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September 11, 1996 - Image 6

Resource type:
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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1996-09-11

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Purple night at the movies
Just as we were privileged to see the classic French film, "Belle de
Jour," last year, we are again blessed with the re-release of another
popular piece of cinema francais. Rene Clement's 1960 film, "Purple
Noon,: about a handsome young American who gets into problems
when living in Europe, is running for the next few weeks at the
Michigan Theater. Tonight's show is at 9:15.

Wednesday
September 11, 1996

6

Broadway stars
rule 'U' faculty
member's 'Irene'

Pearl Jam comes
back with 'No Code'

By Kristin Cleary
and Tyler Patterson
Daily Arts Writers
This weekend, for the first time on any
stage, University faculty playwright Ari
Roth's "Goodnight Irene" will be per-
formed by Ann Arbor's own
Performance Network. The play, which
was commis-
sioned by the
prestigious off- PR'
Broadway Man-~
hattan Theater
Club, will get its
preliminary AtPerfo
showings at the SePt.29.

lT
rmar+

Performance
Network before moving on the national
hot bed of theater, New York City.
This production marks the beginning
ofPerformance Network's 15th season
and certainly is a highlight in their rela-
tively young history. The play, staged by
nationally acclaimed director and
King/Chavez/Parks Visiting Professor
Gilbert McCauley, examines the histor-
ical dynamics of the relationship
between African Americans and
American Jews and the recent changes
in this relationship.
In addition to the excitement sur-
rounding this new work, "Goodnight
Irene" will be featuring two well-known
and reputable actors: Peter Birkenhead
and Tim Rhoze.
Peter Birkenhead plays Ethan
Goodman, fledgling editor of an urban
activist journal, who is driven by an
interminable guilt to ease race relations.
Birkenhead recently completed touring
as one of the lead roles in the Broadway
production of Tony Kushner's Pulitzer
prize-winning play, "Angels in
America."
Birkenhead has worked with play-
wright Roth before several years ago on
a production called "Oh, The Innocents"
and felt a connection with both the writer
and his work. Birkenhead was very

involved in the evolution of "Goodnight
Irene" from its original draft form sever-
al years ago to the current version of the
play that will be staged this weekend.
However, he says, "The play is very
dynamic, which is good. It changes
focus quite a bit."
Co-actor Tim Rhoze has also helped
transform "Good-
night Irene" into
:VIEW what it is today.
Goodnight Originally from
Detroit, Rhoze
Irene began his career at
ice Network through the Detroit
all 663-0681 for info. Repertory Theater
where he received
the Detroit News Award for Best Actor
1990 in the popular work, "Fenses."
More recently, Rhoze has been working
out of the Goodman Theater in
Chicago, where he was introduced to
director McCauley four years ago.
Rhoze was a latecomer to the
"Goodnight Irene" team and had some
initial apprehensions about his inclu-
sion among his co-workers, but says:
"It's been great. That stepchild feeling
disappeared quickly." Rhoze is now an
integral part of the production and has
greatly improved everyone's experience
with the play.
Birkenhead said, "The experience
went up a mile high, just took this big
leap. Working with Tim has made it
everything I had hoped it would be and
everything I was afraid it wouldn't be."
Birkenhead has had a long relation-
ship with Roth that he thinks of as more
than professional. He considers working
with people like Roth the highlight of his
career. Both Birkenhead and Rhoze
claim that Roth is easy to work with.
Rhoze says, "Ari asks for feedback, and
he actually wants it!" Birkenhead says
that Roth's love and passion for the play
has brought it far and promises to make
the production successful.
The actors' relationships with

By Elan A. Stavros
Daily Weekend, etc. Editor
Pearl Jam's fourth full-length album
marks the beginning of their second
effort in two years at trying to launch a
real concert tour without TicketMaster.
"No Code" (Epic, ***) notably
displays a few of the band's recent
influences. The first single, "Who You
Are," belies Eddie Vedder's pairing
with Pakistani
singer Nusrat
Fateh Ali Khan
on the likewise
spiritual "Dead
Man Walking"
soundtrack. And
Neil Young's
touch (from Pearl
Jam's collabora-
tion with his
1995 albumĀ«
"Mirror Ball") These little guys a

re

cover.
The range on the album is decent,
from the wildly screeching, short
"Lukin" to the story-telling, ponderous
"Off He Goes." "Hail, Hail" musicy
reminds one of "Vitalogy's" politie
"The Whipping" while the ballad
"Sometimes" recalls "Betterman."
However, one could argue that by
aimlessly sampling a variety of sounds.
Pearl Jam is
doing anything
but the safe,
expected rehash,
es of the master-
piece "T ,
Their unreal po
ularity has
become that o
the masses
(album and ticke
sales); they're no
Pearl Jam. as well-

Tim Rhoze and Peter Birkenhead star In Ad Roth's "Goodnight Irene."

McCauley are also positive and healthy.
Rhoze describes his friendship with
McCauley as "having grown immensely
in the last two weeks, and now we're on
a different level." Birkenhead adds, "I
cannot say enough good things about
Gilbert. I love the way he thinks about
this play and I love the way he thinks in
general about life. He's got a real big
brain and a real big heart and they're
working well together."
Performance Network, which has
made a living off of original work, has
never produced anything of this magni-
tude. It has never been chosen to pre-
sent to the world-at-large a piece com-
missioned by a reputable New York-
based company. However, this produc-
tion does seem to extend a theme began
last year with this company by produc-
ing works written by playwrights at the
University. Last year "Famous

Orpheus" written by Oyamo had a suc-
cessful run here at the Performance
Network.
If chemistry is any indication then it
would seem that a worthwhile produc-
tion is imminent. However, there is no
guarantee in the industry of theater that
a show will succeed. There is risk for
the small theater company who endors-
es original work. There is risk for the
actors who are continuously building
resumes. Finally, there is risk for the
playwright who with every new play
and every public performance places
his reputation at stake.
Although, the talent assembled here
for this production is certainly better
than most Ann Arbor ensembles, noth-
ing guarantees it will succeed. The
stakes have been raised and the tension
is high, and if that does not attract an
audience, nothing will.

can be heard on
"Smile," a hard grunge rock piece.
Some critics are saying "No Code" is
simply a half-hearted effort to stay
planted squarely in the middle of alter-
native-turned-mainstream music by
pretending to experiment.
In one sense, they may be right:
While the instrumentals are as strong as
ever, if not too reminiscent of earlier
work, Vedder's lyricism leaves a little to
be desired - the first few times around
anyway. It seems his ability grows more
opaque, both audibly and philosophi-
cally. When you actually can hear what
he's saying, it makes less sense than
usual, even with the partial lyric sheets
included in the ever-creative CD pack-
age.
This time, the CD container is anoth-
er decorated cardboard book, but it
folds out with hidden pockets, exposing
photos and lyric sheets on the backs of
little cards that look like Polaroid pic-
tures. The tape is sold in a few differ-
ently painted styles - hopefully obses-
sive fans won't run out and buy each
type. The credits even list band mem-
bers and others as apparent photogra-
phers of the "144 Polaroids and black
and white" photos on and inside the

acclaimed by th(
industry as they used to be. If they have
wanted to change that, it hasn't worked
Vedder obviously favors expandi
his emotional range rather than con
ually playing the role of Gen-X angst
But never fear, he doesn't abandon hi
intense social consciousness complete
ly with "Present Tense" and "I'n
Open." And again he addresses the
fame forced on artists in the introspec
tive "Off He Goes:" "I wonder 'bout his
insides/It's like his thoughts are too big
for his size."
One thing that hasn't chan v
remains the creative and strong abilia
of metal guitarist Mike McReady and
drummer Jack Irons - each pushes hi
instrument to the limit. Stone Gossan
even gets into the singing act with the
punk song "Mankind."
In the end, the album remains gener
ally interesting and musically entertain
ing. While no band can be all things t
all people, though critics seem tc
expect it, perhaps Pearl Jam simply
isn't trying to. They've still got a to
time to do better work, and they seen
committed to getting there.

See RECORDS, Page

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