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September 28, 2001 - Image 8

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2001-09-28

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4

Brick no more...
Going solo and lovin' it, Ben Folds
visits Clutch Cargo's this Sunday
with new album Rockin' the Suburbs
in tow. Doors open at 8 p.m.
michigandaily. com/arts

ARTS

FRIDAY
SEPTEMBER 28, 2001 8

4

Pulitzer winner
to read at Drum

Play uses humor to deal with
male physical insecurities

By Ryan C. Moloney
Daily Arts Writer
The characters of a Rick Bragg
story, whether they are in his cele-

E~C
Rick
Bragg
Shaman Drum
Tomorrow at 8 p.m.

brated "All
Over but the
Shoutin'," or
his latest,
"Ava's Man,"
are as dichoto-
mous and hard
to peg as the
man himself.
Bragg will
conduct a
reading of
"Ava's Man" at
Shaman Drum
tomorrow at 8
p.m.

his grandfather, Charlie Bundrum,
a man who could have easily
passed by Tom Joad on a dusty
back road, and perhaps traded
punches with him. Bundrum pro-
tected his family with a gentle
affection and a powder-keg dispo-,
sition towards outsiders during the
Great Depression.
The work arrives not without
anticipation, as "All Over but the
Shoutin'," Bragg's 1997 tribute to
his loving and self-sacrificing
mother, won him critical praise
and a devoted following.
By most accounts a kind, "aw-
shucks" Southerner, Bragg fuels
his prose with, as he says, "anger."
With writing as casual, at times,
as a trip to the Piggly Wiggly,
Bragg's resume includes seven
years at the iconic New York
Times and a Pulitzer Prize for fea-

Courtesy of Knopf
"Ava's Man" depicts the story of
Braggs grandfather.
Bragg's gift lies in his portrayal
of simple people whose lives spin
on an axis of complexity - people
whose decency could not save
them from the hardscrabble life of

By Marie Bernard
Daily Arts Writer
Self-image and weight-loss, in many artistic forums, has
remained a woman's domain. Rarely are we presented with
a man's take on the crippling affect of a poor self-image,
and the subsequent power that can be
wrought from changing one's exteri-
or. And, even more rarely, are we
told a story like this in such a candid
Chipslips and inventive manner as LSA junior
David Roth does in "Chipslips," a
play featured this weekend in the
Arena Theater Arena Theater, produced in collabo-
Tomorrow at 8 p.m. ration with Basement Arts.
"Senior year of high school, I lost
70 pounds," Roth said. "It changed
my life and I felt there was a moral
and dramatic story in that"
Roth's sense of humor, however,
led him away from telling this story
straight. The result is the child-like
land that the play takes place in - a world in which
everyone's most important characteristic is displayed
prominently on the outside of their bodies. Chip, the lead
character, is covered in potato chips. The play chronicles
Chip's journey to discover why he has been branded in this
way, and what he can do to change it. "Anybody who has
ever wanted to change themselves or feels that they are
defined by a single feature can relate with Chip," Roth
said.
The play had its premiere in the Festival of New Works
this summer. "After sitting through the first night and get-
ting feedback, having to watch it again the second night
with all its mistakes and weaknesses was almost unbear-
able," said Roth, who has also worked for the Daily.
"Chipslips" has been through significant revisions since
that first performance. The playwright wanted to take the
focus off of his own story and towards a full realization of

every character involved. Primarily, Roth realized that the
concept would only survive if he devoted the play to
becoming a full-blown comedy.
Roth worked with the support of his roommate and
close friend, Mitch Kiven, on every draft. For this produc-
tion, Kiven has taken the director's position. Together, they
have created a show that borders on the surreal: A playful
modern fable. It was Roth's first venture into the theater
- he had never seriously acted, directed or written for the
stage prior to this piece.
He has enjoyed making this a collaborative project, both
with Kiven and with input from his cast. "After spending
so much time on the script, it's funny to look back at it
now and remember how it was once my story. Now, it's
really not," said Roth.
"This play is about accessibility," Roth said. "Since it's
set in such a silly, metaphorical world, we want to get
across the play's cartoonish and purely happy theme.
That's not to say there's not a clear message in the play,
but you can figure that out for yourself."

With "Ava's Man," Bragg charts.
the paternal reaches of the parental

spectrum. Bragg tells the story of ture writing. the mythical Deep South.
From 'Uncle Jesse' to jewel

thief: Stamos returns to

TV

By Bob Smith
For The Daily
From the opening moments of this painfully long
heist show, one thing immediately springs to mind.
What has Uncle Jesse gotten him-
self into? Appearing in his first
series since "Full House," John Sta-
mos, the formerly mousse-inclined
Thieves favorite uncle is back as a smooth
talking cat burglar in tonight's 9
p.m. premiere of ABC's "Thieves."
ABC The pilot episode opens with
Tonight at 9 p.m. Johnny (Stamos) on the verge of a
diamond heist when he makes the
acquaintance of Rita (Melissa
George), an accomplished thief her-
self who just happens to be staying
in the same hotel. Discovering their
similar diamond intentions, Johnny
and Rita eventually work together
to pull off a daring broad day robbery shot in a fashion
so closely reminiscent of "Snatch" that the film's actual
soundtrack was used. Fleeing the scene of the robbery,
Johnny and Rita are met by the police. Much like the
future of this series, Johnny and Rita's escapades are
cut short by the authorities. To have the charges against
them dropped, the feuding thieves agree to work for the
government by obtaining a top-secret videotape.
This highlights "Thieves" major problem, the lack of
any originality. From the precarious action sequences to
the stars repetitive, forced sexual conversations,
"Thieves" never seems to be covering any new territory.
For anyone weak minded enough to give the show a
shot for this long, the unbelievable action sequences
now transform into the just plain silly. Highlighting the
excruciating second half of the show is the lifeless
detective portrayed by rapper Tone Loc, but you cannot
blame him for getting paid, I guess.
Johnny's gentle thief persona does not mesh well with
the volatile Rita, whose remarkably perfect lip-gloss
remains evident throughout her fighting sequences.
Awkwardly running through action sequences or nimbly
escaping from handcuffs, Stamos and George are
unable to carry the roles of action characters in the

least. While basing all the non-action moments of the
storyline around what Johnny believes is an inevitable
sexual relationship, the chemistry between the main
characters soon becomes tired. Johnny's smooth talk
eventually evolves into blunt observations like his
enjoyment of the rear view of Rita during an air duct
escape.
"Thieves" is simply bad television. From laughable
actionmto Johnny's comic duds, this show always seems
to be coming up short. It really should not be a surprise
the network owned by Disney delivered a series that
feels more like a fairy tale. But Uncle Jesse as a famous
cat burglar? What is everyone back in San Fran going
to think'?

DAVID KATZ/Daily.

Cast of Chipslips looks delicious.

Supenor 'Alias' borrows from
others, still shines on its own

By Jennifer Fogel
Daily Arts Editor
Take one college co-ed with a vast intellect and athlet-
ic prowess and adopt her into one of the world's most
covert agency and you might have
an inkling of a description for
ABC's new action-drama "Alias,"
premiering Sunday at 9 p.m.
Alias Created by J. J. Abrams (who also
created "Felicity), "Alias" explores
ABC the double life of Sydney Bristow
(Jennifer Garner, "Pearl Harbor"), a
Sunday at 9 p.m. 26-year-old graduate student secret-
ly working for SD-6, a covert divi-
sion of the CIA. Right now you're
probably thinking ... haven't I seen
this premise before? Well sure, in a
much more subdued format with-the
dearly departed "Le Femme Nikita,"
but unlike the naive Nikita, Sydney
knows exactly what she's getting herself into - risk is
part of the pleasure. Of course, like Nikita, Sydney
yearns for the pleasure of a normal life, one without the
constant shadow following her every move.
For those who have seen the film version of "Le
FemmeNikita" or "Point of No Return," you may know
that having a boyfriend when you're a covert operative
makes things quite complicated, especially when they
have just popped the question. For Sydney, what should
be the greatest time in her life is quickly becoming her
worst nightmare. Guilt prompts Sydney to break the first
rule of SD-6: Never reveal who you really are. When her
boss Slone (Ron Rifkin, "L.A. Confidential") 'gets wind
of Sydney's revelation, no more fiancee.
Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. On the lam
from SD-6, Sydney falls into a maze of lies as her
estranged father Jack (Victor Garber, "Titanic") informs
her that he too is an agent and that the organization they
both work for has no affiliation to the CIA. but to the
enemies of the United States. Confused yet? "Alias" has
double, maybe even triple agents and still after watching
the show it is not so much confusion you should worry
about, but keeping track of all the surprises. At least it
keeps things interesting.
"Alias" is incredibly well done, smoothly shifting
between scenes, both backwards and forwards. Built
along the lines of "Run Lola Run," "Alias" moves
through time in a fluid motion, taking us from a torture
'The Ellen Sho

Where's Aunt Becky, you bastard? Have Mercy.

'Shiksha:' Nadanta performs
life of the Buddha a's teacher

Sydney (Garner) wouldn't give us her name either.
scene in Taiwan to Sydney's entrance into SD-6. Most of
the characters are reminiscent of those on "Nikita,"
always offering their assistance (when they shouldn't, of
course) when Sydney needs it most.
Seemingly the most interesting part of the story is
Sydney's complicated relationship with her father and
how it impacts her past and future. The series is action-
packed with stunts you'd only see in the movies, or
maybe "Dark Angel" (both spend the big dollars). Watch
as Sydney subdues the inquisitive torturer by performing
a back flip while shackled to a chair.
Garner proves that she isn't just another nymphet per-
forming for the masses like in her past series debut
"Time of Your Life" (Don't worry if you can't remember
it). Nor is she simply an ass-kicking Felicity, or stake-
wielding Buffy. Sydney Bristow is more along the lines
of a conflicted Clark Kent, saving the world while still
fumbling for domestic bliss.
"Alias" debuts commercial free, which speaks to the
confidence place in this freshman darling. Critics are
already issuing glowing recommendations. Do yourself a
favor and catch a glimpse of what may be the future of
television. While most of the returning shows slowly
make their way to the circular file, watch as a shining
star introduces smart, action-packed drama back into the
mix.
w focuses less

By Autumn Brown
Daily Arts Writer

Anyone who has taken a philoso-
phy class or practices a religion has
probably wondered why humans

exist, if it is not
TThiksha:
The City
of Buddha
Michigan Theater
Sunday at 2 p m.
group Nadanta

to live, reproduce
and die. It
almost goes
without saying
that many
cocky college
students will
ask the same
thing 20 years
from now when
they are work-
ing the nine to
five, listening
to their two
whiny kids and
paying taxes.
The performing
s production of

Courtesy of Ravin Bhandari

Cast members of Shiksha.
drama is more philosophical than
religious. "The story represents Bud-
dha as a teacher, not as a religious
leader," she said. "Our idea is not to
give them the same story that they
have heard, but instead, to give them
a different style. We have incorporat-
ed the entertainment element as well
as the philosophical one."
Creating a large-scale dance pro-
duction is no easy task. Each pro-
duction must be developed years in
advance, and each year Nadanta

on sexuality, more on humor

costumes in 15 seconds in a few
instances," Thacker said. "And many
of the costumes and jewelry are very
elaborate."
The cast members range in age
from as young as five to as old as
fifty, but most are young adults
between the ages of 18 and 21 years.
Dancers were chosen mainly for the
dancing ability, but also for their
versatility. For example, Raja Jaiku-
mar was chosen for his ability to
play a young Buddha as well as an

By Christian Smith
Daily Arts Writer

Yep, she's still

"Shiksha: Teachings of the Buddah"
does not claim to answer the eternal
question, but it does it give food for
thought.
Nadanta, created in 1980, is a
small artistic organization whose

The Ellen
Show
The CRS

gay. But this time
around, Ellen
D e G e n e r e s
doesn't want to
make such a big
deal out of it.
Four years after
she came out of

mond, a big-city dotcom executive
who decides to move back to her
hometown, Clark, after her busi-
ness goes bust. Along for the ride
are Cloris Leachman as Ellen's
incessantly cheerful mom, Emily
Rutherford as her insecure sister,
and Jim Gaffigan (of the failed
CBS sitcom "Welcome to New
York") as her old high-school prom
date who still thinks he has a

while, "Will & Grace" came along
and found just the right mix of gay
humor and shrewd social witticism
to become a commercial and criti-
cal smash. While "The Ellen
Show" is not nearly as daring or
inventive as "Will & Grace," its
simple premise gives it a comfort-
able, lighthearted feel.
Originally envisioning her new
show as a half-hour variety series,

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