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January 31, 1985 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 1985-01-31

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ARTS
The Michigan Daily Thursday, January 31, 1985 Page 5

::

Talking Heads film makes sense

...r - -

By Byron L. Bull
A T THE OPENING of Stop Making
Sense David Byrne, looking like a
cartoonist hybrid of Clark Kent and
Ralph Dramdem, strolls out onto an
empty stage. To the accompaniment of
a pounding rhythm machine he begins
an acoustic rendition of "Psycho
Killer" and suddenly his body is
surging with the beat; he sways, and
then begins to dance about the stage
lithely. Gradually, through successive
songs, the other eight band members of
the Talking Heads mount the stage as
their instruments are silently rolled out
on stage behind Byrne, who through it
all remains the focus of attention.
David Byrne is a performer with a
brillantly calculated stage presence, a
knack for pantomiming with an athletic
prowess that's part Charlie Chaplin
poeticism and part Pete Townshend
ferocity. During the course of the film a
friend leaned over and whispered,
"He's like a cartoon character!" and
Byrne does seem to have a physically
impossible elasticity, whipping himself
into snakeish gyrations, jogging around

the stage tirelessly. Byrne uses his
body like an animated graphic or a
prop.
Stop Making Sense is probably the
best concert film made, but it's
something much more. Director
Johnathan Demme (of Melvin And
Howard and the recent, disowned
Swing Shift) transcends documen-
tarianism to get his battery of cameras
completely around and in between the
performers, capturing the electricity of
the moment vividly and intimately.
The essence of Stop Making Sense is
what Byrne and his ensemble create on
stage, but Demme's ability to capture it
on film with such efficiency and sen-
sitivity is no small contribution. This
may be the first of a new form of film,
one created to match an existing soun-
dtrack.
The Talking Heads are one of the
most exciting bands currently working,
drawing upon a rich idiom of popular
musical styles from hard rock to funk to
gospel, their sound being dominated as
much by rich percussion as it is by elec-
tric guitars and synthesizers. The
staging of it live, as designed by Byrne,
likewise eclectically draws from sour-

ces such as Kabuki and modern per-
formance art. Byrne affects various
character gesturings from one song to
the next, and he and the band are per-
petually in motion, in a loose, ultra free-
form dance style.
Byrne uses a wide range of theatrical
embellishments, such as multiscreen
projection systems and imaginatively
stark lighting, and he uses them in-
telligently and sparsely so that the ar-
tifices always shadow the performers
and never dominate them (as occurs
with, say, Laurie Anderson). In
"Swamp," Byrne affects an ap-
propriately macabre mood through
simple scorched-red backlighting and
his suggestively sinister posturing; and
he just as simply conveys the
frustration and joys of romance in
"This Must Be The Place" by chasing
about and finally gently embracing an
erratically tilting prop table lamp (a
simple symbol of domesticity). The
staging gimmicks are not so concretely
anchored to the songs as they are
vaguely suggestive of them, like simple
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visual motifs that are a part of the
whole performance's ceremonious
design.
For all the theatricism, it's the
human element and the music that are
so invigorating and these are the source
of the film's warmth. There's an inten-
se rapport between the musicians
during their performance, a hell-bent
intensity to their jamming that keeps
building momentum like an avalanche
save for the one brief moment (that
may be the only miscalculation to the
show) when Byrne leaves the stage to
let the other band members do a Tom
Tom Club (a Talking Heads offshoot
band) number.
But when Byrne is onstage he's at the
eye of the maelstrom radiating energy
out and drawing it in. At one point, in
the heat of an instrumental dirge, the
camera captures Byrne dropping his
illusionist's cool for one brief moment
as he pauses, his whole body swaying to
the music, and lets his gaze wander
across the stage around him, taken
aback in genuine amazement that the
music has taken on a life all its own.
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David Byrne, lead singer, guitarist, and 99%of the Talking Heads' creativity,
dances in his fat man outfit for the group's new movie, 'Stop Making Sense.'

'MainStreet Comedy full of laughs and gags

By Emily Montgomery
WHEN WAS THE last time you
laughed? No, not just a snicker,
but a real laugh, a full-fledged, uncon-
trollable outburst. If you had to think
about it, then maybe you don't find
trudging to classes in a blizzard,
reading endless chapters of textbook
drivel, and spending a mint for the
privilege too amusing. Maybe you
need a place to get away from it all, a
chance to relax and laugh about life's
little idiosyncracies. The place for you
is The MainStreet Comedy Showcase.
The result of a brainstorm by co-
owners, comedienne Kirlkland Teeple
and brother-in-law Rog Feeny, the
Comedy Showcase was opened last
November in the top floor, former
banquet room, of the Heidelberg
Restaurant. Since the Heidelberg
All female cas
By Marlene Roth
E VER SINCE THE time of the Greeks
and their performances in the am-
phitheatre, the theatre has been
dominated by men. Part of the reason
can be directed at the playwrights who
created a majority of their roles for
them.
As with every generalization,
however, there are exceptions. Un-
comnion Women and Others, a play
written by Wendy Wasserstein, is one of
them.. The play, which begins a three
week run tomorrow night, features an
gall-women cast.
Wasserstein wrote Uncommon
Women, which had a long run off-
,*Broadway and starred Glenn Close
from the movie The Big Chill, in 1977. It
is an adult comedy that centers around
five women who reunite six years after
they graduated from Mount Holyoke
,University, a prestigious eastern school
for women.
When the women reflect back and
begin to reminisce about their last year
in college, the play flashes back to 1974
and their senior year at V4t. Holyoke.
The conclusion returns the characters

already had a liquor license for the
premises, setting up the bar and a stage
area were the only other major con-
siderations.
Co-owner Feeny refers to the type of
humor the club presents as "basically
clean, inventive humor, instead of
shocktype humor." They feature a new
headliner comic each week. This week
the spotlight will be shared by Tim
Rowlands and Tim Lilly. "They're two
of Detroit's premier comics," says
Feeny. Rowland performs a juggling-
humor combination.
One of the best known comics the club
will have in the near future is Ritch
Shydner, who has appeared on the
Tonight Show and David Letterman.
Shydner will be at MainStreet on
February 14th for the Valentine's Day
show.
Co-owner Kirkland Teeple functions
as the club's emcee for most shows.

Teeple: "I could always tell, as a child,
when my father was angry with me. I'd
read the list of chores he made up for
the day and it would say, 'Deb-
bie-wash the cat. Johnny-wash the
car. Kirkland-take all the trees in the
backyard and move them to the front
yard. Then move the driveway to the
other side of the house."
MainStreet is open each week, Wed-
nesday through Saturday night. There
are two shows on Fridays and Satur-
days, starting at 8:30 and 11:00 p.m.,
and one Wednesdays and Thursdays at
9:00 p.m.
Admission is $6, but there are
frequent specials. Wednesday night is
"open mike" night, which gives local
talents the opportunity to display their
wit. "It's a good place to come to try
out, because we won't book anyone we
haven't seen perform first," said
Feeny.

One indicator of how entertaining a
comedy club is is its popularity. Main-
Street Showcase is very entertaining,
meaning it's usually pretty crowded.
Advanced reservations are ardently
advised. They can be made very sim-
ply by calling 996-9080 and leaving your
name and the number in your party.
Seating for all shows begins one hour
before the showtime.

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t talks

locker r

to the present, 1980, where they focus on
the accomplishments and decisions
they have thus far made.
Wasserstein addresses in her play a
very valid dilemma facing women
today, especially college women: the
choice between a career, a family, or
both.
Uncommon Women has no set
changes but rather uses lighting for all
scene changes. Different areas of the
stage containing the different sets will
be illuminated for the various scenes.
The cast consists of several univer-
sity students, all prospective theatre
majors, along with six local actresses,
all of whom have appeared in local
theatre productions. Marilyn Kennedy,
who plays the house mother, performed
last spring in the Civic Theatre's
production of Hello Dolly. Susan
Filipiak, a member of the Gilbert and
Sullivan Society, has done extensive
work with the Mainstreet Theatre.
Among Wasserstein's works is the
current running off-Broadway hit, Isn't
It Romantic. The play has been well
received by both critics and theatre
goers.
The Ann Arbor Civic Theatre, spon-

room style
sored by theatre patrons, is a volunteer,
non-profit organization. The actors, ac-
tresses, directors, and all others in-
volved give their time to various
productions soley out of their own true
love for the theatre. Performances run
on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday
evenings at 8 p.m.
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