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October 11, 1988 - Image 7

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1988-10-11

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The Michigan Daily

Tuesday, October 11, 1988

BA goes


Page 7
"Rco *d

THE overwhelming variety of the-
ater groups in Ann Arbor seems in
some way to reflect the myriad
political, social, and University or-
ganizations which flourish on this
campus. Basement Arts, a Univer-
sity-funded student arts organization,
also reflects this variety, while dis-
tinguishing itself as a new and dif-
ferent outlet for student creativity.
Founded in the fall of 1987,
Basement Arts was created to enable
students interested in theater to pur-
sue their own projects, from produc-
ing and staging plays of their own
choice to performing their own
original work. This separates it from
other University arts organizations,
which leave less initiative to the
students themselves. Hilary Cohen,
the group's faculty advisor, calls it
"a laboratory for students to experi-
ment and learn things on their own."
"Nowhere do (students) have a
place to see a whole product created,
(a product which) is theirs and of
their own initiative," explains Co-
hen. Naomi Saferstein, a theater
graduate student, said that "it's a
whole different ball of wax from sit-
ting in class thinking about doing
something to actually writing a play
and doing it all on your own."
Although last year was its first
year in existence, Basement Arts
mRy Of
Hght it'
REICHDA .,, remember that
word. Erleichda, to "lighten up",
expresses the name and attitude of an
independent film production group in
Ann Arbor pro-pelling themselves
towards success. Founding father of
the group, R.J. Senkowski,
describes his upcoming work,
Forever My Dog, with contagious
vitality as he eats a double scoop of
chocolate chocolate chip ice cream.
The appeal of this 16 mm film
becomes unquestionably apparent as
Senkowski relates, between bites,
the characters and plot
This true-to-life work revolves
around a boy growing up and his dog
growing older. Brian, the main
character, narrates the film as a
mature man recalling the tender
moments of his early adolescence.
Senkowski believes Brian will
endear himself to the audience as a
R mischievous character with
submerged vulnerabilities that he can
only expose to his dog, Shootzi.
Finishing his ice cream,
Senkowski divulges the scenario
which ignites the work and our
compassion as an audience. Almost
every viewer can comprehend the
pain Brian experiences when he finds
out Shootzi must be put to sleep,

and Senkowski focuses most of the
film on Brian's attempts to cope
with this reality. Senkowski makes
the work as accurate as possible by
having his brother, who plays Brian,
improvise many of the more
sentimental scenes. "'Light it, then
write it' became a theme for our
crew," he explains.
In probing Brian's most sub-
conscious thoughts, Senkowski
creates a dream sequence sure to
delight audiences and canines alike.
The stage is set in "doggie heaven"
where Brian hopes Shootzi will find
eternal happiness. Here, the viewer
confronts an elaborate scene with
French poodles seated seduc-tively at
a soda fountain while below them, a
multitude of dogs rove around
happily sporting halos and wings.
Signs lining the exterior of "doggie
heaven" prohibit newspapers,

produced 11 projects, including plays
by Sam Shepherd and David Mamet
and four student-written plays. Re-
becca Rand, an LSA junior, said one
of the most exciting things about
working with Basement Arts was
"being able to work with the play-
wright on an original play, for it
allows the actor to create his or her
role for the very first time."

tumes, and props and are not criti-
cized formally by the press; they are
works in progress, not perfected
To Jennifer Hahn, an LSA junior,
this "workshop" environment is
Basement Arts' "greatest advan-
tage... (for) it takes the pretension
away from the arts." John Mintz, an
LSA senior and director of Mud, an

to an active and reciprocal learning
experience. As David Turner, the
group's producer, explained, "the
role of the audience is to be part of
the whole production process." The
audience serves as more of a sound-
ing board for ideas, rather than as a
critical voice. Hahn reflected the
commonly-held belief that "even if
you are petrified to perform, Base-
ment Arts is there for you too."
Basement Arts is not limited to
theater majors; in fact, non-students
are also able to work with the group.
Anyone interested in doing a project
through Basement Arts is responsi-
ble for finding a sponsor in the the-
ater department who will grant ap-
proval of the work. Sponsors attend
rehearsals to give advice and support
to the participants; however, their
role in the production process is very
limited, for they make no artistic
choices for the director.
This year, Basement Arts hopes
to sponsor projects which involve
new forms of performance art such
as mime, music, and dance.
LSA student Amy Forman, for ex-
ample, is incorporating both music
and dance in her interpretation of
poetry by T. S. Eliot entitled Time
Present and Time Future. Turner is
also encouraging art students and
people interested in theater design
and production to join the organiza-
tion, to allow artists with different
interests and specialties to commu-
nicate and then collaborate with
other artists on performance projects.

Glass Records, UK


All Basement Arts productions
are shown on Thursday and Friday
afternoons at 5 p.m. in the Frieze
Building's Arena Theater, and the
group soon plans to hold them
weekly. They are considered to be
"workshop" presentations, meaning
that they involve minimal sets, cos-

upcoming production, adds that, "by
cutting (theater) down to the'bare
bones, one creates theater out a love
for the medium. It is more pure."
The fact that all performances are
free to the public, as well as depen-
dent on volunteer participation, un-
derscores the group's committment

"I can't imagine a single day without getting high. All us in the band
smoke every day. The bass player sells dope. I don't ever drink but the
rest of the group does. I'm very into hypnotic drugs, not just acid.
Opiums are very nice and there's lots of magic mushrooms out where we
live." - Peter Gunn, a.k.a Sonic Boom, singer/guitarist for Spacemen 3.
I can't say I've done too much in terms of personal participation in the
drug culture, but I will admit I've always been interested in and attracted
to those people who try live a better life through chemistry. I mean,
anyone with a brain bigger than a walnut knows how unbearably fucked
up the world is, and, if a few leaves, liquids, and pills make things seem a
little better than they really are, well, that's cool by me. From Samuel
Coleridge to William Burroughs to Lou Reed to Sonic Boom, it seems
clear that, while in the long run drugs are damaging, in the short term,
they sure as hell let people who might otherwise kill themselves create
great art.
One of the best examples of productive, genius dope fiends has to be
Rugby, England's Spacemen 3. By taking a massive, shimmering, loco y
distorto guitar sound (see Stooges and Suicide), combining it with some
really great out of heads song writing (see Velvet Underground and MC5),
and tossing in just a bit of genuine craziness (see Roky Erickson),
Spacemen 3 have become the foremost proponents of moody, paranoid,
and excessive pop grunge. The sounds of Spacemen 3 prove that, once
again, even the most socially retarded misfits; can, with the aid of a
coupla guitars and a few well chosen "substances," become all out rock
and roll terrorists.
The latest record by Spacemen 3 is a live platter called Performance.
Powered by four Spacemen 3 originals and two covers, this is a really
well-performed and great sounding record. Any band that can play a set
that opens with a massive, freaking howler like "Mary Anne" and then
close it out with the sensitive and calming "Walkin' with Jesus," while
taking no prisoners in between, has the head on heavy liquid raw power
that is the key to eternal rock and roll greatness.
If you've never heard Spacemen 3, Performance is a good place to
start. This is not to say that you shouldn't buy the earlier and absolutely
stunning Spacemen 3 records Sound of Confusion and The Perfect
Prescription (Glass, UK) because you should. Even if the covers here of
this 13th Floor Elevator's "Rollercoaster" and Sun Ra/MC 5's "Sunship"
are a bit daunting to Spacemen 3 neophytes, well, they'll get used to it.
Charming, sexy, well cultured hipsters everywhere already know and love
the mighty power and grandeur of the noise that is Spacemen 3, how
about you?
-Brian Berger
Tail Gators
Okay, Let's Go
Restless Records
It's been said before, but there really is a lack of exciting and
invigorating American roots music (music drawing from country, blues,
cajun, etc.). A lot of groups are able to master the basic and simple licks
of this type of music, but very few of these groups are able to follow
through with the kind of enthusiastic and wild performances that made
this stuff so damn addicting in the first place: excitement, abandonment,
and bursting sexuality. These things, not pedestrian supermusician
professionalism, are the essential ingredients to that potent elixir known
as rock and roll.
Into this picture enter Austin, Texas' Tail Gators. From John Lee
Hooker to 13th Floor Elevators to Butthole Surfers to Jandek to Daniel
Johnston, Texas has consistently coughed up some of the most twisted
and thoroughly iconoclastic musical madmen in rock. Now while I can't
say that the Tail Gators are as hell-bent on being bent as the
aforementioned artists, I can say that the Tail Gators can kick out the
straight tex-mex country rockabilly swamp blues jams like no youngsters
this side of Tav Falco's Panther Burns.
Okay, Let's Go is the Tail Gators' latest batch of tough down-home
rockin' tunes. If you, like me, feel that there are few greater things than a
partying night of barbecue, drinking, dancing, and some wild and sweaty
belly slammin' with that special honey, then you really need this Tail
Gators record. What I'm really trying to say is that, like cold beer and hot
sex, the Tail Gators' music is something that is familiar, fun, and
undeniably satisfying.
-Brian Berger
Latifah 12"
Tommy Boy Records
Ladies and gentlemen, her highness, Latifah, Queen of Royal Badness
and Princess of the Posse invites you to "get'into the spirit and dive into
the wrath of (her) madness." "Wrath of My Madness" leads off Latifah's
new 12", backed with the tune "Princess of the Posse."
Latifah takes her listeners to the DMZ (Def Music Zone) with her
reggae- and funk-influenced approach to rap. Her lyrics have a sort of wit
that hasn't been heard from in female rappers since the early days of
Roxanne Shante and Dimples D. In addition to this, she raps over a funk
beat and even dares to include a reggae chorus which doesn't slow the
song down but only adds to the momentum that she's already established.
Latifah, Princess of the Posse, definitely deserves all the praise worthy
of someone in her royal position. She's got a good thing going and even
people who aren't her "subjects" should check out this iree def jam.
-Sheala Durant

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Despite the scenery, it's anything but a normal dinner at the Cleaver household, as the actors
in Forever My Dog 'light it, then write it.'

Senkowski plans to keep this film
all in the family by utilizing many
Ann Arbor sources. Senkowski cast
his mother and brother in.the film's
leading roles, along with an
authentic veterinarian and a
neighborhood friend. Keeping things
close to home, Senkowski shot
many of the scenes at his own house
in Farm-ington Hills and in Ann
He hopes to combine the music
of local bands with stage sets
designed by students in the art

school. Senkowski merged his
talents with Dave Mon-forton,
Shannon Berritt, Tom Tucker, Dave
Rennecker, and Carolee Rose during
the hottest days of this summer to
shoot this work in under two weeks.

Forever My Dog will be
Erleichda's first Ann Arbor release.
Watch for the film's opening during
the month of November at the
Michigan Theater and remember,
"lighten up."

Michigan Alumni work here:
The Wall Street Journal
The New York Times
The Washington Post
The Detroit Free Press
The Detroit News
NBC Sports
Associated Press
United Press International
Scientific American



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