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October 08, 1996 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 1996-10-08

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8 - The Michigan Daily -Tuesday, October 8, 1996

MONK
Continued from Page 5
logical age, where the Internet replaces
personal communication, individuals
cannot remain solitary, rather they still
thrive on human contact and acceptance.
Not only through staging, but also
through sound, Monk effectively creates
a world in which technology encroaches
the human, threatening our communi-
ties and traditions. The occasional rum-
bling of a train interrupts pre-show chat-
ter. A ringing telephone cuts off a cli-
nactic moment of singing at the end of
the second section. Throughout the
interruptions, the performers remain
Themselves, trying to connect with each
other amidst the simultaneous notion
that human community is being lost.
. The vocalization breaks into actual
iext only once during the opera, a tech-
tique Monk rarely uses because she
prefers her audience to find their own
images within vocal sounds and notes. A

section that developed out of perform-
ers' improvisations, it resonates with the
darkness of this century and suggests the
possibility that a community can turn
into a nightmare. "Don't even try." "You
have no heart." The performer's words
are ruthless and isolating, as they break
from their mass to yell at the audience.
Working as an artist for more than 30
years and creating more than 100 works
that skillfully join voice, movement,
music and film, Monk has done every-
thing from solos and full-length operas
to site specific work that requires
bussing audiences to different loca-
tions. Throughout all this, Monk has
lost none of her humanity or apprecia-
tion for the everyday aspects of life and
draws on these things for her works.
Despite the enormity and complexity of
her large works, they remain personal
and powerful on a purely gut level. Her
themes transcend time periods and her
works from 20 years ago have as much
prevalence today as they did then.
"The Politics of Quiet" is no excep-

tion. Within its somberness is an appre-
ciation for the present and life's smaller
gifts. Monk's incorporation of two local
children and antique looking slides of
the performers holding everyday
objects suggest her notion of our past
continually informing our present. Life
is an ongoing cycle and we have to be
careful not to lose ourselves and com-
munity along the way.
The fourth and final section looks to
the future as performers ceremonially
dip mundane objects into beeswax and
water, in an attempt to preserve them. A
hairdryer, ice pick, stapler, baseball
mitt. Each item is tenderly stroked
before submersion into the wax and
lovingly placed on simple rectangular
alters at the front of the stage. Only an
artist as down to earth and human as
Monk can transform an ordinary ham-
mer into a monument. Monk titles this
last section, "Birth of the Stars," ending
"The Politics of Quiet" with the sugges-
tion of a community even larger than
the human one.

'Gourd' kicks off drama season

By Christopher Tkaczyk
For the Daily
Captivating and personal, "Greta's
Gourd" is a wise choice to kick-off
Basement Arts' fall season. Thursday's
opening performance proved to be hys-
terically funny as well as emotionally
touching. The play, directed by Jeffrey
M. Bender, is a
set of four inter-
woven mono- RE
logues which
portray life as ...
seen through the
eyes of the
show's writer and
lead performer,
Greta Enszer.
Contributing to the production's suc-
cess are actors Matt Witten and Stacy
Aronoff, who play quite well opposite
some of Enszer's quirky personas.
The first story to emerge from
"Greta's Gourd" is that of "The Dentist,"
in which Enszer portrays an unhappily
married woman, desperately contem-
plating her husband's murder. Especially
poignant is the very opening of the show,
in which Enszer emerges, ferociously
brushing her teeth to the sounds of the
climactic aria "Nessun dorma" from

Puccini's opera "Turandot." As the song
comes to an end, she bites off the head of
her toothbrush, which leads into her trip
to the dentist. At the dentist's office, she
is supplied with much-needed anesthet-
ics, as she begins to explain her lifas
problems to the poor dentist. Her perfor-
mance is very convincing as the charac-
ter jumps from
subject to subject.
I E W She eventually
creates a huge
Dta's Gourd metaphor for her

ire

Arena Theater life, comparing
herself to her
Oct. 3. 1996 toothbrush.
The second
part of the play tells the story of how
Enszer learns from her doctor, the voice
of the play's director, that she has geni-
tal warts. Showing the character's
hypochondriac side, she first worries
that she may have cancer or AIDS when
the doctor asks her to discuss her test
results. This time, Enszer is no longer
worrying about the murder of a hus-
band, but about her own death. She con-
templates suicide, using quotes from
the likes of Jack Kevorkian.
The play contains many strong
images of death as Enszer tells the audi-

Join the Daily Graphics staff. Come to a meeting Thursday at 6 p.m., 420 Maynard.

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JOE WESTRATE/Daily
Greta Enszer performs Thursday.
ence about the plans for her own dis-
posal. This carries into the third mono-
logue that deals primarily with the
death of Enszer's older sister. Titled
"The Ticket," it tells of-a time when
Enszer was pulled over by a state troo
er along 1-75 and issued a speeding
ticket. She eventually leads into the
death of her sister, who was tragically
killed in a motor vehicle accident.
Drawing tears into nearly everyone's
eyes, Enszer's message is straightfor-
ward and chilling: No matter what is
said or done, nothing is going to bring
back loved ones who are gone.
Enszer's performance during this
monologue is the best reason to attend
her show. Her gripping recount of hov,
she learned of her sister's death evokes
the strongest of memories of losing
those dear to us.
The final monologue, titled "The
Dream," addresses her childhood and
how she dreamed of flying. She shares
her secrets of how to build the best
house for her Barbies out of Dr. Seuss
books, as well as specifically detailing
the true story of "The Little Mermaid"
- not to be confused with the glamor-
ized Disney animated film version,
which Enszer willingly denounces. She
connects the true mermaid story, :in
which the mermaid does not get mar-
ried to the prince, to her own life anwd
her dream of flying. Beautifully
detailed, Enszer's flight paints a picture
of death as being beautiful - a contrast
to the sickening images of death pre-*
sented earlier in the play.
Enszer's dabble in playwrighting hi
paid off; her show is worthy of a full
Arena Theater. Although only a little;
more than an hour in length, it provides
an in-depth invitation into the life of a
warm, funny, touching individua.'
Bender has directed an excellent pro-
duction of Enszer's delightful play.

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