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April 01, 2010 - Image 9

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The Michigan Daily, 2010-04-01

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The Michigan Daily C michigandailycom IThursday, April 1, 2010
I

weekend
essentials
Apr.1 to Apr. 4

CONCERT
Local band The
Macpodz will hit the
Blind Pig this Saturday
in honor of the 39th
Annual Ann Arbor Hash
Bash. If The Macpodz's
trippy funk doesn't put
you in the mood, it's all
good -the group will
be accompanied by a
gaggle of equally home-
grown artists including
Abigail Stauffer and
Laith al-Saadi. Tickets
$10 in advance, $15
day of. Doors 8 p.m.
ON DISPLAY
After decades of secre-
cy, the Ghost Army, a
special unit of the Army
during WWII, will final-
ly be demystified by an
exhibit at the Hatcher
Graduate Library. The
group saw action in
June 1944 in Nor-
mandy, where itrwas
deployed with unusual
weapons (a sound
machine and inflatable
tanks) and completed
its mission without fir-
ing a shot. Open during
library hours. Free.

'Trafford Tanvi' takes a girl's everyday struggles
and delivers a knockout experience
By David Riva // Daily Arts Writer

t's an ordinary Tuesday night in the
Walgreen Drama, Center. There's a
squeaking sound from vocal exer-
cises, pounding on the ground from a
dance practice and some shouting from an
impassioned soliloquy.
But in the Arthur Miller Theatre, where
rehearsals for "Trafford Tanzi" are taking
place, the thud of body slams and the resul-
tant grunts and howls overpower the other
noises of the building.
"What was that, the giant swan on
crack?" exclaims Malcolm Tulip, director
of "Tanzi" and professor in the School of
Music, Theatre & Dance, as he jokes about
the ungraceful movements of one of his
actors.
The cast of this unconventional and
adventurous wrestling musical is warm-
ing up for the battle that's about to ensue
between its fiery protagonist and the rest of
the characters. As Tanzi laces up her knee-
high leather boots, she prepares to confront
her family and friends and take a stand
against their constant oppression.
A Stoy of Social Struggle
"Trafford Tanzi" is the story of a girl
growing up in 1950s England who strug-
gles mightily with the relationships in her
life. She has been a forgettable disappoint-
ment to those around her - Tanzi's mother
always wanted a boy, and her father can't
even remember the color of her eyes. As a
result, those around her serve as obstacles
that shape her miserable existence.
In reaction to this unfair treatment,
Tanzi literally and metaphorically begins
to wrestle with her school counselor, best
friend, husband, mother and father, all
while a referee tries to keep a fair fight.
The man in stripes is played by Music,
Theatre & Dance senior Torrey Wigfield,
who acts as a mediator in each of the 10
matches, interjecting snarky comments
while preventingthe competitors from kill-

ing each other.
"The lead character kind of (grows) up
in this unjust world, and we can see her
kind of being violated and ramshackled and
thrown about the ring a bit, (which) really
lends itself to her growing up in an unjust
environment," he said.
During these scuffles, Tanzi finds a bet-
ter sense of herself and eventually pursues
a career as a professional wrestler. Com-
pounding her existing obstacles, Tanzi
faces a strict social construct that says
women should never leave the kitchen, let
alone take part in an ultra-masculine sport.
In this sense, feminist commentary is prev-
alent throughout the work, but the message
of achieving a goal against all odds is appli-
cable regardless of gender.
Story and social struggles aside, how did
this crazy concept come about?
"There was a theater company - well, it
still exists - in Liverpool, England, called
the Everyman Theatre, and in the late '70s,
they were closed down for refurbishment,"
Tulip explained. "And they had to find
plays that they could do in other venues and
at the same time they were also looking to
do plays that had a more prominent role for
women."
The need for filling a non-traditional
space and the desire for less male-dominat-
ed material led British playwright Claire
Luckham to craft the script for "Trafford
Tanzi" in 1980. It made its debut and con-
tinued for some time in bars in Liverpool
before migrating to London.
One of the most remarkable parts regard-
ing the conception of "Tanzi" is the audi-
ence's placement on all sides of a genuine
wrestling ring. Constructing the ring from
scratch out of a canvas mat and stretchy
ropes gave it an authentic look without
having to break the bank on an expensive
object for temporary use.
A theater-in-the-round style of seating is
employed with the ring at the center. This
decision to break the fourth wall allows

for a blurring of the line between onstage,
action and the seated audience.
The position of the stage in the middle of
the room provides an interesting challenge
for the actors.
"You can never stay facing one side,"
said Music, Theatre & Dance junior and
understudy Charlotte Raines. "You have to
always be moving around."
The constant motion of actors and bal-
anced arrangement of seating allows for
a completely immersive experience for
onlookers.
For Tulip, attendees who are more
directly involved with the play provide a
rare opportunity for audience participation
as part of the show.
"We want people yelling and shouting,"
he said. "This is a play that people don't
have to sit and be quiet (for)."
Tulip thinks one of his hardest jobs is
going to be "to give people permission to
yell." He welcomes the "irreverent and
casual atmosphere" of wrestling as a con-
tributing force to the performance's overall
mood.
And with Wigfield's eloquently described
"drop kicks, head mares, arm locks, nose
drops, flying from off the top rope (and)
pinfalls" as the centerpiece of the evening,
some cheers and jeers shouldn't be too dif-
ficult to provoke.
Body-Slamming Stereotypes
Learning complex and physically
demanding wrestling moves was not some-
thing that happened overnight.
Rackham student Charles Fairbanks,
who spent last summer in Mexico as a lucha
libre, taught the entire cast the fundamen-
tals of professional wrestling starting the
second week of January.
Fairbanks gained experience under the
guise of "El Gato Tuerto" and filmed his
matches by attaching a camera to his mask.
"It was because of my experience in

these (more theatrical) wrestling arenas
that director Malcolm Tulip asked me to be
the coach," he explained.
Instead of apprehension and uncertain-
ty, the actors pursued the endeavor with
positive enthusiasm.
"We all just dove head first, went for
it, and I can now put on my resume that I
know professional wrestling," Raines said.
There's an inherent risk in the pursuit,
however, which inevitably led to some
minor injuries. Tulip said that staying
healthy was a priority throughout the rig-
orous training period.
Regardless, both director and actors
alike see the benefit of an alternative form
of performance aside from the normal song,
dance and dialogue.
For Tanzi, played by Music, Theatre &
Dance junior Arielle Goldman, the wres-
tling serves a dual purpose. On one hand,
"a lot of the moves are there just to be big
and (to contribute to) the performance,"
she said.
On the other hand, they also "help to
express how she sees the world."
In her acting classes, Goldman has
worked on realizing her character's "inter-
nal monologue" using actions instead of'
words.
A specific example of channeling emo-
tion through an act of physical expression
comes near the beginning, when Tanzi's
friend Platinum Sue (Erin Cousins, Music,'
Theatre & Dance junior) pretends tobe her
friend only to tease and provoke her.
"I think her first instinct is that she
feels like crying," Goldman said. "But she
doesn't let herself, so her next instinct is
to grab Sue's doll and slam iteon the ground
and break its limbs apart."
This rejection of things that are tradi-
tionally deemed "girly" is evident through-
out the comedy. Tanzi's tomboy personality
is one that Goldman says she can relate to,
even if only briefly.
See TANZI; Page 4B

FILM
Chances are you
missed "The Hurt
Locker" during its
initial theatrical
run. But you'll have
another opportunity to
watch the 2010 win-
ner for Best Picture
and Best Director
(Kathryn Bigelow)
at the State Theater.
Experience the film's
hair-raising thrills and
suspense as meant
to be - on a 30-foot
screen, surrounded
by people gripping
their armrests with
tension. Go to www.
michtheater.org/state
for prices and times.

:

AT UMMA
The Art, Anti-Art,
Non-Art exhibit, in
conjunction with
UMMA, will present
"Saying Yes to Say No:
Art and Culture in Six-
ties Japan," a two-day
symposium and per-
formance. Friday will
feature a lecture by
Reiko Tomii followed
by a performance
from New York-based
artist Ei Arakawa. Sat-
urday will feature an
international host of
speakers (9:30 a.m. to
5 p.m.). All events are
at UMMA and free.

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