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March 17, 2011 - Image 10

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The Michigan Daily, 2011-03-17

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10A - Thursday, March 17, 2011
LECTURE PREVIEW
Lethem's 'utopia'

The Michigan Daily - michigandailylcom

THEATER PREVIEW
Festival allows theater
students to play around

Famed author
Jonathan Lethem
speaks on campus
By TIMOTHY RABB
Daily Arts Writer
Jonathan Lethem, best-
selling author of "Motherless
Brooklyn" and "Fortress of Soli-
tude," among
others, is no Jonathan
stranger to
artsy environs, Lethem
even when Tonightat
they border 5:10 p.m.
the atypical.
In Ann Arbor Helmut Stern
this week, Let- Auditorium
hem already Free
entertained
the University community with
a fiction reading on Monday, but
there's still time to take advan-
tage of a public reading today. In
a piece of narrative nonfiction
he shared with the University
community during his Monday
reading, he recounted his child-
hood exposure to nude models
in his father's art studio with
the clarity of his retrospective
intuition.
"Our house was very commu-
nal and arts-oriented," Lethem
said later in an interview with
The Michigan Daily. "It had a
nuclear family at the center, but
there was always a wide variety
of characters around."
Lethem's bohemian, late-
'60s upbringing in the Boerum
Hill neighborhood of Brooklyn
was a profound influence on his
writing career and the begin-
ning of a lifelong affinity' for
artistic communities like Ann

Arbor.
"I^haven't traveled much in
recent months, what with two
little kids and a permanent job,"
Lethem said. "But coming to a
town like Ann Arbor for a week-
long affair seemed a natural fit,
much better than the typical
one-day stop."
By "permanent job," Lethem
is referring to his prestigious
new position as Pomona's Roy
Edward Disney Professor of
Creative Writing, a post previ-
ously held by the late writer
David Foster Wallace. The pro-
fessorship is the culmination of
a 20-year writing career that
encompasses an eclectic array
of themes ranging from non-
fiction argumentative essays
to science fiction, with a Roll-
ing Stone feature on Bob Dylan
thrown in there somewhere
along the way.
"I originally planned to be an
artist like my father, but I was
talented in only the most boring
ways when it came to painting
and drawing," Lethem said. "I
saw a lot more potential in writ-
ing."
The structure and worldview
of Lethem's fiction is highly
autobiographical, informed
by the "collapsing utopia" he
observed during his counter-
cultural upbringing. But even
more relevant to his work are
his controversial views regard-
ing plagiarism.
In an argumentative essay
titled "The ecstasy of influence:
A plagiarism," Lethem argues
that every idea, no matter how
"pure" or "original" it may
seem, is derived from the work
of some predecessor.
"There are a few obvious

egregious behaviors that we can
all agree constitute plagiarism,"
Lethem said. "But those are the
far side of a very wide variety
of cultural participation that's
perfectly legitimate."
Lethem is unashamed when
it comes to walking his talk. As
a self-described "borrower" of
sorts, he finds a wealth of inspi-
ration in the writings of his
favorite science fiction author,
Philip K. Dick.
"My first two or three novels
were pretty much raw, shame-
less imitations of his style," Let-
hem said.
Even so, Lethem's writing
is a conglomeration of such a
wide variety of cultural influ-
ences that it can easily stand
by itself as unique and engag-
ing. Lethem stressed the point
that all artists - no matter
how celebtated they may be -
are human beings, limited by a
finite number of themes, words
and forms of expression. In his
mind, the key to being a good
writer is finding the proper bal-
ance with the resources avail-
able.

By DANIEL CARLIN
Daily Arts Writer
After over 100 preview perfor-
mances and many rescheduled
opening nights, "Spider-Man:
Turn Off
the Dark" p
has officially
taken a hia- Tonight through
tus. How- Saturdayat7p.m.
ever, 'since
beginning Studios One and Two
previews in Free
November,
the show has
found audiences'floodingthe Fox-
woods Theatre in New York to
witness it attempting to reshape
and redevelop itself.
University playwrights will
be undergoing a similar process
this week. Playfest, a festival
that showcases six staged read-
ings by student playwrights,
embraces the development pro-
cess. Its stripped-down produc-
tions, going on all week, focus on
the writing. The festival, taking
place in Studios One and Two of
the Walgreen Drama Center, will
remind the Ann Arbor communi-
ty that a play does not need to cost
$65 million and be filled with spe-
cial effects, costumes and over-
the-audience acrobatics.
Playfest starts at the begin-
ning of the semester, through the
course Playwriting and Produc-
tion, which is taught by School
of Music, Theatre & Dance Prof.
E.J. Westlake. The class consists
of 17 students - including six
playwrights and six directors.
Through dialogue and readings,

the six
worksh
class. N
tors pre
playwr
the cl
in othe
monito
This
runnin
herself
ting pl
brings
"It w
on you
bodies
Westla
change
interpr
idea of
have re
has ha
Th
A
An i
consist
backs
playwr
dialogu
to dram
Emn
junior
fest, h
tive pr
throng
is fired
tions ti
"Ith
feedba

playwrights' shows are Donson said. "As a playwright,
iopped and drafted in the you tend to spend most of your
While the six other direc- time alone, ina room and in front
epare to direct theseyoung of your computer."
ights' works, the rest of For the students who are not
ass supports the festival writers in the course, the class
r ways as actors, audition has taught them the importance
rs and promoters. of the art of writing. MT&D
is Westlake's first year junior Porscha Kazmierczak
g Playfest. A playwright directed a show and has greatly
she believes that put- appreciated being a part of the
ays "up on their feet" truly evolution of a play.
new life to a project. "It expanded the view of the
'ill always have an impact creative process," Kazmierczak
.r writing when you have said. "I have a different under-
in front of an audience," standing of what the playwright
ke said. "The language puts into (a play). Without a play-
s; the way the audience wright, there is no show."
ets things will change your The six penmen will be taking
things. You can't help but audiences on a wild roller coaster
visions in mind once a play through different geographic
d a staged reading." domains, from a working-class
community in Pittsburgh to a
Brooklyn flat to a dorm room on
e six works of a reality television show.
Its always a challenge with
[ayfest 2011. so many different plays in one
week, limited actors and resourc-
es," Kazmierczak said. "But that
just forces us to be more creative
ntegral aspect of Playfest and step outside of the box. I
s of the post-show talk- think we've all done that and I
that occur between the think it'll be a great run."
ight and the audience. The Through Playfest, Ann Arbor
ie and feedback are meant will be turning on the lights
atically assist each piece. for new playwrights and audi-
na Donson, an MT&D ences who are ready to explore
debuting a piece at Play- the mysteries and excitement of
as found this collabora- original homegrown theater.
ocess to be very beneficial "You are getting a chance
hout Westlake's class and to explore a new work of art
1 up for the audience reac- and have some input in it," said
his coming week. Kazmierczak. "And who knows?
as been really great getting One of these plays might win the
ck from other students," Hopwood!"

ConvratulationC
The following students will be among those recognized during the Honors Convocation program on Sunday, March 20, 2011. These individuals have demonstrated
the highest level of undergraduate academic success by achieving seven or more consecutive terms of all A's and earning the designation of Angell Scholar.
The University of Michigan congratulates these students on their superior scholastic achievement and wishes them continued success.
Check the Honors Convocation website at www.honors.umich.edu for more information on the Honors Convocation program.
Nine Term Angell Scholars

Rana A. Al-Dabagh
Wan Ying Teoh*

College of Arts and Sciences-- UM Flint
College of Literature, Science, and the Arts

Eight Term Angell Scholars

Dmitriy Ansolis*
Andrew Herbert Bissonette*
Frank Michael Davis*
Stephanie R. Mantey*
Lesley Helen Plimpton*
Katie A. Schott*
Charles Frank Schuler IV*
Jessica L. Turner

College of Engineering and Computer Science--UM Dearborn
College of Literature, Science, and the Arts
College of Literature, Science, and the Arts
School of Health Professions and Studies-- UM Flint
Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy
College of Arts and Sciences-- UM Flint
College of Literature, Science, and the Arts
College of Engineering and Computer Science--UM Dearborn

Seven Term Angell Scholars

Jacki Lynn Anderson*
Daniel Paul Anderson, Jr.*
Tamara Grace Andrade
Austin Vance Arnett*
Azalea Ayuningtyas
Julie Elizabeth Bordato*
Sara Emily Burke
David Byron Chapel
Jeffrey John Chenhall
Virginia Goudreau Cline*
Sean Michael Collins ,'
Melanie Mirdell Conn
Austyn Marie Foster
Traci Jessica Grant*
Andrew John Hayhurst
Tiffany Ann Hsueh
Corrie Zwanet Janssens
Jacqueline Kay Kauza
Miranda Rae Klenow*
Melissa A. Leemhuis

College of Literature, Science, and the Arts
College of Literature, Science, and the Arts
College of Literature, Science, and the Arts
School of Music, Theatre & Dance
College of Literature, Science, and the Arts
College of Literature, Science, and the Arts
College of Literature, Science, and the Arts
College of Literature, Science, and the Arts
College of Engineering
College of Literature, Science, and the Arts
School of Music, Theatre & Dance
School of Art and Design
College of Literature, Science, and the Arts
College of Literature, Science, and the Arts
School of Music, Theatre & Dance
Stephen M. Ross School of Business
College of Literature, Science, and the Arts
College of Literature, Science, and the Arts
School of Nursing
College of Arts and Sciences-- UM Flint

Kathleen Yin Leung
Paul Dunbar Lewis
Colin Alfred Bryant Maloney
Lauren A. Martyn
Lauren Christine McBride
Charles Adam Mouch
Kathryn Frances Mueller
Nicole Prairie Premo*
Paul Thomas Rink
Lauren Elizabeth Rivard
Alyssa Melanie Roy*
Anthony Michael Rubin*
Amber-Jean Vlasti Samson
Spencer Douglas Smith
Marie Lynn Ternes
Erika Nicole Valdivieso
Bryan Joseph Vanduinen
Rebecca M. Wilczak*
Jared Harold Alexander Worthington*

School of Music, Theatre & Dance
School of Music, Theatre & Dance
Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy
College of Arts and Sciences-- UM Flint
School of Nursing
School of Kinesiology
+School of Music, Theatre & Dance
College of Literature, Science, and the Arts
College of Literature, Science, and the Arts
College of Literature, Science, and the Arts
School of Nursing
College of Literature, Science, and the Arts
College of Literature, Science, and the Arts
College of Literature, Science, and the Arts
College of Engineering
College of Literature, Science, and the Arts
College of Engineering
College of Arts, Sciences, and Letters--UM Dearborn
College of Literature, Science, and the Arts

"

*Denotes graduates

1

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