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January 31, 1991 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 1991-01-31

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ARTS

The Michigan Daily

Politics

Thursday, January 31, 1991
become personal

Page 5
in PN's Brigadista

by Jenie Dahimann

"Theater should be dealing with
the important issues of the day,"
says Rick Sperling, director of the
Performance Network's upcoming
production of Brigadista. "Often po-
litical theater fails because either the
good and bad guys are over-general-
ized, or it is handled in such an intri-
cately intellectual way that the audi-
ence can't understand it." Sperling
promises, however, that Brigadista
manages to deal with complex issues
in a manner that is accessible to all
audiences.
* The play is a fictionalized, auto-
biographical account of author Tanya
Shaffer's experiences while working
as a "brigadista" on the coffee bri-
gades of the 1990 Nicaraguan elec-
tions. The elections were held on
Feb. 25 while the Sandinista gov-
ernment, led by Daniel Ortega, was
in power. The FSLN (a Spanish
acronym for the Revolutionary San-
dinista Government) had overthrown
the dictatorship of Nicaragua in 1978
and was an inspiration to activists

all over the world.
So, when elections were to be
held again in 1990, brigades of
North American activists left for
Nicaragua to help in the campaign,
pick coffee and, says Shaffer, "see
this tiny country once again take
destiny into its own hands." Shaffer
says she felt that the activist's role
was to "watch the Sandinistas win
and return to America to assure
Americans that the election was fair
and just and the American support of
the Contras could end." The Bri-
gades, however, never got the chance
to deliver a message of victory be-
cause the UNO (United National
Opposition) Coalition Party, funded
by the United States, managed to
win the election.
While Brigadista revolves
around a very political theme,
Sperling says he 'believes that the
show is unique political theater
because the audience follows a
woman's individual story and the
personal stories of the people she
encounters instead of large political
issues. Despite this personal angle,

however, the characters are never
separated from the larger reality of
the United States' involvement in
Nicaragua.
Debby, the main character, goes
on a spiritual, life-changing journey
during the elections. While her
intentions of helping the Nicaraguan
people are good, she realizes that she
has brought with her the patronizing
attitude of her country. She finds
herself telling the Nicaraguans how
to run their country, says Shaffer,
instead of "learning to work with the
Nicaraguan people, listening to their
needs and talking with them, not too
them." Sperling comments that "the
well-meaning activist can still har-
bor some invading, ugly-American
traits without even knowing."
As the elections continue, Shaffer
says, Debby begins to understand
that "the legacy of her privileged
country has led to a loss of her
humanity and created a gap that
makes friendship with the
Nicaraguans nearly impossible." An
example of this gap comes from a
line in the play, delivered by a

of the election itself set the stage.
"(It is) an interesting effect. It is im-
possible to recreate Nicaragua, yet
the slides, music and Latin American
poetry together form a Brechtian
kind of overview of the culture,"
says Sperling.
Although Brig adista has been
produced before in a workshop
setting in San Francisco, the Per-
formance Network's performance
will be the play's first full produc-
tion. The production, in true activist
will benefit the Latin American Sol-
idarity Committee, Guild House and
Interfaith Council of Peace and Jus-
tice. "Activism," says Sperling,
"First-world activism in a third-
world setting is what this play is all
about, whether it's Nicaragua, the
Phillipines or Harlem."
BRIGADISTA will be performed
tonight through Sunday, Jan. 31-
Feb. 3, and Feb. 7-10 at the Perfor-
mance Network. Thursday through
Saturday shows are at 8 p.m., Sun-
days at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $9, $7
for students and seniors.

This Nicaraguan guy seems a bit confused by an
presence in Brigadista.

Nicaraguan to Debby. "You can go a great deal of soul-searching.

home and discuss this with your
friends," he says. "It's just politics
to you, and if you disagree with
them, they'll still be your friends.
But this is our lives and our strug-
gle." Eventually, Debby becomes
part of their struggle, but only after

Sperling and Shaffer hope to
involve the audience with
Nicaraguan culture through the use
of live Latin American music that
combines traditional Latin American
rhythms with political words. Slides

Indigo but not totally blue

I

Classic

Concert

Review

,I

Bernstein concert shines

by Andrew J. Cahn
"Twisted guardrail on the high-
way, broken glass on the cement/ A
5 ghost of someone's tragedy/ how
recklessly my time has been spent"
- "Watershed"
These lines from "Watershed,"
the finest track from the latest Indigo
Girls' release, Nomads* Indians*
Saints, use the metaphor of a car
driven off the side of a road to show
that if we are careless with our life,
it could be gone at any moment
without reaching its full potential.
According to Emily Sailers (whose
partner in the duo is Amy Ray), the
song has become much more than
.just creative symbolism. She
explained, "We've had a couple of
friends who have been in car
accidents recently, and now (it) takes

on a more specific meaning."
Sailers says all of their songs
come from personal experiences, and
certain ones "mean more than others
at different times, depending on what
you're going through." Their fans
Their fans have been
attracted to them not
only because of their
colorful guitar-based
melodies and flowing
vocal harmonies, but
also because of the
personal qualities of

monies, but also because of the per-
sonal qualities of the lyrics they
write.
When listening to any of the
Indigo Girls' tunes, their sincere,
unaffected voices carry the meanings
of the songs beyond the printed lyric
sheets to the point where it is easy
to empathize with their feelings. Go-
ing back to "Watershed," Sailers and
Ray sing over the chorus, "Up on
the watershed, standing at the fork in
the road/ you can stand there and ag-
onize until agony's your heaviest
load." A person who has never felt
these emotions is a rare find.
The duo's affinity for this style
of music goes back to when the two
of them were in high school in Ge-
orgia, where they made their grand
debut at a PTA show. "We had such
See INDIGO, Page 7

by Elizabeth Lenhard
The University Symphony Or-
chestra's free concerts during the
week don't often fill Hill Audito-
rium's main floor. However, to
honor the memory of Leonard
Bernstein on Tuesday night, a
large and enthusiastic audience
gathered. The University Phil-
harmonic Orchestra and the Uni-
versity Symphony Orchestra,
conducted by Gustav Maier and
Donald Schleicher, gave a stun-
ning and expressive presentation
of four works by the late com-
poser/conducter.
Though Schleicher's conduct-
ing was. subdued in the the first
work, the Symphonic Suite from
On the Waterfront, the orchestra
brought forth vasts billows of
sound. A wistful theme began the
piece and was highlighted by the
French Horn and winds that ap-
peared throughout the work. Just
as the audience began to sink into
the lulling melody, they were
bombarded with waves of discor-
dant and angry percussion. While.

the lyrics

they write

the brass section seemed to falter
at times with Bernstein's con-
temporary dissonance, the strings'
lyrical lines were controlled and
dynamically exquisite.
Haul was a piece written in
1981 in memory of a young Is-
raeli killed in combat. The He-
brew word means flute. Keith
Bryan, the soloist, was painfully
expressive in his portrayal of the.
fear and elation of a young man
in the midst of war. Meier's in-
troduction to the piece, explain-
ing its timeliness, combined with
ecstatic conducting that was sadly
reminiscent of Bernstein's famous
physicality, made for a moving
experience.
The first two pieces displayed
Bernstein's flair for huge wafts of
instrumentation punctuated by
clear and poignant themes. The
string sections repeatedly showed
their prowess in the smoothly
fluctuating dynamics, and in
maintaining the tension of Bern-
stein's darker tones. This strength

was further evidenced in Sym-
phony No. 1, Jeremiah.
The Symphony's first move-
ment gave a subtle display of
ominous chords, which rose to
majestic lengths. After an interval
of chirpy themes tossed back and
forth between sections, mezzo-
soprano Karen Lykes gave an-
other inspirational solo with her.
rich interpretation of the third,
movement, "Lamentation."
The breathtaking evening pro-
voked a kind of yearning for the
great artist that was Bernstein.
The musicians and conductors
seemed to be truly inspired by the
composer and his legacy. For the
most part, they handled the tech-
nical intricacies with mastery and"
displayed a wealth of expression.,
In the playful presentation of the
finale, the bawdy overture to
Candide, Schleicher and the group-
performed with joy. After its ex-
uberant the ending, the audience
gave an appreciative roar for
Lenny.

have been attracted to them not only
because of their colorful guitar-based
melodies and flowing vocal har-

Theater Review
*My only friend is The End"
by Julie Komorn ....J. . I L..

rrnnnt

Hamm: Why do you stay with
me?
Clo: Why do you keep me?
Hamm: There's nowhere else.
Cloy: There's no one else.
T he Residential College Drama
Program/Brecht Company displayed
a powerful production of Endgame,
Samuel Beckett's dark, witty and
thought-provoking play last week-
end. As Billie Whitelaw, a renowned
actress specializing in Beckett plays,
once said, "You may find nothing
(in a Beckett play), but I suspect you
will never forget." Extremely absurd
and bizarre, Endgame is a show that
*is unforgettable.
Director Martin Sweeney's
decision to remain true to the text
proved to be a wise one. Since the
where, when, what and how of this
play are unclear, much is left open
for extensive interpretation. Some
directors feel that it is their respon-
sibility to interpret the play for their
audience.
For instance, the ambiguous
* world in which Endgame takes
place has been explained by some di-
rectors as the aftermath of a nuclear
holocaust. But no one truly knows
what Beckett had in mind. Defining
the boundaries of this play by a di-
rector would result in a loss of its
necessary ambiguity. Fortunately,
Sweeney felt the genius of Beckett
should not be second-guessed. Thus
the faithful portrayal by the Residen-
tial College Drama Program/Brecht
Company of this unsettling play al-
lows interpretation to occur, as

Bseckett probabiy intenaea, withi
the individual minds of the audience.
The consistently strong acting
throughout the performance enriches
the loyal representation of the script.
It is Richard Perloff's incredibly
powerful voice that helps to assert
Hamm as the master/director at the
center of his world. The portrayal of
Hamm's character has the potential
of being inhibited by the dark

glasses [e wears ann his conInement
to a chair, yet Perloff successfully
overcomes these obstacles and
conveys angst-filled expression.
Kurt Maier, as Hamm's obedient
servant Clov, effectively portrays the
both pathetic and humorous stupid-
ity of the character. And Anthony
Bedwell as Nagg and Sallie Sills as
Nell, the comical legless couple kept
See END, Page 7

I

DAILY
CLASSI FIEDS,

If' Burnham Associates

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