22 - The Michigan Daily - Orientation Edition 2006
stage in A2
By Alison Go
Dec. 12, 2006
The Royal Shakespeare Company
is coming back to Ann Arbor with a
Patrick Stewart, of "Star Trek: The
Next Generation" and "X-Men" fame,
will headline three shows next fall
put on by one of the most prominent
Shakespeare companies in the world.
The troupe will perform "Julius
Caesar," "Antony and Cleopatra" and
"The Tempest" as part of its third
three-week residency at the Univer-
sity. Stewart will play the lead role in
"Antony and Cleopatra" and Prospero
in "The Tempest."
Stemming from a 2000 agreement
struck between the RSC and the Uni-
versity Musical Society, the collabo-
ration - which would include three
residencies over the course of five
years starting in 2001 - was the first
its kind in America. Continuing this
legacy of exclusivity, the Power Cen-
ter will be the sole venue for the three
RSC plays in the country next fall.
"It's fabulous that the Royal Shake-
speare Company has felt the way they
do about UMS and the University,"
UMS President Kenneth Fischer said,
"to come here as opposed to anywhere
else in the United States for the great-
est endeavor in their history."
That "great endeavor" is the Com-
plete Works Festival, where the RSC
will feature Shakespeare's 37 plays,
along with his poems and sonnets.
In Ann Arbor, this third residency
has been in waiting for a long time.
The original agreement had the
RSC returning to campus in 2005,
but a change in leadership within
the troupe postponed arrangements,
Fischer said. But UMS's patience
ensured the presence of Stewart, who
had already agreed to work with the
RSC on the Complete Works Festi-
val starting in April 2006.
UMS told the company it should
make the residency a U.S. exclusive
with "great titles and a certifiable
star," Fischer said.
"Ding, ding, ding. They did all
three," he added.
. Fischer said it will cost $2 mil-
lion to bring the RSC to Ann Arbor
next fall. The University committed
$350,000 to the effort, while dona-
tions and ticket sales will pay for the
rest. Although the University's contri-
bution is less than in previous years,
Fischer expects increased fundraising
efforts and ticket sales to make up the
difference. The RSC will perform a
total of 21 shows next year, while the
2001 and 2003 residents only saw 12
and 16, respectively.
The residency, as in past years,
is not just about the performance of
some of Shakespeare's greatest titles
- members of the RSC will also host
interviews, lectures, workshops and
behind-the-scenes events. Tickets for
the performances will go on sale in
WINNING SATIRE TAKES A TONGUE-IN-CHEEK LOC
Courtesy of Fox
)K AT U.S. POLTCS
cigar-chomping editor) as Naylor's blustery, disloyal
boss, Robert Duvall ("Secondhand Lions") as a mint-
julep-lovin' Southern-gent tobacco tycoon and Sam
Elliott ("The Big Lebowski") as a grizzled Marlboro
Man gone sadly to seed with lung cancer.
By Kristin MacDonaid
on par with that of Genghis Khan, Naylor's infectious
likability proves to be his greatest selling point, and the
charismatic Eckhart makes for a deft casting choice.
With his aggressively all-American good looks,tEck-
hart practically radiates confident machismo - deep
"Why is the American government the best govern- tan, blonde hair, bright, unblinking blue eyes and the "Thank You for Smoking" thankfully keeps
ment in the world?" widest slice of winning-white smile ever to launch a winking humor, though it gamely turns with the
When his precocious son posits the lamest of fourth- sales pitch. How telling that the kingpin of modern of a flirty reporter (the miscast Katie Holmes, "t
grade homework questions, Nick Naylor's knee-jerk snake-oil salesmen should be the visual embodiment of Begins") to a hard questioning of its hero's jo
response puts a new twist on the textbook American dream. accusation that Naylor is a "yuppie Mephistoj
patriotism: "Because of its end- "Thank You for Smoking" never roundly condemns brings to light the weakness of his only morald
less appeals system." Thank You Naylor for his task; rather, it exposes the humor that the - that he's got a mortgage to pay,too.
Naylor (Aaron Eckhart, "Erin for Smoking position exists at all. Once a week, Naylor meets for Does Naylor even buy that rationale?
Brockovich"), the pleasantly rak- Fox Searchlight snappy dialogue and a greasy bar dinner with his fellow ing" doesn't settle for defending lobbyists as'
ish hero of "Thank You for Smok- public foes and best friends (Maria Bello,"A History of protectors of the consumer's "freedom of cI
ing' is the ultimate in mixed Violence," and David Koechner, "Anchorman") who Nick Naylor is, after all, just a talker. What
morals: a public spokesman for and perpetual defender happen to be spokesmen for the other two most derided, the larger system of government, with those a
of Big Tobacco. No wonder he admires the appeals mass-marketed products in the nation: alcohol and fire- courts and paperwork loopholes he manip
system - his product, as he freely admits, kills almost arms. Together, the three create the most cheerful trium- with such skill?
half a million Americans a year. It's his job to keep this virate of vice since the witches of "Macbeth." "Thank You for Smoking" ends up tongue-in
industry's image publicly afloat. This same acerbic sense of humor slyly guides and toward both sides. A little sign hanging above the
And Naylor is quite good at it. "Michael Jordan plays elevates the whole film. The film's first fifth plays like ist trio's corner booth boasts an American flaga
ball, Charles Manson kills people,I talk," he shrugs, and a quick sitcom clip, and while the film may lag in spots, words, "We have the best government money ca
there is an undeniable thrill in watching him work. But its 92 minutes skim rapidly over an incredible variety It's a sentiment that makes for the film's darke
though he boasts a publicnotoriety he (justifiably) places of terrific characters - J.K. Simmons ("Spiderman's" most compelling, touch.
First-time director takes on taboos
By Jeffrey Bloomer
Jason Reitman hates being told
how to live.
The fresh-faced 28-year-old writer/
director - scion of studio-comedy maven
Ivan Reitman ("Ghostbusters' "Meat-
balls") - set out to satirize the U.S's
ever-expanding climate of forced social
conformity with his oddly charming first
feature "Thank You for Smoking."
"I think that political correctness is at
an all-time high," Reitman said. "People
telling other people how to live is at an
all-time high, and that's what this movie
is trying to satirize."
The R-rated comedy, based on the
acclaimed 1995 book by Christopher
Buckley, centers on a tobacco lobbyist
(Aaron Eckhart, "In the Company of
Men") attempting tobalance his duties as
a highly visible rep for the tobacco indus-
try with life as a single father.
The film has enjoyed booming per-
screen averages since it opened in lim-
ited release last month, and has clearly
struck a chord with its target audience:
an American public stifled by socially
Reitman said that even along the film's
dictatorial politics the film argues against
came center stage.
"We had a screening in Berkeley, and
we had this woman who said, 'You didn't
take on the big issues! You didn't talk
about how tobacco's ruining our lives!' "
he explained. "There are tons of people
like that, tons of politicians like that."
Due to precisely this cultural taboo,
the film's production has been in flux for
years, with several studios rejecting the
project unless the filmmakers agreed to
weave a family-friendly message into an
otherwise savagely comic slap in the face
to all sides of the political spectrum.
"They were trying to make 'Liar Liar'
with smoking - it was ridiculous,' Reit-
man said. "This is a film studios didn't
want to make because of its politics and
because of a lead character who doesn't
apologize for himself."
To keep from distorting the book's
aftertaste, Reitman decided to axe the
film's big-studio upbringing and go under
the radar with a budget less than an eighth
of the more typical $60-million price tag
But Reitman said this shouldn't be
construed as a blow to the film's mass-
"There's this idea that independent
means that only a few people are going to
like it,"he said."Ithink what independent
usually means is independently minded.
And often films that take a different track
have to be made on a different track."
That the film employs the increasingly
popular device of social satire drawn into
near-caricature of our current political
atmosphere, a style befitting the "Daily
Show" generation, reflects its universal,
"I think in a weird way,satirizing is the
only honesty anymore. We've become
so politically correct, and so polite, that
we'rejust lying,"Reitman said.
Though it may seem that the ubiqui-
tous political concern over the cigarette
industry has long since been out of the
mainstream public eye, Reitman said the
issue is more prevalent and far-reaching
today than many of us might think.
"There's still tremendous uproar:" he
said, pointing to a publisher's recent deci-
sion to remove a cigarette digitally from
the children's book "Goodnight Moon."
And with news earlier this year of a
potential Residence Hall Association
ordinance that would require smokers
to stand at least 25 feet away from their
University dormitory buildings to smoke
a cigarette, the ideas Reitman puts-forth
in "Thank You for Smoking" don't seem
too far from home.