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September 29, 1999 - Image 8

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1999-09-29

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Hoch Hip-Hops at DrumAdS auit Tomorrow in Daily Arts:
0 Danny Hoch comes to Shaman Drum. The spoken word artist U Weekend, etc. examines the controversies surrounding
performs selections from his collection, "Jails, Hospitals and marijuana use.
Hip-Hop. 8 p.m.
September 29, 1999
Anderson reinvents Melville novel

Patricia Barber comes to the Bird of Paradise tomorrow and Saturday,
Ba~prber perfer.

By Jeff Druchniak
Weekend Etc. Editor
Before the very idea of performance art became a punch lie on "Saturday
Night Live," there was Laurie Anderson. Perhaps Anderson didn't invent
performance art, it just seems like it sometimes. And not only has Anderson
has remained a creative force over the last two decades or so, but this week-
end her journey persists in the form of an Ann Arbor appearance to perform
her latest work, "Songs and Stories from Moby Dick.'
With "Moby Dick," Anderson has fashioned a unified, full-length perfor-
man ce piece which transforms the Herman Melville novel - the novel that
general consensus still burdens with the prefix "The Great American."The
tout and the coinciding album version of the work have earned Anderson
some of the best receptions of her career, which is saying a mouthful.
Anderson first gained recognition with her experimental hit single ".
Superman" on the British pop charts. Since then, she has collaborated with
such distinguished artists as film director Wim Wenders and dancer/choreo-
grapher Bill T. Jones. Meanwhile, her style has devel-
oped into something that begs description-
Suffice to say that Anderson is always the star of her
show, which might be an advantage or disadvantage to a
.aurie career as a performance artist.
Anderson Anderson tends to build her work around short, often
repeated texts, but there are many other fundamental
Power Center elements to an Anderson performance.
Sept 3- Oct. 2 Dance is ever-present, foremost by Anderson, who is
her own primary choreographer. Anderson is also a phe-
nomenally accomplished musician: with near-equal
adeptness she sings, plays violin and undertakes many
other instruments the average person knows of and even
more he/she doesn't.
That's because the other bedrock of Anderson's work
is the incorporation of new technology into perfor-
This catapults Anderson into engineering a multimedia circus of mostly
one woman, one which can disturb and galvanize as often as it amuses.
Anderson revealed, "l began to work on this project becase a multim 'dia.
producer . wanted to something that would get kids interested in reading"
And by the time the proposed project fell through, Anderson, asked to
come up with a favorite novel, had fallen in love with "Moby Dick.'Never
mind that it's a book of which she admits, "I hadn't really read the wholedshad
In Anderson's view, Melville's novel is perfect for her adaptive purposes
iecaus of its multiplicity of narrative voices, representing myriad walks of
life and attitudes, Anderson called it "a cast of the living and the dead," and ryi
she has enlisted a rotating support crew of performers to help her embody radw L An s, a
this east through song.iisftourseshsafhw iimaAdsn bh
One of the highlights of Anderson's sound-and-motion extravaganza fig- orely Laurie Anderson ses TMo y through auudium.
rest to be the composer's latest music-tech brainchild, which she calls the Based solely on a videotaped performasce from early in the decade, thi
Talking Stick. A slender staff longer than Andersot is tall, the Talking Stick presence is clearly formidable.h e wayher small frame and angelic fat
is atn ultra-precise digital instrument that responds to Anderson's "playing" contrasts with the forbiddingly haphazard shock of bristles she calls ha
and sometimes feverishly dancing with it by sampling a vast array of prere- does not make Anderson seem like a typical stage star But a passion to pet
corded "voices." form and create often conveys a charisma more electric than the most elal
[he Talking Stick may elicit amazement from the audience and help to orate set or most advanced bells and whistles. Luckily for Anderson, sh#Peiemscislbttefcso h tg hwwl eanAdro oh
herself. Non-English majors need not be intimidated by the show's literary Laurie Anidersotn perfiiii hrs csi, through Saturdav at i8 p.m. at ti
pedigree; Anderson estimates that only a tenth of the evening will be drawn Poiwer Center Tickets range froiii $36-S/S :S/t $0 student rash ticket
directly from Melville. A big chunk of the rest will rely on Anderson's stage for Thiirsao night. For miore in/or)i;;aloo. ,i/ the Untirersityv Music,
presence. Society at (734) 764-253
ol'debuts at Arena th1s weekend
By Nehe Srkoz

By John Uhl
Daily Arts Wntcr
When the Chicago pianist/stnger/
composer Patricta Barber performs at
the Bird of Paradise this weekend, audi-
ene are likely to catch her drift. Her
lynes are often bleak and candid testi-
monials, whose wry delivery is guarded
by a voice so sultry that many won't
care who or what is insulted. Barber's
upcoming release, "Companon," fea-
tures the reprimanding "If This Isn't
Jazz,' a sketch of the drawbacks, nega
tive stereotypes, hypocrisy and lack of
artistic integrity that she associates with
jazz. In "Postmodemn Blues;" from her
last release "Modern Coo,' she
laments the pass-
T " ing of the
Modernist move-
ment with a cata-
log of her favorite
Barber 20th Century
Bird of Paradise intellectual pio-
Si/t. 30 Oct. 1 neers. The song's
break of uniform
piano and guitar
phrases, chopped
into a stale metro-
nomic exchange
sounds like com-
puter prattle and
ushers in an age when "Bill Gates has
won." It is perhaps the best summation
of Barber's struggle with her limbo
between centuries.
There are also occasions where
Barber delivers her disposition without
the crutch of her own words. "You
knoythat I would be a liar, if I were to
say to,you, girl we couldn't get much
higher. Come on baby light my fire;'
Jim Morrison asks in "Light My Fire."
The jovial organ entrance of The
Doors' version makes it obvious that
Morrison's flame could do with fuel (if
anything), rather than ignition. His
enticenent to the girl is about testing
limits seeing how high they can get.
He wants to "try set the night on fire;'
without regard to whether it is logical
or even possible.
Bi Barber interprets the song dif-
fetently on "Modem Cool." Creeping
at nearly half the original tempo, the
chorus is less of an invitation and more
of a plea. Barber's fire really does need

to be lit, Yet the pace is-so persstent
through verses gar atd trumpet
solos, that evntualkw, si rer uest is a
taunt. Barber has nit i-nnton of get-
ting liton this oceaston and her
labored enunciatisoof come on baby,
light my fire" wamsic:that thet satisfac-
tion of her entreatys iihlikcly n
The most satisfi sokt Babet r's
work, ilhough. fuses b othchepoetic
density of her wordstinth int-
mental innovation Tofher music ino an
invention as profoand as attything
since early Bob Dylan. In "Winter'"
the loss uS .i cvei leaves the narrator in
an existential statec of shick that is
compared to the: uniceitaiittycitwin-
ter's desolat"ion. 1The lyrics dfow in a
simple, bitter melody over a layered
rhythmic structure that juxtaposes a
sense of motion against the unyield-
ing; she is frozen while her world falls
away from her.
After she has tiihed smgmg the
words, her voiice rises ahose the band's
arctic soundsc.ipe in a maon Soon
trumpet aid diftitig guitar commingle
with Baxher and f one sod a half
unearthly minUtes, the three voices
Barber's performances at the Bird
will mark her belated debut to the
Ann Arbor Detroit area and, like the
stubborn temperance of "Light My
Fire." her relative obscurity has
largely been her privilege. She has
been content playing every Sunday
and Monday night at Chicago's The
Green Mill and recording on an inde-
pendent label.
Since the glowing critical appraisal
of "Modern Cool," however, the last
year has seen Barber's first extensive
tour and a collaborative effort
arranged between her Chicago-based
record label, Premonition, and indus-
try giant Blue Note Records.
Her band will consist of John
McLean on guitar, Michael Arnopol
on bass (both of whom played on
"Modern Cool") and Eric Montzka on
drums. All of these musicians are fea-
tured on the live recording
"Companion," which will be released.
Oct. 19 and proves that Barber and her
band's careful and limber synthesis of
voice and instruments doesn't lose its
shine in a concert setting.

By Neshe Sarkozy
For the Daily
Basement Arts will debut student David Garcia's
never-before-seen play, "Polly Puts Her Foot Down"
this weekend.
Family dynamics, mother and daughter relations, a
different sense of reality and a view into a parallel uni-
verse are all things that the audience can expect to expe-
rience in the somewhat "absurd" play. Garcia, writer
and director, said that the "play deals with big issues
that for the most part weren"t intentional, perhaps a
view into the subconscious."
"Polly Puts Her Foot Down" at a glance is made up
ofa three member, very dysfunc-
tional, family. Kitty, the mother,
(Jillian Landau), the daughter
Polly, (Katherine Banks) and
Polly Brick, the son, (Jonathon
Arena Theater Kitty is insane but loves enter-
taining guests, whether they be
Sept. 30 Oct. 2 real or fictional.
Kitty frequently makes up hol-
idays so as to give her an excuse
for celebration. Somehow Kitty
manages to back up her love for
the holidays with a passage from
the Bible that she cannot ever
Polly is a 15-year-old starting to be leary of her moth-
ier's erratic behavior.
The fact that Kitty is always talking about her sister
but never meeting her makes Polly all the more suspi-
cious of her mother. She begins to wonder if perhaps
her aunt Jeannie is real.
Brick, the brother, seems to not know what is going
on. This seemingly "stupidest boy on the planet,"noted
Garcia, is the perfect son that Kitty could have hoped
for, always compliant to his mother's wishes.Brick

Jillian Landau and Katherine Banks share an emotional moment.

eeW ilsYsr.r s eew .

never talks back to his mother1
dumb as they come.""When Po
Garcia added, "it's as if she is ob
of her aunt Jeannie." Thus the p
This is David Garcia's first pr
University. He worked on the sc
Foot Down" for a year. Initially,
for one of his playwright classes
page, 1 hour andl5 minute plt
rewritten 10 times.
Initially there were more char

Wendy's is see
in our friendIl

but, said Garcia, is "as it seemed better with just a few characters, so Gaic
ly puts her foot down," kept it that way. In regards to Kitty's character Garc
jecting to the existence noted that "everyone has a mother that annoys the .
lay continues. but she (Kitty) does it all the time.
oduction of a play at the "Polly Puts Her Foot Down" is much like a dar
ript of "Polly Puts Her comedy, Garcia said as it "derives at humor fron "
the play was a project people that don't get along, almost in a morbid st
. Since then Garcia's 57 For nothing else, Garcia says that he "loves maki
ay has amazingly been characters that get people to reevaluate their fai
dynamic." And what a beter way to do that then in t
acters in the script, but theatrical form.
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