keith Money
Alfred A. Knopf
By Ann Marie Fazio
IF YOU WERE offered the choice
of seeing Anna Pavlova dance or
hearing the story of her life, which
would you choose?
With Keith Money's biography of the
prima ballerina, you don't have to
make the choice. He, unlike most
biographers of performing artists,
presents a visual as well as a written
story of the greates ballerina ever to
grace the stage.
Almost every page of his Anna
Pavlova is filled with lush photographs
to complement the most comprehen-
sive account of the star's life ever writ-
ten.
Pavlova was a virtual goddess, wor-
shipped by ballet enthusiasts world-
wide for her exquisite beauty, lively
personality, but above all, for her
unique and extraordinary talent. She
brought the magic of her art to places
which had never before seen such
beauty.
Pavlova's life was as mysterious as
the characters she brought to life on the
stage. Not much is known about her
parentage, birth, or early childhood, ex-
cept that she was accepted into the
prestigious and highly selective Im-
perial Ballet School in St. Petersburg,

Russia in the early 1890s, when she was
10.
Ballet flourished in Czarist Russia,
but after the outbreak of World War I,
Pavlova and her company left the coun-
try for good, and began a mission to in-
troduce ballet to the world.
And for the world of the early 1900s,
Pavlova was ballet. Touring Europe,
the Orient, South America, and the
United States, she and her company
delighted audiences, many of which
had never before experienced such a
fine display of classical dance.
The unique beauty of Money's book
comes from the abundance of
photographs showing every aspect of
Pavlova's life. We see her performing
on stage and posing for photographers
in many of her stage costumes. The
book also contains many portraits of
the artist in the fashions of the day,
which she loved to show off in public.
But perhaps the book's most wonder-
ful and revealing photographs are those
of Pavlova offstage. Snapshots of her on
holiday, visiting friends, in the
classroom, backstage, and in the many
train stations she stopped in on her
world tours, along with many
newspaper clippings and magazine ar-
ticles show that Pavlova was as
charismatic in the real world as she
was in front of the footlights.
The many photos of her at her home,
Ivy House, in London, give us the
clearest glimpse into her private life.
Especially delightful is a series of
photos of a Garden Party she threw at
Ivy House, complete with ballet on the
lawn.
Money's biography brings the story
of Anna Pavlova to life. The book is
filled with wonderful details about her
personal and professional life. But the
hundreds and hundreds of photographs
make this tribute to the artist truly
beautiful.

Three Sisters: Family Portrait.
pack their bags." Kathy Devecka, a
Ph.D candidate in directing, plays the
disillusioned Masha adds, "They have
an incredible ability to endure."
The details of the play provide an-
swers to the sister's curious endurance and
motivations: details which Chekhov
meant to highlight and
details which Kelly and her cast pay
strict attention to. "Details matter in
everything you do, everything you
touch," says junior Maggie Fleming
who plays the idealistic Irina. "There
are so many details-so many layers
fascinating to work with."
The abundance of details requires ex-
tensive preparation, according to
Kelly. "It is not so easy to define how
the actorstshould be," she says, "but it
is clear how they shouldn't be and it is

not until you work with Chekhov do you
realize it. In Chekhov you must come
into the moment with the day behind
you. You have to have that
background."
Ms. Kelly puts her cast to hard work
even in warmup to solve the'
background and time period dif-
ficulties. For at least an hour before
going through the script the cast im-
provises a day in the life of their
character. At one rehearsal Kelly had
the cast improvising an entire day
before the 2 a.m. storyline in Act III
begins. "By the time they improvised
through to the storyline they were
exhausted-as their characters would
be too," says Kelly.
With the problem of period and detail
under control, the cast must get across
to the audience the optimism Chekhov

i
;i

Anna Pavlova: Dance fever.

Mama's
boys
Mamas, Don't Let Your Boys
Grow Up to be Playwrights
Residential College Auditorium,
East Quad
8 p.m. Thursday, February 10
By Julie Bernstein
IN SUCH A large-scale university,
there are suprisingly few oppor-
tunities available on campus for
students to fully explore their creative
instincts. The Residential College not
only tries to accomodate the students'
artistic energies in the classroom but in
extra-curricular activities as well. The
RC Players' up and coming production,
Mamas, don't let your babies grow to be
playwrights: An Actor's Evening of
Sam Shepherd epitomizes the artistic
and educational philosophy of the RC
community.

Part of the RC players' objective is to
enhance what is being taught in the
drama classes during the correspon-
ding term, according to RC Players
president Dan Gordon. During recent
years the Players have produced works
by such classic authors as Chekov,
Moliere, and Pirandello, in conjuncion
with the corresponding drama
curriculum.
For example, the interest in Sam
Shepherd stems fromadrama course of-
fered this term by RC professor Hilary
Cohen which also covers 20th Century
American playwrights such as Eugene
O'Neil, Tennessee w
Williams, Arthur Miller, Lillian
Hellman and others. I
Mamas ... derived its title from the
Willie Nelson song about boys growing
up to be cowboys, pointing up a major
Shepherd theme-youth escapism into
fantasy worlds. Moreover, the title
provides a tie-in with Cowboys #2, the
one-act play that will close Thursday's
program.
Director Shawn Yardley, a recent
graduate of the RC Drama Concen-
tration program and LS&A film and
video department, first encountered
Sam Shephard last spring when she
read Buried Child. "I didn't like him at
first," said Yardley. "The language
was rotten and it seemed too male-
dominated."

After further reading Shawn
discovered themes of disintegrating
families, refected kids, rock and roll,
and the expression of youth. Sam
Shepherd gives young people (on whom
his plays usually focus) a way to be
reached. Yardley says Shephard
provides great material. "His natural
and modern writing style is close to the
bone, I mean, we're all somewhat
rootless and alienate."
Much of Shepherd's best ideas wre in-
fluenced by the Don culture of the '60s.
To highlight this important facet of his
writing, four female students will in-
troduce the program with a dramatic
and musical interpretation of a poem
written by rock star Patti Smith. The
poem idolizes Shepherd and his activist
outlook, and even includes several of
the writer's own heroes, primarily
James Dean, who inspired many of his
characterizations.
In addition to the poem, the actors
will read monologues frm Angel City,
Cowboy Mouth, and Mad Dog Blues,
exploring ideas of escapism, dream-
chasing, child-rejection, and con-
cluding with Shellie's monologue of
ultimate rejection from Buried Child.
Cowboys #2, Shepherd's two-man play,
featuring John Shaw and Bruce
Czuchna, will follow the monologues. It
is the story of two boys acting out their
fantasies of being cowboys. Through

their very Waiting for Godot-like
relationship, the audience discovers
tension, rivalry, pessimism and hope.
Exploring the depths of their
imaginations, the boys fight with In-
dians, journey through a desert rain,
and go to such extremes that their
realities appear vague and their fan-
tasies seem real.
This brief hour and a half long
showcase of Sam Shepherd will be
presented February 10-12 at 8'p.m. in
the RC auditorium for a convenient
$1.00. These bonns artists really have
something to offer aqd their commit-
ment and honest. desire to offer it is
evident.
"We want to 'share' this rather than
'perform' it," one of the actresses
stated. "We know the audiences won't
get a full understanding of Sam
Shepherd, but rather get to know him."
When asked what they wish the audien-
ce will take home with them, actress
Michelle Stern, announced, "Hopefully,
they'll leave thinking, 'I'm goingto go
read a Shepherd Play'."
Directed by Shawn Yardley and
assistants Natalie Grinblatt and Annie
Todd, Mamas' cast includes Leigh
Evans, Chris Faber, Alice Gleason,
Elliot Jackson, Ken Jannot, Ruth
Waalkes, Lisa Yardley, John Shaw and
Bruce Czuchna.

History
rewrite
Daughters of Time
University of Michigan Press
228 p.
By Pat Willacker
T HROUGHOUT centuries of patriar-
chal scholarship the history of
women has been consistently denied.
During the past 15 years, feminist
scholars have made this point and at-
tempted to recover women's history,
thereby helping to strengthen women's
consciousness, include the missing half
of humanity in history, and work
toward a non-oppressive social order.
Mary Kinnear's Daughters of Time is
a fine, academic contribution to this
resurgence of feminist research. Her
book is "a brief and selective study of
women in the history of Western
society." Chapter by chapter she
discusses her themes in a concise,
clear, engaging writing style; she
abitiously includes the history of
women's confinement within their

famifies and the control of their
sexuality from early civilizations to the
20th century.
She writes about the few famous
women who have been included in the
pages of patriarchal history, usually "a
great warrior, or ruler, or artist."
Nearly everyone can name the dozen or
so successful tokens, such as Sappho,
the Virgin Mary, Elizabeth I, Joan of
Arc, Jane Austen, Mary
Wollstonecraft, and Susan B. Anthony.
Kinnear does not stop with this incom-
plete picture, but attempts to sketch in
the lives of ordinary women, thereby
chronicling the status of women
throughout Western tradition.
Kinnear dispels many myths, such as
the so-called generic or universal
meaning of "Man," "Mankind," and
male pronouns.
Even the golden age of Greece was
not golden for women. Man-made
characters like Antigone and
Lysistrata aside, Athenian women were
segregated from men and confined to a
gyneceum. Other women served as
educated, high class prostitutes or
hetaera. She also explains that the
Renaissance was a time when
humanism meant "for men only."
Minimal reforms such as women's
rights and equal pay for equal worth
have been refused consistently by the
powers and systems that be. Kinnear
notes that from the Ancient Greeks to
the French Revolution to the recently
defeated Equal Rights Amendment,
women have been oppressed. It was

only in 1971 that women's suffrage was However, hei
allowed in Switzerland; and American 19th and 20
women still earn less than 59 cents to ticularly dis
every man's dollar, very safe, m
Although Kinnear's subject matter participating
cannot help but be political in nature, women's histo
she tends to be very moderate in her In spite of t
feminist analyses; perhaps this is a does end
matter of survival in academia and in "Feminists.
these increasingly conservative times. domestic as w

4 Weekend/February 4,1983

women have been oppressed. It was

13

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