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October 16, 2008 - Image 12

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The Michigan Daily, 2008-10-16

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4B - Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

48 - Thursday, October16, 2008 The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom

RENT
From Page 1B
with the Tompkins Square Park riot.
These two consecutive days of protest,
violence and police brutality led the
city of New York to wage a full-scale
war on homelessness, led by Rudolph
Giulani.
The Internet also provided cast
members with some unconventional
research. School of Music junior Mark
Ayesh has been reading blogs where
people post their feelings about and
experiences with AIDS. Ayesh plays
Roger, an HIV-positive musician and
Mimi's love interest. Ayesh called the
epidemic a Sept.11 of the '80s and '90s.
"I can't even wrap my head around
(AIDS) happening. The lack of scientif-
ic research done in medicine, a disease
going around that people don't know
about - that would be crazy."
The cast made a quilt for the show in
cooperation with the Names Project, an
organization with the goal of spread-
ing awareness by recognizing those
who've lost their lives to AIDS. The
Memorial Quilt, currently in Atlanta, is
comprised of more than 40,000 three-
by-six-foot panels and growing. The
cast made eight of these panels filled
with the names of friends, family mem-
bers and influential figures with HIV.
Yet throughout these challenging
experiences, or perhaps because of
them, the show manages to rock. The
vibrancy and revelry of the LGBT com-
munity is evoked with daring color and
costume, electric guitar melodies and
entertainingly uninhibited sexuality
- all with the uncompromising "fuck
you" attitude of idealistic youth.

That's what makes this cast so per-
fect for "RENT." Unlike most plays
done in college, these students don't
have to play grandfathers or farmers or
little kids - the actors get to play char-
acters who are supposed to be their age
and have the same intensity in every-
thing they do. There's a certain energy
that comes with being a 20-something
artist, desperate to change the world,
that these actors bring to the stage.
"It's really hard not to bring part of
yourself into the characters because
they're so close to the heart," Ayesh
said.
Overshown feels the same way: "If
you asked me, I could sing the show
backwards, word for word. It's so much
Sa part of our generation it's only natural
to feel magnetized to it," he said.
Director and Associate Professor
of Musical Theatre, Mark Madama,
is taking this energy to form the play.
Instead of controlling the creative pro-
cess, Madama is making sure to push
egos aside and tell the story to the best
of his ability, expressing many of the
show's darker issues; but more impor-
tantly, creating a celebration of life, a
dominant theme he has instilled in the
cast.
School of Music senior Cary Tedder,
who plays Mark - an aspiring film-
maker and Roger's roommate - has
embraced these values wholeheart-
edly.
"Death and disease and homeless-
ness and poverty - these things exist,
but it's no reason to not live in love, live
for today," Tedder said. "Give into love
or live in fear."
Blanchet agreed. "The message isn't
about drugs or AIDS. The message of
the show is no day but today."

0

Mark Ayesh as Roger in "RENT"

FINE ARTS PREVEW
Desire,' as seen,

0

1

through many eyes
By NORA FELDHUSEN ing of a nude woman clinging to
Daily Arts Writer a barren tree" in a back-room of
the Saddam Art Center. Raffo col-
With a single performer on one lected stories from Iraqi women
small stage in Ann Arbor, "Heath- and "listened deeply to what each
er Raffo's 9 Parts of Desire" leads woman said, what (they) want-
a journey ed to say but couldn't and what
through the (they) never knew how to say.
physically Heather Then (Raffo) wrote her song."
and men- Rffo's9Prts The analogy, to songwriting
tally ravaged extends to the melodic nature
psyches of of Kamoo's performance. A play
nine Iraqi Through Oct.26 is never anything without its
women. At Performance actors, and this is particularly
Sarab Kamoo Network Theatre true of a one-person show. Hav-
fluidlytransi- ing performed "Desire" in two
tionsbetween other venues, Kamoo says she is
Layal, the curator at the Saddam "more comfortable in the skin of
Art Center; a young Iraqi girl who these women" and it's abundant-
loves 'N Sync; and an American- ly clear that Kamoo understands
Iraqi gripping a rosary while what she's doing on stage.
watching CNN and praying for Walking from an upscale liv-
her family. ing room to the wasteland of
Sound like a lot of person- a bombed-out shelter, Kamoo
alities to balance? There's also travels through time and space
Umm Ghada, a survivor of a without ever leaving the stage.
bombed shelter where 431 civil- She switches between regular
ians were killed, including her contemporary clothing and an
entire family. In one heart- abaya - traditional garb for Arab
wrenching scene, Kamoo plays women -that she occasionally
a doctor who desperately and alters. The minimal scene change
viciously laments the genetic only accentuates her natural
deformities and cancer caused transitions between characters.
by depleted uranium. Raffo first performed "9 Parts
Raffo's playwriting, Kamoo's
performance and the direction of
Edward Nahhat infuse this show
with all varieties of human emo- Actress Kamoo
tion. Layal comes on within the
first few minutes of the show to transitions
tell the audience, "I love it, but I
hate it here." There is pain, yes, between nine
but the women Kamoo plays dem-
onstrate an incredible capacity characters.
for understanding, compassion
and love.
Raffo, whose father is Iraqi,
was inspired to write the show of Desire" in Edinburgh in 2003,
after a trip to Iraq in 1993 where and since then it's been onstage in
she found a "haunting paint- London, New York and elsewhere
in the United States. She has
periodically adapted the show
ccording to current events. An
Iraqi expatriate living in Lon-
don, she voices the most politi-
cal opinions about Saddam. and
his regime. Clearly conflicted,
she both embraces and rejects
the war. She speaks of the mas-
sacres committed by Saddam yet
asks what this war means for
Iraqis and Americans alike: "If
you want to sculpt a nation, you
cannot hack away at it without a
E E plan for the human being."
The human being lies at
the center of this emotion-
* * ally charged show. The women
speak of war, love, rape, mem-
75 Pitchers Of ory, traveling, death and birth,
and as the Iraqi-American char-
/ acter says, "we just keep going." *
P a 'n W5-' War is a part of life, and of these
P women's lives in particular, but
If Pints- All 28 Drafts here we take an opportunity to
Heineken & Amstel light look at "another side ofthe war":
& 6 Wings $4.99 The human side.
Raffo is a "songwriter" of
- V stories and Kamno acts out
these stories for the audience.
f Al Sandwich Platters In regards to playing the role,
K995.0100 Kamoo voiced her love for this
S "3 tiftwi rare opportunity.
"I feel so incredibly blessed,"
Kamoo said. "It's something I
have to do."

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