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October 30, 1984 - Image 6

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The Michigan Daily, 1984-10-30

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Tho Michigan Daily

Tuesday, October 30, 1984

Page 6


very special place within the heart

By Steve Andrade

Billed as a journey to the roots of
writer-director Robert Benton, Places
in the Heart is an attempt to capture the
essence of small town Texas through
the story of a young widow facing
disasters, natural and financial. Ap-
plying the formula that won him an
Oscar for Kramer vs. Kramer, Benton
makes a play for the emotions of the
audience, but misses the mark. He at-
tempts to crowd every depression era
theme, from racial conflicts to marital
crises, into a film with a running time
slightly under two hours. By them-
selves, each of these ideas could have
been used to create a multitude of
award winning films, but combined
they tend to bombard the viewer with
wave after wave of melodramatic
scenes forsaking the interim time
necessary to build complete audience
Setin Waxahachie during the 1930's,
Places in the Heart catalogues the
trials of Edna Spaulding (played by
Sally Field), a woman forced to fight

for her farm and family after the death
of her husband. In order to save her
land from the clutches of the
stereotypically evil banker Mr. Denby,
the widow Spaulding must violate all
norms set for women of the period while
defending against everything from
chauvenism to tornadoes. However,
with the help of a vagrant sharecrop-
per, a blind boarder, and her two
children Possum and Frank, a woman
who admits that she has done nothing
all her life but "raise kids and clean
house" finds herself able to meet all
This film marks the return of Sally
Field to the type of role with which she
won the Academy Award, but this time
her performance falls short of the stan-
dards she set in Norma Rae. Field's ac-
ting is capable, if at times touching on
the melodramatic, but her impish
mannerisms don't convey the sense of
despair and urgency which the plot
demands. Indeed, it is a few inspired
performances by members of the sup-

porting cast which truly carry this pic-
ture. Danny Glover in his first major
film appearance plays the sharecrop-
per Moze with the conviction and sense
of humor necessary for the role, and
Lane Smith, playing the banker in
black, lends the right sense of un-
ctuousness and arrogance to a charac-
ter who makes the audience squirm.
Even the Texas swing band which plays
at the grange dances is suitably seedy.
When combined with sound
cinematography, the performances of
the supporting cast members make the
movie believable despite Field's un-
convincing performance.
In the end, it is Bendon's screenplay
pared down from its original four
hours, which holds the film back. Since
character development is abandoned
for the break neck pace of events, the
sympathies of the audience are often
lost in the shuffle. Places in the Heart
has the makings of a great film, but its
lack of originality and depth relegate it
to the realm of a near miss.

Sally Field looks out over the cotton fields in Waxahachie, Texas, in her new film, 'Places in the
Heart.' The film was written and directed by Robert Benton.


Thirteenth Night: Macbeth hath been wronged

By Emily Montgomery
it all startedwhen six comrades,
united in the cause of socialism and
increasing the influence of the working
class, came stumbling out of a pub
meeting one night. One, Jack Beaty, an
idealist, is knocked-out by an angry
mob of Facists and he lapses into a
dream about a future with his party, the
British Labour Party, in power. It isn't
really a dream though. No, It's more
like a nightmE re. But is it even that?
Only the writer, Howard Brenton
could answer that correctly. His play,
Thirteenth Night is being performed by
the Brecht Company in the Residential
College Auditorium October 16 through
November 4. The Brecht Company, an
ensemble known for devoting itself
solely to the works of German
playwright Bertolt Brecht, has started
out into the realm of &-echt-based
works. Thirteenth Night and the Com-
pany's last production, Titanic
Cabaret, are examples of this.
Thirteenth. Night addresses the
dangers of power and, ultimtely, the
deadliness of it. In Jack Beaty's (Blake
Ratcliffe) nightmare, which mimicks
the plot of Shakespeare's Macbeth,
Beaty's comrade Bill Dunn (David
-Olson) comes to power as a represen-

tative of the working class, and im-
mediately turns into the same type of
oppressive dictator his predecessor
So, Beaty, urged on by his "political
wife" Jenny Gaze, (Barbara Thorne)
kills him and takes over. Beaty, too
loses sight of his goals once the power is
his, and goes about "shutting up"
anyone and everyone who disagrees
with him. "I don't have to move my
arms," he notes with delight and he's
right. But how right is he? In the end,
five of the six comrades are dead,
slaves to the power they fought to
Brecht Company has an extensive list
of talented people to its credit. As the
lead, Blake Ratcliffe went from man
with a mission, to a spineless, sexually
frustrated slave of Jenny Gaze, to a

power-hungry madman, and finally to
an oppressive killing machine.
U of M Music School graduate Kevin
Maloney, who arranged the music for
this production of Thirteenth Night,
should be commended. Recognizable
tunes scattered throughout the perfor-
mance helped to perk-up an otherwise
depressing theme. (I especially liked
the "California Here I Come" number.)
To say that Brecht Company does not
fair well with tragedies would be
wrong. St. Joan of the Stockyard, a suc-
cessful tragedy the troupe performed
last season is proof to the contrary.
Something's missing from Thirteenth
Night, though. Although a tragedy is
supposed to be devastating, Thirteenth
Night was almost too tragic. What St.
Joan had that Thirteenth Night did-
n't was a somewhat lighter tone at

The audience needs that kind of break
from tension now and then.
Somehow Thirteenth Night keeps us at
distance, not allowing the audience to
sympathize with the characters. That
is where Thirteenth Night goes wrong.
The Brecht Company is not at fault
here, though, except in choosing a play
with these inherent problems. The cast
of Thirteenth Night does well with
presenting a theme, in an arrangement
which is difficult at best.
Performances of Thirteenth Night
continue next weekend, Friday through
Sunday. Curtain times are 8:00 p.m. for
Friday and Saturday and 2:00 p.m. for
Sunday. Tickets are $5, with student,
senior, and group discounts available
for the Sunday performance only. FIqr
more information, call 995-0532.


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Playing the cello with Curtis

By Neil Galanter

Comfortably clad in army green cor-
derouys and sandals, 25-year-old cellist
Charles Curtis spoke of his reflections
on music and his career as a cellist.
Curtis was in Ann Arbor last week to per-
form at a School of Music concert with
pianist Heasook Rhee, a doctoral can-
didate. The recital, an extremely suc-
cessful one, to say the least, was in the
recital hall on Saturday, October 20.
The day before the concert, I had the
opportunity to talk with Curtis, which
proved to be a very enjoyable experien-
"There were actually two turning
points in my life when'I knew that I
would be a cellist. One was kind of in a
child's way when I was 12. It certainly
wasn't a rational conscious decision,
because I don't think any 12 year old
makes a rational conscious choice to do
a specific thing. The second turning
point was when I was already deep into
being a cellist after my career was
already advanced. At one point I also

had some doubts though, and I had to
reaffirm myself during what was a
very difficult period of self-
examination. That was between when I
was 21 and 22."
While he was in high school, Curtis
had other interests as well as the cello.
He claims he was never really very in-
terested in school but he enjoyed
reading and surfing a lot. "Practicing
the cello was the number one priority,
however, I never really had the patien-
ce to practice for more than 2 hours a
day." After high school and private
studies on the cello, Curtis enrolled at
the famed Juilliard School in New York
This is when his career as a cellist
really started to move. After he won the
Bach International Competition in
Washington, D.C at 18, he began
playing concerts all over the country
and Europe. It was the victory
in the competition that really
served as the springboard for a major
career, as so many competitions do for
"Competitions are a very difficult

subject. Basically, I don't feel good
about competitions at all. I disapprove
of them philosophically, but they are
really hard to get around if you really '
want to play concerts." Curtis feels that
one of the problems with competitions
is that what is rewarded in com-
petitions is not necessarily the most
rewarding performance for the audien-
ces or for ones own purposes. "There is
something very non-musical about get-
ting out on a stage and trying to play
better than another person to make
more of an impression. And frankly
when you come right down to it, that's
what you're up there doing."
We also talked about another major
problem that plagues so many perfbr-
maing artists today, and that is nerves.
"Nerves come about when you have the
wrong anxiety when you're afraid that
the audience is judging you.
And ideally the performance of music
should be completely devoid of
judgement. The act of performance
should be an act of "sharing". If ydu
are sharing, then there is no reason to
be nervous." Curtis says this attitude
has helped him in dealing with his ner-
ves and his ambition in performing is
that he just wants to play as well as he
possibly can and not play in order to
beat out someone else.
Curtis and Rhee shared their music
with an immense amount of feeling, ar-
ticulation and love on Saturday in their
recital at the school of music.
Throughout the entire program, Curtis
drew rich, resonant tones from his c-lo
that elicited scholarly playing %ith
enormous amounts of conviction.
Especially effective in the program
was the performance of Weber's
Three Little Pieces for Cello and Piano.
These three tiny pieces take up only two
pages of printed music'and they do not
last more than three minutes com-
bined; however, their abstractness and
musical compression form a very long
lasting intense musical effect on the
Curtis and Rhee also shared
generously in the Beethoven Sonata in g
minor for Cello and Piano, which was
the highlight of the program. From its
inception in the expressive Adagio
stright to the last playful bubbling
noites of the Rondo, the performance
proved itself definitive, persuasive and
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