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January 21, 1986 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 1986-01-21

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ARTS

The Michigan Daily

Tuesday, January 21, 1986

Page 5

Political correctness doe

By Noelle Brower
WHEN WRITING specifically
about political issues for the

theatre, there is a fine line dividing a
sensitive, informed, and persuasive
drama from one that is heavy-handed
and narrowly conceived. Unfor-
tunately, last weekend's production of

Sun Pa in Athens

By arwulf arwulf
What's the best record ever
made by Sun Ra and his Arkestra?
No, I'm sorry.
The incredible diversity of ex-
pression makes it impossible to
evaluate this music in ordinary
terms, for this is no ordinary sub-
ject.
Sun Ra has been offering wildly
inspired visionary music for thirty
solid years now, and each disc
stands on its own as a testament of
Ra's brilliance, of his superhuman
poetic imagination.
I stumbled upon two new
releases on the Greek Praxis label,
and they offer an invigorating
glimpse of what Ra has been soun-
ding like in the other hemisphere.

and alerting the world with their
din.
Things suddenly fall into shape
with a rhythmic chant, "Children
of the Sun," featuring the familiar
call-and-response singing of Ra
and his Disciples. This shifts into
Ra's statement for the Eighties,
"Nuclear War," with cautionary
phrases like First comes the
heat/Then comes the BLAST,
and gentle chastisement (Don't
you care?)
Side One ends with a danceable
blues, with plenty of hand clapping
and reassurance. The second side
of this remarkable LP is truly a
perfect taste of the charismatic Ra
as we know him. "Fate in a
Pleasant Mood," first waxed in
1959, is conjured here with im-
maculate loving ease, and the in-
tergalactic wisdom is spelled
out:
Your destiny is in the hands
offate/
Allyou got to do/
Is to find fate in a pleasant
mood
Things shift once again into
powerfully interpreted traditional
jazz, as the Arkestra grinds out
Duke Ellington's "Lightnin"' and
John Gilmore takes a
frighteningly executed solo on
clarinet. Ra spent his appren-
ticeship working for Fletcher
Henderson long long ago, and at
times like these, it shows.
This incredible record finishes
with one of Sun Ra's many
theme songs, but perhaps the most
famous, "Space is the Place." The
Greek audience, enthralled as any
sincere audience anywhere would
be, receives this with enthusiastic
joy.
Nobody knows how many recor-
ds Sun Ra has made, but we'd bet-
ter place this among his very best.
An evening with Sun Ra can
change your whole life. Don't
miss the Sun Ra Arkestra live in
Ann Arbor, Sat. February 8 at
the Lydia Mendellsohn
Theater, brought to you by
Eclipse Jazz. Call 763-0046 for
details.

Children of Sandino at the Perfor-
mance Network, lost sight of this
precarious line.
Tracey Komarmy (of Tracy Lee
and the Leonards) opened the pre-
show singing a melodic adaptation of
Alice Walker's poem "Song,''
proclaiming us a many-colored color-
ful people. A nice, if simple raceless
sentiment.
Next, a series of songs (including
the gentle Nicaraguan national an-
them), poems, and moving personal
accounts presented by two men ser-
ved to establish a sort of camaraderie
between the audience and the perfor-
mers.
The second part of the evening, the
play Children of Sandino, was adapted
by local playwright Tami Spry from
the book Sandino's Daughters by
Margaret Randall. The book
documents the struggles of the women
in Nicaragua under the Somosa
government and their interaction and
co-operation with the Sandinist
National Liberation Front (FSLN(.
Randall herself collected the material
for the book from conversations with
these women, and also gave Spry her
endorsement for the adaptaion and
production.
The cast of eight, all dressed iniden-
tical fatigues and T-shirts, entered
chanting a kind of funeral dirge and
carrying large wooden sticks, which
were used throughout the performan-
ce to stop and start action and im-

h
sn't justify
mediately change scenes. Spry, who the audience
also directed the play, used this various journa
technique quite effectively. Nicaragua un
The plot centered on the story of cast plays dua
Mercedes, a young Nicaraguan girl, ween faceless
and follows her eventual change from and character:
a naive, idealistic girl to one ready to The story of
fight for the FSLN to overthrow the table and writ
Somosan government. terms, that the
Her decision to fight is a result of used to make
her growing awareness of the op- lacks in overal
pression of her family and friends. Ordinarily,,
The turning point comes when she keep myself f
finds her brother dead, a victim of his statements bu
collaboration with the FSLN, and her sial and diffict
friend Daisy brutally raped. play, I think i
The rape scene is one of the weakest personally sy
points of staging in the production. of human rig
Daisy, kneeling on the ground by the and it was no
body of Mercedes's dead brother, her that I viewed t
former lover, is found by the soldiers
who killed him.
A soldier stands above her while she
is lying tensely on the ground. As he
moves his hand slowly and
menacingly above her in the air,
symbolically raping her, the rest of
the cast, also on the floor, moves with
her. The government soldiers are
raping all of Nicaragua, symbolized
in the rape of Caisy, get it? But the
posturing and grimacing of the
soldiers was so overdone that it is
almost comical.
Declarations of gruesome facts ab-
out the Somosan government
periodically interrupt the story of
Mercedes. The cast members face

and quote details from
als about the horrors of
ider Somosa. Thus the
al roles alternating bet-
givers of information
s in Mercedes' saga.
Mercedes is so predic-
tten in black and white
ese factual "fillers" are
up for what the play
ll dramatic skill.
as a reviewer I try to
rom injecting personal
ut given the controver-
!lt subject matter of the
t is justified here. I am
mpathetic to the topics
;ts raised in this play,
ot with an ignorant eye
he production. But I ob-

poor theatre

ject to and criticize the manner in
which the material was presented.
The play's end was especially poor.
Facing the audience; the cast put
down their sticks, each naming a dif-
ferent country in which the U.S. has
had questionable involvement.
Is this a saga of human rights or a
comdemnation of the U.S? If Spry
had wanted to increase the public's
awareness of this issue she should not
have taken such a simple stance that
lacks objective insight into the
problem.
At its best, political theatre can ser-
ve as a forum for bringing attention to
serious issues; at its worst the
theatre's immediacy can be used
simply for propaganda. I wish the
author had paid more attention to the
former.

The Sun Ra Arkestra Meets
Salah Ragab in Egypt Plus the
Cairo Jazz Band, (Praxis CM 106)
is unnerving in itself, in light of
Ra's obsession with Egypt and its
relation to things astronomical.
The music itself is inside, withan
eastern edge. "Egypt Strut" soun-
ds a lot like Lee Morgan's
"Sidewinder." "Dawn" is more
like the Ra we know, with an
ominous glow to it. A beautiful
session, direct from Heliopolis in
Cairo.
I've only gotten my paws on the
first volume of The Sun Ra
Arkestra Live at the Praxis 84
festival (Praxis CM 108) at the Or-
pheus Theater in Athens, and I tell
you if volume two is anything like
the first, we're in for it.
This, like many live Ra albums,
is an excellent core sample of the
Arkestra's oscillating repertoire;
the first three minutes are pure
skronk and screech from reeds
and brass, stating their business

ll

presents-...

"SIGMUND FREUD
AND THE PROBLEM OF
JEWISH IDENTITY"

on gold rings from

mk4l",

Wednesday, Jan.22
7:30p.m. at Hillel
(admission $2.00)
Despite his powerful critique of religion, Freud believed that his
Jewishness was an essential element in his identity. In this presen-
tation Dr. David S. Ariel will explore Freud's views on Jewish
identity and his understanding of Jewish consciousness. Dr. Ariel
is President and Associate Professor of Judaic Studies at the
Cleveland College of Jewish Studies.

JO STENS
Stop by and see a Jostens
representative this week to save on the

gold ring of your choice.
Monday Jan. 20.-Friday Jan. 24, 11 am

to 4 pm

llil

li

51YEARS
MORE THAN A BOOKSTORE

1429 Hill St.

663-3336

z

Y' nN

549 E. University Ann Arbor, MI
(at the corner of East U. and

(313)662.3201
South U.)

8d

4

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