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September 06, 1984 - Image 65

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1984-09-06

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By Gordon Jay Frost
T HIS TOWN'S theater is a lot like
dorm food. Even though none of it
is truly gourmet fare, there's more than
enough variety to survive.
Whether it is Broadway tours,
University groups, part-time
professionals, or just a bunch of kids
who think they can put on a show, Ann
Arbor has many opportunities for you
as either spectator or participant in
modern drama, musical comedy,
knockabout farce, and Shakespearean
At the University, top of the line is the
Professional Theatre Program. In ter-
ms of talent, backing, and output this
group is very impressive, producing
large cast, traditional dramas at the
Power Center.
The Michigan Ensemble Theatre is
also University based Equity company
that performs many well-regarded
productions. Although the critics may
not give the best reviews to shows from
these two companies, that seems
largely due to the more critical eye un-
der which they are viewed. Ticket
prices for their performances may be
among the highest in town, but it is
usually worth a bit more for a night out
at real theater.
Recognized more often for the size
and expense of their shows than for
talent and style is the University Ac-
tivities Center's MUSKET and
SophSHOW. Both of these troupes are
for students who want to be a part of the
world of drama but aren't theater
majors. This year MUSKET is planning
South Pacific for their fall show and
Pippin in the spring. Though some may
say that these provide training for
future Broadway failures, it is more
likely that you will be surprised by the
amount of talent mustered for these
At the lower end of the University
drama spectrum, in terms of funds not
talent, are two groups that operate out
of East Quad. The Residential College
Players have been in existence for 11
years and in that time have presented a

Theater: Lighting up the stage.
great variety of educational and com-
mercial productions. Some of their
recent stagings included a series of one-
act plays and a co-production with the
musical theater program. Because of
their location in East Quad and their
personnel drawn from the Residential
College program, the players represent
some of the cheapest and most
interesting theater available.
The other East Quad group, an
outgrowth of the RC Players, is the
Brecht Company. Though named after
Brecht, the company is quite willing to
perform works by other playwrights,
and quite often manages to put more
thought - less so talent - into their
works than anyone else in town.
The Ann Arbor Civic Theater is the
place to go for those with a more com-
merical taste in drama. This com-
munity theater is uneven but hard-
working, producing a variety of works
that are familiar and enjoyable.
The Canterbury House not only puts
on plays in the Lydia Mendhelssohn
Theater classes, works in progress,
Campus Meet the Press, and even
Episcopal worship services. In Oc-
tober, Canterbury House will co-
sponsor the Ann Arbor visit of the San
Francisco Mime Troupe for a produc-
tion of Steel Town.

An important outlet for minority ac-
tors is the Creative Ensemble Com-
pany, producing such plays as A Raisin
in the Sun, and is a refreshing alter-
native to the predominately -white,
male theater performed everywhere
In addition to these production com-
panies, many other smaller groups like
the Common Ground Theater Ensem-
ble. Pigs with Wings, Productions, and

the Street Light Theater offer their own
brand of theater which is often tasteful,
provocative, and mobile. Watch for
All in all, the present mix of large and
small organizations should provide a
great year for participants and audien-
ces alike. Consider yourself lucky; The
dorm food is just as bad in Lansing, but
who's ever heard of theater at MSU.

F 0 L
Folk for
By Joe Kraus
SOME ARKS get raided; some get
boarded two by two.
But Ann Arbor's Ark doesn't need to
be raided or boarded - for it is the
city's premier showplace for folk
From the outside the Ark looks very
much like any of the other houses on
Hill Street. It would be easy to pass by it
without noticing - but none of its
neighbors schedule quite the enter-
tainment that it does.
The Ark has music. Mostly folk, but \
folk is such a broad term that no two
shows are similar. Don't be surprised if 'Madcat' Ruth: A man and his harmonica.
one evening offers wild harmonica
playing, the next guitar-accompanied to either rent or sell the building. well last year. "I was thrilled. That was same tim
protest singing, and the night after that Although the additional financial very good and it was very steady," said people.
old-fashioned country fiddling. responsibility of having to make hefty Siglin.
The overseer of this cornucopia of rent payments threatens the Ark, it Each year the Ark has a handful of This ye
sound is Dave Siglin, the Ark's director isn't moving out of its old home just yet. major fundraisers. The granddaddy is one for th
for the past fifteen years. Siglin, more Siglin said: "We stayed here because we its Ann Arbor Folk Festival held at the feature a I
than anyone else, has seen the cof- have been here fifteen years . . . what Michigan Theatre. Coming up on its nights of t
feehouse grow into one of the country's we have to find out is, is this place eighth year, the festival annually managesk
most respected folk arenas. viable for the future. If it isn't, we won't features several of the biggest names in formers k
The Ark was founded in 1965 by a buy it." folk music from across the country. world (sti
coalition of four churches. Its original Financial crises are nothing new to Dave Bromberg has appeared at most Sebastien
purpose was to serve as a church cof- the Ark. "The Ark was always a small of them, and in addition the likes of the qualit
feehouse and showcase for local bands business that was almost on the brink of Tom Paxton, John Hartford, Steve opens its d
of any type. Two years later, Siglin and disaster; unlike other small businesses, Goodman, and John Prine have ap- Many p
his wife, Linda, took over the operation it survived," said Siglin. Since peared as well. their list
and ran it as a team until last year separating from the church, the Ark's Next on its list of regular fundraisers graduating
when Linda was forced, for financial board of directors has taken a more ac- are the Ark's semi-annual Pub Sings. don't wait
reasons, to take on another job. tive role. The result has been a more Featuring Guiness beer and wild folk for a Thui
The First Presbyterian Church still solid financial base. According to music under a tent in the front yard, the and Blues
owns the building and up until last year Siglin, the Ark averaged 83 percent of- festive affairs manage to raise a sub- the Ark so
the Ark was allowed to stay rent-free. capacity for 1983, and continued to do stantial amount of money, while at the back man:
Unfortunately, the church then decided
is :.A
The Michigan Daily Thursday, Sep

The Brecht Company: Playing for time.
Page 12E- The Michigan Daily - Thursday, September 6, 1984

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