The Michigan Daily - Friday, March 5, 1993 - Page 9
Iy Karen Lee
"What am I?" This question of identity, both personal and universal, is a
major theme of Partap Sharma's "The Professor Has A Warcry." With a cast of
three actors (Troy D. Sill, Peter Knox and Annette Powers) plus two dancers
(Sejal Shah and Steve Godfrey) first-time director Sree Nallamothu, through a
synthesis of "straight" drama and classical Indian dance, will attempt to illustrate
the search for that identity.
The play is set in 1970, just before the war between East and West Pakistan,
which eventually led to the separation of Bangladesh. The death of a woman who
has spent 20 years of her life waiting in a railway station for her lover prompts
a young reporter to delve into her past. The resulting article brings forth an old
professor who has shared the woman's history in British India and her struggle
during the partition in 1947 of India and Pakistan. The two men then try to
reconcile her past in light of her death.
When asked what inspired her to direct this particular work, Nallamothu
explained, "I wanted to incorporate dance and other Indian movement into a
theatrical production, plus I wanted a play that had something to do with Indian
history." Those reasons at first might sound fairly irreconcilable; however,
Nallamothu, who herself performed classical Indian dance as she was growing
up, used it to communicate with audiences who themselves were not familiar
with that medium. Referring to the use of dance in "The Professor Has A
Warcry," in which the dancers move not just to music in the conventional sense,
but to the music of the spoken word, she said, "I want to bridge the gap of
communication with this audience as well."
That communication gap also appears, however, in the context of the play.
"'This play connects with present-day events in India, Yugoslavia, and Ger-
many,"Nallamothu said,"It is about partitions, walls notjustbetween countries,
but between cultures, so it also ties in with American culture. It is universal."
THE PROFESSOR HAS A WAR CRY will be performed at the Performance
Network March 4-7 and 11-14, Thursday-Saturday at 8:00 p.m. and Sunday
at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $9, $7 students/seniors. Call 663-0681.
'Unforgiven'reflects honesty, grit
by Jon Altshul
ClintEastwood is the lastreal American cowboy.
The last iconic remnant of the Wild West. With
spindly legs and a tough-as-nails demeanor, he is the
Directed by Clint Eastwood; written by David
Webb Peoples; with Clint Eastwood, Gene
Hackman and Morgan Freeman
squinty-eyed interloper who bridges the decrepit
crevice between a dusty frontier and an automated
modernity. Or so they tell us.
Actually, he's just a reclusive hick from Carmel.
Funny how the American conscience works.
Using such glorified misperceptions as its artil-
lery, Eastwood's most recent project, "Unforgiven"
establishes itself as the most original and provoca-
tive interpretation ever presented of the American
"Interpretation," however, is the key word. More
thanjust a verbatim reiteration of the themes set forth
in such classics as "Stagecoach," "My Darling
Clementine," or even Eastwood's own "AFistful of
Dollars," the picture begins where its successors
failed to even end. By blurring the distinction be-
tween tyranny and justice and ambitiously de-ro-
manticizing the paradigm of Western heroism,
Eastwood, as director and star, has created perhaps
the most novel film of our generation. In this regard,
"Unforgiven" is something of an anomaly - it is,
ironically enough, a morally ambiguous Western.
The picture undermines the simple morality les-
sons raised in its predecessors. There is no ostensible
good or bad or linear progression from chaos to
order. Hence, the audience is left in the dark, trusting
only the mystique of Eastwood. The star leads us by
the hand, warmly introducing a rugged, honest mi-
lieu where justice and heroism are subjectives, de-
pendent entirely upon vantage. He refutes the popu-
lar equation of justice with heroism and peace.
Instead, everyone is a vigilante.
Forget Hollywood convention and
commonsensical divisions between right and wrong.
"Unforgiven" is far too intelligent to degenerate into
the sort of crap that guarantees high dividends at the
box office. On the contrary, it is the ultimate anti-
western, complete with anti-heroes and revisionist
representations of a somewhat humbling frontier.
The plot is simple and easily told. A Big Whis-
key, Wyoming prostitute is badly cut-up by a poorly-
hung patron. Little Bill (Gene Hackman), the town
sheriff, softly reprimands the guilty cowboy while
an angry brothel pleads for a hanging. William
Mundy (Eastwood) and Ned Logan (Morgan Free-
man), two formerly licentious riding partners, are
hired to seek retribution against both the cowboy and
a supposedly crooked justice system.
A fabricated sense of order pervades the streets
of Big Whiskey. Citizens are quiet, yet always
scared. The whorehouse, for example, replaces the
family as the central structural unit, implying that.
despite the town's low crime rate, immorality infesLt'
its very foundationis. Defending his domain against
the onslaught of bounty hunters and low-lives with
a huge, yet inherently amicable ego, Bill espouses a
strict adherence to his non-traditional mandates -
i.e. no guns. Eastwood and Morgan, then, logically
pose a threat to Big Whiskey's backwards sense of
What follows is a film richly textured in honesty
and grit. The performances, particularly those of
Eastwood and Gene Hackman , are as tough and
rugged as the bucolic countryside that surrounds
Yet ultimately the fihn succeeds primarily due to
the ominous presence of its director. Audiences
flocked to this movie to see a shoot 'em-up replete
with every Dirty Harry sound byte ever invented.
But Eastwood is no Schwarzenegger - his talent is
authentic. His depiction of the frontier is such an
aberration from cinematic norms that its sobering
themes can stand alone freely, satisfyingly bereft of
superfluous embellishments or dumb-fuck "make
Still, "Unforgiven" can elicit resentment, seeing
how it unequivocally trivializes the entire Western
genre. But this is, after all, Clint, and nobody knows
more about cowboys and Indians than the man with
UNFORGJVEN is playing at Showcase.
'Kids' comes out swinging
by Darcy Lockman
To make a movie that takes place in
Germany circa 1939 is hardly the light-
est of undertakings. Throw in a first-
time screenwriter and a director with
the same number of feature film credits
Directed by Thomas Carter; written by
Jonathan Marc Feldman; with Robert
Sean Leonard, Christian Bale and
under his belt, and the endeavor be-
comes no less challenging. But director
Feldman tackle"Swing Kids" with noth-
ing less than, well, swing. The product
is apowerful tale of broken friendships
and broken lives in Nazi Germany.
"Swing Kids" is the story of Peter
(Robert Sean Leonard) and Thomas
(Christian Bale), best friends and part-
ners in swing. They're swing kids, part
movement in Nazi Germany. Swing
kids do nothing more rebellious than
dance to the big band music of Benny
Goodman, Count Basie, et. al. But the
Nazis ban these records, music of the
"kikes and the negroes," so the swing
kids take their dancing thing under-
The bubble of their swing world
bursts, however, when Peter gets into
trouble with the police. Forced to join
the Hitler Youth, he must call up all his
strength to save himself from falling
prey to Nazi propaganda. Thomas, not
wanting to separate from his best friend,
joins Peter, assuming he can have the
"best of both worlds" - Hitler Youth
by day, swing kid by night.
Peter soon gets an idea of the atroci-
ties for which the Nazis are responsible,
and must decide whether to rebel and
face the consequences of a totalitarian
society, or to remain silent and have to
live with his own compliance. Thomas
has no such trouble with his part in the
HitlerYouth, becoming enraptured with
the power and glory that go along with
conforming to the Nazi ideal. The dif-
ferent route taken by each rips at their
friendship as their respective worlds
fall apart around them.
"Swing Kids" is a movie about
friendship and youthful rebellion, but
on a deeper level, it is a movie that asks
some painfulquestions. Howcould what
happened in Nazi Germany have gone
as far as it did? Why did the German
people accept Hitler and his actions?
Why didn't someone stop the Nazis?
These are questions that have been ex-
plored repeatedly in countless genres,
questions worthy of the attention they
gamer. And "Swing Kids" asks them
again with a fresh focus, and skillfully
avoids shoving a moral message down
the throats of its viewers.
Although the picture mixes plot with
revue in the same vein as "Footloose"
and "Dirty Dancing," the music and
dance in "Swing Kids" succeed in bal-
ancing the disturbing dark side of the
film. The big band sounds make you
long for the pre-lyrical era, and the well-
choreographed dance numbers are guar-
anteed to popularize swing lessons in
the same circles that were learning to
dirty dance a few years back.
The film's only major flaw is its
uncertainty as to what audience it's try-
ing to target. The themes and the matu-
rity of its castsuggest that "Swing Kids"
is for the PG-13 and above crowd. How-
ever, while being released under the
auspices of Hollywood Pictures (a
branch of Walt Disney Productions),
"Swing Kids" is at its core a Disney
movie. Visions of "Candleshoe" dance
in your head as the police chase Peter
and Thomas through an open air mar-
ket. Aside from the use of the word
"fucking" (as in "You're turning into a
fucking Nazi."), the movie is very clean
and Disney-ish, with no sex, no gratu-
itous violence (and there were places
where both could have easily been
added). Still, Disney is a class opera-
tion, and "Swing Kids" hangs on to its
appeal among post-Disneysomething-
No, it don't mean a thing if it ain't
got that swing. "Swing Kids" takes on a
heavy load without compromising any
of its all important swing. Doo-wop,
SWING KIDS is playing at Showcase.
Have You Seen My Wig Around?
Don't wait until you've gotta pay scalper's rates for bad seats in some sold-out Enormo-Dome to see this tribe of
visceral power lords - Experience apocalypse NOW. Ann Arbor's very own manic malcontents Wig bring their
sonic sexnoize back home with a gig at the Blind Pig (dig?). They're fresh froim the underworld with a new vocalist
(Clark Nova) and three sleazy, grunge-killer tunes (and don't call these cats grunge - that's far too nice of an
adjective). "Gun Groove," "Luciferus" and "Sedrick" all seethe with trip-hammer intensity and World War Ill end of
it all doomsday destruction. And baby, they look good doing it. Wig storms the stage of the Pig (208 S. First)
tomorrow night, with thrash 'n' boppers Wax and Seattle kids Green Apple Quickstep. What, are you on crack or
something? - Go!
Meet our mechanics
They're factory-trained to do top quality work... and they don't take
weeks to do the job. Oh, and lest we forget, they are well-read; fully
versed in the tech manuals from the bike and component companies.. .not
to mention the literary greats.
So the next time you come by don't forget to ask for our current
service specials.. .or their review of War andi Peace.
RE" RDSexe.s eA'qAqtWAT
1140 South University
(Above Good-Time Charney's)
- Ann Arbor, MI 48104 M EET M
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