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October 06, 1999 - Image 9

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1999-10-06

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Jhe Allure of Everest
Anthropologist Sherry Ortner comes to Shaman Drum. Ortner,
the author of "Life and Death on Mt. Everest: Sherpas and
Himalayan Mountaineering," will discuss the cultural interaction
between mountaineers and their guides. 4 p.m.

A~t tRTSu&it

Tomorrow in Daily Arts:
Weekend, etc. investigates student use of the Internet
on campus.
Wednesday
October 6, 1999

9

Excited cast
leads 'Escape'

Bono to read from
coming-out guide

By Jeff Drucilak .
Daily Weekend, etc. Editor
On the surface, "Escape from
Happiness" feels like one expects a play
to in its final days before performance.
The cast of theatre department students
is excited about opening the University
Productions season. The director, depart-
ment Prof. John Neville-Andrews, is
optimistic about matters coming togeth-
er in time for opening night.
One might say things have gone
a rding to plan. The truth is just the
opposite.

Escape From
Happiness!
Trueblood Theater
Oct. 7-10, 24-27

"Escape
Happiness,"
of the East
Trilogy by
tempor
Canadian

from
part
End
con-
ary
play-

wright George E
Walker, was
intended to be stu-
dent-produced by
Basement Arts
last spring. Those
plans, however,
were invaded by
harsh realities

pling with the playwright at the
Roundhouse Theatre in Washington,
D.C., Neville-Andrews last summer
directed "Better Living," also from
Walker's East End Trilogy, in Ann Arbor
for the University's Group Theatre.
Neville-Andrews relishes the particu-
lar challenges the unique texts of Walker
present his actors. Like many of the play-
wright's works, "Escape from
Happiness" is a liberally insane, stupefy-
ingly black comedy that disturbs as
deeply as it amuses. The blue-collar
Dawson family, featured throughout
Walker's trilogy, is headed by Dara
Seitzman, a senior in the department's
BFA performance program, who por-
trays mother Nora. The Dawsons are a
clan too self-involved to realize just how
dysfunctional they are, and the plot of
the play centers on the intersection of the
characteristic Dawson tone of deeply
devoted mayhem with the even more
volatile local law enforcement.
As Dawson daughters Mary Ann,
Elizabeth and Gail, BFA performance
seniors Julia Siple and Krista Braun and
junior Aimee Clark respectively take on
their characters' various involvements
with the Dawsons' outer struggle against
police brutality, as well as inner struggles
against each other.
Neville-Andrews used words like
"visceral" and "torrential" to describe
Walker's particular brand of intensely
verbal characterization. "The actors real-
ly need to know their lines to work at this
velocity, and they've kept pushing each
other to reach the proper level of intensi-
ty," Neville-Andrews explained. When
asked what techniques he used to effect
that intensity in his cast, the director
modestly declared, "Nothing other than
browbeating."
The play also required the negotiation
of a great deal of practical business such
as extensive vegetable chopping and the
precision-timed boiling of a tea kettle, to
be integrated with the demanding text.
Neville-Andrews said, "I warned (the

Chastity
Bono
Borders
Tonight at 7:30 p.m.

ferent religious
and economic
backgrounds.
Though different
in many ways,
Bono tells their
stories in a man-
ner that displays
the common
issues of gays
and lesbians
while coming
out. The book
also shows how
these specific
parents and fami-

By Caitlin Hal
TV/New Media Editor
Chastity Bono's new book, "Family
Outing," written with Billie
Fitzpatrick, is not a tell-all autobiog-
raphy of a child of icons. In fact, the
book is a practical guide to the com-
ing out process for gays and lesbians
and their families.
Bono incorporates her own story as
well as those of a diverse group of peo-
ple to show the wide range of experi-
ences gays have while coming out.
These people are both men and women
from a wide variety of places with dif-

I -
Courtesy of David Smith Photography
,Aimee Claris, Krista Braun and Julia Siple in "Escape From Happiness."

from outside the rehearsal room when
Sarah Metzger, the first-year directing
major who was preparing to direct
"Escape" died in a automobile accident
on a snowy highway.
After securing a slot to direct her show
W e spring's Basement Arts schedule,
Metzger had approached Neville-
Andrews for counsel on how to approach
her project. The head of the theatre
department's directing concentration,
Neville-Andrews already knew Sarah
from consultation over her decision to
switch to a directing major. In the after-
math of the tragic wintertime accident,
Neville-Andrews decided to undertake
the project himself for the fall as a dedi-
c? n to his student's memory.
7etzger came to Neville-Andrews
specifically because of his expertise
directing Walker's work. After first grap-

cast) when we auditioned in the spring
that, because we're (performing) so early
in the year, the process would be very
intense"
One moment that lightened the mood
(but only in retrospect!) occurred during
a recent weekend rehearsal. While taking
a break outside the Frieze Building, BFA
senior James Frounfelter, was practicing
some moves with a fake handgun he uses
to portray Stevie, one of the play's
policemen. It didn't take long for a passel
of Department of Public Safety officers
to arrive and investigate the cast's poten-
tial hooliganism.
Frounfelter was fortunate enough not
to be arrested, but the entire cast was
reamed out for their breach of the peace.
Neville-Andrews was impressed with
how the lead officer, "who was standing

around pretty regularly like the others,
sort of grew like one of those cartoons
when he wanted to start reading us the riot
act."1
The cast had the benefit of experienc-
ing the DPS's on-the-job use of psycho-
logical intimidation, which has been use-
ful for putting the finishing touches on the
play's police scenes. Neville-Andrews did
observe that the experience spoiled efforts
to solicit official police assistance for
those scenes' actors, but on the other
hand, "it was a very good substitute"
Tickets are $14, $7 for students and
are available ftom the Michigan League
ticket office at (734) 764-0450.
Showtimnes are 8:00 p.m., 2:00 p.m. on
Sundavs. There will be a vigil in honor of
Sarah Metzger after this Friday'Vs per-
formance.

lies deal with the situation.
Though the book is multi-focused,
exploring a variety of people and
issues, Bono incorporates her own
story as well. She speaks of her fami-
ly in a personal way. By doing so, Cher
comes across as a mother of a lesbian
daughter, not a famous actress and
singer. Bono describes her experience
coming out to her family as relatively
painless. Her mother was upset at
first, less because she was gay than
because she had told other people
before her. Eventually, Cher became
supportive and accepting. Her father
was supportive from the beginning.
The inspiration for the book came
while Bono was working for the
Human Rights Campaign and as a
writer for "The Advocate." "I real-
ized there wasn't another book that
existed like it," she said in a recent
interview. She also wanted to illus-
trate the process by using "as diverse
a group of people as possible." While
reviewing books for "The Advocate,"
she noticed there were many books on
coming out but none that dealt with
the experience as a family issue.
Family issues for Bono were often
public. Though she came out to her
family when she was 18, Bono did not
come out publicly until 1995 when

she appeared on the cover of "The
Advocate." Her parents were already
famous for their music and for their
variety television program, "The
Sonny and Cher Show." Her mother
went on to win an Oscar for
"Moonstruck," and her father went on
to become a U.S. congressman.
Chastity Bono was, consequently, a
public figure and a subject of the
tabloids. She was outed by the
tabloids when she was 18, which
forced her back in the closet for five
years. Her decision to come out pub-
licly in 1995 was made because she
wanted to end rumors about her sexu-
ality.
It is ironic that she made this deci-
sion to end the talk about her sexual-
ity. "I just wanted to be done with it
all," says Bono, "I just thought it
would end it." The interview led to
Bono's involvement with political
movements and her public role as a
spokesperson and activist for the gay
and lesbian community.
Her transition into politics was not
without problems. In her relationship
with her father, homosexuality "was-
n't something we ever talked about,
she said. When Chastity announced to
her father that she was going to do the
interview with "The Advocate," he
suggested that she interview him. In
the interview, her father expressed
that he felt same sex marriages
should be legal. He spoke on a num-
ber of gay issues, which Chastity felt
was problematic because "he wasn't
terribly informed."
During the interview Sonny Bono
said things that got him in trouble with
the religious right, which eventually
caused him to change his views. She
felt that this was the "ultimate hypo-
critical move," both as a father and as
a politician. Despite their differences,
Chastity describes their opposing
views as "a political problem, not a
personal problem." At the time of her
father's death, they had not yet
resolved their differences.
"Family Outing" contains candid
conversations between both mother
and daughter. Bono's idea is to show
the experiences without elaborate
explanation. This technique, followed
by a summary, lets the reader experi-
ence the story on a very personal
level. The book's strong point is its
intimacy and diverse examples. Even
though it covers the same subject, the
details vary and the stories seem
familiar without feeling repetitive.

Screenwiter Rubin screens ,Ladder' at 'U'

By Erin Podolsky
Daily Arts Writer
1990, two films were released hot on the
he s of one another with only a few slight simi-
larities to tie them together: they both dealt with
he supernatural and they were both written by the
ame man. One, armed with three name-brand
tars, you've probably heard of. One, starring an
actor whom has been consistently robbed of nom-
inations and awards over the past ten years, you
probably haven't.
"Ghost" opened to audience raves and box
office adoration a few short months before the
darker, less straightforward "Jacob's Ladder."
Senwriter Bruce Joel Rubin, who is visiting
carpus this week with "Jacob's Ladder" in tow,
penned both. He won an Academy Award for his
screenplay for "Ghost." In addition to being made
at the same time, "'Ghost' and 'Jacob's Ladder'
were actually shot at the same studio, so I just had
a bike on the lot and would go back and forth
between them," Rubin said in a recent interview
with The Michigan Daily.
"Jacob's Ladder" was a project that Rubin had
been fascinated with from the start. "I had a dream
:man being trapped under a subway," he said.
That was merely the beginning. He pumped out
the screenplay, filled with spiritual musings and a
devastating final twist that rivals the recent film

"The Sixth Sense" for potency. Audiences did not
respond in kind, instead opting for the more view-
er-friendly, feel-good Rubin offering of "Ghost."
"Jacob's Ladder" was directed by Adrian Lyne
("Fatal Attraction"). Rubin credits Lyne with
properly taking Rubin's inferno-like blueprint
script and creating the visuals that the story
required. There were the occasional arguments,
though, particularly over a climactic scene that
ended up a little more subdued in the film than
was originally planned (a low-quality version of
the original scene can be found on the "Jacob's
Ladder" DVD).
Rubin has also written such films as "My Life"
(which he also directed and produced) and "Deep
Impact." While "Deep Impact" may seem on the
surface like an odd choice for a man whose work
had previously been nothing if not personal, Rubin
intimated that you don't say no to Steven
Spielberg. Ultimately, other writers were brought
on the project.
Raised in Detroit, Rubin moved away from the
city as soon as he finished high school. His arrival
on campus is "a long story." The short version:
Rubin later met New Line Cinema founder and
president Robert Shaye (who, a native Detroiter
himself, attended the same high school as Rubin
although at a different time) while curating a film
series in New York. They've kept in contact over

the years, and Shaye, who recently awarded a sub-
stantial monetary gift to the Program in Film and
Video Studies, encouraged Rubin to bring one of
his films to campus and offer screenwriting semi-
nars and lectures.
This week Rubin will be discussing "The
Writer's Journey" (Tuesday) of his own trip from
Detroit to Hollywood, "Writing the Metaphysical
Screenplay" (Wednesday) with a discussion of the
process of bringing "Jacob's Ladder" into being,
"The Creative Process" (Thursday) and a free pub-
lic screening of "Jacob's Ladder" at the Michigan
Theater, with a Q&A to follow.
Originally set to bring "Ghost" to campus,
Rubin requested that he show "Jacob's Ladder"
instead.
"Everybody's seen 'Ghost,"' he said. In showing
"Jacob's Ladder," Rubin feels he can introduce a
generation of students to a work they likely are
unfamiliar with.
Rubin said that he doesn't plan at this time to
direct another film. "I discovered (with "My
Life") that just because you're a writer doesn't
mean you should direct," he said. "I'm not bad.
But I'm not great"
His next project will be a screenplay for New
Line. If his previous work is any indication, it
should be well worth the wait.

UM School of Music Dept of Theatre & Drama
eSCaPe f0
a quirky comedy by 'II
George F. Walker happin
One family's BIZARRE struggle
to hold on for dear life.
this play contains adult language and themes
October 7 - 9, 141- 6at 8pm
October 10& 17 at 2pm
Trueblood Theatre
Tickets are $14 " Students $7 with ID
League Ticket Office 734-764-0450

Read the Daily online.
www.michigandaily.com

....A-j

LECTURE NOTE BLOWOUT!
10 DAYS ONLY

Philli Glass
Patti Smith,

with very
special guest
Marley

"'

Bio Anthro 161
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Psych 330
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Psych 436
Wom Studies 220
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