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September 18, 1986 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1986-09-18

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The Michigan Daily

Thursday, September 18, 1986

Page 5

Two women awaken in

'night Mother'

By Noelle Brower
A mother and daughter are
spending a quiet evening together
at home. The daughter, Jessie, is
in her mid-thirties, divorced and
has just begun to feel in the last
year that she has finally taken
charge of her life. Normally
reticent and withdrawn, on this
evening she is talkative--almost
This scene of familial life is
certainly not an uncommon one
for many except for the fact that
on this night Jessie declares to her
. mother that she intends to take the
final step in becoming her own
person; she states at the outset of
the play that she will take her own
life by the end of the evening.

'night Mother, the Pulitzer
Prize-winning drama by Marsha
Norman, cuts through the usual
layers of melodramatic outbursts
and cliches that revolve around
the quest for self-identity and
focuses upon Jessie's struggle
both within and without to become
responsible for herself. "It's a
play about intention being the
motivating factor in creating a
sense of self," says director R.
Neil Alexander of the thematic
pulse that drives the piece.
As 'night Mother unfolds, a
battle between Jessie and Momma
ensues. But as Jessie argues
against her mother's pleas not to
take her own life, one realizes
that Jessie is really battling for

her life and her right to do with it
what she pleases. Whether she
chooses to kill herself or not is
actually secondary to the themes
of self-realization and growth
involved in the play. "It (sui -
cide) is an act of her own self-
determination and resolve to take
her life into her own hands--to be
responsible and acknowledge
that she has dignity," explains
Alexander. During the course of
the play suicide becomes the only
option for Jessie--her last stand.
It is the first act that she has
decided to commit on her own,
and certainly dying is an act that
must be performed alone.
At first stupefied by her
daughter's strange declaration,

the mother soon rallies to save
Jessie from her decision. But
Momma learns about herself as
well and must allow her daughter
her own life. Both Momma and
Jessie had to make concessions in
their lives to get by. Stated
Alexander, "(Momma) comes to
an understanding of herself; she
has always been in the same
situation as Jessie and has made
peace with it whereas Jessie has
not. They both take a step
forward." In fact, it is out of a
tremendous love for her mother
that Jessie decides to tell her of her
decision to kill herself, knowing
full well what her mother's
reaction will be.
Most of us do not know when we

will die; for some it is like living
with a time bomb, for others it is a
godsend. Though the idea of
suicide is never one to be taken
lightly or encouraged for self-
realization, a life is liberated in
'night Mother. Jessie decides to
live her life and death with
dignity. Alexander and his cast
of two have tried to rely this
feeling of calm. "My purpose and
my concept is to create as best as
possible a sense of peace within
Jessie. It becomes a half-
acceptance for Momma--finding
out a lot about Jessie." Jessie and
Momma reconcile their lives
together and in doing so free
themselves. There is joy in
Jessie's decision.

Ann Arbor Civic Theatre's
production of 'night Mother
exemplifies the new direction the
group is heading in. This
production at their Main Street
stage (the forum AACT uses for
their more avant-garde pro-
ductions as opposed to the more
mainstream fare of the Main
Stage productions), is their flag-
ship for the season, and future, to
,night Mother opens tonight at
the Ann Arbor Civic Theatre
located at 338 S. Main.
Performances will be September.
19-21 & 25-27 and October 2-4. For
more information call: 662-7282.

- ----------

Hardbodies IIs soft on quality,


By Geoffrey Riklin

A dishonest bunch of people are
behind AMC theaters. Their
intense, self-congratulatory
introduction to their marvelous
chain boasted of showing the
finest films. Perhaps they
consider Hardbodies II fine
entertainment. If they do, I would
advise all those who own stock in
AMC or its parent company to sell
it at once, for such appalling bad
taste in film certainly indicates a
profound lack of judgement,
which will result in inevitable
Screen art
at Museum
By Elena Deutsch
3eing only steps away from the
Union and Angell Hall, the Un-
iversity Museum of Art is readily
available for a brief or extended
xisit.t A further incentive to walk
through the doors may be the
hibit of Oriental screens in the
West Gallery, which will be
showing until October 26.
As one enters the gallery, he finds
himself in a comfortable room.
Plush carpeting and warm lights
illuminate a variety of screens
that line the walls. Many of the
screens are from the Japanese
Edo period, with a few from China
and India adding variety to the
Screens became very popular in
Japan in the fifteenth and six-
ateenth centuries. During that per-
iod, the Japanese war lords, or
shoguns," built great estates.
They would decorate their rooms
with mats and screens comis-
sioned by popular artists. The
screens served outdoor functions
as well, marking off the lord's
"turf' in the garden. Marshall
Wu; the curator of Asian Art at the
Museum, explained the screen's
function as decorative and defi-
nitive of status. "The one sitting
in front of the screen is the lord. It
is similar to two people in a room
with one seated behind a desk and
the other merely standing before
The Edo Period, which produced
one of the largest collections of
Japanese art as well as screens,
ranges from 1615 to 1868. Many
different schools of decoration
came, went and co-existed during
the two-and-a-half century per-
iod. One of these, the Kano
School, used a highly decorative
style with bright color pigments
depicting realistic scenes in na-
ture. The detail is very precise,
the work highly stylized, and the
effect very serene.
Another style of screen
decorating is the Naga school. In
this style black ink predominates
the palate. Color is used rarely
and sparingly. The exhibit
houses three pieces by Keno
Taiga, one of the masters of
Japanese Naga screen painting.
In one of his single screen works,
A Mountain Landscape with a
Waterfall, one side of the panel is
done in tremendous detail, solely
in black ink. On the other side,
s flrgcnif (knvkuran nainted

financial disaster for AMC. But
of course they don't regard
Hardbodies II to be fine enter-
ainment; it's simply an easy way
to make a buck.
There is nothing the least bit
in-teresting about Hardbodies H
itself, but it does provide the
opportunity to make a few
observations. (If you must know,
the plot is as follows: a film cast
and crew go to Greece and many
hijinks ensue. The whole thing
is just an excuse to reveal several
dozen sets of breasts.) The first
observation is that while there
have always been and always
will be cheap, rotten movies,
many of the cheap rotten movies of
the past ten years or so display a
certain amount of sheer

meanness. Not meanness that is
intrinsic to the plot and can have
artistic justification, or the I-
or-not attitude of some directors
and producers in past and present
(once again that is inevitable).
I'm referring to overtly
exploitative meanness. The
backers of Hard-bodies II will, it's
safe to assume, make a profit
from it. The people who actually
made the thing got their
paychecks. But was the reward--
both the financial reward (and it
must have been miserly) and the
reward in publicity--
commensurate with the
humiliation that the women in
par-ticular endured? The answer
is no.

Until about ten years ago when
the current enthusiasm for nudity
and mad slasher movies began,
an as-piring actor, actress,
director, writer, whatever, cut his
teeth making mo-vies as bad, or
nearly so, as Hard-bodies II. But
much more often than not, the cast
and crew could chalk it up as the
unavoidable first step, something
they perhaps learned from and
would be able to laugh about in
retrospect. Will the women who
hu-miliated themselves, or at the
very least were humiliated, or the
men who fared not much better, be
able to laugh about Hardbodies IL?
Again, the answer is no. Call it
As far as the audience is
concerned, with one or two

in plot
movie lasted roughly 90 minutes.
On the way out one of them
muttered something about get-
ting ripped off. I couldn't agree

exceptions, they were all
teenagers looking for some fun
on a Saturday night. They
laughed four or five times , a
dismal number considering the


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