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November 10, 1994 - Image 11

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1994-11-10

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Confessions of
a Trekkie
Space, the Final Frontier. These
words have sent many a trekky into a
state of delirium as they open each
episode of "Star Trek" and "Star
Trek: The Next Generation." And
with the opening of "Generations,"
what promises to be a big box office
hit, a week from tomorrow, these
same trekkies everywhere are all in a
tizzy.
I can't say that I am a die hard fan.
In fact, my heart lies solely in the

v i f. x y
JustaThought
next generation. Something about
aptain Kirk never lit my fire. But
at Jean-Luc has got to be one of the
sexiest men in the galaxy, even if he is
old enough to be my grandfather.
Some true trekkies mock me be-
cause I don't like the original episodes.
Maybe I'm a sellout to the special
effects and super technology of the
new show, but who cares anyway, it's
still a fabulous source of entertain-
Sent.
When I found out "Next Genera-
ton" was going off the air, I, along
with several of my friends, was dis-
traught. What was I going to do with-
out my weekly dose of Data trying to
find emotions, Deanna and Worf flirt-
ing and, well, simply looking at Jean-
Luc as he came to the rescue, always
just in the nick of time?
But after the initial disappointment,
got over it. Unfortunately, not every-
ne did.
I have one friend who drops every-
thing to watch reruns. She could be in
the middle of hooking up with Patrick
Stewart himself and she would stop if
"StarTrek"came on. Last semester she
almost failed out of school because of
her obsession. She has cast photos cut
from magazines, mostly of Stewart, in
srames by her bed. She's strange but
e's not alone.
What is it about this show that has
driven people to such insanity? What is
it that makes people try to learn to
speak Klingon? Why do people flock
to conventions in hopes of catching a
glimpse of their favorite character?
Maybe it is because all of us se-
cretly long for the kind of adventures
the crew of the Enterprise embark on.
Maybe we wish the fiction of traveling
"he galaxy will someday be a reality
and by watching we can experience
that reality now. Or maybe it is simply
that we find Captain Picard sexy? (Do
you sense a pattern here?)
Whatever our individual reasons
are, the experience of Star Trek is one
which sharpens the imagination. What
I wouldn't give to be able to step into
,e Holodeck or voyage through a
tormhole. How cool would it be to
step through a time gateway into a
different time period.
Never in my often weak imagina-
tion would I have ever considered
experiencing a loop in time where
you relive the same hours over and
over. (For those who might not know,
this is probably a temporal distur-
bance in the time-space continuum.)
pow that I have been watching "The
Next Generation" for several years
these scenarios have become regular
topics of discussion.
Now that the regular episodes of
the series can only be seen in reruns,
many of us are left with a void. It's as
if a probe has zapped our conscious-
ness into an entirely different world.
We are left reliving our favorite mo-
ments, like when Jean-Luc became a
%org or any visit by Q.
Ouronly salvation is the opening of
"Generations" which we can only hope
will not be a disappointment. Unfortu-
nately, it is likely to fall short of expec-
tations considering that a two-hour
movie can't compare to seven years of

Arms and the Man

Comedy meets philosophy,
audience up in 'Arms'
By MELISSA ROSE BERNARDO
When "Arms and the Man" opened a century ago, it
received waves of laughter. A complete success, you
might guess, but not for the playwright.
Reportedly, Bernard Shaw was dissatisfied with the play's
uproarious reception. So what's wrong with that picture"?
Jim Mezon, director of the Shaw Festival's current produc-
tion of "Arms" clarified. "He wasn't upset with the laughs: he
always thought himself to be very funny, and he is. He was upset
with the fact that the audience didn't take some of (the play)
seriously."
As soon as the curtain goes up ,
Shaw plunges the audience into
what appears to be a very serious,
situation. The setting is the 1885
Serbo-Bulgarian war, which looks
like it could be any war-torn coun-
try.

By
S ince its founding in 1972. the Shaw
Festival maintains a proud position
as the only theater company in the
world dedicated to the production
* of works by Bernard Shaw ( 1856-
*1950) and his contemporaries. Nestled in Niagara-
Son-the-Lake, Ontario, the Festival enjoys a reputa-
Stion as one of the most successful repertory compa-
Snies in the world. It is also one of the largest, fourth
Sin line following the National Theatre (London,.
England), the Royal Shakespeare Company (Lon-
don) and the Stratford Festival (Stratford, Ontario).
SThanks to the generous efforts of the University
Musical Society (UMS), Ann Arbor audiences
Swon't have to travel across the border to visit the
SShaw Fest. Last year VMS hosted the Stratford
Festival: this year, continuing their newly-estab-
Slished tradition of theater residency programs, they
welcome the Shaw Festival for nearly a week's
,worth of performances and other activities.
SThe Shaw Festival will present Ben Hecht and
*Charles MacArthur's gritty "The Front Page" and
SBernard Shaw's self-proclaimed "anti-romantic
comedy" "Arms and the Man." In a recent phone
interview Festival Artistic Director Christopher
SNewton discussed their upcoming Ann Arbor visit.
"(Ann Arbor) was an interesting place to play,
and (w~e also wanted) to cover a market which
includes Detroit." Newton said of their decision to
come to the University. "That has not traditionally
Sbeen one of our closest markets, but (it has been)
one that we always wanted to get into."
The Festival has toured in the past - they were
the theater company in residence at the 1988 Win-
ter Olympics in Calgary - but has never taken
"residence" in a University community like Ann
Arbor. Taking two of their shows on the road is
about the equivalent of taking two Broadway shows
on the road, according to Newton. Approximately
50 cast, crew and other types will be towed along.
The Festival presents 10 shows per season; of
Sthose 10, three are Bernard Shaw plays, and the
*rest are plays from the period of 1856-1950. The
SFestival operates in three theaters -the Court
SHouse, the Royal George Theatre and the Fes-
tival Theater - each of which varies dramati-
cally in size and repertoire. Both "Arms and the
Man" and "The Front Page" come from the Festi-
x val Theatre, the largest of their three theaters, the
Stwo productions specifically requested by UMS.
S"Of the three this year in the Festival Theatre
S(the other being William Gillette's 'Sherlock
*Holmes') these two seemed best to introduce us to
this audience in Ann Arbor," Newton explained.
"'Arms' is a great Shavian comedy, it's 100 years
old; and 'The Front Page' is one of the great plays
Sfrom between the war years in the United States, so
Swe're doing two modemn classics if you like." In
,design and staging, both productions fit pretty
well into the Power Center.
Though they may look alike on the surface,
Sdon't compare the Shaw Fest to Stratford. "We
have totally different repertoire and a totally dif-
ferent style of playing," Newton said. "We're

compared only in the sense that Stratford is the

e Shaw Festival
in Ann Arbor
Melissa Rose Bernardo
largest theater company in North America and
we're the second largest. It's strange that both of
(us) happen to be in Ontario, and both of (us)
happen in small towns, so by that token we have
a few things in common. We're both one of the
five largest English-speaking repertory compa-
nies ... but we're quite different in repertoire and
in style."
Newton admitted that his audience is not made
up of many college students or Ann Arbor types,
but hopes that this visit will succeed in gathering
a few more patrons.
"(Our crowd)," Newton explained, "tends to
be (older), because we are a resort town, we're not
a destination.
"But because of the nature of where we are,
we'll always attract a crowd who want a little of
the nostalgia of the past, (who) want to use (the
work) as we use it, which is as a window unto the
past to let us know where we are now.
Being a window to the past, Shaw's work has
the tendency to appear dated and too thick to
comprehend nowadays. Newton, however, sees
no such barriers for a contemporary audience.
"We seem to be communicating pretty well in
English. It's written in English, and it's much
more accessible than Shakespeare. So for a gen-
eral audience these pieces are easier, if you like,
than Shakespeare. And you've got two great plays,
one American one Irish, so you've got an interest-
ing sort of offering," he said.
So what can Ann Arbor expect from Shaw?
"What we pride ourselves on is the ensemble
playing, and I think that's most apparent in 'The
Front Page.' Also, we have a very high reputation
for design ..." Newton commented. "The fact that
we're unique as a company; no one
else specializes in this period,
from 1856 to 1950.
And you don't have to travel
to find us."

00 00o

) be

True

Enter Swiss mercenary Captain
Bluntschli, who in seeking refuge
stumbles into the bedroom of Raina
Petkoff. Being the typical Shaw
heroine, Raina has her own
ideas about love and war in-
grained into her soul, and might
as well have them tattooed on
her forehead. Love ensues be-
tween the two enemies, and
what follows is Shaw's
skewering of both of their ideals
(and everyone else's for that mat-
ter).
Mezon claims that his and his
cast's treatment of the play is
true to Shaw's intentions, and
contains quite a few good laughs
to boot.
"We present the play as we
think Shaw wrote it," he ex-
plained. "What we've learned
this summer in the past 100
performances, is that the au-
dience thinks it's funny. It's
See ARMS, Page 10 g
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The Front Page

See page 10 for a complete schedule of Shaw performances; look for the reviews on Friday
November 18th's arts pages.

Mean

Arms and the

41 . ", 1. -- 1 -, ", X l' ,- .1 1.-- 1 I I I I 1- 17-- *l . -.4 ! .

Turn to 'The Front Page'

By MELISSA ROSE BERNARDO
i t's rude, it's crude, it's politi
cally incorrect. Surprisingly, it's got
nothing to do with Rush Limbaugh. It's
the Shaw Festival's production of "The
Front Page," accosting soon a theater

sically his coming of age in a bitter,
decaying, patriarchal society that's fall-
ing down around him, and he's hoping
that there's something better in the world
than is coming his way."
The backstabbing, scooping and other

I

me

==

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