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February 16, 2007 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 2007-02-16

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The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom

Friday, February 16, 2007 - 5

Then-LSA junior Mutiyat Ade-Salu performs in "The Vagina Monologues" last year.
Reconsiderin e s
V-Day 'Monologues'

By ANDREW SARGUS KLEIN
ManagingArts Editor
Eve Ensler's "The Vagina Mono-
logues" stirs up a lot talk, and that's
a good thing. It's the cornerstone of
V-Day, a worldwide movement ded-
icated to end-
ing violence The Vagina
against women es
and girls. Monologu
Since its Sunday at 2
inception in and 7 p.m.
2001, V-Day At the Power
has raised Center
more than $30 $10
million. "The
Vagina Mono-
logues" is performed in thousands
of theaters both big and small
around the world. It's a singu-
lar event in theater, and the more
press it gets, the better. This year,
as always, proceeds from the show
will go to Safehouse, a woman's
shelter.
Ensler's "Monologues" rarely
comes quietly to campus - last year
wanted an all-minority cast, and
this year there's been some ambi-
guity as to the possibility of putting
men on stage. The play itself comes
with severe guidelines to ensure
absolute fidelity to the script (one
being that no men are to be part of
the cast - though what defines an
actor remains to be determined).
Last year's production caused
significant debate. Limiting who
can perform for such an important
cause is a tough argument to make.
Itfeels unfair to see an audition flier
that's looking for someone specifi-
cally not you. As a university that
values diversity, productions with
auditions open to the whole student
body ideally shouldn't select a cast
based on anythingotherthantalent
- but with "Monologues," passion,
not talent, is generally paramount.
True lovers of theater would say
it's not such an unjust situation.
The genre is ever re-interpreting
itself. Let the individual shows and
producers do what they will - only
good will come out of it. Selecting
one group instead of another is an
act of creative expression. Stick-
ing to the same formula every year
could eventually marginalize the

production as a one-trick horse
- always pertinent, but unsurpris-
ing. They would be right, sort of.
Ensler's play is part of a movement,
and the larger ideals of art don't
always correlate - and sometimes
are restricted - when tied to a spe-
cific political movement.
Fair enough. But there's perhaps
another alternative. "The Vagina
Monologues" should reinvent itself
as part of any play's natural evolu-
tion while remaining relevant to
its cause. All-minority casts will
always be controversial, but the
inclusion of a few men as "extras"
(i.e., not part of the cast) required
approval from the national chapter
and a little semantic haggling.
"Monologues" needs to be more
flexible than this. The play's impact
is concrete - it's not going any-
where anytime soon. Ensler's work
is one of the most important in the
past 20 years and will be required
reading for a long time. It's time
to bring in some of the ideals,
because with them "Monologues"
can only become more influential.
An all-minority cast can galvanize
marginalized communities and
heighten awareness; abstracted
versions can shed light on specific
psychological and social themes.

M;0e
en in
tights
WAINWRIGHT KEEPS
YOUNG DANCE COMPANY
ON ITS TOES
By ABIGAIL B. COLODNER
Daily Fine Arts Editor
Avant-garde costumes by a New York fashion
designer, original music by Rufus Wainwright
and beautiful specimens of the human form are
more than icing on the cake for the Stephen Pet-
ronio dance company, which has its University
debut tonight at8 p.m. at the Power Center.
The modern dance company brings to Ann
Arbor a show that had its
debut last April in New Steven
York's Joyce Theater. Two Petronio
of the three pieces are new Company
works set to musiceby Wain- o p y
wright - existing songs Tonight and
as well as original pieces tomorrow
the folk singer-songwriter at 8 p.m.
composed for the com- At the Power
pany. Petronio, the group's Center
founder and artistic direc-
tor, is a popular choreog- $t8-$45
rapher in his own right,
creating works by commission for dance com-
panies around the world. His extensive list of
accolades includes fellowships and awards from
groups like the National Endowment for the
Arts and the John Simon Guggenheim Foun-
dation. His company, founded only in 1984, is
about to begin its largest U.S. tour to date, tak-
ing the company as far as UC Santa Cruz and
the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis.
The relative youth of the company and pop-
ularity of its founder speak to its hip factor.
Thankfully, those hip touches that risk doing
little more than sounding good on paper are,
instead, the crux of the company's artistry.
Petronio's choices of music, lighting, design,
costuming and choreography all seamlessly
complement one another. The costumes add a
narrative element to moments such as the first
part of "Bud Suite," Wainwright's song about

Modern dance on the rise this weekend at the Power Center.

"Men reading fashion magazines / Oh what a
world / It seems we live in." The piece ends up
a duet in which two male dancers each wear
half a suit jacket, like complementary halves of
a friendship charm.
Kicky, poppier elements always act in con-
junction with high discipline. "Bud Suite's" sec-
ond section, set to Wainwright's "Vibrate," puts
four women in mini tutus and backless men's
suit shirts. Accordingly, their bottom halves
land just as precisely, extending and stretch-
ing as far as is the norm for prima ballerinas,
although their torsos and heads are less pulled
together, moving with more ambiguity and
abandon.
Petronio's dancers move with incredible con-

WHAT'S A MASTERCLASS?
A masterclass is sortof self-explanatory: lt'saclassltaught by a
master. But these classes are open to the public, and provide a rare.
opportunity to witness a leading contemporaryartist instruct and
inspirea class of your peers. They also happen all the time. Keepa,
look out for future classesat http://uois.umich.edu/events/calendar
In case you can't get enough of the Petronio Dance Company,
or you can't make it to either performance, the group will be -
conducting a masterclass at Betty Pease Studio, neartheCCRB,
Saturdayat noon -and, asalways,it'sfree.
fidence and his artistic choices are appropriate
rather than simply flashy. This University debut
brings an uncommon kind of momentum and
expertise to dance performance.

Consider the play T&D department 'Conquers' with class:

in political as well
as artistic terms.
If the all-minority cast is too prob-
lematic, fine.
"Monologues" will always draw
a good crowd and raise chunks of
money because the play is that good
and the movement that important.
This year's production is at the
Power Center on Sunday at 2 p.m.
and 7 p.m. The advertising is bad,
with few fliers and few announce-
ments around campus. Regardless,
Ensler's play is one of the most rel-
evant productions in modern the-
ater. It's an important chapter in
political theater - we just need to
let it breathe a little.

,L 1

By WHITNEY DIBO
Daily Arts Writer
"It's just like a modern sitcom,
almost like 'Everybody Loves Ray-
mond,"'said director John Neville-
Andrews - not exactly what you'd
expect to hear about this week-
end's Theatre and Drama Depart-
ment production, "She Stoops to
Conquer." First performed in 1733,
Oliver Goldsmith's aging script
might masquerade as a prim and
proper comedy from centuries
ago, but don't be too quick to judge
this play by its genre. Goldsmith
puts to use the timeless themes
of thwarted seduction, dysfunc-
tional family dynamics and good
old-fashioned romantic comedy,
making "She Stoops to Conquer"

accessible to any modern audience
with a sense of humor.
The show opens with Mr. and
Mrs. Hardcastle, a country couple
anxious to marry off their two
children and
finally become She Stoops
empty-nesters. to Conquer
Charles Mar-
low, a wealthy Tonight and
Londoner, tomorrow at 8
begrudgingly p.m., Sunday
acquiesces to at 2p.m.
his own par- At the
ents' request Mendelssohn
that he leave the Theatre
city to meet the $22/$19/$9
Hardcastles' with student ID
daughter, Kate.
Marlow and his wingman set out
through the countryside in search

of the Hardcastle estate, although,
as in any romantic comedy, the
journey does not go as planned.
The boys get lost, and end up
asking for directions from the
Hardcastles' scheming step-son.
Fueling a plot of mistaken identity,
the stepson tells the gullible city-
dwellers they're hours from their
destination and must spend the
night at an "inn" down the road.
The inn, of course, is actually the
Hardcastle estate itself, and the
oblivious pair enters the place with
a haughty air of classic upper-class
superiority, talking down to the
Hardcastle family as if they were
barmaids and hired help. Not a
good first impression for the hope-
ful groom, to say the least.
The suitor, Marlow, also has
an unusual quirk: He gets terri-
bly tongue-tied around high-class
women. This might sound like a
just a mild idiosyncray, until it's
juxtaposed with the extravagant
Don Juan-ish sex drive he exhib-
its toward girls of the lower class.
So when Marlow first meets Kate
Hardcastle and mistakes her for
a barmaid - well, it turns out the
1700s were pretty racy after all.
Director Neville-Andrews
picked "She Stoops to Conquer"
not only because it has enter-
tained audiences for more than
250 years, but also because the

unique rhythm and structure of
its language challenges his acting
majors. "You have to pick a variety
of shows for a given theatre sea-
son," he said. Neville-Andrews is
a veteran director of these farcical
period comedies. His production
of the 1907 comedy "A Flea in Her
Ear" charmed Power Center audi-
ences last winter.
As University productions
rarely spare any expense, this
show promises to be an extrava-
gant spectacle of period scenery
Romantic comedy
from 1700s retains
its raunch-
and costume, with some actore
even fitted for false teeth. So if
the weather's got you down, stop
by the Mendelssohn Theater this
weekend for a generous dose of
rollicking comedy featuring some
of the school's most talented young
actors. The show promises to ta,
into audiences' affinity for roman-
tic comedies like "You've Got
Mail" and "Sleepless in Seattle,"
with an added element of 18th-
century stylized flair.

Low on cash? Shepard' ..Starving' is free

By ABIGAIL B. COLODNER
Daily Fine Arts Editor
When something from a class
catches our attention, the really
good studentin
us should grab
hold of it for Curse of the
closer study. Starving
Fortunately, Class
this campus's
student-run Tonight and
and produced tomorrow
groups often at8 p.m.
make that Sunday at 2 p.m.
formally pos- At East Quad
sible. When Auditorium
RC junior Free
Kaleigh Cor-
nelison wanted
to direct and explore a play she read
in class, she turned to the RC Play-
ers, the totally student-run theater
group behind such shows as the bi-

annual Evening of Scenes and Kami-
kaze Theater. Cornelison's focus
was Sam Shepard's 1978 "Curse of
the Starving Class," part of his fam-
ily-oriented tragedies and one of the
acclaimed playwright's most recog-
nized works.
The director described "Curse"
as essentially a family's search for
fulfillment, in an America suffering
the instability of the Cold War.
On a more immediate level, "the
family's biggest problem is that the
father's absent and drunk all of the
time. So, as a family they want to
come together, but they never can,"
Cornelison said.
Shepard is known for his blunt
and highly illustrative language.
The tone of his plays is unpredict-
able, and their substance varies
between the humorously bizarre
and the serious.
"There are a lot of comedic

moments but there's also a lot of
depth - that's what drew me to it,
those sincere moments," Cornelison
said.
Shepard's dark humor comes
through in flashes of absurdity,
which could be interpreted dead-
RC Players
deliver playwright's
family drama.
pan or with deliberately comedic
delivery. RC junior Lewis Ezekiel
described his character as one in a
pair of "goons who come to shake
down the father for his debts." The
goons deliver the news of their med-
dling to the family and then ask that

they pass the news on for them, say-
ing, "We dohate to repeat ourselves.
The first time's great, but after that
it gets kinda boring."
The characters' communica-
tion switches between eloquent
expression and electrifyingly dras-
tic action. Of "Curse's" characters,
Ezekiel said - kidding a little, but
not that much - "Just when you
think 'oh my god, you're such a
character in a play,' then they pee on
something."
Beside a few moments that keep
both actors and audience on their
toes, the dramatic heart of the play
is about people's pasts catching up
to them. It's a sympathetic theme,
one that should make thisweekend's
show accessible to all.
- For photos from last
night's performance, go to
michigandaily.com.

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Join the largest student-run arts and programming organization
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Now accepting applications for Executive Board positions for 2007 - 2008

* President
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Applications are due February 16, 2007 and can be downloaded at www.umich.edu/-uac
What do U do
www.umich.edu/ uac The University Activities Center

SHE STOOPS
TO CONQUER
By Oliver Goldsmith
Dept. of Theatre & Drama - Directed by John Neville-Andrews
Feb. 15 at 730 PM. Feb. 16 & 17 at 8 PM
Feb. 18 at 2 PM." Mendelssohn Theatre
Tickets 22 & $16 . Students f9 with ID
League Ticket Office- 734-764-2538

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