'Tis the season to be studious. The papers you have to write and the texts you haven't read are enough to keep you chained to your desk even if the Boston theaters were offering something to tempt you away, which they are not. And it's too cold to brave the lines for Superman. In short, sentiments of gloom and doom pervade the Harvard campus this month.
All the more reason for you to think in terms of next semester. A good many productions planned for March and early April are auditioning this week. Tonight is the final try-out session for the Loeb Mainstage's production of Candide, based on the Hal Prince musical that was a smash in New York several seasons ago. Director Prince literally tore up the theater, ripping up seats and laying down ramps and platforms. The effect was that of a three-ring circus, with the actors singing, dancing and sometimes shoving their way among the spectators. Reviewers praised the show for maintaining the satiric spirit of Voltaire's 18th-century masterpiece, which describes the spiritual education of a young man struggling to hold on to his belief that "this is the best of all possible worlds" despite the series of disasters that he and his friends experience. The play calls for sophisticated singers and dancers. At the Loeb, 7-10 p.m.
The Black Star Theatre will be casting roles for Melanctha, a dance drama adapted from the story by Gertrude Stein. The title character is a mulatto woman; the play traces her relationships with a black doctor, two black women, and various whites in her community. Using the basic plot-line of the story, the adaption attempts to translate the rhythm of Stein's writing into actual dance and musical rhythm. The producers welcome anyone, inexperienced as well as experienced. Tonight and tomorrow, again at the Loeb, starting at 6 p.m.
Meanwhile, the Black Star continues its twelve-day series of lectures, poetry readings, dramatic and choral performances. The aim of the program is the expression of women's works; the guest performers include the New England Women's Symphony (composed entirely of female musicians), the founder of Boston's Little Flags Theatre which presented the highly acclaimed "Furies of Mother Jones" last year, and the founder of the Manhattan Theatre Club. Producer Nancy Krieger intends her "Expression and Exchange" series to provide an atmosphere conducive for audience participation and comment. "We welcome people to just drop by--that's what community (as opposed to commercial) theatre is about," she says. Determined not to be limited to the Harvard-Radcliffe community, she has publicized her series in the Globe and the Phoenix, as well as in feminist bookstores and publications. "Expression and Exchange" occurs every night until Jan. 14, with a different bill each evening. At Agassiz Theatre.
The Black Star is a new theater group dedicated to social change through theater. "Theater always advocated something," declares co-founder Krieger. "It's the strongest means of expression there is," she adds. Funded primarily by the Office of the Arts--the group never charges admission--Black Star presents plays on social, political and feminist issues, and prefers plays that are not often performed. Previous productions and readings have included The Abdication and Schubert's Last Serenade; the company hopes to mount student works next semester. Krieger feels Black Star's strength lies in its ideology and each production possesses "an ideal greater than the show itself."
The cast and crew of Not Necessarily In That Order are doing their bit to banish the reading period blues. They are reviving this revue for two performances and "for all the people who didn't get to see it" during the original run. The title is the punch line of a thousand old jokes, but every skit and song in this comedy revue is original. Andy Borowitz (book and lyrics), Fred Barton (music) and their five-person cast hope to recreate the original evenings of "unbridled fun." To create an informal nightclub atmosphere, director Borowitz has kept the staging simple.
Not Necessarily should appeal to "anyone who loves Broadway, stars, or entertainment," Borowitz says. The revue definitely possesses a theatrical theme; many of its skits deal with songwriters' careers and show biz in general. Nevertheless, much of the material treats more Harvard-oriented subjects from cafeteria employees to Lamont Library checkers. In addition, the show promises to teach the audience a foreign language and contains a newsreel that covers thirty years of American history in five minutes. Borowitz characterizes the revue as a musical Monty Python. "It's not sreious," he says seriously. Tonight and tomorrow night, in the Adams JCR; tickets at the door.