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April 13, 1989 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 1989-04-13

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Page 8- The Michigan Daily - Thursday, April 13, 1989
Ambitious Song
explores memory
BY CHERIE CURRY
L 00K into the past and you may see memories too painful to be
remembered, too painful to be relived. In India's Song, we will be able to
experience another's memory, and save our own for later.
We will be able to relive the story as it is so beautifully written by
Marguerite Duras - two faces refracting the other's image over the course
of a two-day love affair in 1930s white India.
Duras, an important feminist author and one of France's most acclaimed
literary figures, uses characters from her novels The Vice-Consul and The
Ravishing of Lol Stein to weave the story of a love immobilized in the
"culmination of passion" and caught in a surrounding horror that is famine.
The affair is said to take place in 1937 Calcutta, but as director Linda
Kendall put it, "the concept of India is used metaphorically. Although the
sounds and smells of India will be present, India is used more as a mood
and context rather than as a real place."
Don't expect a plot to instantly unfold from this alarming piece. As
Kendall asserts, "Duras presents something that you can't necessarily write
down in language. She uses many elements to create a whole that is big-
ger than language."
IeThe use of such complex abstraction is not intentional, nor is it meant
to confuse those in the audience. "If it is difficult to comprehend, it's not
for the sake of being artsy. It's there to let the audience let go of the stan-
dard expectations of theater," says Kendall.
The way in which the play is performed adds to its intrigue. Offstage
music and voices are heard, sans onstage dialogue. The audience will be
able to watch the story as it is remembered, or in this case told, through
the actors who perform the motions to the unseen voices. "The actors are
the characters," explains Kendall. "They are the people about whom the
story is. The voices that remember the story are those of the people who
are affected"
If nothing sounds even remotely familiar about Duras' ambitious piece
(to be performed tonight by the talents of of Intersect Dance Theatre Com-
pany as well as the cast members of Performance Network), it's probably
because India's Song was only recently introduced in the States. Kendall
states, "The play has not been done that much. It was only until this Jan-
uary that it was presented for the first time in the U.S. at the University of
Wisconsin."
We will watch the story as it is remembered and spoken as a legend, and
just as in memory, there are places where events are almost forgotten... and
remembered more vividly than as they occurred.
Performance Network will present INDIA'S SONG April 13-30, 8 p.m.
Thurs.-Sat., 6:30 p.m. Sun. $9 general admission, $6 students and seniors.
Group rates are available. For reservations and information call 663-0681.

4

Dragons blazes into Ann Arbor

BY MARK SHAIMAN
T HE Dragons are coming! The
Dragons are coming! And along with
dragons must come heroes, thus
Lancelot of Camelot shall follow
suit (of armor) and be present to
fight the evil monsters. Where shall
all this occur? On the battlefield
known as Michigan Stadium, per-
haps? Actually, the stage at the
Power Center will provide ample
room for this showdown, as well as
a lot of song and dance routines, be-
cause the new musical Dragons is
the hottest thing in town this week-
end.
Sheldon Harnick, best known for
writing the lyrics to Fiddler on the
Roof, is presenting his newest work
in Ann Arbor, as a trial run before
the play becomes Broadway-bound.
Three years ago, he tested A
Wonderful Life here to charmed
audiences; unfortunately, this musi-
cal is now held back due to copy-
right laws. However, Dragons
doesn't have this threat hanging over
its head(s), and if it as good as A
Wonderful Life was, then there is
nothing holding it back from New
York.
New York is where Harnick first
came across the idea for this new
project, after attending a production
of a Soviet play The Dragon by

Is there a dragon in this picture? We know the answer, but we're not
telling. If you want to find out, check out Dragons at the Power Cen-
ter this weekend.

Thus the reason for the change in
name between the original drama and
the musical - we must watch for
the dragon in all of us. This may
seem heavy-handed for a musical,
but Harnick was aware of this
potential problem. "In order that the
show is not a lecture at that point
(the climax), and still remains an
entertainment, I've tried to pack that
message, if you will, into no more
than five minutes."
That leaves lots of time for other
activities, especially singing and
dancing. The choreography is by
Tim Millet and the musical direction
by Jerry DePuit, both of whom
worked with Harnick on A Wonder-
ful Life and helped draw the
renowned lyricist (and in the case of
Dragons, the writer and music com-
poser, too) back to the University
for this production.
With this combination of talent,
and the long years that Harnick has
put into the project, Dragons is sure
to provide a good knight.
DRAGONS is being performed at
the Power Center tonight, Friday and
Saturday at 8 p.m. and on Sunday at
2 p.m. Tickets are $10 and $7, with
student seating available at $5.

Yevgeny Schwartz. This Russian
dramatist was fond of taking fables,
such as those of Hans Christian An-
dersen, and reworking them for his
own purposes. The Dragon was
written in 1943, performed once in
both Leningrad and Moscow, and
then withdrawn because it was an
anti-tyrant allegory.
After Schwartz' death, The
Dragon was given a short revival in
the Soviet Union in 1962, and has
since disappeared in its own country.
A New York production at the
Phoenix Theater, also in 1962, was

the inspiration for the current
musical. "The first half (of the play)
had haunted me, and I kept seeing
musical numbers in it," he recalls.
"It's my sense of it that the first half
of it, obliquely is a reference to the
czars... the dragon represents the
czars. The dragon is killed, and the
mayor of the town now becomes the
leader of the town, and he becomes a
kind of metaphorical dragon. And in
my estimation he stood for Stalin.
So what the playwright was saying
was that we must do something
about these dragons."

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Man plants seeds of beauty

BY MARK SHAIMAN
The current mainstream of anima-
tion has turned toward computer
graphics, as shown by this year's
Oscar winner Tin Toy - the first
computer animated film to win this
award. Still, however exciting this
new format may be, the real heart of
animation is hand drawings, and last
year's Oscar winner, The Man Who
Planted Trees, is a terrific example.
Slightly longer than half an hour,
this animated short is being presented
by a group of students hoping to
raise awareness of rainforest destruc-

tion and global warming. Thus The
Man Who Planted Trees is perfectly
fitting for the subject matter: the
film is based on the short story by
Jean Giono about a French equivalent
of Johnny Appleseed, except that the
Frenchman, Elzeard Bouffier, is in-
tent on rebuilding a specific area and
not the whole country.
And while the story is both rele-
vant to environmental issues as well
as an effective parable on life, the art
of the animation is simply over-
whelming. In fact, it looks quite
close to Monet in motion. The
drawings, reminiscent of impres-
sionism, seem to gently sweep

across the screen, rapidly engaging
the viewer in this world of subtle
shading and deep meaning.
Referring to the incredible feat of
causing "this land of Canaan to
spring from the wasteland" the narra-
tor is taken "with an immense re-
spect for that old and unlearned peas-
ant (Bouffier) who was able to com-
plete a work worthy of God." Much
the same praise can be lavished on
the makers of The Man Who Planted
Trees. From paper and color and cel-
luloid they have created a work wor-
thy of Walt Disney, the highest
honor an animator can achieve.

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