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REVIEW: One-Acts energetic, but lack needed polish

(11/09/90 10:00am)

Wasted and The Enemy Within, the Theater Arts One-Acts which opened last night, both beam with energy, but lack experience that would normally make the performance polished. The dramas -- written, directed, and produced by University students -- were created to allow neophytes to grow in their individual fields, rather than concentrate on the artistic value. But somewhat surprisingly, several students shined in scripts that were both immature and missed their mark. Wasted, which relates the story of an alcoholic mother and her family, is simple both from a directing and technical standpoint using a basic set and generic lighting. The simplicity, however, lends to some of the drama's potential power and realism. The Enemy Within tells the story of the 25th reunion of the inner circle of the World War II French Resistance. The show's strength was centered in its entrancing flashbacks. Some performing arts newcomers were worthy of note in their University debuts. College freshman Tom Shotkin, who portrayed Charles, provided great comic relief after some depressing scenes. Also College freshman Lauren Sternfield's performance, showing a wide array of emotions, was the high point of The Enemy Within. The acting, in both dramas, undoubtedly demonstrated energy but seemed to be too overanxious. The actors were excited to be on stage and displayed their effort to the audience. But in both shows, it initially appeared that the actors were not listening to each other, rather anticipating a cue to deliver their next line. The show runs through Saturday at the Annenberg Center's Studio Theater. Tickets are $4 and are on sale on Locust Walk.

SPOTLIGHT: One-Acts giving students chance to shine on stage

(11/08/90 10:00am)

The actors in Theatre Arts' One-Acts this weekend are not just hoping to please the audience. Both of the one-act plays which open tonight, Wasted and The Enemy Within, are being performed as part of a Theatre Arts course. Production supervisors said that the show will illuminate the new talent emerging from the program. "The purpose of the show is to implement educational theory," said Chris Hariasz, production supervisor of all Theatre Arts productions. "We are not concerned with the artistic quality as much as the learning and educational value of it. It's the process, not the product." Written by 1990 College graduate Katie Goodman, Wasted tells the story of a family coping with an alcoholic mother and a father who has left them. Graduate School of Education student Nancy Farber, who portrays the mother, said earlier this week that the show uses a simple plot to convey a deep message. "[The show is] trying to convey [a message] about family and obligation," Farber said. "[Despite] the fact that as much as you love your family and care for them and want to do everything to keep the peace. . . eventually the system is going to break down. "It's a show about love and family and coping," Farber added. The Enemy Within was written and directed by College senior Nick Campbell and centers around a 25th reunion of members of the inner circle of the World War II French resistance. During the play, the audience learns how each of the characters has coped with the war and the effects it had on them. One actor, Engineering sophomore Rafe Pery, said the play provides him with an opportunity to explore a character that is opposite his own. "[I'm] interested in exploring the character since [the character] is propelled by the excitment that comes with killing and fighting -- a real sicko," Pery added. The Theatre Arts program at the University is designed to allow new directors and actors an opportunity to grow, both by studying theater in the classroom and by being involved in actual productions. Wasted Director Sara Rutstein, a College junior, said she is enjoying working with the neophytes in the show. "It's a good group," Rutstein said. "They're great. It's funny because none of them had too much experience. . . In fact, some had never been on stage before." And the eager group of actors also said they enjoy the performing experience. The Enemy Within and Wasted open 8 p.m. Thursday in the Annenberg Studio Theater and will run through Saturday. Tickets are on sale on Locust Walk.

LIFESTYLE: Monday Night Mania: Students drink their beers and place their bets in an American tradition

(10/26/90 9:00am)

It's drinking, betting, drinking some more, and paying very little attention to the game. And at 9 p.m. every Monday night in the fall, television sets across the University tune into a tradition that has become as American as apple pie. Monday Night Football events are ubiquitous both on and off campus. In the bars, fraternities, and dormitory rooms, students can be found with friends watching, drinking, and betting on the game. To some, the evening represents a break from the Monday monotony that plagues them after recovering from the weekend excitement. To others, the night is the perfect opportunity to let loose and fill their stomachs with everything from cold beer to hot dogs. However, the game itself often must take a back seat to the rituals behind the event. Many students across the University choose to patronize bars during the evening. One of the more popular sporting scenes, Barley and Hops on the 3900 block of Walnut Street, is jumping with students and area residents who are not only watching the game, but "experiencing" it. Mitch, a college sophomore, explained last Monday that virtually all bars have televisions tuned to football, but said he prefers a warm, friendly atmosphere to view the game. "Every week I come to Barley and Hops," he said. "It's sort of a tradition. I honestly feel at home here." However, the reasonfor many students' exodus to Barley and Hops isn't as nostalgic as Mitch's -- their hunger pangs provide the motivating force. Barley and Hops offers free chicken wings and hot dogs on Monday nights. "I come here [to Barley and Hops] usually, but don't pay much attention to the game," College junior Chris Olsen said. "I come to consume wings in bulk. . . that's about 40 wings. . . and I drink a couple of pitchers [of beer]." Regardless of their immense appetites for free food, University students flock to the bars in unusual patterns, said Sue McDonough, a waitress at Barley and Hops. She added that she looks forward to the crowds and noise the games bring. But the game is only half of the experience according to some bar managers. Smokey Joe's Tavern says that the 40th Street bar is the best place to go after the game, touting their "open mike night" where students can sing along with music. "Football, shmootball, it's open mike night," sums up Smokey Joe's manager Paul Ryan. Chili's Restaurant and Bar promotes a more diverse crowd of football fans from area schools. College senior Jill Ward, said "It's a chance to gather and hang out with kids from Penn, Temple, and Drexel, a chance to see them since during the week you don't get a chance." Other students said that they just use the evening to get together with friends. Added Lauren Horowitz, a College and Wharton junior, "I come, I hang out, it's relaxing." But while there are many who spend their dollars on alcohol, an integral part for many students is trying to multiply their money either through pools, Atlantic City point spreads, and poker games. Wharton freshman Jeff Smith runs a Monday Night Football poker game in various Quadrangle rooms. Like many students, he found that the games were rarely exciting enough to merit undivided attention. "We're bored most of the time," Smith said. "The game is not interesting so we do something to keep us busy." As with all vices, some people go beyond the casual level. Wharton sophomore Mike Brown dismisses the traditional low-stake pools altogether, going for a higher stakes bet. "I'm not in pools," he said. "I'm in with a bookie. [I bet] about $100 a game. . . about six games a week. I lost $300 Saturday and won $400 Sunday." Dan Forman, a College sophomore, said he prefers a more casual betting atmosphere not just for the more moderate wagers, but also for the priceless opportunity to gloat. "I usually bet among friends, $5 a game," Forman added. "I've lost $20 on occasion. . . .Usually [I do] one-on-one bets because it's more personal and you can rag on your friends." Like gambling, drinking has become synonomous with Monday Night Football. However, select groups have even developed beer games to enhance the often dull event on television. Although many students point to the traditional drinking games, including Quarters, a few have developed their own beer sport agenda for the Monday night ritual. College sophomore Mike Alfano said: "If it's at a bar most people will be playing drinking games. You pick a team and when the opposing team scores you have to chug seven. . . " The stakes are often increased when a friend's favorite team is competing. Alfano explained another game called "Stupid Statistic." "When [the announcers] say something like, teams are leading in outdoor stadium in November in the second quarter 'x' percentage of the time -- you have to take a 'social [drink].' " Although countless games and special sales have been developed to justify the drinking, Steve Wall, a junior in the College, said that students don't need these extra motivations. "We drink to football," Wall said.

Gallery acquitted of obscenity charges

(10/08/90 9:00am)

The Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati and its director were acquitted Friday of obscenity charges for displaying a controversial photography exhibit organized by the University's Institute for Contemporary Art. Jurors told The Associated Press over the weekend that although they personally found some of the photographs to be lewd and distasteful, they were convinced that the photographs had artisitic value. The show, a retrospective of the works of the late Robert Mapplethorpe, included pictures of sexually explicit acts involving men and two photos of children with their genitals exposed. The exhibit was organized here last year and was displayed in the Meyerson Hall gallery last year with little controversy. The jury deliberated for two hours over the two charges: a misdemeanor of pandering obscenity and child nudity. The first jury vote was seven to one for acquittal on both charges. ICA Director Patrick Murphy said yesterday that he was ecstatic with the decision calling the verdict a landmark case for the arts community. "It was a great surprise and a great relief to hear the not-guilty verdict," Murphy said. Murphy also added yesterday that he was concerned that the jurors would decide differently since they were only asked to rule on seven photographs instead of taking the exhibit as a whole. "The confining of the trial to seven works was equivalent to only looking at two minutes of a movie or an extract from a book," Murphy said. The Associated Press and the Philadelphia Daily News contributed to this story.

REVIEW: Audience included in enchanting 'Tempest'

(10/04/90 9:00am)

Although the program lists only eight cast members for the Theatre Arts Project show The Tempest, they should have added a ninth -- the audience. Throughout the premiere last night of the nearly two-hour Shakespeare production, actors climbed over, stared at, and sat among audience members, allowing them to actively participate in the show's experience. And while the director James Schlatter said yesterday that the show was designed to explore the relationship between the audience and the performers, the show even went beyond that. Schlatter masterfully directed the nearly flawless show, which runs through Saturday in the Studio Theater, and every aspect of the production clearly demonstrated his effort and skill. For instance, the initially stark set leaps to life as the actors creatively utilize the limited space of the theater. The brilliance of the set is coupled with unsurpassed acting ability by the players, demonstrated by their dexterity in assuming multiple roles. While Prospero, played by Mark Lowenstern, leads the cast and often presides over the action, it was College junior Jeff Morrison, assuming the roles of Caliban and Ferdinand, who stole the show. Morrison captivated the audience with every awkward body motion, mangled word, and drool. College sophomore Alanna Medlock is also notable as both Miranda and Ariel. She truly lived up to the leading role with her subtlety and command on the stage bringing to light the parallels between her two characters. Lighting designer Eve Simon, a College senior, also deserves recognition for the deft lighting plan. Each lighting cue reflected the magical theme of the show. The Tempest continues through Saturday at the Studio Theater. Tickets are $5 and are available on Locust Walk.

Gallery on trial for showing U. exhibit

(09/25/90 9:00am)

Approximately 150 protesters rallied outside a Cincinnati courthouse yesterday, demanding freedom of expression, as the trial of the Contemporary Arts Center and its director began. The trial centers around a Robert Mapplethorpe photo exhibit that was organized by the University's Institute for Contemporary Art and was displayed in the Meyerson Hall gallery last year with little controversy. But over the past year, the photo exhibit has come under fire from Senator Jesse Helmes (R-N.C.) and other conservative lawmakers, who attacked the National Endowment for the Arts for funding the Mapplethorpe exhibit. It has also been attacked by several conservative community groups who have deemed the art obscene. "We maintained that the we never presented obscene art and never will, Robert Maplethorpe is not looked upon as obscene," ICA spokesperson Meredith Slocum said last night. And since the recent legislative attack on the exhibit began, the ICA has since had difficulty receiving funding for three grant proposals from the NEA. "After the Mapplethrope exhibit, [the NEA] did not look at our grants. . . they just rejected them," stated Slocum. "But eventually we got them." The trial began yesterday with the jury selection as attorneys questioned a pool of 50 people in order to select six to sit on the jury. Both Gallery Director David Barrie and the gallery are charged with pandering obscenity and with using children in nudity-related matrial. If convicted on both counts, Barrie could receive a maximum fine of $2000 and one year in jail. The gallery could be fined $10,000. "Of course it's a dissappointing shock that it had to go to trial, but I think that the courts are a better place for determining questions of obscenity than legislative bodies," Slocum added. The Cincinnati grand jury that indicted Barrie and the gallery earlier this year concluded that seven of the 175 photographs in the exhibit, entitled "Robert Mapplethorpe: The Perfect Moment," violated community standards. One photograph pictures a man urinating into another man's mouth while others demonstrate oral sex and anal penetration with objects. The photograph sited for child pornography includes, "a lewd, graphic, exhibition of the genitals," said Senior Assistant City Prosecutor Frank Prouty. The same photographs were included in the University's exhibit. Defense attorneys have argued that the gallery is a museum and therefore exempt from obscenity laws. However, this argument was rejected by Municipal Judge David Albanese, who ruled that since a museum by definition has a permanent collection, the Contemporary Arts Center does not fall under that classification with changing exhibits. At the beginning of the trial yesterday, Municipal Judge Albanese denied three defense requests. In one ruling, Albanese did not allow potential jurors to be individually questioned nor limited to Cincinnati city residents. In the second, he refused to allow the defense to increase the number of preemptory challenges allowed. The defense requested these liberties due to the heavy publicity of the case that requiring it to eliminate more jurors. Albanese also ruled against considering the exhibit as a whole and sided with the prosecutors who will examine each photograph individually, including the portraits and floral studies. The exhibit was canceled at the Concoran Art Gallery Museaum, in Washington D.C., last year due to the furor regarding government funding of art that has been deemed obscene by some legislators. Currently, the exhibit is on display at the Institute for Contemporary Art in Boston. The Associated Press contributed to this article.