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January 11, 1995 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1995-01-11

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'Piano' teaches valuable lesson

*ew modern playwrights have
been able to embody the spirit and
culture of the African American ex-
perience as poignantly and poeti-
cally as August Wilson. This week-
end, in conjunction with the Martin
Luther King Day celebrations and
Black History Month, Ann Arbor
Civic Theatre will be presenting
Wilson's Pulitzer-Prize winning
d ma "The Piano Lesson" at the
ia.Mendelssohn Theatre.
Set in Pittsburgh during the de-
pression, this powerful drama deals
with one black American families
struggle to overcome their enslaved
ast while still paying homage to
heir history. The main obstacle
omes from the brother's desire to
ell the families prized piano in
opes of buying the land that his
wily once worked as slaves. His
ister, who possesses the piano, de-
ides that selling the ornate piano
hat symbolizes the families past
ould be untrue to their legacy.

With MLK Day approaching, di-
rector Simian Ha feels that this play
embodies much of what Martin Luther
King jr. believed in. "The whole
aspect of trying to advance socially
and come to terms with our history of
blood and sweat is embodied in the
play." Besides that, Ha believes that
the courage and strength of the family
and the power of Wilson's drama will
make the play accessible to a multi-
cultural audience.
Dealing with Wilson's wonder-
ful writing has proved an inspiring
task for Ha and his cast. "I think
August Wilson has written beauti-
fully in terms of language and
rhythm," says Ha. "In those terms
it's always a challenge to match up
to the writing." In this drama, Wil-
son has interspersed searing family
drama with African spiritualism and
supernatural occurrences that deal
with the heritage of the piano. Ha
tried to find the reality in the world
of the play without the realistic con-
straints and trappings of society.

Added to the play are a number of
songs that help to represent the feel-
ings of the past and the pain of their
ancestors, while also embodying the
uplifting experience and courage their
ancestors experienced during their
fight for freedom.
This play is also representative
of the new movement in African
American culture. Wilson's enor-
mous talent as a playwright and a
storyteller has aided in the spread of
African American playwrights to
be accepted into the American mass
culture. "The Piano Lesson" is an
important front runner in this rela-
tively new movement, and should
prove to be a very entertaining and
uplifting evening of theater.
Wilson will be performed
Wednesday-Friday at 8pm and
Saturday at 2pm & 8pm at Lydia
Mendelssohn Theatre. Tickets range
from $12-$16 and are available at
the Mendelssohn box office. Call

Sarandon's 'Safe' bet for Oscar

*And the nominees for Best Ac-
tress are..."
1994 provided Hollywood with
its biggest box office gross ever. How-
ever, producers should hang their
eads in shame. The lack of films

Safe Passage
Directed by Robert Allan
with Susan Sarandon and
Robert Sean Leonard
howcasing the talents of women will
e embarrassingly apparent next
th, when the Academy Award
onations are announced. Thank-
ully, Susan Sarandon demonstrates
hat true skill still survives, and that a
apable performer can transcend ob-
tacles in order to deliver a magnifi-
ent performance.
Based on a novel by Ellyn Basche,
Safe Passage" depicts the tension
md fear experienced by a family dur-
n three days of crisis. Mag
ndon), a mother of seven sons,
opes with the possibility that one of
ier children has died in a Mideast
arracks bombing. As she waits for
ither a phone call from her son or a
isit from a representative from the

Marines to announce her child is
dead, Mag steels herself, as a source
of strength for her other six sons, as
well as her estranged husband Patrick
(Sam Shepard). In waiting for the
official word, the Singers confront
various rivalries and disagreements
from the past.
"Passage" feels at times like a
stage play, so confined is the action.
Nevertheless, it works as an interest-
ing and certainly captivating premise.
Deena Goldstone's screenplay suc-
cessfully creates moments of both
joy and terror while characterizing a
likable, realistic family.
Unfortunately, while Mag,
Patrick, and a few of the sons receive
extensive exposition, some of the
other boys seem little more than ex-
tras. Similarly, many of the conflicts
and resolutions among the sons come
off as contrived.
Overlooking some storytelling
errors, "Passage" nonetheless offers
a most enthralling roller coaster ride.
Thank Sarandon for this. In creating
Mag, she utilizes a huge range of
moods and personalities, combined
with intelligence and wisdom. Acer-
bic wit, untempered anger, solid de-
termination - Sarandon runs an
enormous and most impressive emo-
tional gamut. Through it all, she re-
mains completely convincing.
Sarandon's genius comes from her
ability to take realism to a higher
plane. Rooted in authenticity, she

turns in a stellar performance.
The men of "Passage" fare with
varying degrees of success. Shepard
manages some nice moments as a
father coping with an unraveling mar-
riage, middle age, and deteriorating
eyesight. However, he fails to show
the blunt, ruthless edge Patrick sup-
posedly contains. Both Robert Sean
Leonard and Sean Astin as the eldest
two sons accomplish little more than
slowing down and muddling their
scenes through their cutesy shtick and
maudlin broodings. Casting un-
knowns might have been a smarter
decision, as evidenced through Nick
Stahl. As 14-year-old Simon Singer,
he offers credible and sophisticated
ensemble work.
"Passage" is not a perfect film.
However, it invites beckoningly to its
audience, and provides a terse drama
peppered with humor and warmth.
Even more important, it showcases
the incredible gifts of Sarandon. Since
this movie opened on a limited basis
last year, it is eligible for the Oscars.
Whetheror not Sarandon will be nomi-
nated along with Jodie Foster or sit on
the sidelines with Linda Fiorentino
remains to be seen. In either case,
Sarandon's performance sends ames-
sage: while counting the bucks raked
in by the "moron elite" (a la Jim
Carrey) and cartoons, don't forget
about the women of Hollywood.
SAFE PASSAGE is playing at

All gentlemen
is asking University men tired of singing
to their shampoo bottles to join a new a
cappellagroup.Friedman hasposteredthe
campus with fliers about today's mass
meeting, funding the project out of his
own pocket at a cost of about $150.
"I love a cappella music," he said.
"the people on my hall know I sing in
the shower." Friedman was a member
of the Men's Glee Club for four years.
He served as the group's business man-
ager as a junior, and last year he was
president. This year, Friedman decided
to pursue other interests, like his recent

should audition
quest to form The Gentlemen A
The group will not be the first he's
formed. While interning at Microsoft in
Seattle, Washington two summers ago,
he started a group called the Sardines.
The group used to perform at the Public
Market."ThePublic Market is in ascene
in 'Sleepless in Seattle,"' he said. "It's
downtown by the water, with all out-
door stores. We used to have gigs there."
Friedman's always wanted to start a
group here on campus. The group will
be different from others like it on cam-
pus because it will be the only main-
stream a cappella group for men. "Ex-

for A Capellla
cept for the Friars," he said. "But you
have to be in the Glee Club to be in the
Friedman sees the group giving a con-
cert near the end of the term. As the
mastermind and driving force behind the
group's formation he has already invested
alotofhisowntimeandmoney but, "itwill
all be worth while once we perform."
Mass Meeting for the Gentlemen A
Cappella is tonight at 7 PM in the
Michigan Union Anderson Room
AB. Auditions are Saturday January
14, 1 PM and Sunday, January 15
at 1 PM in the Michigan Union
Michigan Room.

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/ Laughtrack Present:
Stand-Up, SKITS & Improv Co44edy of...


forkwo UnSigral
Tuesdays, January 24 and 31 February 7 and 14,199
6:00 p.m. -7:30 p.m.

Thursday, January 12
- -, 10:00 PM in the U-Club
$5.00 (Entree Plus accepted)
or assisted listening device, please call 763-1107 one week prior to event.


If you need sign language, interpreter

space is limited.Attendance at alltour meetings is expected.
Call 998-7210 to register
Registration deadline - January 18, 1995


* Designed for women in their junior or
senior years at U of M
0 Join us in an interesting four-week
discussion series to plan for your future.

Career decisions and
relationship goals will
be the focus

Presentations, reading
and open discussion
using resources available
at the Center for the
Education of Women and
Career Planning and


Make decisions carefully to get you
to the place you want to be in life.

Presented by the Center for the Education of Women and co-sponsored by Career Planning and Placement
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Symposium
Program on Intergroup Relations and Conflict (IGRC)





Monday, January 16,1995
Modern Languages Building



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