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October 28, 1986 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 1986-10-28

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ARTS

The Michigan Daily

Tuesday, October 28, 1986

Page 5

A classic symbol crowns a new direction

This Thursday, October 30, the
Department of Theatre and Drama's
professional theatre program,
Project Theatre, will open its Fall
season with a highly stylized
production of Sophocles' classic
drama OEDIPUS. In anticipation
of this event, the Daily will run a
series of three articles covering
various aspects of the production
itself and the surrounding
circumstances that have brought it
about.
By Noelle Brower
4 Upon his arrival as the new
chairman of the Department of
Theatre and Drama last Fall, John
Russell Brown found a department
that had fallen behind the times;
R- one that needed to be cleaned up
before it could go forward. At the
time both the Dance Department
and the Department of Theatre and
Drama had recently been brought
. under the collective umbrella of the
School of Music, so it was an
appropriate time for a new
beginning.
From the start, Project Theatre
has taken risks. Last year's two
productions, The Daughter-in-Law
and Antique Pink, were uncon -
ventional in both style and subject
matter, anticipating the course that
Project Theatre has set for itself.
The current production of Oedipus ,
a production of mighty proportions,
follows this newly established
tradition. If the necessary steps and
trial by fire had not taken place last
year, chances are that the present
production, with its larger-than-life
scale, would not have been
possible.
But what exactly is Project
Daily Photo by SCOTT LITUCHY Theatre? Two things, really. First
of all, it is a forum bringing theatre
John Russell Brown pauses for a moment during the production of professionals, mostly from the New
Project Theatre's long-awaited Fall presentation of Sophocles' drama York area, to Ann Arbor for the
'Oedipus' which opens this Thursday at The Lydia Mendelssohn theatre. duration of a collaborative produc -

tion. Secondly, with this pro -
fessional, streamlined approach,
Project Theatre should serve as an
example of quality theatre from
which students in the Theatre
Department can learn.
Dr. Brown presents an apt
analogy:
"I want a professional theatre
here the way an English Depart -
ment wants books in its library.
You must study what you're doing..
It's very important for an English
student to learn how to write and
study novels and poems, of course
the two go hand in hand. When it
comes to theatre, you can't study it
from a book, you must see it come
to life."
This is the heart of Project
Theatre. During the production
period, departmental students have
access to both the rehearsals and the
performers themselves. The actors,
in turn, visit undergraduate classes
to discuss the production, their
roles in it and to answer any
questions the students might have.
Thus the actors are not just actors,
but serve as instructors, as well.
"I hope it will serve the
University as a whole," explains
Brown, "like an art gallery.
Bringing Oedipus is like building
the Taj Mahal in the middle of
campus for a week. The attempt to
do Oedipus is exciting. However
successful or unsuccessful it turns
out to be, it surely is interesting. I
hope Project Theatre serves the
University as a whole and the
community, as well. I would hope
that it could turn into a regional
theatre."
In its attempt to regroup, the
Department of Theatre and Drama
has stressed the reinforcement of its
undergraduate program. "We now
have Benedict Nightingale as our
associate chairman for the under -
graduate program," explains Dr.

Brown. "Now I've got someone to
give full-time attention to the
undergraduate program. We're do -
ing it together, but he's taking the
lead."
One of the most exciting
implementations of Brown's admin -
istration has been the reopening up
of the Arena stage in the Frieze
Building for the exclusive use of
undergraduate students. Hillary
Cohen, an acting and directing
teacher within the department, is in
charge of this program and says that
the response among students has
been enthusiastic. "We're really
pleased with the amount of
response we've had from students
who are interested in directing their
own projects," she says. Cohen cu -
rrently has two student productions
scheduled for this Fall. "Our hope
is that we'll have something going
every couple of weeks either during
Winter term or looking ahead to
next year so that there are student
productions all the time," she
explained.
Presently, the Department of
Theatre and Drama is comprised of
two parts: Project Theatre and
University Productions. The latter
heads productions by the University
Players, the School of Music-Opera
and the Dance Department. Need -
less to say, this has been a busy
year for University Productions et.
al. with two successful University
Players shows under their belt so
far, and a dance concert, opera,
black theatre workshop presentation
and a Shakespearean production all
in the near future. Oedipus is a test
of sorts for the department' as a

whole. Not only is it a col -
laborative effort among the various
departments within the School of
Music, but it is also the first in a
series of three productions that
Project Theatre will oversee in the
coming year.
There is whispering in the air
around the Department of Theatre
and Drama, an excitement sug -
gesting that things are finally
rolling in the right direction after a
year of hard, hard work. Hopefully,
this week's production of Oedipus
will only confirm what the rumors
say.
Prime Rib
Dinner
ONLY
includes:
7 oz. Prime Rib
choice of potato
ONLY AT
TUESDAYS 338-S. State
4:30 -10:00

No depth ound n Soul Man'

Art of Truth-Making
method in
Early Chinese Philosophy
ROBERT ENO
INDIANA UNIVERSITY
Center for Chinese Studies
Brown Bag Lunch
OCTOBER 28, 1986,12:00 NOON
LANE HALL COMMONS ROOM
p}

By Brian Hall
What a silly cat am I that cannot
write a simple review of a
seemingly simple movie? Soul
Man initially appears as the run-of-
the-mill tits and zits flick for the
college crowd; just the type of film
serious-minded students engaged in
the pursuit of a little happiness find
so refreshing at this point in the
semester. (Hey, Hollywood under -
stands us.) However, Soul Man
transcends the normal October
movie fare by trying to tackle the
serious problem of racism while
still remaining a comedy.
Soul Man is about your typical
college student, Mark Watson
(played by C. ThomaskHowell)
He smokes pot, screws a lot; owns
a great stereo system, and has a
hate-hate relationship with his
alarm clock. Mark and his best
friendGordon (Ayre Gross) get
accepted into that 'other' law
school. Life is kind. Unfor -
tunately, one small problem arises.
Mark's parents decide they no
longer wish to fund their son's
educational endeavors. Can you
relate?
Unable to beg or borrow the
money, Mark is emancipated by a
scholarship that will go to the most
qualified black applicant. No prob -
lem. And faster than you can say

the movie, it's hard to picture him
as ever having been white. Chong
is pretty good, and Gross, who
plays Gordon with total party-
animal fervor, is the film's
unofficial scene-stealer. Sadly, the
only sore spot in the actin category
is from the usually superb James
Earl Jones. His black John House -
man character looks awfully silly.
So, here it is: decent acting,
laughs, sex and general college
debauchery. What more could any -
one ask for? Well, now comes the
difficult part. Being a psuedo-
intellectual, I assume I would enjoy
a film that tries to preach about the
evils of racism. I did not. Not
only does it make this often
amusing film appear far too
pretentious, it blindly exposes the
writers' own cultural biases. In
telling the viewer to beware of
racism, the film offers up an entire
slew of stereotypes: the rich are all
snobs, the 'Havad' student body is a
bunch of preppy jerks, all whites
are racist, and Eastern women want
nothing but sex. Furthermore,
Sarah, the 'true' black person, is
single and has a child. Give me a
break.
Soul Man is an average mindless
film that tries to be more than it
really is-a simple comedy.
Viewed as such it can be quite
enjoyable. Viewed as anything
else, it can be very irritating. I
guess that wasn't so hard after all.

QUESTIONS ABOUT
LAW SCHOOL?
The Undergraduate Law Club
presents
A panel of law students to answer
your questions about law school.
TODAY,
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 28th
7P.M. Kunzel Room of The Michigan Union

C. Thomas Howell, before and after, takes the lead in 'Soul Man.'

Affirmative Action, Mark (who
now looks like Michael Jackson in
The Wiz) is off the'Harvard. "This
is the Cosby decade," he tells a
skeptical Gordon.
Mark is in for more than he
bargained for however, as he
quickly becomes the brunt of a very
racist community. Cops harrass
him, basketball coaches fight over
him, and white women fantasize
about him. To further complicate
matters, he falls in love with black
student Sarah Walker (Rae Dawn
Chong.)
It is quite funny watching Mark
try and act the way he believes

blacks act. It's like having Gene
Wilder and Richard Pryor in one
person. Unfortunately, watching
his racial awakening is not quite so
enjoyable. Director Steve Miner,
who must have graduated from the
Smurt's School of Subtlety, fol -
lows Mark's progress by showing
him relaxing in a chair with a
basketball in his hands, and by
having him begin to dislike the
Beach- Boys. Ingmar Bergman must
be off somewhere killing himself.
Despite this nauseating dir -
ecting, Soul Man is a pretty good
flick. Howell pulls off the dual
role quite well, and by the end of

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for Halloween
fright and fun!

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