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February 18, 1986 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 1986-02-18

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The Michigan Daily

Tuesday, February 18, 1986

Page 5

"Exception' as rule

By Peter Batacan
SHUNNING the more conventional
*Jflatteries and panderings of
Valentine's Day, the Brecht Company
set out to conquer the audience with
their heartfelt performance of the
parable, The Exception and the Rule.
Urging not love of one's sweetheart,
but of truth and wisdom, they
arrested the audience in a truly
Brechtian "dialectical" fashion.
Whose wisdom and whose truth?
Brecht propounds no formulaic an-
swer. Laid in the wilderness of Outer
Mongolia, and the Gobi desert, the
play presents a situation that is
universal. The austerity and distance
of the setting provides a context in
which anything is possible-the moral
philosopher's laboratory.
The main action of the play, a
familiar tale of oppression, is
"estranged" in the Brechtian sense;
an imperialist merchant kills his
coolie in a mad oil-seeking expedition
across the "uninhabited desert of
Yahi." A trial ensues, a kangaroo
court presiding, and the merchant is
exonerated. Justice is served, the
coolie's hapless survivor's disserved.
Or so it seems.
Brecht portrays the patina of a
moral system which is fraught with
inconsistency and sophistry. The play
exposes the complex motives behind

human action, the self-deceptions and
rationalizations. The coolie, one of
the more sympathetic characters in
the play does a kindness to the tyran-
nical merchant, not out of
magnanimity, but mere expedience.
The merchant, a gonzo Social Dar-
winist, harps on the moral significant
of the struggle to discover his
precious oil, yet is incapable of coun-
tenancing his own motivations. He
slays the coolie out of an ambiguous
complex of motives-fear, anxiety,
pride and caprice.
Bob Brown, the director, explains
that Brecht "sublimates character to
situation," and the company so or-
dered their interpretation. The
players used several clever devices
to universalize character. They swit-
ched roles at the beginning of each
new act. Behind anonymous choral
masks, they assumed the universal
roles of oppressor and oppressed.
Distinctions were deliberately
True to the title of the play, the
team-playing anonymity of the cast
flouted the audience's expectations of
who was an "exception" and who, a
Adding much to the spectacle were
the Pakistani costumes and the score
by Peter W. Ferran. They provided a
nice conjunction of oriental mystery
with the strident boldness of
Dixieland Jazz-estranging overall.

In this dialectical parable the
players held their cards close, each
maneuvering to out-trump the other.
Brect leaves the audience with a
murder, and a sequence of punative
explanations, a moralist's algorithm,
as it were, without providing a closing
statement. The choral epilogue
brought all the actors on stage to
exhort the audience to arrive at their
own conclusions:
"But we ask you:
Even if it's not very strange, find it
Even if it is not usual, find it hard
to explain
Where here is common should
astonish you
What here's the rule, recognize as
an abuse
And where you have recognized an
Provide a remedy!"
An innovative post-performance in-
formal discussion, the players
engaged the audience in a rehashing
of the events of the play. We were
disabused by the "instant reply" of
complex actions in the play. The
discussion was every bit as in-
teresting as the play, a congruity that
would have, no doubt, pleased Brecht.
In one of his poems on the theatre,
Brecht encouraged his actors to
"make the experience of struggle the
property of all and transform justice
into a passion."

The Guarneri String Quartet returns tonight playing the full cycle of Beethoven String Quartets.
Beeth oven returns

Exh ibit celebrates BlackHistory

By Alan Paul
PERCEPTIONS and Expressions,
a Black Art Exhibit in celebration of
Black History Month, is on display at
the Union. The exhibit has two parts:
Exhibit 1, featuring the work of Ann
Arbor artists Terry Glenn and Earl
Jackson, will be on display in the
University Club throughout the mon-
th; the second exhibit, in the Union's
Pond Room, containing the work of six
University students, will end today.
Glenn's work is abstract - 4' by 4'
pieces made of sand and acrylic.
Jackson, 37, has been utilizing African
themes in his paintings for almost fif-
teen years. 'His seven exhibited
works, done over the last five years,
include "Giants of Jazz," a charcoal
tribute to black American musicians,

and six "African pieces."
Jackson has had his work exhibited
in the Afro-American Museum of the
History of Art in Detroit, the Museum
of Science and Industry in Chicago,
and the First International Art Con-
ference in Dakar, Senegal, in 1983.
"That conference (in Dakar) was
unbelievable - very exciting. Going
to Africa had a profound effect on my
work. Now, I want to try and shift my
focus to Afro-American themes. It's
time to draw on some of my experien-
ces," Jackson said.
"I think it's very important that Af-
ro- Americans understand their
history. That's why I prefer the term
to 'blacks,' " Jackson continued.
"Afro-American indicates what part
of the world we come from. 'Black'
was a stepping stone like colored or
Jackson's works include "Stolen

Legacy," an oil painting based on an-
cient Egyptian philosophy and
religion and how the Greeks who went
to Egypt to study, essentially stole
Egyptian ideas, which the Europeans
were credited for.
Another Jackson oil work is "The
Rainbow Legacy." This piece .is
trying to create a myth about how the
rainbow was created. It's a joyous,
upbeat picture with a huge festival
taking place on the ground and the
colors of the rainbow falling from the
sky," Jackson said.
Exhibit B features the work of
Alaiyo Bradshaw, Pedra Chaffers,
Colin Chase, Portia Hampton, Dorian
Moore, and Monique Strothers. All
six are graduate and undergraduate
students. The works range from
Bradshaw's watercolors and pencil
sketches to Chase's steel sculptures
and Chaffers' silk screens.

By Mike Gallan tin
F THE Guarneri String Quartet
is not a familiar group of perfor-
mers to Ann Arbor's audience by
now, they never will be. Tuesday's
performance will mark their 20th
Ann Arbor appearance and their
fourth in a series of six as they per-
form the complete cycle of the
Beethoven string quartets.
There is little need to sing the
praises of the Beethoven string
quartets. As a whole they represent
the pinnacle of classical music and
chamber music in particular. They
say as much about the development
of music from the classical to the
romantic period as they do about the
extraordinary life of Beethoven
himself. A great deal of commen-
tary considers the quartets in much
the same light as Rembrandt's self
portraits are seen. If broken down
into the three major periods of com-
position, one may trace a picture
which paints a thinly-disguised
autobiographical portrait of
Beethoven's spiritual and creative
The Beethoven quartets have
always been favorites with perfor-
mers as well as audiences, although
they inspire as much fear as ad-
miration. Many consider them
Beethoven's crowning achievement
with all else he had accomplished
before being but a preparation for
the consummate artistry of the later
quartets. Tuesday's performance
will feature two middle quartets and
one early work. The middle works
are the "Harp" quartet in E-flat
major op. 74 and the middle

Rasumowsky quartet in E minor,
opus 59 No. 2 while the early work is
in A major op. 18 No. 5.
Quartet No. X in E-flat major was
written only two years after op. 59;
nevertheless it reveals a fundamen-
tal change of thought as well as
form. Here we find none of the out-
ward brilliance of effect, the
deliberate objectivity and the pure
technical beauty of the three earlier
Rasumowsky quartets. Rather, one
sees mirrored in the music the dark
places of the artist's soul which
foreshadowed the late quartets'
mood. With the realization of what
life henceforward has to offer,
Beethoven's uncertainty disappears
and at this spiritual crisis he accepts
without flinching the inevitable
struggle that was always to be his
The middle Rasumowski quartet
in E minor is a. profound work
that also foreshadows in a stylistic
fashion some of the characteristics
ofthe late quartets.
Direct influences of Mozart and
Hayden permeate the six early
quartets in their rigid adherence to
form and balance and No. 5 in A
major is no exception. The Guarneri

quartet are well-known for their
precision and impeccable musician-
ship which makes even light-hearted
and more superficial works sound
mature and filled with meaning.
For more information on
Tuesday's concert at 8:00 at
Rackham auditorium contact the
University Musical Society at 665-


Informants may contact the
UM Dept. of Public Safety
anonymously if desired.
CALL (313) 763-3434

'Sco & Co. a fierce Ensemble

By arwulfarwulf
PiNotal point in the New Tradition
of Creative Improvised Music, thir-
ty-year veteran of countless ensem-
bles, and full-time enigma.
I say pivot because the entire
scene spun with him when he first
showed up in the mid-1960's. He's
Chicago. His stylings have become a
trademark of the Chicago scene, and
he stands at the very origins of the
Association for the Advancement of
Creative Musicians in Chicago.
Most of us have become aware of
this man through his cardinal in-
volvement in the Art Ensemble of
Chicago. A little scrutiny, however,
reveals a career which has touched
upon nearly every important in-
dividual in Creative Black Music
since 1965.
This quiet, mysterious man in
courdoroys came through Detroit
last Friday evening, and I wish
you'd have been there. The Sound

Ensemble is made of contrasting
ions, lining up guitarist A. Spencer
Barefield with the rhythm section of
the Griot Galaxy; Jaribu Shahid and Tani
Alongside Sco stood Michael
Philip Mossman, young spark of the
trumpet who recently shone at the
Ark with the Out Of The Blue
Band. His presence made for some
tremendous interaction with the
leader, and it seemed to be a nice
change of pace for the oft-straight-
haead Mossman.
There were some fierce textures
that evening, Tani using tabla
drums as well as the standard drum
kit, and Sco blowing flute, alto and
soprano saxophones.
The soprano is perhaps his most
frightening horn, more menacing
even than some of the contrabass
monstrosities he has toted in the

past. For it is with the soprano that
Sco delivers a spiral of circular
breathing which can keep itself
afloat for an indefinite stretch,
literally thousands of notes pasting
us out loud.
I was impressed with Barefield's
ability to toss in a perfectly ap-
propriate chord in the midst of a wry
cacophony which might have
derailed a lesser guitarist.
Apparently this ensemble has
several LPs in print, and I am
currently seeking these out in order
to give you a report on their wax. If
they've managed to capture the in-
credible energies we caught in con-
cert, you'll need to obtain some of
this fine stuff for your own daily con-

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