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March 08, 1993 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 1993-03-08

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ARTS

The Michigan Daily sonday, March 8,1993 Page 5
MTVmetNSa

Search in 'hpact'
by Jody Frank
Itwas Star Search night atMendelssohn Theatre this weekend, complete with
showy dancers, a stand-up comic and live music - the only thing missing was
Ed McMahon. On the whole, the performance of the Impact Dance Theatre was
lively, and with the exception of a few slips, the talent was there. The problems
arose due to overambitious choreography which, with the exception of "Rhap-
sody" and "Black Magic Woman," was geared more toward the flashy moves of
MTV videos, only without the necessary synchrosity.
C RBeginning gently with a dim blue
twilight andmusic like raindrops, danc-
Impact Dance Theatre ers came out in pairs to gracefully
Mendelssohn Theatre extend a leg in the center of a V of other
March 5, 1993 dancers on the floor. This quiet begin-
ning of Val Boreland's dance "Chil-
dren" jumped quickly into a funky piece complete with a turning blue siren. In
this energetic, yet sloppily organized dance, the casual costumes --jean shorts,
white t-shirts and tennies - created a fun contrast with the subdued opening.
In the second dance, choreographed by Rebecca DeFay, Jill Higgins, Lisa
Renna, and Elaine Wang, a rap singer, Justin Lancer or "Unjust" brought the
performance even closer to Star Search. The rap drew attention from the dancers,
cheapening the dancers' performances.
"Journey Through Hell," another ofBoreland's pieces, had a good beginning,
as the dancer's costumes effectively created eerie silhouettes. Unfortunately,
Boreland got carried away on a tacky theme of a dancer in white, taunted by
demon dancers in black only to be eventually turned bad by an evil goddess in
red. There were moments of good movement, but it was mostly melodramatic
and too overtly thematic -a little subtlety would have been nice.
Lisa Stacilauskas, on the other hand, took the tired theme of two girls
competing for one boy, and made it a classy piece that, though hardly profound,
worked due to itsappropriate theatricality. Set toajazzy Gershwin tune, this bold
dance (including ballet, tap and jazz) was the only one performed in full lighting,
having no need for shadows to hide in.
Anotherexcellentpiece was "Black Magic Woman," by guest choreographer
Lisa Clinton. A Spanish tone made the dance exotic and fun to watch. The
supporting dancers performed well; however, a few of them were dancing on
pointe, which jarred the congruity of the piece as a whole, seemingly presentonly
to show off their own talent.
I left the performance with "the Monster Mash" in my head from the bizarre
finale, choreographed by Jill Higgins, set to none other than "A Monster
Medley." A Halloween piece, this dance began in a cloud of smoke with three
trick-or-treaters: a skeleton, mouse and zombie. The other dancers wore all black
with ballet skirts, some gray, others, black, playing evil Halloween spirits that
pulled the others off-stage. In the end, they all came back dressed as zombies as
they did what? Why, the Monster Mash, of course. The dancing, however, was
lost in the stage effects.
More disturbingly, the night was pervaded by a sexist theme, evinced by the
style of dancing and the comedian's jokes. Each time he came onstage betweenI
the dances, Joel Zimmer made a comment on the nakedness of the changing
dancers in the wings. The dancers, too, allowed their bodies to come before the
dancing, wrapping themselves in exploitative costumes and playing up sexual
movements. In a dance group of mostly women, it would have been nice to see
them giving themselves some respect.

I

The theme of guilt underlined the Performance Network production of "The Professor Has a Warcry."

Powerful performances drive this 'Warcry'

by Karen Lee
In the dim of the lights, an Indian man entered
beating a drum, followed by another Indian, who
was whipping himself. Stopping in the middleof the
playing area, the Whipper (Steve Godfrey), to the
rhythm of the Drummer (0. Andrew Schreiber),
The Professor Has A Warcry
Performance Network
March 4, 1993
danced a strange jig around the whip. Then the two
left the same way that they came in.
This episode served to underline the guilt that
was at the center of "The Professor Has A Warcry,"
a play by Partap Sharma that is being performed at
the Performance Network. In exploring the effects
of the 1947 Indian Partition and the riots that resulted
on modern India's identity, the production focuses
on the conflict between Professor Gopal Das (Peter
Knox) and Virendra (Troy D. Sill).
Das, who during the riots had promised his dying
cousin that he would take care of his wife, aban-

doned the woman at a railway station. Now, after
twenty years of waiting in that station, she dies,
torcing Das to come to terms with his guilt for not
having kept his promise. Virendra, the woman's son,
attempts to find his own identity by piecing together
his parents' history and is sure that Das is his father.
Das claims that he isn't, and therein lies the central
conflict.
The play was performed against a plain black
background, with only three platforms of varying
heights available for the actors' use. Director Sree
Nallamothu kept the production simple, and there
were no distractions from the simple power of the
script and of the performances. Sill showed con-
vincing fervor as Virendra, ably portraying the con-
flict within himself between hate for Das, and the
need for validation and love.
Annette Powers, in the role of Sally Gunther,
Virendra's British-descended lover, who tried to
help resolve the clash between the two men, did the
best she could with a severely underwritten role.
Sally was drawn as the typical British outsider who
simply did not understand Indian culture or history,
and thus made things worse for everybody involved.
The character came off as one-dimensional and

stupid.
While these actors were good, however, thenight
belonged to Knox and dancer Sejal Shah. Knox gave
the role of Das a quiet dignity and grace, making the
guilt palpable and bringing the audience into his
ordeal. Watching him read sections from his diary
about the anarchy of the Partition riots was devastat-
ing; the audience watched him relive the agonies all
over again.
Shah was wonderful as well, especially since
hers was a non-speaking role. Playing a character
known only as the Demon, Shah, through a complex
combination of Western mimetic movement and
classical Indian dance, appeared as the demon of the
characters' respective memories. Her hand gestures
and facial expressions were very specific and quite
vivid; there was no question as to whatshe was doing
there.
In her first time out as a director, Nallamothu
created a powerful and affecting piece of theater.
She had a lot of help from Sharma's script, which
provided her with the harrowing images of riot and
rape that she needed to work with. But it was
Nallamothu who elicited the performances that drove
those images home to the audience.

'White Men Can't Jump Goes to New England'

by Jon Altshul
"Amos and Andrew," is the most
socially responsible comedy that should
never have been made.
ILM REVIEW

Amos and Andrew
Written and directed by E. Max
Frye; with Samuel L. Jackson
and Nicholas Cage.

Subtitled "White Men Can't Jump
Goes To New England," and starring
Samuel L. Jackson as Wesley Snipes
and Nicholas Cage as Woody Harrelson,
the film ambitiously confronts racial
stereotypes with energy and class. No
bull shit. No half-assed moralistic we-
can-ive-in-harmonycrap.Justpoignant,
well-intentioned comedy.
The problem with "Amos and An-
drew," then, is that it never really gets
uncorked. The film spends no time es-
tablishing its characters or environment.
Instead, it delves head-firstinto itssome-
what ridiculous story line. As a result
the ensemble is left with a skunk of a

screenplay to work with. Simply put,
the film masquerades as a TV movie for
too long before it rolls up it sleeves and
finally gets funny mid-way through the
adventure.
Cage and Jackson do what they can
with stale roles. The confinements lev-
ied upon them by Max Frye's rotten
script are so tight that we are almost
forced to empathize with their plights.
Essentially, rather than let the actors
develop their own personas, we are told
who these characters are by peripheral
cast members - Jackson, the black
Ph.D., and Cage, the white petty crook.
Though this device works somewhat
interestingly in the context of the film as
it creates a medium conducive for the
perpetuation of racial stereotypes, it ul-
timately impedes upon the enjoyability
of "Amos and Andrew." The two leads
are defined not by themselves, but by
others, and that message becomes all
too clear all too soon.
The story - lest you haven't al-
ready gathered from the picture's ad-
mittedly catchy trailers - concerns

Andrew Sterling's (Jackson) innocent
attempt to move into his recently
acquisitioned vecation home on a plush
New England resort island. Andrew is a
wealthy, militant African-American,
who is, by his own admission, a "thorn
in the side of the white man." While
trying to get settled in, two shithead
neighbors mistake him foracrook. What
else would a Black man be doing in
New England? What a friendly world.
The police show up, fire some bul-
lets, then realize they're shooting at a
man in his own house. The audience's
patience wanes. Amos O'Dell, a petty
Canada-bound five-and-dimer is hired
to fake a kidnapping and save the pigs'
hides.
What follows isn't very interesting,
so I'll leave it at that.
The bottom line is that this screen-
play is too piss-poor for its own good.
Spare us next time, E. Max Frye. It's not
really funny or engaging or even coher-
ent. But it is kind of heart-felt.
Cage and Jackson do get allchummy.
The catch, however, is that their friend-

ship seems to come from nowhere. Es-
sentially, the way in which the film
deals with racial issues is too contrived.
Consider, for example, the title ...
Jackson, for his part, appears bored
with the story as it drags on. He removes
himself from the plot, eitherconsciously
or not, with his apathetic mannerism
and stale lines. Hence, the bulk of the
film rests squarely on Cage's shoulders.
But his Amos is no H.I. McDonnough
(see "Raising Arizona"). Lacking the
naive phlegmatism and surreal aura of
his previous depictions of petty thieves,
he plays this role straight. Probably a
wise decision, but certainly a disap-
pointing one.
So they bond and then they fight and
then some unfounded allegations fly.
The moral is something like this: people
are measured by their environments,
not by themselves.
It can be very unsettling to hate this
film. Unfortunately, we never have much
of a choice.
AMOS AND ANDREW is playing at
Showcase.

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THE ROAD TO THE FINAL FOUR
Ticket Lottery Information for
Student/Faculty/Staff Basketball Season Ticket Holders
1993 NCAA Regionals & Final Four
(Regionals) Location Date Price
East Meadowlands Arena, E. Rutherford, NJ March 26 & 28 $58.00
Southeast Charlotte Coliseum, Charlotte, NC March 25 & 27 $51.00
Midwest St. Louis Arena, St. Louis, MO March 25 & 27 $61.00
West Kingdome, Seattle, WA March 26 & 28 $65.00
Final Four Superdome, New Orleans, LA April 3 & 5 $65.00
Applications for Regional tickets will be accepted March 15 - 17.
Results posted at M Union Box Office & Athletic Ticket Office Monday, March 22.
Applications for Final Four tickets will be accepted March 15 -24.
Results posted at M Union Box Office & Athletic Ticket Office Monday, March 29.

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