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October 29, 1986 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 1986-10-29

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Page 8- The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, October 29, 1986

Collaboration results in full theatre

This Thrusday, October 30, the
Department of Theatre and Drama's
professional theatre, Project Thea -
tre, will open its Fall season with a
highly stylized production of
Sophocles' classic drama OEDI -
PUS. In anticipation of this event
the Daily is running a series of
three articles covering various
aspects of the production itself and
the surrounding circumstances that
have brought it about. Today's

article is the second in the series.
By Noelle Brower
The practice of theatre is unique
among the arts because it borrows
ideas and styles from the various
disciplines and under the collective
title of 'theatre' it encompasses a
good portion of the performing arts:
dance, drama, performance art, and
so on. It is not an art that one can
practice alone, by its very nature it

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requires collaboration from among
the various arts, the degree
depending upon the complexity of
the project at hand.
Project Theatre's Fall presen -
tation, Sophocles' classic drama
Oedipus , has been a collaborative
effort among the several depart -
ments within the School of Music
since its very inception almost six
months ago. John Russell Brown,
the director of Oedipus, has
enlisted the help of several of the
University's most talented contri -
butors to the arts: dancer Peter
Sparling, designer G. W. Mercier,
and composer Todd Levin. All
three are in part responsible for the
production at hand, some working
together more than others, but all
coming together to bring about the
end product.
Peter Sparling is not only a
teacher within the Dance
Department, but one of the reasons
why the faculty dance troupe, Ann
Arbor Dance Works, sold out every
show here last year. Aside from his
University activities, Sparling is
also a principle dancer with the
Martha Graham dancers in New
York. Sparling found his own
inspiration in the "imagery of the

language," and tried to incorporate
his choreography within the images
themselves, though, as he explains,
this is a difficult process. "....how
to anticipate the language through
the movement, to set up what was
to be said in the next few minutes
by setting up a movement motif or
framework." But as he explaind,
the trick to acheiving this effect is
to weave the movements intricately
within this framework- making
them almost invisible. "The great -
est compliment someone could pay
me now would be that they didn't
notice that there was choreo -
graphy.....so that it actually became
one long ritual instead of scenes
framed by chorus ritual." he ex -
plained.
G.W. Mercier also aimed for a
universal famework in which to
contain the drama. As set designer,
Mercier wanted to place the story of
Oedipus in a context that would be
both accessible to the audience and
yet make them a bit uneasy. "The
challenge became making a space
that a ritual could occur in," he
said. He wanted to find an at -
mosphere that was applicable to
both ancient and modern times, one
that could serve as a link between
the two. He has since created a
powerful set that aptly captures the
grandure of the drama on stage
while at the same time becoming
threatening to the audience; one is
aware of the set at all times during
the performance almost anticipating
its coming to life. The mirrored
background, reminiscent of one of
those towering monster buildings
that one finds in all major cities,
serves as a reflection not only of
the characters on stage, but the
audience as well, drawing them into

Doily Photo by SCOTT LITUCHY
Director John Russell Brown confers with composer Todd Levin and
choreographer Peter Sparling during a rehearsal of 'Oedipus.'

611%,-

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the drama. "I started playing with
the idea that you're seeing what you
might not want to see, just like
Oedipus is, he's looking, but he's
seeing what he wants to see....that
reflective quality is fascinating to
me, the audience is as important a
part of this production as the
players are," said Mercier.
Throughout the production one
hears a pulsating beat that, while
almost inaudable, nonetheless
seems to both tie the production
together and foreshadow the tragedy
to come. Todd Levin is a doctoral
student at the University's School
of Music and has composed the
musical accompaniment using only
percussion instruments. Though he
didn't see the need to use authentic
instruments; he did'nt want to use
instruemtns or sounds that the

Greeks wouldn't have had access to.
Instead, he wanted to convey the
feeling of a continuous "heartbeat"
throughout the production to serve
as a constant thread of tension.
However, where most so-called
soundtrack music and musical
accompaniment in general tend to
use silence as the background upon
which instruments are played for
emphasis, Levin has reversed this
process by keeping the continuous
background beat throughout the
production until Oedipus is
blinded. For Levin, the silence is
the emphasis.
The current production of
Oedipus has ustilized the resources
of the University in full. The
creative collaboration of design,
choreography and music has
resulted in a production of many
dimensions.

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i

Records
(Continued from Page )
The Lucy Show
Mania
Big Time
The precocious major-label
debut for anup-and-coming new
band can be an elusive mark. Apart
from the rare a-has or Hooters who ,
move straight out of obscurity into
mainstream chart success, there are
the groups like Del Amitri or The
Lucy Show, whose impressive big-
league debut albums scored with
more critics than cash registers. It,

can be even tougher, after the
Cinderella story has been dashed, to
move backwards into the struggling
masses of indie outfits they'd
emerged from.
The Lucy Show have already
bounced back, moving from A&M
to, ironically, Big Time Records,
returning in less than a year with a
strong sophomore LP. This record,
Mania, proves that this baud's got
more going for it than just a swell
name.
They build-a dramatic, densely,
colored sound -- a foundation of big
minor-key guitar chords and rich
keyboards textures which bristles
with quick drums and crisp lines of
melody. It can be reminiscent of
many stylists; notice the powerful
guitar attack of Let's Active or
R.E.M. on "Land and the Life," the
Bunnymen theatrics of "Sun and
Moon," and the Simple Minds-like
sense of space on "New Message."
Thankfully, though, The Lucy
Show can incorporate these touch es
without sounding like imitators, as
they craft a distinctive sound all

their own.
It surges with spine-tingling
riffs, , worked out of tense
atmospherics and driving lines of
wide-screen guitars, creating an
arresting sense of urgency. John
Leckie's expansive production suits
their otherworldliness well, but at
times it seems that the Show are
about to get lost within the
burgeoning complexity of their
own arrangements, as the clarity of
Rob Vandeven's earnest vocals gets
swallowed up by a quicksand of
sound. This band is at it's best
when it sharpens the melodic focus
of it's songs, as in the crisp, invi -
gorating "New Message."
As Vandeven observes in a
"View from the Outside","It's a
sign of the times/ There's a lot to
be said for hitting back/ and hitting
again". Despite the typical second-
album shortage of tunes, The Lucy
Show hits back hard with this
record, reaffirming their big-time
talent.
--Michael Fischer

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