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October 22, 1990 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 1990-10-22

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ARTS
Monday, October 22, 1990

The Michigan Daily

Page 5

IN

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The young cast of Sarafina! expresses their pride, hope and dedication, collectively fighting apartheid.
Sarafina! echoes with passion

by Lauren Turetsky
r Often famous pop celebrities, like
U2's Bono or Boy George, sing
about worthy causes they cannot re-
late too. Although they have good
intentions, the personal experience
of suffering often ignites a more
powerful spark of creativity. This
creative force, which requires both
endurance and courage, explodes in
the musical Sarafina!.
* Tonight this Grammy award-
winning musical will make the
Michigan Theater rock, sway and vi-
brate with its celebration of freedom.
The author of this musical, Mbon-
geni Ngema (creator of shows Woza
Albert and Asinamali), teamed up
with South African jazz trumpet ge-
nius Hugh Masekela to create a mu-
sical inspired by the perseverance of
young South African citizens' fight
*for social justice.
Ngema recruited the 20-some cast
members of this musical, who are
between 15-25 years old, from all
over South Africa. For most of
them, this production marks their
first theatrical experience. The musi-
cal score, by Ngema and Masekela,
consist of a 10-member band playing
two dozen electrifying songs in the

catchy mbaqanga tradition. This
style mixes the ancient sounds of the
Zulu culture with the contemporary
beats of jazz, rock, gospel and reg-
gae. Many Americans were familiar-
ized with this unique sound through
Paul Simon's last two albums
which were recorded with South
African musicians. The cast sings
mostly in Zulu.
The musical's plot is based on
the 1976 Education Riots in
Soweto, an all-Black township just
outside of Johannesburg. The riots
started when 200,000 students
marched to the outskirts of Soweto
to protest the government's Bantu
Educational Program, which was
designed to teach Black students only
the Afrikaans language. A cast
member, Thandani Mavimbela, said
in a press release that "They want us
only to speak Afrikaans, because the
whole world is using English as the
official language and they do not
want us to communicate with the
outside world. They want us to be
limited within their boundaries."
Sarafina! portrays the struggles
and persistence of a young girl, Sara-
fina, and her classmates at Soweto's
Isaacson High School. The scenes
depict the students' everyday reali-

ties: detentions, adolescent jokes,
funerals and confrontations with the
police. The attitudes of the young
people greatly impressed Ngema
who said in a Washington Post arti-
cle, "In South Africa, the army and
the police are killing us every day,
but when you look at the eyes of
those children who are carrying
stones and going to fight, they are
not afraid to die, they are dancing and
ducking the bullets in the streets of
the townships."
The last scene of the musical,
which sets the stage ablaze with the
colors of traditional African garb,
portrays the high school students'
end-of-the-year play. This year the
play is being performed in honor of
the release of African National
Congress leader Nelson Mandela.
That dream has become a reality, yet
the voices of the Sarafina! cast will
still raise with the pride and passion
that comes from the hope and deter-
mination to end apartheid and attain
true freedom for all South Africans.
SARAFINA! will be performed
tonight at the Michigan Theater at 8
p.m.. Tickets are $26.50.

...And we
bathe in it
Before Pontiac left the stage
Wednesday night at Club Heidelberg,
they told the crowd something along
the lines of "This was originally our
gig, but we decided to play first be-
cause we didn't want Catharsis to
show us up." And when they took
the stage, Catharsis did in fact try to
show up anyone that ever voiced any
doubts about them.
"Smoke it!" ordered a zealot in
the rear of the room. So Catharsis
proceeded in suit, demonstrating
their ability to supply on demand.
They opened with "Thieves Of Rea-
son," which incited a previously
lethargic group to let loose, and
from then on, there was no stopping
us.
j thumped the bass and Brad
Frank banged his top hat as Cathar-
sis strutted old tracks like "Words At
the Cafe Technicolor" and unleashed
new ones, such as "One Of A Mil-
lion." But the evening's highlight
evolved in the form of a scorching
extended solo on the acoustic guitar
by lead vocalist and guitarist Nick
Petroff.
Between songs, at which point
the hoots became their most exuber-
ant, Petroff couldn't contain his
smile, but then again he had no rea-
son to. Catch them up close before
they bust loose because Catharsis is
most certainly destined to break out
of the club circuit soon.
-Kim Yaged
New Tines
inconsistent
Set in the 1960s, Judlynne Lily's
play New Times, is certainly not a
script lacking emotion, action or
tension. The characters are in pain
and in conflict with the rapid
changes of the era. Yet even with a
strong script and a well-designed set,

the RC Players' production was defi-
cient because of a dearth of full, be-
lievable characters.
The actors were inconsistent -
believable at some times, but not
others, eroding the effect of the play
as a whole. The lead role of Diane
Marshall (Sree Nallamothu) was a
good example. The character was cer-
tainly in a stressful situation as the
first Black person with authority at a
private all-white women's college.
Yet, Nallamothu's representation
was remarkably detached. When told
that her husband was killed in Viet-
nam, she responded with a flat denial
that made her feelings seem unreal.
While the scenes with her students
were very appropriate, Diane was
formal all the time instead of only
when in an authority position.
The acting by Sage, the maid
(Lakeisha Harrison), started off,
somewhat forced, but as the play
went on she seemed more comfort-
able with the role. By the time she
engaged in her climactic monologue
about Whitman, the man who killed
her father, her concentration had
grown, making this scene the most
emotionally stirring of the produc-
tion.
The set was charmingly authen-
tic; the 1967 time frame provided
many immediately recognizable ob-
jects (lava lamps, psychedelic
posters, etc.) that allowed the audi-
ence to go back in time without
much effort. And the use of "double-
staging," having two separate scenes
going on at the same time but not
interacting, was especially effective.
At one point, Molly, a racist spoiled
brat, played by Elizabeth Keiser, was
being talked about by Sage and Di-
ane. As Sage talked about how
Molly continually demeaned her, the
audience didn't have to just imagine
her, they could see her. The contrast
between Molly hugging a teddy bear
while an emotional thunderstorm -

of which she was the focus - oc-
cured next door was a wonderfully
ironic touch that heightened the pet-
tiness of Molly's action.
-Mike Kolody
Passion lost in
the dark
It might be hard to find any flaws
in this weekend's performance of A
Little Night Music. It was a de-
lightful surprise to see everything so
well polished. The show was ex-
tremely well-cast, each actor suiting
and performing his or her part per-
fectly.
But something was missing.
This is a show in which the cast
waltz one another around and by the
end of the show all the partners have
changed. The Musical Theatre De-
partment's production gave the im-
pression that waltzing was the only
thing the characters were doing.
Since the lyrics and script make it
quite clear that Count Malcom
(Patrick Beller) is Desiree Armfeldt's
(Elizabeth Richmond) current lover
and Frederik Egerman (James
Roggenbeck) is an old lover, one
would think that the performances
would have been more sexually
charged. Every actor seemed afraid to
let this come across onstage, so this
reserve must have been a directorial
choice. This deficiency was disturb-
ing because the sexual tension re-
veals the emotional character of the
players, showing the opening of
each one's eyes to the fantasies that
her or she has been living.
.eElizabeth Richmond in particular,
whose extraordinary acting ability
has been showcased many times on
this campus before, seemed sup-
pressed. It is unfortunate that the in-
tense emotional sensuality that she
brought to her role as Betty in last
year's Basement Arts' production of
Cloud Nine was not apparent in her
See WEEKEND, page 7

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