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April 09, 2009 - Image 11

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The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom

Thursday, April 9, 2009 - 3B

The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom Thursday, April 9, 2009 - 3B

Tweeting away the
gossip rags

Students of the stage

Sniff. Sorry, sorry. I promised myself
I wouldn't cry. This is officially my
last gossip column and, since TMZ
hasn't returned my phone calls, probably
my last chance to
write about this stuff
for a mass audience.
I'd like to give myself
a nice, self-serving
sendoff, but, given this
column's unsentimen-
tal nature - plus the
fact I'm sure no one MARK
cares I'm leaving - it SCHULTZ
just wouldn't be appro-
So instead I'll complain about the newest
trend in Hollywood: celebrity twittering.
I'm not talking about the tweets of David
Gregory and every politician from Barack
Obama to Chris Dodd. What irks me are
the tweets of gossip media stalwarts like
Lindsay Lohan, Heidi Montag and Ash-
ton Kutcher, all of whom use them as just
another way to call attention to themselves.
But I'm not here to join the anti-Twitter
squad whose complaints are just as dumb
as those of people who freaked out over
the redesign of Facebook. Reading about
the pithy moments of someone's day -
celebrity or not - isn't interesting to me,
so I simply don't visit Twitter or tweet
myself. Problem solved.
Or not. Because, unfortunately, it
appears Twitter is having an unforeseen
effect on celebrity feuds and liaisons.
Exhibit A: Lilo and Samantha Ronson,
freshly broken-up, found themselves in
adjoining rooms at the Chateau Marmont.
Hohan, annoyed by her ex's proximity,
tweeted the following: "PLEASE leave
me ALONE. And stop staying in the room
below me." All well and good. I cherish
this kind of animosity, especially from two
of this column's favorite subjects. But the
feud hasn't gone any farther than that. I
don't know, maybe Ronson tweeted some-
thing back. Whoop-de-do.
Now let's imagine an alternate, Twitter-
less universe. Given Lohan's impulsive
and thoughtless nature, I'd imagine she
would've had no choice but to break into
Ronson's room with a fireman's ax and
shriek like a banshee. (This is probably one
of the only times I'll ever use a clich6 in
writing, but it's appropriate because a ban-
shee is actually a ghastly Irish female. Like
Lohan.) But instead she just twittered.
See the problem here? New modes of
social technology are shouldering the
burden of celebrity anger, and tiffs that
once would've escalated into violent
public scenes now float harmlessly into
I also believe Twitter makes celebrities
1 less creative. Exhibit B: On April Fool's Day
last week, Heidi Montag tweeted a pre-
dictably lame fake-out, announcing to the

world: "I wanted to tell my Twitter friends
first ... I am pregnant!!!!!!!! I couldn't be
more excited!!! I hope it's aboy!" Without
the abilityto quickly spread any bit of info
across the Internet, Heidi would've had to
fool the actual paparazzi - maybe donning
a fake stomach ache or scheduling a fake
appointment at the gynecologist's office.
But tweeting has removed the paparazzi
middlemen and allowed information to
flow directly from celebs' Blackberrys to
our unfortunate screens. The result is not
only uncreative, uninteresting pranks like
Heidi's but an erosion of one of the corner-
stones of gossip: the thrill of not knowing.
When a celebrity can tell you everything
herself, does the world need writers like
me to speculate? (I know, I know. The
world doesn't need me anyway.) So I'll
admit the motive behind this last column
is somewhat self-interested. I implore you,
lovers of gossip: Stop readingcelebrity
tweets, so that my replacement (should one
arise) can keep his or her job. (And so my
chances to runa successful Superficial-like
site will rise from .01 percent to .05.)
Straight from the
stars' Blackberrys.
In all fairness, though, I can't totally
condemn a technology that saves lives.
Even if the life happens tobea huge fan of
Demi Moore. It's true - last week a girl in
Silicon Valley twittered a suicide threat to
Demi-Tractor Trailer, who then re-twit-
tered it (a phrase I may have just made up)
to her legions of twittering fans, many of
whom called local police departments.
Still, stories like that are sandwiched
between less inspiring tales: John Mayer
likes Twitter more than Jennifer Anis-
ton; Hugh Jackman professes his Twitter
addiction, while Robert Pattinson wants
no part of it. Not only the contents of celeb-
rities' tweets but the fact that they twitter
at all has suddenly become tabloid fodder.
This article alone certainly broke the
Daily record for times "twitter" and its
conjugations has/will ever be used in print.
Like I said earlier, the word "twitter" has
a ton of old definitions, one of which is "a
state of tremulous excitement." I think
that describes things pretty well.
Like the inventor of a flyingcar, celebri-
ties seem to be more excited by the idea of
their new technology than the technology
itself. But it'll wear off. Twitter maybe
ephemeral, but gossip, my friends, lasts
Shultz really wants a job asa gossip
columnist. If you know of any job openings,
e-mail them to him at markthos@umich.edu.

Basement Arts and RC
Players are staples of
performance on campus
Daily Arts Writer
The University's Department of The-
atre & Drama puts on several well-attend-
ed, big budget productions a year, giving
students an opportunity to perform in
and to watch quality shows. Unfortu-
nately, the attention received by those
productions means that student-run per-
formances are often overlooked.
Student theater groups like Basement
Arts and RC Players give students of all
majors a chance to participate in every
facet of putting on a theatrical produc-
tion. They also provide students with free
or low-cost entertainment almost every
Basement Arts got its start on the cor-
ner of Washington Street and State Street
in the old Frieze Building. In its basement
was a storage closet used by the Depart-
ment of Theatre & Drama. A group of stu-
dents looking for a place to practice and
perform its own productions thought the
room might be a suitable venue for a new
theater. The department liked the idea,
and in 1987 the students formed a stu-
dent theater group called Basement Arts,
turning the storage closet into the Arena
Although the Frieze Building and the
Arena Theater are no more, the Basement
Arts theater group is still going strong.
The group now rehearses and performs
in Studio One, a theater in the Walgreen
Drama Center on North Campus.
The RC Players puts on entirely stu-
dent-run performances as well.
While Basement Arts is mostly known
among the North Campus crowd, RC
Players productions are more popular
on Central Campus. Both student groups
are open to all students from all schools
at the University. They find most of their
actors and directors through advertising
at events like Festifall, creating posters
and using basic word-of-mouth publicity.
For Basement Arts, directors who
want their work to be performed must
go through a proposal process. Meaghan
Shelley, a senior in the School of Music,
Theatre & Dance and Basement Arts's
artistic director, wrote in an e-mail inter-
view that the group usually gets about 15
proposals a semester.
The performances produced by Base-
ment Arts are wide-ranging in themes
and authors. In the past, they have pro-
duced a play based on the novels of J.R.R.
Tolkien, musicals and plays written by
students and pieces written by profes-
sional authors. Last weekend, Basement
Arts put on "Donut Play (With Guns)"
written by New York author Addison
Proctor. Shelley thought it was one of the

Basement Arts players rehearse for an upcoming performance.

group's more notable productions.
"Basement Arts was the very first com-
pany to produce this show in its entirety,"
she said. "The author was in town for a
few rehearsals and the final performance,
where he and the cast held a talk back
after the show where audience members
could ask questions."
While Basement Arts and the RC Play-
ers have their similarities, they occupy dif-
ferent niches in the University community.
RC Players tend to have a larger number of
non-theater majors. In contrast, according
to Darren Criss, a Music, Theatre & Dance
senior, Basement Arts is comprised almost
entirely of theater majors, despite also
being open to all majors.
Criss, who has participated in Base-
ment Arts productions as both an actor
and director, wishes that more people
would take advantage of this opportuni-
ty. He views Basement Arts as a "hidden
gem," and said that he's always incred-
ibly excited when he finds out people who
aren't theater majors are in the audience.
Both Basement Arts and RC Players
currently face obstacles, though.
While Basement Arts has been moved
to Studio One after the Frieze Build-
ing was demolished, Shelley finds that
the studio space is a bit confining for the
"In the Walgreen Drama Center, we
have a brand new theater that is not only
used by Basement Arts, butby faculty and
students for classes during the day," Shel-
ley said.
She added, "We are also more limited
in terms of rehearsal space, because we
share with University Productions."

Space issues have put a damper on the
number of shows Basement Arts can per-
form per semester. Additionally, the move
to North Campus has made it harder to
attract students from Central Campus to
shows due to both distance and advertis-
ing difficulties.
The RC Players have to deal with insuf-
ficient performance conditions as well.
"The East Quad Auditorium is really
run down, and we've had trouble with our
lights and sound boards," Gray wrote in an
e-mail interview. "It was supposed to be
renovated over the summer, but the proj-
ect was postponed until this summer."
The group has alsobeen having trouble
finding new blood,
"A lot of our students are graduating
this year, and we need to work on getting
our name out there so more people can
join our group," Gray said.
Despite the difficulties, the studentssee
their performance groups as an integral
part of the theater scene at the University.
Basement Arts andRC Players provide stu-
dents with a chance to see fantastic pro-
ductions on weekends without traveling
far or completely emptying their wallets.
All Basement Arts shows are free, as are
the majority of RC Players productions.
Gray sees student theater not only as
an enjoyable hobby, but as a real commit-
"We may be a bunch of people who
don't necessarily want to commit our
lives to theater, but when we put on a
show, we do it for real," she said. "We
produce really quality performances, and
we've created an incredible community
through doing so."

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Info sessions:
April 9, 15, 28 & May 7
7 pm - Room 1322 - School of Education
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