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December 04, 2001 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2001-12-04

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American rock...
Catch alternative rock band 19
Wheels tonight at the Blind Pig.
10 p.m. Free. ($2 under 21).


michigandaily.com /arts

DECEMBER 4, 2001


Paley shares fiction with


By Beatrice Marovich
Daily Arts Writer
There is a short story by Grace
Paley that I have thought about, at
odd moments, for years. The story
is called "Mother," and in it she
hears a song, titled "Oh, I Long to
See My Mother
in the Door-
way." She says
to herself, "By

Michigan League
Tonight at 7:30 p.m.

God! ... I
understand that
Who knows
why we are
constantly and
driven into
strange fits of
memory like
this? But Grace
Paley is a mas-
these sudden and

These aspects color her writing,
which is rich in both politics and
ethnic family culture.
Paley, primarily a teacher, has
worked at several colleges in the
New York City area: Columbia,
Syracuse, City College and Sarah
Lawrence. She began as a writer of
poetry, but is most known for her
short fiction. She has published
numerous books in the last half of
the 20th century, including three
collections of short stories, "The
Little Disturbances of Man"
(1959), "Enormous Changes at the
Last Minute" (1974) and "Later the
Same Day" (1985), as well as sev-
eral collections of poetry.
Paley is said to have once
described herself as a "combative
pacifist and cooperative anarchist"
and was deeply involved with the
anti-war, anti-nuclear power and
feminist movements.
In another non-fiction piece, she
recalls six days that she spent in the
jail of her Greenwich Village
neighborhood following an arrest
for civil disobedience during the
war in Vietnam.
It seems that almost all of Paley's
writing is somehow political,
though her fiction could never be
mistaken for schooling. Instead
Paley's characters, like her, live life
with conviction and their politics
are simply another aspect of their
ever-important system of beliefs.
Politics appear to be part of this
inherently human and very basic
style that her prose takes on. Plot is
secondary in her stories, and
frankly she's made it quite unneces-

Dialogue is powerful in her work,
and she is a master of it. Her lack
of quotations and potent use of
dialect bring vitality to her work
despite the lightness of plot.
Her characters are often Jewish,
leftist women living in New York
City, but there is something all-
inclusive about her writing. This
stems, perhaps, from her fascina-
tion with the comedy and beauty of
the smallest interactions between
Paley's characters, both hardy
and pitiful, are funny, quirky and
life-like. Many of her short fiction
pieces closely examine women's
relationships as both friends and
lovers and their elemental sexuality.
Paley, a mother of two and now a
grandmother, realizes the true
importance of motherhood; this is a
topic of discussion and a focus in
much of her fiction. Often, she
refers grievously to "that beloved
generation of children murdered by
cars, lost to war, to drugs, to mad-
ness." This seems to be the era of
her own children, and she adduces
the idea in visible ways.
Perhaps it is Paley's discussion of
topics so fundamental that gives
rise to the folkloric quality of her
tales. She is a real storyteller, and
claims to be a big fan of the oral
tradition, having drawn on numer-
ous events, stories and jokes told
during her childhood. Her pieces
are packed with small wisdoms and
an efficiency of language not often
found in prose.
Paley has been the recipient of

'Sidewalks' fails to
represent city's
true population

By Wilhelmina Mauritz
Daily Arts Writer
Fans of Ed Burns' movies such as
"The Brothers McMullen" and
"She's the One" will most likely be
excited to see "Sidewalks of New
York." As with his other movies,

ter at capturing

of New
Grade: B-
At The State

Burns wrote,
directed and
takes a leading
role in it. His
followers will
not be disap-
pointed by this
movie. It con-
tains the usual
animated con-
versations and
witty repartee
between char-
acters. Burns
relies on dia-
logue more

instinctual flashes.
This story, less than eight para-
graphs long, makes me long to see
my mother in the doorway for rea-
sons nothing like those of Paley.
Regardless of the contrast, the
above example exemplifies the uni-
versality and timelessness of
Paley's prose, two of its most
redemptive qualities.
Born in 1922 to Russian immi-
grant parents, Paley was raised
Jewish and socialist. In the first
M chapter of her most recent book, a
collection of her non-fiction, she
describes her experience in the Fal-
cons, a socialist group for children
under 12.

Courtesy of New York Writer's Institute
Author Grace Paley.
numerous honors including a
Guggenheim fellowship in 1961, an
award from the National Institute of
Arts and Letters in 1970 and a
Senior Fellowship by the National
Endowment for the Arts in the
spring of 1987. She has also been
the New York State author.
Presently, Paley divides her time
between New York City and Ver-
mont. She visits Ann Arbor today,
offering students a glance at politi-
cal issues across generations, and at
a very important time.

Music, set livens up
SSteinbeck's Wrath'

than the action or storyline as a sig-
nature for his movies.
"Sidewalks of New York" is about
the lives of seven New Yorkers.
While their stories are playing out,
you get to see interviews (done by a
random person you never get to
know or see). The characters dis-
cuss love, sex and their romantic
lives in the big city.
A quick synopsis follows (pay
attention, it gets confusing): Tommy
(Ed Burns) gets dumped and kicked
out of the house by his girlfriend.
He meets and starts dating Maria
(Rosario Dawson) who is still
unsure of herself after her divorce
from Ben (David Krumholtz). Ben,
who is trying to sow his wild oats
after his early marriage to Maria,
becomes smitten with Ashley (Brit-
tany Murphy), who is having an
affair with Griffin (Stanley Tucci),
a married man. Annie (Heather Gra-
ham), Griffin's wife, is a real-estate
agent who suspects her husband
may be cheating on her and there-
fore feels flattered, and more than a
bit intrigued, by Tommy's sweet
advances that occur while she is
showing him apartments.
Ed Burns likes to make romances
that do not shove the saccharine
sweet gobbley-gook down the view-
ers' throats. He is subtle and yet a

Courtesy of Paramount
Director Ed Burns has a sexy profile.
classic romanticist. His movies all
have an old-fashion charm about
them, and this sets his romances
apart from the other major Holly-
wood stuff out there.
Take the recent example of
"Serendipity." Some may think
"Sidewalks of New York" is simply
an all too reminiscent duplicate of
this film being that it is all about
relationships and finding that "one"
person in a city of millions. Well it
is nothing like "Serendipity." Per-
haps it is what "Serendipity"
wished it could have been.
"Sidewalks of New York" is not
only a romance but a comedy as
well. Burns' comedic style is simi-
lar to his romantic one in that it is
mild and yet no less humorous. His
jokes are not slapstick or outra-
geous like so many comedies today.
They give credence to the fact that
there still are writers out there that
can make an audience laugh without
resorting to bodily fluids and bowel
The biggest flaw of this movie
would probably be that it tries to
make the audience think his charac-
ters represent all of New York,
when really, the great diversity of
the city isn't really there at all. The
characters all seem a little too simi-
lar in both their attitudes and their
lives even though they are supposed
to be so vastly different. It could be
that this is the whole point of the
movie: No matter how different
people may first appear, they are all
just people looking for someone to

By Jenni Glenn
Daily Arts Writer

Rain will fall, fire will burn and the Colorado
River will flow across the Power Center stage this
weekend as University Productions recreates the
environment of the Depression era for its drama,
"The Grapes of Wrath."
Adapted from John Steinbeck's novel, this epic
play follows the Joad family's migration from
Oklahoma's dust bowl to California. After losing
its farm, the family moves
west in search of a new life
and the American Dream.
"I tend to choose plays that
The deal with human experience
Grapes and people overcoming the
of Wrath odds," director Darryl V.
Jones said. "'The Grapes of
Power Center Wrath' sort of covers all
Thursday throughSaturday that."
As the Joads embark on
their journey, they travel in a
large truck, just one of the
show's technical feats. At one
point, the characters even
take a swim in the Colorado
River, Jones said. "If you like things happening on
stage like thunderstorms, than this is a feast for the
eyes," he said.
Jones said he fueled the show's pace by incorpo-
rating the scene changes into the action. This helps
move the play, which takes place in 10 locations in
the first act alone, he said. He added bluegrass and
folk music of the period as well as choreography in
order to keep the transitions smooth.

Local musician Frank
Pahl coordinates the
music, which uses instru-
ments such as banjos,
guitars and fiddles. The
music provides the audi-
ence with added histori-
cal context for the show,
said Theater and LSA
senior Sandra Abrevaya,
who portrays the family
matriarch Ma Joad. The
musicians "are part of the
world of the play," she
said. "They kind of string
it together. As the Joads
move west, they move in
and out of the play."
The musical numbers
include Jones' vocal
arrangement of "This
Land is Your Land," a
song that has "taken on
new meaning since the
Sept. 11 terrorist attacks

Courtesy of University Productions
Cast of "The Grapes of Wrath" gets ready for their big weekend.

on the United States,"
Jones said. The song helps the audience see the
connections between the difficulties of the Great
Depression and some of the challenges of our time,
he said.
A cast of 38. tells Steinbeck's story of life during
the Great Depression. Jones said the large cast
lends a realistic feel to the show's depiction of the
period's mass migration, with large numbers of
people moving on the stage.
"The size of the cast fits the scope of the show,"

Abrevaya said.
"It's not your typical kitchen sink drama," she
said. "It's not four people talking about problems.
It's huge."
Abrevaya said the show's music and technical
effects will add to the effectiveness of the play's
message. "There's a lot of spectacle in the script,
but what it comes down to is the script and what
those people went through," she said. "It's the hon-
esty of the actors'that makes it special."

Courtesy ofParamount

"I can't understand why you'd choose Ed over me!"

Basement Arts' 'Spinning Into Butter'
looks at racism from eyes of a student

Cheer on your

By Janet Yang
Daily Arts Writer
Have you ever heard of the Little
Black Samba myth? It is quintessen-
tially a racist story about a little
African boy who has his clothes

stolen by tigers
Arena Theater
December 6-8, 2001

causing them to
fight with each
other and spin
around in a cir-
cle until they
melt into butter.
And then the
little boy eats
the butter with
his bread.
This week-
end's Basement
Art's perfor-
mance, "Spin-
ning Into

destroys the administration's percep-
tion of their perfect school, disrupt-
ing their lives with the chaos that
ensues on campus and in their
minds. Brick creates life-changing
events out of something fictitious,
essentially making something out of
nothing, like the name of the play
The controversial events of "Spin-
ning Into Butter," written by Rebec-
ca Gilman, and presented by
Basement Arts, are based on actual
incidents that occurred at Middle-
bury College in the early-'90s. The
play is set at fictitious Belmont Col-
lege in Vermont, described as a typi-
cal small, liberal arts school on the
East coast where the campus is pri-
marily Caucasian
The lead role of Sarah Daniels,
the Dean of the School, is portrayed

that have occurred on their campus.
"The characters are forced to deal
with their perception of race in the
light of political correctness and
who they are through this ordeal,"
said Henning.
"Spinning Into Butter" is a play
with a social message and not one
that is accusing anyone, but rather
forces the audience to think a lot
about the issues it brings up.
One of the topical concerns
explored in the play is diversity,
which is applicable to the Universi-
ty, as it contends with the debate and
controversy over Affirmative

Action. This is one of the reasons
why director Brian Lobel, the direc-
tor of the play chose to do it.
Basement Arts is a student-run
theater company, one of the few that
is actually subsidized by the Univer-
sity of Michigan Department of
Theater and Drama. With everyone
on the executive board as a type of
theater major, Basement Arts is very
committed to quality and excellence
in the shows they choose and per-
form. "Spinning Into Butter" is the
first Basement Arts show in many
years that deals with racism and the
emotions it unleashes.


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