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January 19, 1993 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 1993-01-19

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ARTS

Painful poetic 'girls' avoi(

by Melissa Rose Bernardo
Just to put you in perspective, in
"forcoloredgirls who have considered
suicide / when the rainbow is enuf,"
eight women of color took the stage of
Mendelssohn Theatre and brought to
life the poetry and prose of Ntozake

for colored girls ...
Mendelssohn Theatre
January 15, 1993
Shange. They did not have names;
rather, they were represented only by
colors. And from their first entrance to
their last exit, their voices and their
messages reverberated from a practi-
cally bare stage, throughout the the-
ater.
Shange's poetry was clearly the
star of the show. At the beginning, we
were entreated to "sing a black girl's
song / bring her out to know herself."

Shange's poetry went on to discuss
sex, rape, abortion, and violence with
startlingly realistic descriptions. We
have been conditioned to believe that
poetry is only good if it uses high-
flown language, extended metaphors
and regular meter. But Shange used
everyday dialogue (gasp!), profanity
(blush!) and even (brace yourselves)
sentence fragments to bring her mes-
sages across.
"latent rapists"' was one of the
most powerful pieces. Four women
(the ladies in red, blue #1, blue #2 and
purple) alternated dialogue to show
their disgust with date rape. "Pressing
charges will be as hard as trying to
keep your legs closed while five fools
try ... , " they lamented with bitter
sarcasm.
While the poetry dominated the
production, the acting of the women
brought Shange's poetry to life. Each
woman is to be commended for her
depiction of numerous characters and

for making continual switches from
comedy to tragedy. In addition, when
a few women combined to perform
one poem, their timing and blend was
impeccably clean - for example, in
"latent rapists' and "a nite with beau
willie brown."
In "abortion cycle #1," Lakeisha
Harrison (the lady in blue #2) made a
strong impression as a woman reflect-
ing on her abortion. She reclined on a
table, and put her feet in imaginary
stirrups, while bitterly spitting out sen-
tence fragments-all at once shocked,
ashamed and bewildered by the act.
Nikysha D. Davis (the lady in green)
displayed her versatility as a sassy,
loud-mouthed woman in the comic
"somebody almost walked off wid alla
my staff," and as a battered mother in
the tragic "a nite with beau willie
brown."
Director Evelyn Collins opted for
minimalism in order to emphasize the
poetry. The set consisted of four black

"
1 chiches
blocks which the actresses used for
sitting or standing. Lighting was used
brilliantly as a backdrop to match the
color of each woman performing. The
wash of color was framed by black
wing curtains to create a picture frame
motif. At the end, the lights created a
rainbow to shine on all of the women,
symbolizing the light of hope.
Just to emphasize, "for colored
girls ..." was not the same old sugar-
coated, star-studded, Hollywood-
happy-ending bullshit to which we
have grown so accustomed. Contrary
to popularbelief, female bonding does
not have to be done in a beauty parlor
while exchanging recipes, with tears
flowing like Niagara Falls. Life is not
"SteelMagnolias."Shange's goal was
to give women of color - and all
women -a chance to discover them-
selves by looking at realistic experi-
ences. As a woman, I echo Shange's
sentiment: Find God in yourself -
and love her.

The Tokyo String Quartet gave an intense performance of Bartok's quartets.
FeroCiouS al-Bartok
by Kirk Wetters
The Tokyo String Quartet's all-Bartok concert was characterized by ferocious
virtuosity and a searingly intense physical sound. Their performances were more
impetuous than subtle, and the morecomplex aspects ofBartok's idiomwere often
left unexplored.
Bartok's third quartet, which is his most abrasive and complicated, opened the
program and clearly showed the Tokyo Quartet's strength's and weaknesses. The
thrilling playing nearly made up for the
Quartet's frequent inability to clarify
the work's elaborate counterpoint. The
Tokyo String Quartet fragments of Hungarian folk melody
Rackham Auditorium also could have been more colorful and
January 14, 1993 characteristic. ,
The greatest problem with the con-
cert had nothing to do with the Quartet's playing. Single-composer concerts are
rarely as successful as concerts which include a variety of music, and this one was
no exception. In fact, Bartok was hurt by his own excellence: Because of their
demanding nature, his compositions require prolonged attention and concentra-
tion, which is difficult to maintain throughout an entire concert. A more balanced
program might have opted to include an lighter piece, such as a Haydn quartet,
between two Bartoks.
The Tokyo Quartet gave its finest performance in Bartok's first quartet. This
turbulent, emotional piece was nearly ideally suited to the Quartet's fiery
interpretive style. The concluding performance of Bartok's fifth quartet was also
excellent, although it suffered from many of the same difficulties as the third.

i

Danme it J-C, you're not an actor

by Michael John Wilson
With the decline of Arnold
Schwarzenegger, it's time for a new
athlete who can't act to become a star.
Arnie did not make a single film in
1992, except for some cheap comedy he
directed for TNT, and his next action
film is ominously titled "Last Action
Hero."
Who will fill his shoes? Though
"Under Siege" made a bundle, Steven

on the soundtrack. Immediately, we re-
alize, this ain't the Wham Bam Van
Damme days of "Lionheart." The story
makes Van Damme an escaped convict
who redeems himself by protecting a
widow (RosannaArquette) andherchil-
dren from some evil land developers.
And yet the filmmakers want it both
ways: in between the sentimental fam-
ily moments they toss in all the gratu-
itous Van Dammisms of early B-pic-
tures like "Black Eagle." After saving
the family from some attackers with a
baseball bat, he gloats, "Strike three,
you're out."
As a result, "Nowhere to Run" fails
as action picture and as melodrama. In
less ambitious movies like "Under
Siege" we could at least enjoy the glee-
fully gratuitous violence, as Seagal rips
a guy's throat out and sticks a knife in
some poor schmuck's skull. Here, the
violence is restrained, and not all that
exciting; the possibilities of a pitchfork
are especially wasted. The intervening
dramatic sequences, too, are just plain

boring, particularly in the quiet mo-
ments between father figureVan Damme
andMookie(KieranCulkin,Macaulay's
younger and equally annoying brother).
The rest of the supporting players
are better than anyone Van Damme has
ever worked with. Director Robert
Harmon ("The Hitcher") manages a
few thrills, including a cool P.O.V. shot
from a bullet, despite the cliched con-
clusion. TedLevine(thepsychokillerin
"The Silence of the Lambs") and Joss
Ackland ("Lethal Weapon 2," "Tinker
Tailor Soldier Spy" are a deliciously
slimy pair of villains.
The main problem with such a sub-
stantial story is that it forces Van Damme
to act. He's not up to it. Acting, to him,
seems to mean whispering; he pro-
nounces everything in hushed tones,
including dumb one-liners like "Au
revoir, fucker."
Then again, nobody likes
Schwarzenegger for his acting ability;
his appeal lies in his presence, that
intangible quality that makesa star. And

despite the fact that he's never made a
good movie, Van Damme does have
that kind of appeal. And it's not just his
good looks-OK, maybe itis. But with
the right story Van Damme just might
become another Arnie.
NOWHERE TO RUN is playing at
Showcase and Briarwood.

Learn about Hartigan
Today the UMMA is giving an
object lesson on Grace Hartigan.
Hartigan herself came here to
speak last semester, but if you
show up to the museum at noon
you'll have to settle for docent
Barbara Krause. The talk is called
"The American Place Series:
Grace Hartigan in the Late 80's."
Call 764-0395.
Good Movie Bad Movie
James Foley's film adaptation
of "Glengarry Glen Ross" is
playing for only one night on
Thursday at the Michigan. We
advise you to avoid it all costs.
This piece of tripe shows why
some projects are only meant for
the theater and not for the screen. If

you want to see the best elements of
theater adapted to fit the screen, stay
home and rent Ingmar Bergman's
"Cries and Whispers" instead. Like
"Glengarry Glen Ross," "Cries and
Whispers" has a very theatrical
sensibility with its limited number ol
characters and changes of setting
and its slow, almost nonexistant
plot. Yet Bergman realizes that
screen is a visual rather than talky
medium (which Foley forgets) and
therefore streamlines the dialogue,
letting the images carry the day. In
fact, one of the most crucial scenes
in the movie is completely silent.
Also, Bergman manages to make his
images seem naturalistic, instead of
forced for an Effect, unlike Foley's
cloying expressionist style.

Nowhere to Run
Directed by Robert Harmon; written by
Joe Eszterhas and Leslie Bohem and
Randy Feldman; with Jean-Claude Van
Damme, Rosanna Arquette, Kieran
Culkin, Ted Levine and Joss Ackland.
Seagalis toobrutalanddevoidof charm
to appeal to anyone beyond his men-
under-25 audience. Dolph Lundgren is
a possibility after his hilarious perfor-
mance in "Universal Soldier," but he's
a bit too offbeat looking, i.e. he's ugly.
Hopefully Brandon Lee ("Rapid Fire")
and Brian Bosworth ("Stone Cold")
won't ever be heard from again.
That leaves theMuscles From Brus-
sels, Jean-Claude Van Damme. His lat-
est film, "Nowhere to Run," is his at-
tempt to break out of hard-core
kickboxing flicks and into the main-
stream. Unfortunately for him, the film
is probably too mainstream for a vio-
lence audience and too violent for a
mainstream audience. Still, despite the
mediocre script and Van Damme'sclear
inability to act, he does demonstrate the
kind of appeal that could make him a
star someday.
The film opens with a beautiful shot
of a sunset over a rolling landscape as
MarkIsham's solemn, meditative score

Van Damme

l

LInu
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