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September 03, 2013 - Image 33

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The Michigan Daily, 2013-09-03

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Tuesday, September 3, 2013 - 5D

The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom Tuesday, September 3, 2013 - 5D

JAN. 17, 2013 - "Believe it
or not - I've come to believe
at this age - human beings are
basically the lowest animals
on this earth, and the reason
why I say that is because I
know that human beings don't
feel that way," OyamO said.
A prominent influence in
the growing canon of African-
American literature, play-
wright OyamO's (Charles F.
Gordon) work captures his-
torical events in a new light.
"All writers have their own
reasons for writing. For me, I
think I want to go for some-
thing that causes discomfort.
But discomfort towards some-
thing good," he said.
Born in Ohio in 1943 and
raised with six siblings,
OyamO recognized his love
for writing at an early age. As
a child, he learned the best
way to express his feelings
and opinions about a particu-
lar individual or issue was
through writing. During high
school, OyamO was known for
writing letters to the editor of

his local newspaper regard-
ing his opinions about issues
in his community, politics
and controversial topics, all
of which were published in
His growing desire to delve
into fiction originated from
his grandfather, a preacher at
the community church.
"I had always enjoyed the
stories that my grandfather
would tell us about the old
days in the South," OyamO
said. "In school, I always
enjoyed the English and lit-
erature courses and soon, I
got to a point when I began
to enjoy writing my own sto-
An associate professor in
the School of Music, The-
atre & Dance and writer-in-
residence at the University,
OyamO received his Master
of Fine Arts from the Yale
School of Drama. His writ-
ing focuses on the struggles
of people of color in America,
especially those whose voices
are often ignored by society.
His plays bring forth contro-
versial topics in politics, race
and societal classes.
"We have religion, we have
technology, we have all of
these things - and yet here
we are," OyamO said. "We
fight each other over terri-
tory, over natural resources,
over religion, over ethnicity. I
mean, we have weapons right
now that could wipe out all of
humanity. And then you have
to ask yourself, 'Why do they
say that we are the highest
animals on earth?' I say, 'high
on what?"'

Many of OyamO's plays focus on controversial issues like race and war,

OyamO's plays have
appeared on stages across
the country. Some of his best-
known works include "Selfish
Sacrifice," "The White Black
Man," "City in a Strait" and
"Sing Jubilee."
His most celebrated
achievements as an eminent
playwright include the 1999
Eric Kocher Playwrights
Award for "The White Black
Man" at the Eugene O'Neill
Theater Center's National
Playwrights Conference of
1998. OyamO was also award-
ed a PEW/TCG Playwright-
in-Residence Fellowship in
2000 at the Philadelphia The-
atre Company.
OyamO has helped pave
the road for what is becoming
a new theatrical genre with
work that, according to some
critics, can disturb even the

Give local
bookstores a try

most impervious audience
"A man is a man, a woman
is a woman and a child is a
child," Oyamo said. "It's very
disturbing to see how these
differences separate us and
make us violent towards each
"We have knowledge, tech-
nology, the ability to explore
the universe," he said. "Then
what are we fighting each
other for? You would think
that by now, we'd figure out
how to live on this earth
"When I retire, I want to
devote my full time to deal-
ing with issues like these
in such a way as to provoke
thinking about it all, because
again, this is the only home
we have."

The first book I ever bought
at Dawn Treader was
"Dostoevsky" by Nicholas
Berdyaev. When I
found it, or rather
when it found me,
I had never even
heard of Berdyaev,
but I couldn't be
happier. During
my senior year of
high school, I took JOHN
a lot of interest in BOHN
Dostoevsky. His
existential treat-
ment of Christian-
ity served to guide me through what
was then my vague, liberal Protes-
tantism. In "Dostoevsky," Berdyaev
articulated what he thought were the
main themes of Dostoevsky's work,
and I consumed the book quickly.
Unlike many, that was how I spent
my freshman year's welcome week. I
don't know exactly howI would view
the book and its ideas today - I have
yet to reread it - but what I won't ever
forget was that rush of excitement
I experienced when I thought I had
found the book I needed to be reading
at this time in my life.
I love browsing bookstores. The
prospect of finding what you didn't
set out to find, of coming across
the unexpected, provides me with
a secret thrill. This past summer, I
experienced that rush of excitement
again. I sat down in one of the chairs
at Dawn Treader, and when I looked
in front of me at the shelf, there sat
"The Rise of Eurocentrism: Anatomy
of Interpretation" by Vassilis Lamb-
ropoulos, a professor at the Univer-
sity. I don't know why this book was
there (especially a practically new
hardcover copy), but it was. For many
reasons, it seemed as if this was the
book I needed to read. I hadn't heard
of it, nor had I ever really looked at
that shelf before, the one where gen-
eral history meets conspiracy theory
At the time, I didn't have the suf-
ficient background to fully under-
stand what it discussed, and while I
probably still won't understand all
the references ranging from the Ref-
ormation to Derrida, that excitement
rushed over me. Having just come out
of a course on Samuel Beckett, and in
a crisis over the question of interpre-
tation, this booked seemed to offer
some light.
Obviously, there are plenty of other
opportunities by which I could have
attempted to reconcile my anxieties
about interpretation; feel free to write

me off as a mystic for defending this
one. There's definitely room for that
interpretation. Or call it a gambler's
addiction, if you fancy. Nevertheless,
I cherish the experience of walking
into an old bookstore and letting my
mind wander. For this reason, I find
myself sensitive to the possibility of
losing this experience.
Businesses come and go in Ann
Arbor; every student has a different
memory of the city. The welcoming
signs of old State Street businesses
hung overhead my Freshman year
while construction workers bus-
ily reminded us that things were
changing. During my experiences in
Ann Arbor, bookstores seem to have
been most affected. I never got a
chance to check out the famous Sha-
man Drum; I only ever saw the sign
hanging above the door leading into
its gutted-out insides. Borders and
Dave's Books, two bookstores close to
campus, closed within my first year
in Ann Arbor. These places I went to
during my freshman year no longer
existed by the end.
So I'm a mystic, and now you have
the opportunity to call me a luddite or
a cultural conservative after the fol-
lowing: Part of me laments what the
Internet has done to browsing cul-
ture. Looming in the background, the
cheaper alternative of Amazon ruins
the browsing culture experience.
Now I buy books because I've been
told I need them. Chance encounters
with new knowledge no longer slip
through the cracks; my life and my
readings now all have a purpose and
isn't it wonderful?
Certainly Amazon and other sites
have chipped away at these book-
store's profits. No one would deny
that. I don't know if this column
makes a good enough case, but I real-
ly encourage those reading to look
at next semester's reading lists and
head over to Dawn Treader, West End
Books and Common Language among
others and see if they have the book
you need. Who knows - they might!
And I make this argument especially
today because we have coming to our
community a new bookstore, Literati.
True, the bookstore sits a little bit off
campus, but the trek out there would
really make a difference.
And even if you don't have a par-
ticular book in mind, check it out
anyway. You'll never know what you
didn't know unless you step in and
- Originally published on
March 14, 2013


Red Noses
a comedy by Peter Barnes
A Catholic monk assembles a misfit band of comics
to ease the suffering of man in this uproarious and
thought-provoking work.
Arthur Miller Theatre " Oct. 3-13, 2013
Dept. of Theatre & Drama
A Little Night Music
a musical by Stephen Sondheim & Hugh Wheeler
A weekend in the country awakens old
and new passions.
Mendelssohn Theatre - Oct. 10-20, 2013
Dept. of Musical Theatre
The Barber of Seville
a comic opera in two acts by Gioacchino Rossini
With its instantly recognizable overture, soaring
lyricism and delightful melodies, this vivacious romp
introduces us to the beloved opera character, Figaro.
Sung in Italian with projected translations.
Power Center e Nov. 14-17, 2013
University Opera Theatre
Three Sisters
a drama by Anton Chekhov
adapted by Libby Appel
Three young women yearn to break free
from their country life in this wonderful
new adaptation by a U-M alumna.
Arthur Miller Theatre * Nov. 21-24, 2013
Dept. of Musical Theatre
The Comedy of Errors
a comedy by William Shakespeare
A tour de force of irreverent comedy, intricate intrigue,
and brilliant wordplay
Power Center " Dec. 5-8, 2013
Dept. of Theatre & Drama

he U-M School of Music, Theatre & Danc
2013-2014 season promises superb
entertainment at a great value!

Student tickets are only $10 with ID,
over 50% off the regular price!
Get yours now at the League Ticket Office
in the Michigan eague-.

e Winter Opera
Anticipation! Our winter opera will
be announced in October 2013.
Mendelssohn Theatre - Mar. 27-30, 2014
University Opera Theatre
a drama by Jose Rivera
Winner of the 1993 Obie Award. "Rivera'splay is
angry, fearsome,'fantastic,and poeticallyfrenzied,
without surrendering either its sanity or its
mordant sense of humor. "-Village Voice
Arthur Miller Theatre - Apr. 3-13, 2014
Dept. of Theatre & Drama
Les Miserables
a musical by Claude-Michel Schonberg
and Alain Boublil
Join us beyond the barricade
for a decisively U-M take on
this contemporary masterpiece.
Power Center o Apr. 17-20, 2014
Dept. of Musical Theatre

Moving Pictures
Choreography by faculty Melissa Beck, Bill
De Young, and Peter Sparling and guest
choreographer Andrea Miller
Power Center - Feb. 6-9, 2014
Dept. of Dance
Hay Fever
a comedy by Noel Coward
One of the worlds most hilarious classics,
this tale ofa weekend getaway gone awry has
charmed audiences since 1925.
Mendelssohn Theatre " Feb. 20-23, 2014
Dept. of Theatre & Drama

Buy two student tickets for the price of one, for any of
the 2013-2014 U-M School of Music, Theatre & Dance
stage productions.
Offer subject to availability. Limited to one free ticket per
coupon. Must show valid student ID and bring coupon
to the League Ticket Office located in the Michigan
League or to the theatre on the night of performance.

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