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January 29, 1987 - Image 8

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1987-01-29

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The Michigan Daily

Thursday, January 29, 1987

Page E

Bernstein's 'Mass' for a blessed event

By John Ganun
For the past few days the stage of
the newly gilded Michigan Theater
has looked like a contrived scene
from a Hollywood musical:
dancers, singers, directors,
managers, technicians, and
designers all working in the same
place at the same time. For the for -
mal rededication of the Michigan,
Pennisula Productions has gathered
two choirs (totaling 77 members),
an orchestra which serves as a rock
band, blues band, and symphony

orchestra (another 45 artists), an 8
member dance company, 15
singing actors, and dozens of
technicians, directors, managers and
assistants to perform a piece not
widely known, Leornard Bernstein's
Why a Mass for the rededication
of a theater? Well, actually it's not
a Mass. The subtitle defines it as A
Theatre Piece For Singers, Players,
and Dancers . Director Bob Chapel
explains, "This is a theatrepiece
that I want to treat, first and
foremost, as a piece of theatre. We
are not attempting to create or

The English Composition Board's
With the number of computers on campus
ever increasing, more and more students are
"writing" their papers on word processors.
Maybe you are one of them. But are you
really writing with a computer or are you using
your favorite Zenith or IBM PC as an ex-
pensive correctable electronic typewriter?
d The second Academic Writing Series work-
N shop of Winter 1987 will introduce students to
writing with word processors. ECB lecturers
Jan Armon, Emily Jessup, and Michael Marx
will conduct a hands-on demonstration of how
writers can easily use computers to assist in
planning papers, organizing a text, and revis-
ing effectively and efficiently. The workshop
will use Microsoft Word and Zenith PCs.
Enrollment is limited to 50 participants.
Please sign up in advance at the ECB,
1025 Angell.
4:10 - 5:30
4th Floor, Undergraduate Library

recreate a Mass, but a story,
abstract as it is, about a young
man, chosen by his people to lead
them in their faith, who gets caught
up in the trappings and ritual of
that faith, and thereby drifts farther
away from the very people he has
been chosen to serve."
Beyond Mass being a theatre
piece, it is also the work Leonard
Bernstein created after Jacqueline
Kennedy Onassis requested he write
something for the gala opening of
the John F. Kennedy Center for the
Performing Arts Washington D. C.
To use Mass for the rededication
of the Michigan is a nice
idea-though it's not quite the
same event as the opening of the
$70 million Kennedy Center. Not
only is Mass an entertaining,
provocative show, but it is also
serving as a unifier of many of Ann
Arbor's cultural resources, in -
cluding the Ann Arbor Civic
Theatre, Symphony Orchestra, and
Cantata Singers, the J. Parker
Copley Dancers, and many area and
university performers. The number
and variety of performers involved
will inevitably draw a large, varied
crowd, but it would be hard to top
the crowd at the first opening of
Mass at the Kennedy Center on
September 15, 1971.
Mass drew a Who's Who
The Dept. of Asian Languages
& Cultures
A Public Lecture on
Bhavaviveka's Vision of Reality:
Associate Professor of the History of
Religion at Harvard Divinity School.
A specialist in Buddhist Philosophy, he
is the author of a study of the Buddhist
scholar Jnanagarbha.
When: Thursday, January 29
Time: 4:00 pm
Where: Lane Hal Commons Room

audience of Washington D. C.,
including President Nixon and, of
course, practically the entire
"Kennedy clan." The September 20,
'71 issue of Time quoted Mother
Rose Kennedy's impression of
Bernstein's work, "Jack would have
loved it," along with other mixed
views, including Alice Roosevelt
Longworth's (Teddy's daughter), "I
liked Hair better." The crowd, and
indeed the Kennedy Center itself,
attracted more attention than the
show itself.
All the hoopla did not
completely overshadow the
controversy created by Mass .
Bernstein's excellence as one of the
world's finest composers and
conductors is undeniable; in 1943
he became one of the youngest men
ever to conduct the New York Phil-
harmonic. In addition, he has
written the scores for several
Broadway hits, including On The
Town , Candide , and West Side
Story , and has enjoyed success
writing ballets as well as
symphonies. His views on the

Roman Catholic Mass are not as
popular. With his collaborator Ste -
phen Schwartz (lyricist of Pippin
and Godspell ), Bernstein has added
to the liturgy of the Mass his inter -
pretations, comments, and
questions, much to the like and
dislike of Catholics who question
any tampering with the sacred Mass
by someone who is not even
Catholic. With the added text,
Bernstein and Schwartz create a
story which reflects on, and is
reflected upon, by the traditional
Bernstein's ingenuity in
creating a theatre piece from the
Mass is the work of a truly creative
man whose soul-searching has led
him to his own deep feelings on
what faith is. His work in Mass
reflects his concern for the lack of
faith in modern society. Chorus
member Jeffrey Donner, a priest and
theologian himself, finds
Bernstein's views very open not
only for believers, but also for non-
believers as well. "...He
(Bernstein) takes agnosticism and

atheism seriously; but in doing so
he wonders if there isn't something
of faith itself stirring in these
positions. Might they themselves
serve to protect something vital to
the experience of faith? Bernstein's
hunch is that they do."
The only obstacle for some
audience members to understand the
show entirely would be not having
a basic knowledge of the Catholic
Mass. While English is used for the
commentary and storyline developed
by Schwartz and Bernstein, the
actual Mass is sung in the orthodox
latin. One can easily comprehend
the story without knowing what a
Mass is, but without this
knowledge its significance cannot
be fully understood.
This mammoth production of
Bernstein's most daring creation
promises to be very good. It
unfortunately runs only three
nights, Jan. 29-31, and most of the
desired seats have been sold for all.
three performances. For more
information, call the Michigan
Theater Box Office at 668-8397.

'The Maids'refresh A



By Amy Koch
Art thou weary of the traditional
five-act, four-scene theatre that hatit
frequented Ann Arbor as of late?
What thinkest thou of casting aside
the burden of flowery soliloquies
and Shakespearean jargon for a tad
o' French existentialism? Yay?
Great! At last, Ann Arbor is
spicing up her theatrical menu with
productions that replace the
cumbersome theme of hubris with
more modern dilemmas and, thank
goodness, current speech'patterns.

Presently, such cultural savor
can be experienced at the
Performance Network's production
of Jean Genet's The Maids, a
complex, one-act play that premiers
this week. Cast members Elisa
Surmont, Maureen McGee, and
Johanna Borman will create the
whirl of unreality so accredited to
Genet's work. The plot, based on a
true story, revolves around two
sisters who work as maids for a
wealthy young woman. Night after
night they enact a chilling fantasy
ritual in which they murder their

The Mac Truck is Just Around the Corner......
MacTruck/Computer Weekend
Saturday, February 7, and
Sunday, February 8, 1987

The Michigan Student Assembly
is accepting applications for
Associate Treasurer
to conduct MSA's financial activities for 1987-88.
MSA has a budget of approximately $400,000 for four
programs: Student Legal Services, MSA, Ann Arbor
Tenants Union, and ADVICE (course evaluation guide).
Applications available: January 22
Applications due: January 30
Position starts: February 15
For applications and information contact:
MSA, 3909 Michigan Union. 763-3241

mistress. But one night their game
merges with reality.
The fact that this play has not
been performed in eight years hasn't
frightened director Shawn Yardley, a
University graduate. Dealing with
the difficult themes of unreality vs.
reality, identity, and false
reasoning, Yardley states . that
though the play has an "unusual
style" and the acting "a very
different emphasis", the challenge
of making this a success is very
attractive. Yardley will present
Genet's philosophy uniquely,
though she plans to stick to the
script. Because of the unusual
structure and symbolic content of
the play, she discourages actresses'
use of overt "psychological factors"
to convey their significance.
Instead, such a "meta-theatrical"
production requires the actress to
"go for the theatrical, fake, non-
realistic effect" by directing
questions to the audience and
commenting on their own character
through role reversal. In keeping
with the theme, Yardley has
constructed a box set of Paris in the,
late 40's. This setting is crucial so
as to contrast the reality of the set
with the unrealistic actions.
So, Fare thee well Ann
Arborites and get thee to the
Performance Network to face this
dramatic challenge!

Old Main Hospital


I 177 7 I- -,FI 'I






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Dear Student,
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President. Student Government
Maharishi International

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