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February 20, 1989 - Image 8

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1989-02-20

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Page 8-- The Michigan Daily - Monday, February 20, 1989

As I was leaving the production of
The Trojan Women, I repeatedly
heard the word "spectacle" being used
by those who had also just seen the
performance. I'd agree with that de-
:w~kription -- Andr6 De Shields' inter-
|Oretation of the Euripides play was
both unusual and remarkable. After
-Nears of hearing the mythology of
.tte fall of Troy told from the point
.of view of the Greek men (The Iliad),
it was enlightening to see it from the
Ygposition of the Trojan women.
' The first scene set the stage for
what was to come. Three Nereids, the
servants of Poseidon, slinked from
,joles in the stage floor, revealing
'fientastic costumes and make-up. The
-three-headed god, Poseidon (Norman
-grant, Darrious Hilmon, Kabin
-Thomas), arose to well above stage
. level from the floor, flapping a huge
Sand beautiful green tail. This god was
y ireeted by Athena, played by a man
''".hristopher Murray). He was
painted gold, wearing only the trunk;
"part of a military costume, a golden
cape that flowed with his move-t
ments, and an elaborate battle hel-
met. His/her status of a god was
reinforced by his height; the actor
walked on stilts and his every stept
was marked by a boom of music. I
Hecuba (Melissa Hart), the queen
of Troy, after seeing her sons and
husband killed, watched her daughtersI
being carried off to Greek ships.
Hecuba's grief was apparent in hert
voice and her movements. Her grief1
was echoed and intensified by the fe-I
male chorus. In the same manner,1
Andromache, wife of Hector, wrapped
in the black robes of mourning fort
her husband's death, watched the
i. murder of her son and was then car-t
ried off to marry a Greek leader.
The fhacting of the company was
r strong and convincing. The voices of
athe women projected their anguish1
and shock, as did their body lan-N
guage. Their small, precise move-s

De Shields'


a creative spectacle

Cassandra (Nanette Muntin) creates the illusion of flame by perform-
ing rhythmic gymnastics in Trojan Women.

a fuzzy shawl. Her attempt to seduce
Menelaus in order to dispel her sen-
tence of death was the funniest scene
of the show. And Hecuba's con-
frontation with Helen showed the
depth of the anger and disgust of the
Trojan women against the one who
caused so much death and sorrow.
There are only two criticisms of
Trojan Women. One concerns the
appearance of a small television
screen in the wagon used in the
scenes with Hector's child. It seemed
to be showing the movements on-
stage for the young boy to watch
while he awaited his part, but its ap-
pearance was distracting.
The other is that the actors left the
stage in a very convincing portrayal
of Troy burning, their sorrows
reaching their peak. I empathized
with the characters, had grown to like
them, and was disappointed that they
did not reappear to take a bow for a
job very well done.
Continued from Page 7
King Jr.'s birthday and the publica-
tion of the National Urban League's
"State Of Black America Report."
Any funds generated from this non-
profit recording venture were slated
to go to NUL programs related to
Black-on-Black crime and literacy.
Allen also said that "hip hop is
people of African descent reifying
[their] lives via steel-strong beats
and rhymes," and argues that "those
looking for new developments in
Black music should quit looking to
Wynton Marsalis and start looking
to Marly Marl." As Chuck D. told
Fresh, "Rap music gives you the
news on all phases of life - good
and bad, pretty and ugly, drugs, sex,
education, love, money, war, peace
- you name it."

ments conveyed the very depth of
their feelings.
There were many surprises in An-
dr6 De Shields' production. First,
there was Cassandra (Nanette
Muntin), daughter of Hecuba, whose
costuming made her appear to be part
of the flame she was supposed to be
holding. Her flame was two red
streamered batons that she kept
moving in an eye-catching manner.
Her costume was red, with paint on
her legs and arms and also covering
her face in both red and white. Her
costume, her baton, and her constant
movement revealed her as a frenzied
and passionate character looking for
The scene of the murder of An-
dromache's child was high drama.
Andromache built the tension with
her long, impassioned speech. This
was built up even further as the
screaming child ran off the stage,

trying to escape the guards, only to
be carried back and thrown screaming
from one of the highest points of the
multi-level set. His disappearance
brought silence.
Another surprise was the appear-
ance of Menelaus (Alex Irvine) as a
20th century film star. An exit door
was opened, a man in headphones and
flight jacket pushed out a block of
steps, and Menelaus appeared to the
sound of helicopter propellers. He
was dressed in a white suit and cape
and dark sunglasses. This blending of
new and old culture was a wonderful
twist - it added laughter and relieved
tension in this serious production.
Helen (Courtney Michele Selan),
the cause of both the Trojans' and the
Greeks' problems, appeared in simi-
lar manner. Spotlights flashed and
then focused on Helen, dressed as a
Marilyn Monroe look-alike, in a
long white evening dress and wrapped

Tin gling line
Poets detail 'twisted,' elbows
"'THE garden apples dangle from pinesi Taste buds tingle like goose
bumpsl Unflesh of skinned nectarines/ Lemons transmutate into mangos/
with a roll of the tongue. If you lick a fruiti Your mind will grow to
contain it." -from "Out of Eden" by Alex Cigale
You can expect to fill your ears with sounds as fascinating, though not
as comforting, as these, as poets Larissa Szporluk, known for hinting at
"the twisted in relationships," and Alex Cigale, centering on "birth, death,
and sex," read from their works.
Cigale, an M.F.A student and creative writing teaching assistant,
"depends on non-fiction, history, and biography," as shown by his present
Holocaust poem. The title of his book, Elbow Food, communicates
"non-sensical" language, and mocks the serious intimacy of familial ties at
the heart of Cigale's work. The poet emphasizes his grandparents (with
whom he lived in childhood) as influential figures in his work.
"I do have flashes," says Cigale, "not that I've written about them so
intensely... I use ambiguity pretty heavily."
Cigale's appreciation of the strict language of Seamus Heaney and the
passionate free-form of Galway Kinnell hints at his own stylistic
"I'm very formal," adds Cigale, who structures iambic pentameter
around rich, often oral-aural imagery, as shown in the above poem.
Szporluk, a recent honors graduate in English, won this year's
Hopwood for her incestuous slant on father-daughter ties in The Time of
Year When Fathers Marry Daughters.
"People have said my poems (contain) a lot of cruelty," added Szporluk.
The poet explained how her Michael R. Gutterman Award-winning
poem, "Some Breaking Conditions," cycles from order to chaos, telling of
a daughter driving home, having just discovered her mother's death.
"You get the sense that she is going mad... imagines jumping up and
down on the body," explained Szporluk.
The poet, who also won a Hopwood for "Biblical Grasshoppers,"
underlines the importance of commitment to developing affirmative voice.
"You have to narrow your life," she explained. Szporluk sketched
professor Alice Fulton, as a model practicing writer.
"She's professional with her writing," said Szporluk, who, like Fulton,
enjoys Dickinson's poetry.
Szporluk's own "transitional point" occurred in creative writing with
Macklin Smith. She emphasized the inspiration Smith kindled.
"He's the person I owe it all to... I felt like I could make it if I worked."
Szporluk has published poems including "Things," in Fine Madness,
"The Girl Is Cold," in Plain Songs, and "Mushroom Bell," in Lucky Star.
The three hours she spends writing daily shows her persistence.
"This-is the one thing I'm committed to," emphasized Szporluk.
ALEX CIGALE and LARISSA SZPORLUK will read at Guild House
tonight at 8 p.m.
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