'Workin' shows hardships of life
by Kimberly Gaines_
The lights went down and the actors walked
single file out onto the stage. A loud, drumlike beat
began and suddenly there was motion in one person,
then two, then three until the motions and human-
Workin' For A Livin'
March 19, 1993
made sounds of an assembly line were everywhere,
still in the dark. All atonce the actors began chanting!
singing "Beat Beatin' to the rhythm of the daily
grind. Work workin' to the ground of the assembly
line." The song was catchy and the harmony incred-
ible. After walking out of the performance, I found
myself humming this tune over and over again.
Last weekend, Elise Bryant's "Workin' For A
Livin"' showed at Performance Network. If you
missed this incredible musical don't worry, because
it is a work-in-progress. The polished and com-
pletely finished vision will probably arrive in Ann
Arbor in the fall.
Based on the boxk by Elise Bryant, with original
music by Dwight Peterson, "Workin for a Livin"'
communicated two central ideas: the hardship and
reality of blue-collar workers' lives, and the bigotry
and discrimination which is very real in the workers'
environment. 'Ihe lyrics to these songs contained
messages like "(;ivin' your soul to the Company
time, Give it up for the almighty dollar sign."
This musical was a collaborative effort of two
union-based theatre groups, Workers Lives/Work-
ers Stories and the Underground Theatre. The stories
told in the play are based on the lives of real people
that Bryant has met along the way. She wrote some
of the parts for specific people who are not profes-
sional actors or members of either theater group.
Before the show began, Bryant came out on stage
to remind us that this was only a reading. The actors
would all have their scripts and the musical solos
would be performed by Dwight Anderson rather
than the characters themselves. She also let us know
she would hold a discussion panel afterward to take
any criticisms we, the audience, had.
While you might think this would be like watch-
ing a rehearsal and very boring, this was far from the
case! While it was a completely new experience, this
preliminary performance was entertaining, funny,
heart-warning and sad at the same time. More than
anything else, however, it was full of potential.
Even if you aren't aregular theater-goer, "Workin
For A Livin'" was worth seeing for the ingenious,
music of Dwight Anderson alone. His lyrics and
melodies communicated perfectly the feelings of the
workers. Also, his use of the guitar as both percus-
sion and strings was incredibly effective.
Actors Henry Fonseca and David CurtisasManny
Martinez and Pops Lawton deserve special recogni-
tion for their incredibly funny and equally convinc-
ing portrayals of working-class men who so easily fit
the stereotypes of others.
Bryant also acted in her play in a small side part,
however her influence was obvious. Her enthusiask
and openness to improving her work was evident,
and she is hoping to find investors to support the final
This performance will leave you touched, moved,
amused and aware of the working-class lifestyle. It
is definitely something to remember as a must-see
when it's in final production.
'Dream' of a score
Leslie Raymond's "inside Out" mixed-media installation at the Matrix
Gallery eerily evokes other worlds from the past and outer space.
Raymond, a native of Taos, New Mexico, skillfully uses, of all things,
pancakes, to create a unique environment that can't be easily forgotten.
1 . 1 i . 1 . i L
Famous Film People
Lots of famous people graduated
from this fine University and three of
them are coming to visit. In conjunc-
ert Shaye, David Newman, and John
Lyons, .will be acting as the National
Advisory Committee for the Program
as well as holding a panel discussion
for faculty and staff, Thursday at the
Nat. Sci auditoriam from 4:00 to
6:00p.m. Open to the public, the fea-
tured topic is "The State of The Film
Industry Today."Don't forget your re-
sumes and your Blistex, but you have
to wait behind me.
A 1960 graduate of the B-school,
Robert Shaye is the founder and CEO
of New Line Cinema Corp. His
independant company is responsable
for such cinematic masterpieces as
"Nightmare on Elm Street," "Teenage
comedies like "My Own Private
Idaho," "The Player," and "Roadside
Prophets," starring Beastie Adam
Horowitz. In 1990 this Renaissance
man made his directorial debut with
"The Book of Love."
David Newman has a B.A. and a
M.A. from U of M. With the help of
former Esquire magazine co-worker
Robert Benton, Newman penned the'
famous "Bonnie and Clyde." They also
wrote "What's Up Doc?," and "Bad
Company." Also, Newman directed aI
film in France and collaborated on thej
"Superman" films with wife, Leslie.
Also heading his own company is
B.A. graduate, John Lyons. His casting
agency, the appropriately named Lyons
Casting, works both in New York the-
atre and L.A. film production. He has
castfilmslike, "The HudsuckerProxy,"
" Lorenzo's Oil," and "The Unbear-
able Lightness of Being." In addition
Lyons helped set up the Mark Silverman
Fellowship for Producers at Sundance
in memory of the alumnus.
by Jody Frank
If Jordan Smith can combine law
school and theater, why can't his char-
acter Brandi (Julie S uzzane Miller) find
a theater at Columbia instead of having
If You Dare to Dream
March 19, 1993
to go to New York? At the age of eigh-
teen is Brandi ready to give up the
opportunity to go to college to explore
her other options? I found her decision
to give up everything for an unrealistic
theater troupe in New York City a bit
extreme. Is college really that limiting?
Despite technical difficulties and bad
choreography, themusic in "If YouDare
To Dream"made up for the faults in the
presentation and weaknesses in the
storyline. The majority of the music
was catchy and creative. In particular,
"Get with the Program" was an original
way to introduce Brandi to the rest of
the theater troupe with the "bio' s in the
back of the program."
Some other songs that stood out
were those of the "Sleazy Director."
Beverly Pooley gave a believable and
funny characterization of a slimy direc-
tor who was ready to give Brandi top
roles if she would become his mistress.
His was one of the strongest perfor-
mances, with great facial expressions
and stage presence.
faltered. Her voice was strong and clear,
but it was her stage presence and more
specifically, her stiffness, that bothered
me. Also, she seemed rather static, oc-
casionally putting a good amount of
emotion into her lines, but mostly show-
ing only a lost or pouty look.
One of many problematic gestures
in the show was Garrett's (Bob Klebcr)
over-done arm movement. KlIher
seemed bound to his repeated gesture of
raising his arms then letting them drop
to show his frustration. Of course he had
reason to be frustrated, considering this
was the point in the show when Brandi
found out the truth about the non-exis-
tent audience and he couldn't even re-
member the lines.
I was disappointed as Smith broke
away from his previous originality with
"The Rusty Nail," a popular pub for the'
characters. It was too similar to Cheers
- complete with many of the same
characters and complaints, in particular
one man whose comment about his
wife could have come straight from
Norm's mouth. The song "No Place
Like Home" was only slightly changed
from Cheers' theme song.
Ready for the second half to begin,
the lightswentdownthe curtain opened,
the music got underway, and then they
started dancing. I was expecting some-
thing waltzy and doo-woppy. Instead, I
saw what looked like square dancing
and an attempt at ballroom dancing that
might have worked if it wasn't so slop-
pily organized. I couldn't even pay at-
tention to the song, I was cringing too
much. The only positive aspect of the
whole scene was the sword-fight with
cool music describing the action, like
the music back-up in silent movies.
For a show that was still being writ-
ten as the performance date drew near
and never had a fullrun-through, it was
admirable. With some revision, adiffer-
ent choreographer and a different cast
(besides the few that stood out, namely
Beverly Pooley and Katy Homburger,
who played Roxanne) the show has
by Kim Yaged
"Seven plays in seven days." It's
Playfest '93. While other students
have been writing papers and cram-
ming for exams, the students in
OyamO's Theatre 420: Playwriting
Towards Production have been doing
rewrites, rehearsing and all the basic
preparations for the productions that
This is the third consecutive year
that OyamO, with co-coordinator Kate
Mendeloff, has instructed the course.
The concept is a take-offof the promi-
nent Eugene O'Neill Festival in Con-
necticutin which OyamOhimselfhas
participated and the playwrights work-
shop at the Yale School of Drama
where Mendeloff and OyamO ini-
tially became acquainted.
Ihe format of the class is that
OyamO chooses seven plays from
those submitted to be worked on for
the term. There are in-class readings,
then casting and rehearsals. OyamO's
focus is on the playwriting while
Mendeloff works mostly with the di-
rectors and actors. Both instructors
stress the importance of the collabo-
ration process in getting the play from
paper to the stage. As OyamO said,
"A play isnotaplay until otherpeople
work on it, until it's up on its feet ...
breathing and crying."
In addition, one of the primary
goals of the class is to provide stu-
dents with an as close to "real life"
experience as is possible within the
classroom setting. Mendeloff said that
OyamO feels the more responsibility
and practical experience he can give,
the better he is at his job. She also
explained that OyamO and she used
to try to be "Mommy and Daddy" to
the students, but now they mostly trmy
not to interfere so that students can
leam to work difficulties out among
themselves. Again the emphasis is on
In addition, the-instructors pride
themselves on the freedom they al-
low the students. Mendeloff said,
"Telling people how to create some-
Seven plays in seven
days: Playfest '93
thing is not the way to create artists ...
You can't dictate an aesthetic. You
don't follow some book of direc-
OyamO agrees. He is not inter-
ested in telling students what they can
or cannot write about. "Sometimes
I'm just as shocked with what they
come up with as they are." Everyone
is strongly encouraged to experiment.
The productions themselves are
minimalistic in that the emphasis is
intended to be on the text. To stress
this point, the actual performance
week of the plays this semester was
pushed up. This will allow time for
rewrites in the remaining classes after
the production. This way, the feed-
back given to the playwrights during
the discussions, which follow each
production, can be utilized.
Although this schedule allows for
less rehearsal time before the produc-
tion, because the productions are done
script in hand it allows playwrights to
make changes during rehearsals. The
final product that makes it to the stage
is somewhere between a staged read-
ing and a workshop production. Ac-
cording to Mendeloff, "[It's] about
building the script ... We do not cre-
ate something alone."
Productions begin tonight and
continue throughout the week in the
Arena Theatre in the basement of
the Frieze Building. Performance
tine is 5p.m., except where
indicated: Shows are free and open
to the public. There will be short
discussions following each
Monday, March 22 "This Side of
the Moon "
Tuesday, March 23 "Electra"
Wednesday, March 24 "Roornies"
Friday, March 26 "Across the
Saturday,March27 "Dancing inthe
Shadow of Redorical" 2 p.m.
House Creed" 7p.n
Sunday March 28 "Sunday Chats
With Sensible Children" 2 p.m.
Morris's show combines diverse influences
by Alexandra Beller
If you believe in reincarnation, you
will probably agree that in his past lives,
Mark Morris was a composer, a
zookeeper, a standup comic and the
March 20, 1993
bratty crowned prince of a small coun-
try. His dances, such as those in his
performance atthe Power Center Satur-
day night, have the mark of each life:
startlingly precise musicality, quirky,
animal-like gestures, obvious and
unselfconscious humor and the jaunty,
smirking Morris, usually dancing right
alongside his company.
His musicality- is the most striking
aspect of his choreography. He works
intimately with the score; his move-
ment is linked inextricably with each
phrase, often each note. Not only is he
driven by the music, but sometimes his
movement is psychic enough to antici-
pateandpush thesound forward, giving
the illusion of simultaneous creation.
Quite often, as in the ecstatic and
breathtaking finale, "Gloria," set to
Vivaldi's "Gloria in D," this technique
of music visualization works on an in-
tensely beautiful level. The movement
and music meet somewhere above the
stage, ignorant to the effects of gravity.
At this point, the combination surpasses
analysis and dissolves judgment. The
dance sailson the music; itfilters through
the air, past your mind and goes straight
into your body.
The opener, "Bedtime," performed
to three lieder by Franz Schubert, was a
wonderful introduction to the company.
We were allowed to meet the dancers
one by one. They came to us as lyrical,
dreamy spirits and gestured not only
toward the music, but also towards the
text, at times acting out, step-for-word,
what was happening in the song. The
movement was enchanting and lovely,
but was dashed with humor and self-
His technique did not work as well
in "Beautiful Day,"aduet forJoe Bowie
and Olivia Maridjan-Koop. There were
some gorgeous moments, as when
Bowie would "pluck" Maridjan-Koop
as a gong was sounded. Yet overall, the
dance didn't meet the continuity and
flow of the music and, at times, the
echoing of the score seemed almost
In "Three Preludes,"a series of three
solos for Morris, we got a sense of the
inspiration behind the technique. Set to
Gershwin's"Three Piano Preludes," the
dances were witty and cheeky and re-
minded us that unlike many of the great
choreographers of our era, including
Balanchine, Twyla Tharp and Merce
Cunningham, no one does Mark Morris
like Mark Morris.
He doesn't simply dance to the mu-
sic; he dances the music as though he
were making it, as though his instru-
ments were his hands, feet, torso, hips.
Gershwin and Morris make the perfect
duet: campy, clever and courteous. As
fun as it was, the movement at times
lacked the ripe sensuality of Gershwin
and, although Morris is most definitely
a dynamic and effusive performer, the
movement was not always as full as one
would like to see him perform. He
seemed, at times, to be too bound to the
music, too committed to the precision
of the notes and somehow a bit of the
thrill of the mood was lost.
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