Artful Anarchy: Timely play questions authority.
Art for Everyone: Community dance festival offers a little of everything.
Inside the Hothouse: Plant politics and more. PLUS: Booknotes.
Headline: Mini-reviews of area dining experiences.
Timely play questions authority.
By Aria Seligmann
|Inspector Pisani (Scott Weddell, left) and Superintendent (Lester B. Hanson, Right) keep Inspector Bertozzo (Ken Hoff, center) from telling the truth.|
A maniac is being interrogated inside a police station in Milan, Italy. The year is 1970. Inspector Bertozzo (Ken Hof), an intimidating sort who has no use for Maniac's (Dan Pegoda) histrionics, conducts the interrogation. A straight-faced Constable (Nick Poublon) watches the proceedings. Bertozzo grows increasily frustrated as Maniac dodges his questions, makes up incredulous stories about his identity, and in general, appears to be out of his mind. Bertozzo dismisses him, finally fed up with his nonsense.
But Maniac doesn't go away. He sneaks back into the office, uncovers evidence of a coverup surrounding an anarchist's "accidental" death by a fall out of the police department's fourth floor window, and remains to sniff out the facts.
As the Maniac takes on various guises to elicit the truth from the anarchist's actual killers — Inspector Pisani (Scott Weddell) and Superintendent (Lester B. Hanson) — his role becomes symbolic of what playwright Dario Fo is doing in this 1970 play, Accidental Death of An Anarchist, using the medium of theater to reveal the truth.
In 1969 an actual anarchist named Guiseppe Pinelli was arrested in Milan for bombing a bank. During his interrogation, he died falling from a fourth story window. The police claimed Pinelli threw himself out of the window.
The play's premiere run coincided with an actual trial in which Police Commissioner Luigi Calabresi sued a progressive newspaper for libel for implicating him in the anarchist's death.
As facts were revealed in the trial, Fo incorporated them into his play. As the events coming to light became more absurd and extraordinary, the play become more farcical. The audience members laughed from start to finish, but at some point realized they were laughing at actual events, witnessing, like the jury, the unexposed corruption of a system so vile police were implicating and accusing those who dared to question authority.
(Several years after the play was written, it was discovered that right-wing extremists, working with the government, had planted bombs to set up left-wing activists.)
The pretensions of Milan's police department are obvious in Maniac's foolish disguises, which change as quickly as the police's version of events. His superficial props include an eye patch, a fake hand, a bishop's hat and a judge's robe.
While pretending to be a judge, Maniac re-enacts the anarchist's death scene, wherein he turns Pisani and Superintendent to jelly, getting them to admit they abused and goaded the anarchist. Finally, journalist Maria Felletti (Valerie McMahon) enters the scene, hot on the trail of the coverup, under deadline pressure and ready to break the scandal, except for a few small facts. But Felletti gets mislead by Maniac, now pretending to be a bishop, and drops her story, much as Milan's mainstream press dropped its coverage of the trial.
While the play is about serious issues, the current Lord Leebrick production is hysterical. Funny from start to finish, it sends a very clear message about state corruption and power. That, plus its emphasis on anarchy, makes this play especially pertinent and timely in Eugene.
Dan Pegoda gives a fantastic performance. Maniac is a physically and mentally demanding role, and Pegoda measures up to the challenge. He is insightful, humorous, manic and off-balance enough to keep everyone guessing whether he's crazy or not. Ken Hof's Inspector Bertozzo is the perfect foil to Maniac, and together they set up the relationship between the madman and the police. Lester B. Hanson turns in a delightful run as Superintendent. Because he often plays the part of the strict authoritarian, it's fun to see him cave in with fear when Maniac has him pushed up against a wall. Scott Weddell is believable as the hotheaded Inspector Pisani, who's capable of easily flying off the handle. As Felletti, Valerie McMahan shows how easy it is for a competent reporter to have the story then lose it. Nick Poublon's straight-faced Constable, who shows no emotion until sexy Felletti enters the scene, is very cute.
The show is tight, and director Corey Pearlstein made wise choices — an excellent cast that creates a strong ensemble, editing the text to a tight and flowing 90 minutes, and giving each actor enough freedom to flesh out their characters with their own mannerisms. Skip Hubbard's set design is quite impressive, as well.
The show continues through June 15. Accompanying presentations include:
June 5: Anti-Authoritarian Movements In Defense Of The Environment. Earth Liberation Front: Green With A Vengeance documentary and talk by Craig Rosebraugh.
June 12: A History Of Anarchist And Anti-Authoritarian Movements. Various speakers will discuss the history of anarchist and anti-authoritarian movements for social change.
Admission into the events are $3-$6 sliding scale.
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Community dance festival offers a little of everything.
By Aria Seligmann
Schedule of events
12:30-2:15 pm Enthusiastic Theater with Judith "Sparky" Roberts. 2:30-5 pm DanceAbility with Alito Alessi.
8 pm Celebration Bash with LaZoo. Dancing and short performances by Joint Forces & friends.
12:30-1:30 pm "KidsCan" with Joan Gunness.
1:30-3:30 pm "Dance Kaleidoscope" with Pamela Lehan-Siegel and Marc Siegel.
4-6 pm Contact Jam. Gerlinger Annex, UO. FREE
You can dance if you want to. Or act, or drum… Two days of dance, music and theater for "Every body" will occur this weekend, June 1 and 2 at WOW Hall. The Eugene Community Dance Festival is presented by Joint Forces Dance Company, which has hosted Danceability and other performances for disabled and abled dancers in the past.
This year, founder Alito Alessi has invited various teachers of dance, drumming and theater to present introductory workshops for anyone who has ever wanted to learn various performing arts. Alessi specifically asked dancers/teachers Pamela Lehan-Siegel and Marc Siegel, actor/teacher Sparky Roberts, dancer/teacher Margo Van Ummerson and drummer/teacher Jill Sager, and Joan Gunness to help with the festival because "they are skilled, beautiful people who have put years of work into this community and have open minds," he says.
The diversity of offerings, from movement workshops with Alessi, creative dance for kids with and without disabilities with Joan Gunness, and theater training with Roberts, is designed so those of various ages and with varying interests can participate.
Alessi says he hopes that by bringing together the different art forms, "a hybrid thing will happen," and says he's excited about creating a space where that can occur.
The cost is $6-$20 sliding scale per festival event, and includes free admission to the Saturday night party with LaZoo. Scholarships are available. Pre-registration an info: 342-3273 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Plant politics and more.
Orchid Fever: A Horticultural Tale of Love, Lust and Lunacy by Eric Hansen. Pantheon Books, 2000. Hardcover, $23. Methuen Publishing, Australia, 2001. Paperback, $16.50.
When travel writer Eric Hansen's third book, Orchid Fever, was published by Pantheon in 2000, expectations among literary critics were very high because Hansen's previous works — Stranger in the Forest and Motoring with Mohammed — were both critically acclaimed and popular successes. Stranger won the top French literary prize in 1991. But perhaps neither the author nor publisher were prepared for the controversial nature of Orchid Fever's success.
A firestorm of opinion erupted, focused primarily on this book's exposé of the intricate regulations governing CITES (the 1973 Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora), which places orchids under the same rules that protect elephants, rhinos and whales. Hansen also raised questions about the orchid curator of the U.K.'s Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, Dr. Phillip Cribbs, when he showed that orchids seized in U.K. smuggling raids ended up in Cribbs's herbarium.
The big-business world of orchids that Hansen describes includes other exciting characters besides righteous smugglers and corrupt botantists, because these flowering plants have inspired passion wherever cultivated and collected. It's a $9 billion a year industry, with about 400,000 orchid collectors in the U.S. and four million worldwide. Chapter titles such as "Bodice Rippers," "The Fox Testicle Ice Cream of Kemal" and "Orchids, Guns and Harpsichords." inspire confidence that Orchid Fever is no ordinary treatise.
While the author himself notes that "there is a very fine line between a visionary orchid grower and what I think of as the horticulturally insane," Rochester, New York commercial orchid grower Joe Kunish spells it out: "You can get off alcohol, drugs, women, food and cars, but once you're hooked on orchids, you're finished. You never get off orchids ... never."
Hansen speaks on this fascinating subject at a public lecture on "Orchid Fever" at 8 pm on Thursday, May 30 in Gerlinger Alumni Lounge.
May 30 - June 29: Congratulations to Continuation Publishing of Eugene for winning the grand prize in the Writers Digest 2001 self-publishing competition for its first book, Continuation. ...Novelist, poet John Reed reads from The Kingfisher's Call at 7pm on June 6 upstairs UO Bookstore…La Verne Gagehabib and Barbara Summerhawk, authors of Circles of Power: Shifting Dynamics in a Lesbian-centered Community, read at 7 pm on June 7 at Mother Kali's Books. ...Eugene poet Erik Muller will read his poems and Portland poet Robert Davies reads from his new collection, Timber, at 3 pm June 9 in the Art Gone Wild Gallery in Stayton. ...Nora Beck will read from her novel, Fiametta, at 7 pm on June 10 at Mother Kali's Books. …Eugene poet Joseph Miller and Corvallis poet Clem Starck read at 7pm on June 13 in UO bookstore, upstairs...Author, photographer Tee A. Corrine shows slides of overtly sexual, darkroom-altered, black-and-white images from her new book, Intimacies, a Lambda Literary finalist, at 7 pm on June 14 at Mother Kali's. ...Nye Beach Writer's Series brings Corvallis novelist Alison Clement (Pretty Is As Pretty Does) and novelist Bart Schneider (Secret Love) to Newport's Studio Theatre of the Performing Arts Center at 7 pm on June 15. ...Russell Rowland, author of In Open Spaces, will be at Barnes and Noble at 7 pm on June 18. ... Carol Wagner works with women's organizations and humanitarian groups in Cambodia. She will present slides of Cambodia and read from her new book, Soul Survivors, at 7 pm on June 19 at Mother Kali's Books. ...Portland poet Robert Davies reads from his new collection, Timber, at 3 pm on June 22 at Tsunami Books. ...A writer's group from San Francisco that published Wild Writing Women will stop by Mother Kalil's on June 24. ...Professor Emeritus in Russian and East European Studies Albert Leong will read from his new biography on Russian sculptor Ernst Neizvestny, who taught spring term 1983 at the UO. The reading is at 3 pm on June 29 at Tsunami Books.
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Mini-reviews of area dining experiences.
860 E. 13th Ave. 687-7511.
11 am-9 pm SU-TH, 11 am-12:30 am F & SA, $-$$. — MT
There's always something new on 13th Avenue. Ordinarily, we'd be competing with thousands of students, but now summer is nearly here. Those more introverted individuals who don't love crowds, lines and near-death bicycle experiences have a chance to try out the latest offerings.
One of those is the recently opened Philly Grill. It still has that new shine, that super-clean, over-produced urban look. The décor is all galvanized steel, rusty iron-looking plastic laminate, eggplant purple walls, big televisions. A huge tree, fake upon inspection, rises out of a grill that looks like it came from a New Orleans sidewalk. The menu focuses mainly on food that can be grilled and placed between bread: meats and veggies. The bread was a little pale, but the fillings were flavorful and, well, filling.
2435 Hilyard St.
Lunches 11 am - 3 pm; dinners Wed.-Sat. from 5:30 - 9 pm. $$
Humble (Bagel) Cafe is a boggling bargain for fine dining. Jill and Gary Katz remodeled space next to the bakery into a cozy eatery — soothing colors of pale salmon, celadon green; tables, booths, cute Art Deco bar — with a broad menu of special salads (Greek, Israeli Avocado, Warm Chevre), seasonal soups (chilled crab/celery), pizzas, blue cheese burger, pastas. Not to be missed: homemade chicken pot pie ($7), roasted salmon ($13). Half-dozen brews on tap, fine little wine list, exceptional prices. GREAT cheesecake. -LS
5 E. 8th Ave., 686-3464
12–2 pm, 5–9:30 pm M-Th, 12–2 pm, 5–10 pm F, 2–10 pm Sat., 530–9 pm SU. $$-$
At this varied-atmosphere sushi bar you might one day experience Japanese flute-music wafting past kimonos and porcelain kittens. On another day enjoy Billy Joel while you nibble a California roll. Lunches have a bistro feel, while dinners provide intimacy, either by chat with the dapper sushi chefs, or by nose-rubbing under the mood-lit booths. Enjoy rich Meguro (yellowtail tuna) or try the Ebi-metal roll: a mouth-watering combination of avocado, cooked shrimp, barbecued fresh-water eel with flying-fish roe covering the nori (seaweed) and rice. Steak lovers will drool over the tender Niku-tataki, and the delectable miso soup is a dinner-starter must, especially in the cold months. Dropping in a little of your rice is an advanced technique. -BF
Coast Bakery & Coffee Café
327 Laurel St., Florence 902-8901
9 am to 4 pm M-SA, lunch 11 am to 3 pm. $-$$ — TJT
Jack cooks, Kathryn bakes and life on the dismal coast takes an upswing. Just off 101 north of the bridge, an old cottage that rattles in the wind, a cozy lunch locale for locals and savvy travelers. A neon OPEN sign beckons through the drizzle. Nothing quite like it in Florence. Fresh, healthy ingredients. Spicy salads with tender greens, baked potatoes, veggies, fish, chicken, delicate soups. Full City Coffee. Plan to spend some time, cuz all dishes are made to order. Lemon blueberry muffins, date bars, cookies and other bakery delights catch your eye as you pay your modest bill (cash only, please). -TJT
Great Hummus Contest
4-8 pm Sunday, June 9th. Sliding scale donation $5-$25.
Not really a restaurant so much as a great cause, the Eugene Middle East Peace Group is nevertheless sponsoring a Hummus Contest Sunday, June 9 at the Hillyard Community Center. There will be speakers and raffles, music and a Middle Eastern feast, and bets are on to see which hummus comes in the richest and creamiest, lightest and most succulent. Here is a cook-off worthy of Eugene!
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