The News from Frederick, Maryland on June 5, 1970 · Page 6
Get access to this page with a Free Trial

The News from Frederick, Maryland · Page 6

Frederick, Maryland
Issue Date:
Friday, June 5, 1970
Page 6
Start Free Trial

By Richard Lebherz In The Image And Likeness Of'Whitey' No Place To Be Somebody, a Black-black comedy by Pulitzer-Prize Winner Charles Gordono, directed by Gilbert Moses, at the Arena Stage thru July 5th. Somehow, the full meaning and impact of this year's Pulitzer Prize winning play -- No Place To Be Somebody -- doesn't register at the moment you are watching it, because the play is so dramatically alive, so powerful in its progress, and there are so many truly fine performances in this Arena Stage production, that this full meaning and impact evades the experience. This evasion, this inability to understand what the black playwright is saying, can be due to either a possible repression of its inner meaning, in both the white and the black man in the audience, or it can be due to a certain reluctance to approach the subject matter at all, which seems familiar, yet too dangerous to admit. " l a m a black playwright but," says Gordone in the program notes, "my-main thrust in the writing is to make it universal. And, as an 'American Writer' to write about the human and spiritual isolation of both the black and white. . ." The scene of the play is in "Johnny's Bar" in Harlem. There is something about the bar itself, about the set, that reminds you of a suspended hell. The tables, the chairs, the juke box, the very atmosphere exhudes a certain odor of stale cigarette smoke, futility and waste. Johnny (Robert Guillaume) runs the bar like a knowledgeable sea captain, but with a certain awareness of human behavior! He is big with understanding the limits of his assorted crew, however. There is Shanty Mulligan (Richard Bauer) a white Southerner, who tends and cleans up the authority about it. and slowly that full meaning and impact has dangerously moved closer to our consciousness. But, it is only later on, in the darkness of the night, that the full impact of what playwright Gordone has been getting at hits you between the eyes. The shattering message that Charles Gordone is making in his play is both to the white man and to the black man in our American society. We have made the black man over in our white image. We have molded him with our values, with our virtues, with our vices, with our corruption. In fact, in our own image. What we are watching is black' men behaving within white men's values. The question that Gordone poses is this. Is that image worth emulating? It not only forces the white man to question his values, but it also forces the black man to question those values as well. If what we have been waiting for so many years now is assimilation or even mimicry, in the black man, then we have been quite successful. He is now a mirrored reflection of the white man. He has become what the white man is. He pursues money as the be- all and the end-all of existence. He knows what politics can do and he knows what graft is. He knows where corruption lies and it now lies hi him, too. Johnny, of course, understands this. It is his strength, but at the same time, it is his enemy. The rage that burns inside him may end up destroying him (which it does). Sweets may have turned himself into the Uncle Tom image, which the white man will accept, but not Johnny. Johnny has learned too much the hard way. He will play the game with the same abilities that the white man plays them with . . . on the white man's level. Two of the finest performances in "No Place To Be Somebody" come from Chuck Daniel (left) as Gabe Gabriel, and Robert bar. There is Gabe Gabriel (Chuck Daniel) a mulatto, who writes plays, and presents the playwright's agonizing human protest to the audience before each act begins. White, Dee Jackson (Gloria Maddox) is a hustler. She hustles for Johnny and sleeps with him on the side. She also happens to be in love with bun. Evie Ames (Norma Donaldson) is a black hustler. She'is as hard as nails and brutally realistic. Then there is Cora Beasely (Marylin B. Coleman) a black woman who is in love with the idea of marriage. Melvin Smeltz (Jay Fletcher) is an aspiring ballet dancer. All of these habitues, much like the habitues of Harry Hope's bar in Eugene O'Neill's "The Iceman Cometh," have one thing in common. They are escaping from life. They have each created an illusion about themselves in order to survive. Johnny knows this fact. He realizes that this is their fatal weakness, yet he encourages them to hang on to their illusions by feeding them what they want to hear about themselves. Johnny believes himself to be above them, even beyond them. His one hope, his one grand illusion, the one bright spot in his life, has been the father-son relationship he had experienced with Sweets Crane (John Marriott), a man who was older and kind to him, and offered him larger values and possibilities. Sweets has killed a man, ten years before, and is completing his term in prison. For those ten years, Johnny has waited for that moment when they are reunited again, because he wants to go into partnership with Sweets, to enlarge his territory. When Sweets does come back into Johnny's life, the ten long years in prison have taken their toll on him. Prison life has broken the man. He has become a caricature of the familiar type of black man who steals everything he can, but grins stupidly if he is caught. And what is even worse, Sweets accepts his position. Needless to say, this man destroys the one illusion that Johnny has held onto. Now, Johnny realizes he is alone. The full meaning and impact, which I mentioned in the beginning of this review, suddenly begins to dislodge itself from the unconscious. Certain border possibilities present themselves, yet you must rivet your attention back on the play itself. But you ask yourself, what is the meaning of this play? What does it all add up to? You can feel there is a reaction rising up in both the black and white members of the audience. Somewhere, there is meaning but it still seems to elude. In the end, Jonnny, in order to protect himself from the Mafia-like tactics of an organization that threatens him, takes advantage of an opportunity that literally falls into his lap. Mary Lou Bolton (Marjorie Lynne Feiner), a white, Civil Rights advocate, fresh out of college, appears in his bar for a daiquiri. Her father happens to be a judge now, but before he was the lawyer who defended some of the members of the Mafia-like organization that is threatening Johnny. Putting two and two together, Johnny gets the girl to steal concealed evidence from her father's safe, so that he can use it as blackmail against them. She does, and Johnny is saved momentarily. Suddenly, what we are watching has a familiar ring to it. There is an air of Guillaume as Johnny Williams. (Photo by Fletcher Drake). The other question that arises within the play is this: Has the Negro endured so much pain, so much hardship, so much abuse, simply in order to become a duplicate of the white man's world? Is this where the black man is going to end up? Emulating values that are not worth emulating in most cases. Gordone offers two possibilities. One, is Machine Dog (Robert Louis Stephens) who represents the militant aspects of the Negro black's future, advocating violence and destruction of the white world. The other possibility is offered in the shape of Gabe, who is dressed as a woman in black. He has been made feminized, made harmless, bearing witness to what has transpired against the black race in America, and asking for a better fate for the blacks than having to be turned into white duplicates. No longer, says Gordone, in the play, can the whites look at the blacks as separate. They are becoming more like each other every day. But what is the white man like? What are his values? This play will show you. There are so many fine performances in this production that it is almost unfair to point them out at the expense of the rest. Perhaps this explains at the end of the play why there were no separate curtain calls for individual actors. All the actors took their cutrain calls together at the same time. No Place To Be Somebody will play thru July 5th. It is Arena Stage's last production for this season, but it also happens to be their best. "IN A TURKISH BATH" WINS AWARD On Feb. 18th, I wrote an article on H. Irving Gates, called "A Warlock in Art." I told how he had abandoned his large metal sculptures for small boxed-in ones he calls -- "reliquaries." "What I am making now is box- sculptures," he said in that interview. "I am taking the intangible parts of man, his visions, his fears, his fantasies, because man is tied up with his fantasies most of the time, his magic, his nostalgia, even his witchcraft, and I contain them, I box in these intangibles." Among his reliquaries, I described the largest one in his new collection called "In a Turkish Bath." The sculpture -- "is oval in shape, with plexiglass openings at either end, through which the viewer may look. What he looks onto is the nude, ghastly- white torso of a woman. About the bottom of the sculpture, seed pearls have been carelessly scattered. When you move up close to look through the plexiglass at one end, your eye must look through a V-shaped, pronged iron weapon (something like a tuning fork) in order to view the torso." . "In Turkey," explained Gates, "when there used to be harems, eunchs used to act as both servants and guards, in order to make certain that the Sultan's brides were not molested. Those iron prongs represent the eunchs; thereby preventing the viewer from actually touching the torso, using only the eyes." (Voyeurism, perhaps?) On June 1st, the Baltimore Museum of Art announced that H. Irving Gates has won the Governor's Prize of $500 for his "In A Turkish Bath." The 38th Maryland Annual Exhibition will remain on view through July 5th. Miss Willard Is Betrothed To Mr. Ruwet Mr. and Mrs. William R. Willard. BFD 5, Frederick, announce the engagement of their daughter, Pamela Dale, to H. Fraser Ruwet, son of Col. an! Mrs. Vincent L. Ruwet, Frederick. · / Miss Willard is a 1968 graduate of Gov. Thomas Johnson High School, and has completed two years at Chowan Junior College in North Carolina. In the fall, she will enroll as a junior at Washington College, Chestertown. Mr. Ruwet is a iwr graduate of The Hill School, Pottstown, Pa., and will be a senior at Washington College. An August wedding Is Planned. Bishops' Guild Plans Annual Lawn Fete The Biahopc' Guild of the ·I Diocese of Mar/lead to annual Lawn Fete on the frouoda of Tbe Catbed- rtl Church of the tocaradtov University Parkway at Charles Street, BaJtfjnort, June 1* New Mart tor books andcletaee at well as Treasure Trove, Parcel Feat aodSldewalkCaffc For the y«aag there will be ea (begs, "Mrs. Pecketa," and a*M attraction of a etowa. Miss PamelaDale.Wfflard ceremooiee irttfa greetings by The Rfefat Her. Harry Lee Doll, Biataop of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland^ will launch Hits year's Fete, the theme of which Is "A Summer Tufa*" at U a,m. There will be a Cabinet Work boom this year in addition to me usual booths of bakedgooda, gourmet items, Oriental ttema, candy, flowers, needlework, White Elephant table. Nearly 81}* JTrtftjeddt Hefts- J*rnt Pag* A* ,*.*,, M». w* Family Section Fashions-Clubs-Society-Home News of a Oes Stow at 1 o'clock, Swara/Dance at 1 o'clock and at 9 o'clock vocalist, Florence Boweo Ifatlin and her trio. In addition, there win be the Tea oo the Bishop's lawn where guests will begreetedbyBishop and Mrs. Del], beginning at 34:30 n»m From 4:30 untU 7:90 pjn* a sapper at either fried chicken or homemade crab cakes will be served in the undercroft for the price of $L75 for adults and 75 for children. Funds obtained from this affair, of which Mrs. Boweo Wetshett is chairman, provide "·M**"** to fifmin«rif|tiitfram me Diocese of Maryland who need financial aid to pursue their studies for the ministry. urt FOUNT Jones-Heffner Vows Said Miss Bonnie Kay Hefmer, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Roland Heffher Sr., Brunswick, recently became the bride of Samuel N. Jones, son of Mr. and Mrs. Norris Jones, Frederick. The Rev. Fr. Melycher officiated in the double ring ceremony in St. Francis Catholic Church, Brunswick. Organist Mrs. Jeanette Rodgers accompanied the soloist, Mrs. Faith Weatheread. Given in marriage by her father, the bride wore a Victorian gown of silk organza with empire bodice overlaid by Venise lace, and a sash of pink satin at the raised waistline. Pink satin also appeared under the lace cuffs of her long full sleeves and the lace hemline border of her skirt, which extended into a chapel train. A spray of white blossoms interspersed with pink satin loops held her bouffant veil of imported illusion and she carried a cascade of pink and white carnations. Miss Anne Burke, Brunswick, was maid of honor. She wore a pale petal pink chiffon frock with wide picture hat of matching mouline. She carried anose- gay of pink carnations. Warren Evans of Beltsville was best man. Ushers were Wayne Wisher, Frederick, and Earl Jones, Frederick, brother of the bridegroom. The guest registrar was Miss Carol Jo Phillips of RockviUe. For her daughter's wedding, Mrs. Heffner wore a mint green coat and dress ensemble with black patent accessories. Her corsage was of white cymbidium orchids. The bridegroom's mother wore a blue knit suit with black patent accessories, and a corsage of white cymbidium orchids. Following the ceremony a reception was held at the Brunswick Moose Lodge. Assisting SNDONC b TEEMA6ER \ Miss Margaret Louise Welch Miss Welch To Marry Mr. Rhodes Jr. Mr. and .Mrs. Ellsworth Welch of Thurmont announce the engagement of their daughter, Margaret Louise, to Clinton Vernon Rhodes Jr., son of Mr. and Mrs. Clinton V.Rhodes Sr., also of Thurmont. , Miss Welch will graduate this month from Catocttn High School. Her fiance is a 1968 graduate of Thurmont High School. He is attending Frederick Com-, munity College, and is employed by Joe, The Motorists' Friend, Frederick Shopping Center. An August wedding is planned. HE OWN EMERGENCY BHOPAL, India (AP)-A village doctor who responded to an "emergency" call found himself in the clutches of ban- .dit -"patients" who held him 20 hours until he could arrange for jiayment,of ransom. Mrs. Samuel N. Jones were Mrs. Donna Buffer, Miss Carol Jo Phillips, and Miss Linda Heffner, sister of the bride. For the honeymoon trip to Williamsburg, Va., the bride wore a lime green suit with black patent accessories and a white carnation corsage. The bride is a 1965 graduate of Brunswick High School. She is employed as a secretary at the Atomic Energy Commission, Germantown. The bridegroom is a 1962 graduate of Frederick High School. He is employed at the National Bureau of Standards, Gaithersburg. The newlyweds are residing at Evergreen Point Village, Frederick. Prior to the wedding the bride was honored at a miscellaneous shower given by Miss Ann Burke and Mrs. Donna Buffer and a surprise shower given by coworkers, Mrs. Carolyn Moser and Mrs. Georgetta Blasingame, at the Atomic Energy Commission, The rehearsal party was hosted by the bridegroom's parents at Compiler's Restaurant, Brunswick. Forextncan... "leave the moving to us" Ge GKjraeeaf Tat taw! Oet tt» «xt» MAfl,KLmj« _B«^ b^^BA ^ ^A^^A JA *^^^^A RosMif jppi aave a IMJIS w upcui svacrvlsiw fnet start to Ililrt QM TM, .« serrlct. Xsaart aaekkc. cratiif aal ston|e tar tee Ro.Hdn's Moving Stow* PHONE 662-2145 DUCK IS TOUGH Cotton Army duck is the most rugged and durable of tenting materials. MAAS OPTICIANS OLAMORIZE YOUR GLASSES WITH MODERN STYLE FRAMES . . . for the woman of taste We Are Equipped To Fill Any , Eyeglass Prescription Audiotone Hearing Aids Batteries Accessories REPAIRS WHILE YOU WATT CONTACT LENSES 5 West Second Street MO 2-1451 HOWaFLD WOLF Strictly casual, structurally shirttd. Polyester and cotton tentcloth skirt, Dacron® pelyttter and cotton sheer top suspended from hardware. White/navy, white/brown. 6-16. W E D D I N G R I N G S CENTRAL CHAROC BANK AMERICARD MASTER CHAW! WIOOINO IANOS ACCOUNTS INVITED Frederick Shopping Canter PHONI: MO · W. PATRICK ST FRCDCRICK.MD OWN Qwflf AM It AJM. M t PJN. iNEWSPAPERl NEWSPAPER!

What members have found on this page

Get access to

  • The largest online newspaper archive
  • 8,600+ newspapers from the 1700s–2000s
  • Millions of additional pages added every month

Try it free