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March 17, 1989 - Image 8

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1989-03-17

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Page 8- The Michigan Daily - Friday, March 17, 1989

Confessional Violent Femmes
take 3, 3, 3 for their latest LP

THE Violent Femmes have a lot of confessions -
naked revelations of lust, religious doubts, and more
lust shoot forth from the Milwaukee combo of an
avant-garde actor/jazz drummer, an acoustic bass freak-
out avatar, and a high school homecoming king.
High school homecoming king? That's Gordon
Gano, the guy who asked, "Why can't I get just one
kiss/ screw/ fuck." But wait a second... homecoming
king? The guy who threatens his girlfriend into a bond
of secrecy in "Never Tell"? The loner that really doesn't
need our consolation, but he could be a liar, in "Kiss
Off" or "Promise"?
Contrary to what we all might think, the Norman
Bates-cum-Dobie Gillis narrator of such Femmes'
classics as "Add It Up" or that great pseudo-Oedipal
ditty "Just Like My Father" is not completely first-
person Gordon Gano. Explained drummer Victor De-
Lorenzo, "I suppose that the songs all reflect a little bit
of Gordon's personality in some way but it's not all
straight autobiography. There's a little bit of mystery,
there's a little bit of imagination tied up in the whole
Their new album, 3 , is the Femmes' return to their
nrusical essentials and beginnings: just a guitar, bass,
alid tranceaphone-accentuated drum kit. A trio, hence
the album's title. "I like working with a smaller group
of people better," told DeLorenzo.
One item that distinguishes this new album from
its predecessors is the nature of the creation of the mu-
sic: Gano composed the songs outside of the studio,
with neither Ritchie nor DeLorenzo having heard them
before. According to band statistics, over 75 percent of
their songs on the previous three albums were in the
repertoire before the recording of the eponymous debut
in 1982, so recording usually didn't leave as much
room for spontaneous invention as it did on 3 .
"In recording that way, we created not only
something that's very fresh. We didn't get sidestepped
into thinking about what is best technique-wise or
emotionally: we attack it for what it is at that very
moment, which is very akin to what an actor does on
the stage," elaborated the ever dramatic persona of
Seven years ago, bassist Brian Ritchie introduced
DeLorenzo to Gano. "Brian and I decided that we would

go and play with Gordon one day. We decided that we
liked each other's company and that the music had a
chance," said DeLorenzo. Two months after that initial
jam, the Violent Femmes (a moniker Ritchie fashioned
after a high school locker room insult) came to the at-
tention of Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders, who wit-
nessed a street performance of theirs outside of a drug
store. The Femmes opened for the Pretenders that
night, and a record contract with Slash soon followed.
Their first album, simply titled Violent Femmes,
won over both critics and subsequent generations of
frustrated youth in its presentation of classic teenage
angst and occasional moments of bliss, or at least a
"Good Feeling" or two. Labels like "punk folk" and
"country punk" were given to their powerful acoustic
approach, laden not only with hooks, like the exul-
tantly hummable, shoutable, "Blister in the Sun," but
with some total free jazz-esque abandon like the orgas-
mic build-up and expulsion of musical mayhem
(complete with Gano's moans) in "Confessions."
During the time of the first three albums the
Femmes toured extensively. Aside from the many
months of domestic touring, the Violent Femmes
toured Europe six times and the New Zealand/Australia
circuit twice; "They love us down there," noted De-
Lorenzo. The present tour marks the first time the
Femmes have toured together in almost three years.
The Femmes utilize the spontaneous approach,
demonstrated by the inception of the new album, in
their live show, too. "There's no set list," said De-
Lorenzo. "Brian just calls the songs, and we debate
whether or not we want to do them." Usually, there is
no dissension; since they haven't played any of their
old chestnuts for almost three years, they find playing
any of their songs enjoyable.
But isn't one 30-second explosion of hardcore en-
ergy, "Old Mother Reagan," a little bit dated now?
"Yeah," replied DeLorenzo. "I think 'Old Mother Rea-
gan' will retire for at least a little while." But, who
knows? Maybe one day "Old Mother Reagan" will
spontaneously combust back from retirement. With the
Violent Femmes, you can never tell.
TH E VIOLENT FEMMES add it up at Hill Audito-
rium on Saturday night with special guest Victoria
Williams, starting at 8 p.m. Tickets are $16.50. The
Femmes will also sign autographs and peform at
Schoolkids Records tonight at 7 p.m.

Spanning the silence
NTD's King creates lively, innovative theater
IN euchre, all other cards yield to the omnipotent
jack. But this weekend, the King of Hearts, a
production by the world-reknowned National The-
atre of the Deaf, seeks to trump all other shows
with its noble, comical fantasy world.
Based on the classic French film of the same
name by Philippe de Broca, King of Hearts is a
unique production in that American Sign Language
and the spoken word will be incorporated into a sin-
gle performance style. This allows the audience to
hear and see every word and gesture. This particular
element draws each audience member into the show
and envelops him or her into a world of whimsical
The story unfolds during World War I in a French
town booby-trapped by retreating German troops.
Private Plumpick, a Scottish soldier, is drafted to
dismantle the bomb planted in the town deserted by
everyone except the frenzied inmates of an insane
asylum and a zoo. The slapstick characters escape
their confinements, and bedlam breaks loose as they j
transform themselves into town citizens such as a
barber, a duchess and a tightrope-walking waif,aol wum
among others. They also crown Pvt. Plumpick the ';. \
"King of Hearts," pulling him into their crazy three-
ring circus celebration of life in the middle of a bat-
tle zone. He soon discovers the inanities of these Elena Blue demonstrates the vivacious, physical
jokers are more preferable than the war surrounding nature of NTD's performance style, jumping
him. through a hoop in a scene from King of Hearts.
A charming carnival of nonstop of action, King a Lesser God, members of the NTD and storyteller
of Hearts was adapted and developed improvisation- Sam Supalla. All of these artists will join Michigan
ally by the NTD actors and is directed by J. Ranelli. theater artists in lectures, workshops, panel discus-
This particular production is the set of the com- sions and performances.
pany's new experiment with scenery that is painted A good example of the incorporation of ASL
before the audience's eyes, by an actor playing a into performance is sign language storytelling. Sam
French painter. This, along with the skillful Supalla, master deaf storyteller, has developed a
combination of ASL made vocal by actors, provide style of his own evolving from his background as a
an effective adaptation in which the dialogue as- filmmaker, combining visual elements of cine-
sumes a double resonance. matography and sign. He will be accompanied by
Another exploration into the world of ASL is narrator Mark Conley and pianist Nancy Hueber,
"Staged Hands," a symposium on sign language both University graduate students in the School of
translation in the theater today and tomorrow. The Music. These three not only make a story come
program is the first of its kind in the country, ac- alive for the hearing and non-hearing audience, but
cording to Sue Kaufmann, University assistant pro- are in fact creating art in the process.
fessor of theater. It will include a number of nation- The National Theatre for the Deaf will perform
ally known deaf theater artists, including Phyllis KING OF HEARTS at the Power Center Saturday
Frelich, star of the Broadway production Children of at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15.
Theatre of Deaf: A bridge between worlds

*y ,




Spelman 's jazz ambassadors

LIVING on North Campus will not
be a good enough excuse not to go
out this weekend.

As part of its Midwest tour, the
Spelman College Jazz Ensemble will
perform tonight and tomorrow night
at the Michigan Union and at Bursley
Hall. You really will think you're in
New Orleans this "Michigras" week-

Ken ac ,bS
One of the most innovative and influential experimental filmmakers in
this country and Professor of Film Studies at S.U.N.Y. Binghamton will be
present for a two-evening secreening of his films as part of the
Yon Barna Memorial Symposium on Avant-Garde Cinema

end when the all-female Ensemble
performs renditions of jazz classics.
The performances, sponsored by
the University's Housing Division
and the Michigan Student Assembly,
are part of Spelman's ambassador
mission to reach out to students at
predominantly white institutions;
Spelman is a historically Black fe-
male college located in Atlanta,
Georgia. Tonight's concert at the
highly-attended "Bronze Elegance"
gala will provide an inter-college
cultural exchange, allowing students
from distinctly different college
environments to socially interact.
The ensemble, directed by noted
Atlanta jazz artist Joseph W. Jen-
nings, was organized in 1983 to al-
low students at Spelman to perform,
learn about, and experience the
American art form, jazz. Since then,
the group has evolved into one of
America's premiere female jazz en-
sembles. The group is comprised of
eight vocalists, two keyboardists,
three saxophonists, two brass play-
ers, one bass guitarist, and two per-
cussionists. Their music focuses on
the vocalists, who harmonize and in-
See Spelman, Page 9

T HE sound of silence. Deaf
people experience it everyday of
their lives. Not only can they not
participate in certain normal, daily
activities but they miss out on
many cultural events as well. The
National Theatre of the Deaf,
however, provides opportunities
for the deaf to involve themselves
not only as participants and spec-
tators in theatre but in a broader
part of their community and life
as well.
The NTD, founded by current
director David Hays, is celebrating
its 21st performing season this
year. The troupe has given over
5000 performances in 26 coun-
tries, and is the only professional
theater company in America to
have performed in all 50 states.
The NTD has paved the way
for creative as well as innovative,
theatrical expression through its
several productions which com-
bine the spoken word with the
silent, gestured one. There are al-
ways at least two actors on stage
who speak the lines of the charac-
ters for those who don't know
sign language. Rather than dis-
tracting audiences, this convention

helps them to adapt to the perfor-
Almost like patting your head
and rubbing your stomach at the
same time, the timing and syn-
chronization of sign and sound
must be perfect throughout an en-
tire performance. Deaf and hearing
members of the audience are
treated alike to every word and
thought. The whole cast performs
very expressively, using skills
that transcend the spoken word.
And like any actor's voice, sign
language also needs to reach even
the audience member in the last
row of the balcony. And the NTD
makes sure it does. The language
seen spinning in the air conveys
an even sharper meaning of the
spoken word as an actor's body
becomes an expression, thought
or emotion - true sculpture in
All over America and in other
countries including Australia,
England, and Japan are theaters of
the deaf formed with instruction
from the 12 member NTD acting
company whose headquarters are
in Chester, Conn. The company
also splits up at times into two
Little Theatres of the Deaf which
perform mainly for children. Fi-

nancing comes through the com-
pany's performance fees, private
donations and the Federal Gov-
ernment. Through this aid, the
NTD is able to expand opportuni-
ties for the deaf not only in the
theatre but in the job market as
The company's performers
have become somewhat of role
models to the deaf, inspiring them
to stand up for their rights. One
such case was the recent success-
ful protest at Gallaudet College in
Washington D.C., the world's
only liberal arts college for the
deaf. Students protested the ap-
pointment of a hearing woman
who did not know sign language
as president of the college. This
effective protest led to her
These changes were facilitated
by one organization which
revolutionized the capacities of
deaf people around the world. The
visual language created by the
NTD is accurately described as
being to sign language what song
is to speech, a bridge over waters
thought to be uncrossable, joining
the hearing and deaf worlds.


Thursday, March 16th
Blonde Cobra
Air Shaft
Perfect Film
Nissan Ariana Window'

Friday M arch 17th


The Whole Shebang (1987)
(A special presentation of a work
which combines 3-D photography
and experimental filmmaking for an
unusual cinematic event)

,, .

Thursay, March 16th &
Friday, March 17th
Both Events are at 7:30 p.m.
Lorch Hall Auditorium
Admission is Free

ECLASSIFIED ADS! Call 764-0557
Sumnmer Festival presents
.t cncerSt. Patrick's
310 Maynard 994-6500
Let me assist
you with:
V *resume writing


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