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January 31, 1996 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1996-01-31

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

tUF1he nItdtu&iIt

Loud and Crazy
Check out a loud, local band revving it up at the Blind Pig tonight.
That's right, Reid Flemming, Peachfish and Melk are all playing. Tickets
are available at the Michigan Union ticket office.

AL AKI& January 31, 196

Guthrie Theater not like old times
91wo new classic adaptations fail to communicate to audiences

By Erin Crowley
For the Daily
When a double-billing weekend at
the theater leaves you feeling dried-up,
as fthe stage has become a vacuum of
cold, incongruent silences and enig-
matic visual metaphors with little fer-
vor and no real bite tojolt our mounting
Iepectations, one is reminded that drama
not a synonym for theater.
Power Center
Jan. 27 & 28, 1996
This past weekend the Guthrie Theater
Minneapolis arrived at the Power Cen-
terto stun and unsettle sold-out audiences
with its prodigious productions of Harold
Pinter's "Old Times" and Garland
Wright's "K," an adaptation of Franz
Kafka's "The Trial." If the audience's
hushed wonderment seemed to attest to
the poetic power of these productions,
one can attribute that collective awe more
to the audience's confusion than to these
productions' success at exposing the meat
*4these masterpieces.
Commendably, the Guthrie has de-
voted itself to performing classical the-
ater in rotating repertory at its home
bases of Minneapolis and St. Paul for
the past 33 years and has achieved in-

ternational recognition for its high ar-
tistic and technical standards.
Artistic Director Garland Wright's de-
cision this season to pair Pinter and Kafka
was undoubtedly an inspired choice. From
Kafka's nightmarish world - where a
hostile, dehumanized universe fights to
stifle and wreck the human will - we
enter Pinter's room where beneath the
artifice of verbal simplicity and conven-
tion, the presence of an equally threaten-
ing kind of hell inflects and disrupts every
uttered word and gesture. Unfortunately,
the Guthrie's productions could not find
asatisfactory stage-language to sound the
alarming undercurrents and pitches of
these chilling texts.
That's not to say the productions
lacked professionalism or artistic vi-
sion. Kafka's "The Trial," the story of
Joseph K.'s unexplained arrest and con-
demnation for committing a crime never
disclosed to him, became in Wright's
adaptation a set of theatrical variations
depicting prisons of all forms.
Opening with aseries ofsilent, dream-
like images - a bourgeois scene of
croquet in the park, a squalid night
scene in the dodgey corners of town -
spliced together in arresting flashes of
light and blackouts, we were introduced
to a timeless world where every figure
and every word echoed in a mirage of
surreal imagery. As black flats moved
silently and furtively and characters
disappeared and reappeared within the
evolving space, the boundaries between

one space and the next dissolved, draw-
ing us deeper and deeper into the illu-
sory territory of Joseph K.'s mind.
As visually intoxicating as the per-
formance became, the imperfect pacing
of the play created holes where there
should have been a mounting sense of
shared horror at Joseph K.'s inability to
reclaim his life. One powerful moment
found K.'s body lit from behind so that
he became an intangible outline ofnega-
tive space -a symbol of a man unable
to verify his existence. If the movement
of the play had managed to warrant the
startled, throaty cry that K. choked down
at the sight of his impalpable hand,
perhaps we too would have been jarred
out of our seats.
Like the production of"K," Wright's
interpretation of "Old Times" failed to
layer the language and movement of
the characters with the thick tension a
Pinter play demands. When Kate's
friend, Anna, comes to visit her and her
husband, Deeley, at their home in the
country, a linguistic battle ensues in
which Deeley and Anna partake in
elaborate reinventions of the past in a
struggle to define and possess Kate and
her affections. In this production,
Anna's stately composure positioned
against Deeley's blatantly aggressive
and erratic attacks on Anna turned what
should have been a well-matched duel
of creative counter-maneuvers into an
absurd overreaction on Deeley's part.
The lesbian connotations written into

Here we see a scene from Harold Pinter's'
the text - consider that Anna used to
borrow Kate's underwear - were in-
appropriate, as Anna never seemed des-
perate enough for Kate's attention and
came across more as a matronly, stoic,
mother figure than a potential ex-lover
on the prowl. Deeley's almost comical
jealousy and Anna's inability to make
her sexual presence threatening pre-

"Old Times."

vented this battle from becoming a
"knock-down-drag-out fight for the
importance of Kate's life" - a fight in
which the characters' own struggle for
self-verification must also be at stake.
What's more, the silences between the
characters became more like comic
interludes and charades of social awk-
wardness than expressions of the char-

acters' fear of disclosing the poverty
within themselves.
While the Guthrie Theater admirably
professes to create theater that "deepen(s)
our connection to each other and to the
world we share," these two particular
productions have made me more of a
stranger than a friend to those connec-

No changes for Tesla

Melos Quartett
Jvorak's "American " Quartet
Harmonia Mundi France
In 1892, Antonin Dvorak was invited
by a wealthy American patroness to
come to New York in hopes that he
would create an "American" school of
music. Despite his subsequent musical
success in the United States, he quickly
began to feel homesick for his native
*zechoslovakia and, after nine months
here, he decided to visit Spilville, Iowa,
where there is a settlement of Czechs.
Duringhis first full day in Spillville,
Dvorak jotted down the song of a
local bird and within three days had
begun work on his String Quartet in
F, "The American," which introduced
this song in its scherzo. Three days
after its completion, he set to com-
'osing the String Quintet in E-flat,
Which includes a fragment of Native
American melody, which he learned
from a Native seller of medicinal
At the time, American composers
almost exclusively followed European
compositional styles. However,
Dvorik felt that, "the new American
school of music must strike its roots
deeply into its own soil," and, quite
prophetically, predicted that African
,merican music would provide this
The African and Native American.
influences in these two works, paired
together on a new recording by the
Melos Quartett, have been heavily
modified by the composer, however,
and the music doesn't really have the
character of either. They are both
lively, easily listenable pieces of mu-
sic which have a countryside charac-
, and make no great demands on the
The Melos Quartett's performance is
emotionally dynamic without losing
technical precision; the recording is
clean, with a soundstage that is perhaps
a little wide-but this is not unsuited to
the music. Though I would not consider
these two works essential to every mu-
sic library, I would recommend this
recording to someone who wanted to
*wn them.
-Craig Stuntz
Brian McKnight
I remember you
Mercury Records
With "One Last Cry," the first single
off his debut 1992 album, a true ballad-
,er had become a star. Few could help
coming addicted to his haunting voice
- an attractive paradox of smooth
roughness and strength-filled shyness.
After a two-year hiatus, McKnight
returned with his smash remake of Van
Morrison's classic "Crazy Love." But a
single just isn't enough to quench one's
r 1 Mt F1 } - II A T .{ .1 1 /13P .: Y (

we'dexpect)isacool song. But, Ireally
don't care. It's the ballad stuff I want,
the stuff brothas can use when we don't
feel like having to work too hard for
some. McKnight, always looking out
for his boys, knew exactly what to re-
lease. After a few chords from "Still in
Love," "Every Beat of My Heart" or
"You," I guarantee the ladies will be
too drunk on McKnight's musical ro-
manticism to refuse.
Just as bedazzling as McKnight's
vocal and lyrical splendor is his intrigu-
ing piano execution. A gifted pianist,
McKnight is a magnificent self-accom-
panist, coordinating his voice with his
music to produce Siamese twin-like
interplays. His musical repertoire is
equally soul-snatching whether he's
wooing a girl ("Your Love is Ooh") or
praising the Lord ("The Day the Earth
Stood Still").
In all honesty, with the exception of
"On the Down Low" and a couple of
others, most of the LP's 15 songs sound a
great deal alike. It's as if McKnight cre-
ated one musical measure and sped it up
or slowed it down to match different cuts.
Some will tire of what sounds like mo-
notonous musical replay, while others
will beenthralledby its slightdrowsiness.
Regardless of how you react to this
small shortcoming, if you know any-
thing whatsoever about balladeering,
you will certainly respect and come to
love the class, style and romance cours-
ing throughout "I remember you." As
McKnight himself once said, "Poetic
romance will always be the most beau-
tiful music of all." After a peep of "I
remember you," you'd be hard-pressed
to dispute him.
- Eugene Bowen
See RECORDS, Page 9

By Tim Furlong
Daily Arts Writer
If you vould have gone to see Tesla
back in their prime, say '89 or'90, you
would have seen a semi-popular metal
band playing radio-friendly hits to their
loyal metal fans. Those fans would
have consisted mainly of big-haired,
leather-clad pseudo-rock posers with
their fists in the air and their girlfriends
held high on their shoulders, all trying
to capture the attention of their favorite
band member.
Sad to say, if you were at the State
Theatre on Friday night to catch the
Tesla concert, you would have seen the
exact same thing. Yes folks, it was like
walking into a time machine and being
magically thrust back to those carefree
days ofAqua-Net and tight-fittingjeans.
It felt like a bad dream from junior high.
Tesla is a band that has managed to
last for almost a decade. I figured that
they must have modified themselves a
little to keep up with the times, even if
their fans hadn't.
I was dead wrong, and I knew it
when the guitar player came running
onto the stage with his guitar blaring in
a fury of note density. I turned to look
at all of the fists in the air. I was in
Detroit, the land that time forgot. This
mass acceptance of a band long past its
prime is the major reason why records
labels tend to look elsewhere for bands
they are going to sign. Apparently major
labels feel that Detroit is just a bit
behind the times when it comes to
music, and the Tesla concert is proof
positive that they are correct in that
Not to take anything away from Tesla;


State Theater
Jan. 26, 1996

they came on and played their little metal
hearts out and they really seemed to con-
nect with their audience. By the roars they
were receiving I'm certain all of their fans
left the show feeling very satisfied that
they had seen a great band perform an
excellent show. I myself was even im-
pressed when Tesla put down theirelectric
guitars and played a mini-acoustic set
(mainly to showcase the songs ofthe"Five
Man Acoustic Jam").
The problem is that people who go out
to see a Tesla show still believe that
there is a future for that particular genre
of music; the fact is that there simply
isn't. I hope there weren't any aspiring
musicians at that show because they just
might go home and try to copy that
outdated sound with their own bands.
If Detroit is going to have any say in
the future of the music industry, then it
is going to have to start letting go of all
these past influences and begin to jump
into the wave of the future. I have a
newfound respect for bands like Sponge
and the recently signed Hoarse because
I am painfully realizing that the percep-
tions of the music biz toward Detroit are
not without merit.
There's nothing wrong with being a
Tesla fan, but if you are, could you please
keep it to yourself, because the next time I
review a Tesla concert in Detroit I hope
that the only sound coming from the audi-
ence is from the crickets.

r{ _____

Brian McKnight wrote one great record.







A __ _/m

Amrak's tudent Advantage
drill 1.. I A, AU IIIL.. I ~mm ~s ~

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