Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia on May 26, 1974 · Page 78
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Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia · Page 78

Charleston, West Virginia
Issue Date:
Sunday, May 26, 1974
Page 78
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By John Halvorsen ALBANY, N.Y. W) - Pat r i c i a Snyder took her 3-year-old son to a road company performance of "The Wizard of Oz," and left the theater disgusted and.angry. The show's producers, she recalls, staged their play without lighting or scenery and the actors substituted cheap rubber masks for makeup, omitting any feeling for the magic of the theater. Still fuming, Mrs. Snyder spoke her mind to the show's producers. "That's a cheat. It says to me that they didn't think much of our kids." Mrs. Snyder and 42 students at the State University of New York at Albany have taken their own version of "The Wizard of Oz" on the road. The Russian government invited them to perform April 6 to 8 in Moscow and Leningrad -- the first American Children's theater group to appear in the Soviet Union. Despite the language barrier, Russian children have little trouble understanding the story of a girl from Kansas transported to the Emerald City along a paved, yellow road..The Soviet Union not only has its own "Wizard," but also a sequel as well. Mrs. Snyder calls Russia the home of children's theater in the world. A 32-year-old mother of three and former professional musical comedy actress, The yellow brick road led to Russia the diminutive Mrs. Snyder has won national awards as director of Albany State's Children's Theater. She has loftier ambitions: she wants to make theater for children in America something more t h a n "tokenism." Unlike youngsters in Russia a^J Europe, who are introduced to live stage performances as soon as they understand the spoken word, American children are being shortchanged, she insists, by tawdry productions put on by second-rate actors. "Many people consider it beneath them to deal with theater for children. There's this kind of stigma attached to it in the United States... When people do children's theater, it's shabby. "The care and attention is put in|o an adult production because they know adults are going to be very critical and there are going to be repercussions involved -- like severe -reviews and comments among their peers." Upgrading youth theater has been a growing professional concern in tnis country for about a decade. Before then, the socially proper Junior League of America was most active, putting on shows for the young, but has gradually phased out of such work. Today the American Theater Association lists about 700 members representing about 200 producing groups in children's theater category, mostly affiliated with colleges or community theaters. Among the most consistently active are California State University at Northridge, the University of Utah and the University of Washington. Cited by Mrs. Snyder as perhaps the best of all is the work being done in Minneapolis in conjunction with the school system and where "the community recognized the fact that children's theater is a respectable art form." The movement gained impetus in August, 1972, when the International Association of Theater for Children and Young People held its congress here. Many foreign groups showcased prod u c t i o n s and examined domestic counterparts. A result of that interchange was the invitation to the Soviet Union. Mrs. Snyder has directed 16 Albany productions for children since 1967. But by children's t h e a t e r , she means something more than just fairy tales. "Fairy tales have been done an awful lot -- I think they've been ovedone. Something like 'Wizard of Oz' or 'Peter Pan' is a classic. But 'Three Little Bears' and 'Snow White' and that kind of thing, I try to stay away from it. Because I want our young people to reach up." Mrs. Snyder's dream is to see repertory companies established around the country in which professional actors would p e r f o r m for young people in the afternoon and adults in the evening. Theater audiences of the future must be built by performing plays on a regular basis for children, she says. Most of Mrs. Snyder's productions have been musicals. For youngsters who have previously seen her company, however, she has other plans, and hopes to "hit them with some good solid drama" such as "The Miracle Worker" and "Our Town." "People say, That isn't children's theater.' But I don't think you can say there are certain plays for children . . . I think you can take a very sophisticated script into an eighth or ninth grade class, if they've seen a lot of theater." Last fall, Mrs. Snyder's students staged 80 performances of "Gertrude Stein's First Reader," a dramatization of Miss Stein's poetry, before children at day care centers as well as elementary and junior high school students. "The Stein show was not "Cinderella," says one of the actors, Kathleen Collins, a senior majoring in English Sheen excellent in 'Badlands By James F. Dent "BADLANDS," Martin Sheen, Cissy Spacek. Cinema South. *** This is a first film by Terrence Malick and like most first films it suffers a bit. There are moments when it drags and there are times when it appears somewhat muddled about just where it's going. But with these minor objections out of the way, let me say that overall "Badlands" is a very good -and very chilling -- movie which almost perfectly depicts what Hannah Arendt has called "the banality of evil." It is the thinly fictionalized story of Charles Starkweather and Carol Fugate who in the 1950's left a trail of blood and corpses across the West during a thrill-killing orgy. "Badlands" stars Martin Sheen, an excellent young actor, correctly underplaying the part of Kit, a 25 year old drifter, proud of his resemblance to James Dean,. who thinks a gun is a magic wand to solve all his problems; and Cissy Spacek as Holly, his vacant faced 15 year old baton twirling high school s w e e t h e a r t who watches impassively while her lover kills people. The two are absolutely without emotion, or feeling, SHOWTIME. Mini-Re View Shooting people neither gladdens nor saddens them. It's just something to do which, perhaps, will relieve momentarily the monotony of their empty lives. Holly is a bored, movie magazine oriented girl who confesses she was never "popular" at school. Little wonder. She has about as much personality as a dish rag. She narrates the movie in flat, cliche-filled, prose derived from the pages of "Modern Screen," filled with phrases of the "little did I know" variety. Her only reaction, when Kit cold bloodedly shoots down her father is to slap him ineffectually across the face. Kit and Holly run away together and hide out in the woods where they play at guerilla warfare and Robinson Crusoe. The absence of emotion from their lives is shown perfectly in a scene when, after their first sexual experience, Holly asks stolidly, buttoning her dress: "Is that all there is to it?" "I guess so," replies Kit, throwing stones into the river. "Well," says Holly, "I .don't see .what all the talk was about." Kit obviously feels that something more is called for so he picks up a rock to carry away to keep as a souvenir of the moment -- then drops it when it proves too heavy and picks up a lighter one. Kit kills three men who come after - them, shooting them in the back from ambush. As Holly says, "Kit said it was all right to shoot them in the back because they were just bounty hunters. If it had been lawmen doing their duty it would have been different." And so their bloody, macabre journey across the Dakotas begins. But it is not so much what they do as it is the effect -or, rather, the non-effect -it has on them that the movie is concerned with. Kit, even while killing people, shows an admiration and respect for authority. He despises litterbugs. He thinks about joining the Canadian Mounties. Taking over a re- c o r d i n g m a c h i n e in the house of a rich man, Kit leaves a message for youth -- a message sounding not unlike a Readers Digest editorial: "Listen to your parents and teachers... .Try to keep an open mind. Consider the minority opinion but get along with the majority opinion once it is accepted." It is difficult, really, to adequately describe "Badlands" in words. It must be seen because everything -the flat, open, landscapes, the eerie background music, the inane conversations, the amorality of the characters -- all of it melds perfectly i n t o an u n d e r s t a t e d but frightening, riveting, whole. STEAK DINNER SPECIAL M · DELMONICO ·T-BONE · KANSAS CITY « FRET · SIRLOIN. a N Y STRIP · PORTERHOUSE »N.Y. blKlP With French Fries or Baked Potatoes Businessmen Secretary Lunch Daily who hopes to make a career in theater for children. "A lot of teachers didn't like certain scenes in it -like this scene where we all got killed," she recalls. "The kids loved it. Some of the teachers said, 'Oh, violence!' and that used to really anger me. The children could sit there and digest it." Other students echo her remarks. Bertilla Baker, Dorothy in "Wizard of Oz," says the "spontaneous reaction of children" is more beautiful than the almost studied reaction of adults." Mrs. Snyder tells her students the only thing different about children's theater is the audience." "You don't change your standards . . . You don't camp it, you don't talk with sugar dripping from your mouth. 'Now children, we're going to' -- I hate that. It's so condescending, so insulating." And to her academic colleagues who sneer at performances for children, Mrs. Snyder quotes the great Russian actor and director Stanislavsky: "Play well for adults, but better for children . . . because they're the audience of the future." ICE SKATING CIVIC CENTER PUBLIC ICE SKATING SCHEDULE MONDAY 8:00-10:00 p.m. PuMit Skating TUESDAY 8:00-10:00 p.m. P"Wk Skolng WIMISDAY 0.j«dT»TheM*c. THUISDAY 10:00-12 N«on Housewife Ses 8:00-10:00 pan. NMk Skating flWAY 1:00-1040 p.m. Fabfe Skating 10:30-1:09 a.m. Mo«nliahl Clew (18 rears and aver) SATWDAY 12 Na*n.1:00 pjn, KkUie Ropers (12 and under)50' 3:00-5:00 pjn. Pabfic Skating 8:00-10:00 p.m. Pubic Skating SUNBAY 3:00-5:00 p.m. Public Skating AM« $1.00, CMUrw 75', «Mt Rapm (12 mi MHbr) 5f, MNMtS Hr* AVAMAUfFMPnVATt PAimSAWIfSSMS E34S-M77 Doors open 6 P.M. Tues. thru Sat. 4 P.M. Sun. Closed Mon. CHARLESTON 755-3811 HUNTINGTON 736-8904 SOUTH OFF I-64(EXIT 9) KANAWHA CITY CLUBHOUSE 4102MocCoricle Ave.,S.E. PH.-925-9960 ] I* 'I^E^^HE^SBf ir'ra® ·_ BPm© H ® Pick i piece of Shoney's famous, fresh strawberry pie. Red-ripe, plump. and juicy berries are flown in from California especially for Shoney s. Pick a piece -- or lake a whole pie home. '· *',V 15s

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