Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - May 18, 1972, Lethbridge, Alberta
Thimdoy, May 18, 1972 THE lETHBRIDGf HEP.AID Peter 'Jesus Christ Superstar' heard and seen both side of Hie Atlantic, tycoons of the ciilcrtain- menl industry arc more linn usually iilio'.il v.l'.nt Hie public wants. Bui is a success in both London and New York, I'asoi'mi's screen Gospels are in vogue, and screams of triumph for ".Icsus Christ Superstar" cm Broadway were quickly nuc'ihlc in En- gland. Is Ihcre a significant trend? One eminent British showman recently thought so. "There yon arc." he said lo me. "Ali Ihe old names are coming "Jesus Christ Superstar" is already a classic of the seven- ties an event v.-hich will tie- scribe our dc'.-nle lo the fu- ture. II began lite as a rccovd, as befits an electronic, age. Its words are the language of Hie pop scene, uncIerELcod by young of Ihe Western world. and a good many of the J-.ast as well! Its American prcduc- tion is a monument to the (aste of Broadway 11711, and a "hiiM- ly one, too. Its subject-matter brings beck into Hie Ihcalro the ultimate Uibco: Cod. In recent yc.irs li'.e thc-tre has dealt wiili drugs, violence, nakedness: there arc not many shocks left. Blasniiemy is n longer a powerful taboo, but it exists none the less V.'e IUIMJ all been conditioned by long childhoods of religious instruc- tion. Even to non-believers, even lo the predominantly Jew- ish audience of yew York, it is stimulating to listen to the life ot Christ presented ts if lie was a misundeiTioc'l pep star. Tho theatre must quealion our ORK tiv.'n uu vs know if they are iiTC'saiy and truthlul. "Jesus Chrkl Super- Btar" delivers a pleasurable shock. Unfortunately, it does not ask any questions. I first heard cf Ihe work in November 1970, when the rec- ord was provoldnely reviewed by Clive James iii The LKcner. It was called a Rock Opera, An- drew LIoycMYcbbcr, com- poser, was H'.cn m v.'ars After a flirtation with history at Magdalen College, O.ifonl, lie had gone lo the Royal Col- lege of Music, The rock idiom is so powerful, sucli a lingua franca for the world, that il was lo find n serious young musician attempting to give new life to opera by appropriat- ing the mainstream to his own use. The record was very dramat ic, nol because of its tcxl, but because ol its sounds. II was jilivo with howling guilars and Ihe infinite variety of Hie Moog .Synthesizer. It only disappoint- ed when it switched to conven- tional orchestration. There were tooling biblical trumpets fit for Cecil li. de Mille; and liquid harps and violins, as if a pupil of Faure had ended in the paradise of Hollywood. The movie-score influence was a pervasive and derivative part of the work: atmospheric but banal. Yet the attempt was so good that I resenled the fact that it was not 1) o 11 e r. The thematic material was possibly insufficient lo carry a work of IHs length. But the characters were singing because they had to express emotion. Tiiere was Book Review a need lo sing. This is Ihe la.cl consideration in many a niod- opera; f.pc'jth ca'.ild do Iho job heller and quicker. Tim Rice's libretto was less adventurous. lie was educated at Lancing College, Sussex, and Ihe Sorbonne. After a pe- riod as a petrol-pump alien- rlmil, he ended up as a record producer will] EJ1I. If is an im- peccable biography for a laic Iwcnticlb-ccnlury bard. His words arc very singable: they need music. He and A n d r e w 1.1 o y d-Webber net Ihrough a great, deal cf text. The verbal pace is wonderfully fast and flexible far more so Ihan Ihe musical pace. The piece assumes knowledge of Ihe story; hut Christ rind is one cf the few potent myths left to the Wcrt, this is a fair risk. The odd thing is that the authors have lakcn one of the world's most drama- tic slorics and turned it into something passive and undra- matic. They have written an oratorio, not an opera. It is a comment on what we know happened. It is not happening now, as we watch il in Lhc Ihe- afrc. Plays on marriage "SoliLairc-Doiililc Solitaire" hy Robert Anderson (Ran- dom House of Canada Limit- ed, s.T.95 hard cover, S2.35 pa- per. S3 SOLITAIRV: DOUBLE Soli- taire is an interesting commentary on marriage. The first of the two plays has a W! type of setting. The story takes place in a push button Kcrvocell which has a button for almost everything including dcrlh. The main character Samuel Thomas Bradley 1783. %5.281 Stroke GA IQSQC 240, whc-e wife cho-e seif-disp'iral early in "The System" is feel- ing particularly nostalgic for I be "old and the family as we know it now. He goes through a rcnt-a-family deal and evcnlually goes back to his little cell and pushes the early self-disposal button. The second play has a con- temporary setting. A couple is coming up to their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary and things just, aren'l going well. A suggestion that they renew thcT vows brir.-gs aroiind to reminiscing about their early days of marriage and their promires to rcvor come, (o flic spot they've in now. It's a fascinating hut simple study. Well worth reading. JUDI WALKER Judas begins the piece. Me re- veals himself immediately as a twentieth-century neurotic, nnx- iour. not to h a c k the wrong horse. His Jcs'js Clirisl is a primilive a naive talent, like many an undiscovered pop sliir. Jl is not clear what his lalcnl accomplishes Bui he is a hil and ihercforc vulnerable Once Ihe establishment rec ognizes him, ihey will break him narUcularly it he be- lieves his own pubticily. His story is lo'.d consistently in the vocabulary of the pop in terms of success, making it, Christ has no point of view, political, social or human, to communicate. He expresses a generalized love, a generalized concern. He seems to be vague- ly revolutionary: he is, of course, against Hie capitalists in the temple. But, primarily, he is the passive recipient of Ihe vagaries of reputation. He is a Super Star, but not much He represents the martyr- dom of a young hero of our lime, broken by those who fear his success, end the power that if gives him. He is a cliche. The end is pathetic, not tragic: a puny crucifixion, accompanied by weeping strings. It is tempting to play the tidy critic and make patterns. The genesis of the work should be Ihe JESUS cult of California. The young have seen many of their folk heroes die of dope, or ho destroyed by the frenzy of Iheir own success. The Haight- Asbury vision ended in the Mnn.son murders Have they turned lo a new Jesus because Ihe hippy doctrine of universal love seemed lo lead lo nolhing bul doslruclion? Possibly. And the overwhelming success of the record of "Jesus Christ Superstar'1 in America is no doubt a reflection of this new trendy Jesus. The world-wide sales of the record which preceded Iho stage make it the highest-selling British LP of all lime. Throughout 1971 the rec- Welcome to the best in beer Welcome lo Ihe qualily ol Heidelberg. Heidelberg is brewed from only the best ingredients the finest golden barley malt, the choicest high prime Hallertau hops from Bavaria, and pure spring water. Welcome to the taslo ol Heidelberg. So bright, so lively, so brimful ol flavour it brings more enjoyment lo your drinking pleasure. Take your thirst lo Heidelberg today for a happy welcome that will never wear out because every glass is as crisp and satisfying as your lirsl. Welcome to Heidelberg. When you're looking for the besl. Welcome to Heidelberg THE CARLING BREWERIES LTD. ord grow in pnpulnrily in Am- erica. It was performed in con- cert halls as a dramatic ora- torio by louring groups. The success WHS sensational. The Super Star made tracks for Broachvay. The show is a significant de- velopment in the Hroadway theatre. Musicals have an insoluble problem: Ihe hook is a 1 a y s ;m embarrassnienL Hou' can you get over tedious establishing dialogue, when all you wanl lo do is sing? The normal solution is to reduce the dialogue lo carloon simplicity and hurry it through. If the sit- italion is ever worthy of good writing, then it is worthy of a The book-writer always loses. There is no dialogue in "Jesus Christ Superstar." Ev- erything is sung. I find this marvellous. Lloyd-Webber can write recital i ve: conversation in music. Unfortunately, lie does not do it often enough, lie is well equipped lo remove Lhe false division between popular opera and popular musical. They can and must again be the same Ihing, whatever the billing says. The production on Broadway based on something known to millions the L.P. It is important to stress this be- cause Ihe stage had to be the servant of the record. The pro- duction could not be made in the normal way, by cutting, ad- justing and trying various sol- utions. The result was already well known, and anv deviation would offend (he fans. Pictures of Christ the Super- star brandishing a microphone have appeared all over the world. Much has been written about his handmike trailing yards of cable hnund with hes- sian rope. The antique effect is comical. It is a mad conven- tion, because the characters of- fer Ihe mikes lo each other when they seek a reply. This helpful gesture obscures the fact that they usually bale each oilier. The microphones are needed to make a sound which exceeds the intensity of the record. The live performance had to repro- duce the record meticulously, and yet be bigger, louder and better. IL could properly be said that the performance is not "live" at all. The musicians are sealed off in (lie pit, as if they were in a recording studio. The sound comes from a vast array of loud-speakers, and varies from treble forte to treble forte. The effect is startling: I did not bear one word from start to finish of the evening. The noise was too great. The singers might have been hidden in the orchestra pit loo, while on the stage actors mimed lo (he din. would not have known. It was impossible to tell if the au- dience was "held1' or not. Wo were insulated from each other by noise. Noise is an addiction in our time. And perhaps Ihe sound of "Jesus Christ Superstar" in the theatre had to be created to grab the deafened genera- lion. U has serious conse- quences. Unless Mic lyrics and the music are very well known Irom the records, it is impos- sible to understand what is go- ing on. The effect lops the rec- ord in volume, but totally ob- scures its meaning. Coming out on to the roar of Broadway late at night, my ears were grate- ful. It seemed like the peace of the coimlry. The whole production is kitsch. The colors belong to Disney and the props to Dali. It was unhealthy, erotic, and nightmarish. As a visual style, T thought Ihis appropriate for Ihe beastly hut it is odd to find underbelly clsnk- TICPS ilmslniting the story of a naive youth hero Xor did I understand why Christ was a wet WASP blond, while .Judas was black. In Lou- den I would though! such casting would have provoked a report lo the Race Halations Hoard. 1 was told in York ihal they hnve passed beyond such thinking People are peo- ple, no mailer what their color, .'nid the1 iiuclicnre don't think of Judas as black and Jesus as w Vi i t o. 11 is their characters that matter. I hope their op- timism is justified. Christ as a popular hero has been tamilinr to the tlrivmn Kincc Ihr Middle Ages. But .Jesus Chris! Superstar" says nothing ahoul Christ and noth- ing for or ,'ignin.sl religion. Its Fenlinicnl.s arc. finally as un- exceptionable as Ihe p.'ission piny at Oherammcrp.iu. tine is rcspcc-lahlp niiielronlh-cciiUiry rolipion. I ho utlur rospocluhlo hu-nliolh rmliiry revolution. V'Olh In live up lii Ihe 5iib- jrrl: hnlh ;uv finally rmn'rn- Uonal. Hul as an I'minni! dmr roccnlly Miggcsled, Ihe Mory is too complex lo ho simple, oven in Ihe inhTOsl.s of popularity. "You ho sr.id, Christ was not a super ftar." (Wrillrn for TIio. llrrnld and The- Observer, London) Dictators not desirable Ilv Kvn Urcwslcr Weary and footsore, our kids arc walking the sLreuls. In Lclh- bndge reccnUy, I rat scores of them. Pale, shoulders sagging, they did not lift their faces to the glorious spring sunshine1. Their eyes were fixed on the horizon and their horizon was the next shop, Ihe next office upstairs. It was afternoon and most of Ihem had trudged from store to store since early morning looking for a joh. They managed a glimmer of a smile when I induced them to take a break and inviled them for a coke. "Only if you Id us treat they said valiantly even although I suspected they were proposing to spend their last cenls. The story, with only slight variations, was the same: Just out of college or uni- versity, loan or allowance spent, a long, lean summer to look forward to and no job in sight. The college kids, who were told last year the job situation for them would be better tlian for university grad- uates, now heard they would do belter In get a university degree. The university stu- dents were given la understand their long and costly training did not guarantee em- ployment but had been designed to merely broaden their education. "Did you see that film about Mussolini on one student asked me, absent- mindedly slipping a few cubes of sugar from the lunch ccuntcr into his pocket. "You can say what you like, those dicta- tors had something. At least Uiere was no unemployment when they were in power. I dig seeing the kids marching in those old films. They could hold their heads high." "In those added another, "self-sat- isfied fogies, like the ones now Filling in employment offices, v. ould have been lined up against a wall and had they treated their young as are being treat- ed now. I have always haled the thought of dictatorship but I am beginning lo re- vise my opinion and so are many of our friends. It looks like it is going to be the only way out of tin's mess.'1 Their remarks frightened me. 1 have heard these arguments before. In flash they brought back similar discussions 1 listened to as a child in Germany during and alter the great depression and the subsequent ptiiod of hiph imnpIoymrnL "It c.'cn'l here." I heard my falher say. "Germany is loo civilized for ship and rabhlc routers." lie died a few years later, when I was only fifteen, for Ins fight for justice and democracy. A teen-ager then, like the ones now look- ing at me so trustingly over their pop lles. I too was (nidging the streets. Only 1 was not looking for a joh. I was search- ing for a hiding place out of reach of the long arm of Secret Police. In vain, fcr, Iwing my lather's daughter I was be- ing hunted down for his beliefs even after his death. Such is dictatorship. The kids of today listened to wy story vith the same fascination and excitement they watch a horror movie while out of. Ihe dim and distant past I heard the rythmic sound of marching feet and saw myself facing the firing squad on a bitter- ly cold February morning when I was hnrely twenty years old. By a quirk of fate sentences of execution was commuted to concentration camp Of (he thousand young prisoners of my transport only seven survived hopefully to prevent the now-gen- cralion from [ailing into the trap of dicta- tor-ship with its promises of full em- ployment and a Utopia tiiat does not exist. "John and Ricky, it does not mailer under the steamroller of a dictatorship whether you are the soldier aiming the gun or the victim facing it. In the end, full employ- ment policies of such a system benefits nobody." "Thanks for the said John as he and his friends got up. We better go on looking for that elusive job. But believe me. another summer of unem- ployment like last year, something has got lo brcr.k ruir! in my onininn. for whal i! is v orlli, il is Kuiiip lu lip the he'cre me. Wish us hick." I do wish them hick, jill those tired, dis- enchanted kids that now (he roads of Canada searching for work. If we can- not help them in the midst of affluence we might be guilty of the same mistakes so often recorded in the history of nations. In the meantime we can only pray that our children will never have to experience a dictatorship with its only means ol keep- ing up their pov.-er and hiinging down op- firing srnuirls. Political parties7 finances By Clamle Ryan, In Montreal Le Devoir AT a time when many rejoiced as its apparent stagnation, the Parti Que- becois has just demonstrated not only its vitalily but that it will play an irre- placeable part in Quebec political life Several months ago. PQ Leader Rene Lc- veque admitted frankly thit Uic party's finances were in a fairly rundown stale The fact that the Parti Quebecois was nhle to collect a sum from its members wliich surpassed the objective by two or Ihree times at least, is undeniable proof of the party's vitality Of all the parries Quebec has known since Confederation, the PQ is the only one lo have succeeded in financing itself through its members What is striking about the campaign Is not the total amount collected, but the wide variety of sources the money came from and Hie means used to collect it. The brochure "Who finances the Parti Qucbcc- contains some interesting points. The money collected comes from indivi- duals, not groups or institulions: of Ibe total SG32.1M, no donation surpassed S50 and the average was S25; most donations were in the form of monthly commit- ments. The parly also released comprehensive figures allowing interested persons to see how the money is being spent. It is necessary now to attack other as- pects of the problem..... In particular it is necessary to oblige even- parly to reveal its annual report, duly audited, to show its financial activities; to ob- bge every parly to reveal the names ol supporters who have donated more than a certain sum, for example SI.000; encour- age participation ol citizens in iinancing parties hy allowing deductions on income tax up lo, say, S100; and forbid any public institution lo make a political donauon. uness it is authorized hy shareholders at a meeting and mentioned in the annual re- port. Fcr a party to be in healthy condition, It must be able lo finance itself, prin- cipally through i'iS own members, and must nol be afraid lo reveal its expen- dilures. The Parti Quebecois passes ttese cri- teria. 11 suffices not only lo emphasize this but to demand as much from the other parties. On th e use of words Theodore Bernsle'm T IGHT on a bit of slang. It's not. exact- ly a hip expression, but douse t h e glim is still in fairly common use. So, if it's not a hip expression, how recent is it? Would you believe it was recorded in 17B5 in A Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, by Capt. Francis Grose? He de- fined it as meaning "put out the candle." He was defining it, of course, according lo his lights. But chanpod and now it applies to anything from a maich to a laser beam. gard the iinst one as Lhc subject and make the conform lo it. The rule is rea- sonable since in normal English construc- tion Ihe subject appears first and the pre- dicate second. Thus, both o[ the following sentences he proper: "A cily prob- lem is "Drugs arc a city prob- lem." WroiiR number. A New York City offi- cial quoltti as lollops: "Dnips is n cily problem, but it is also a Federal prob- lem." Apparently his mind was focused on problem, not on drugs. Drugs is a plural noun, ajid a plural subject should take a plural verb. The difficulty here is not nn uncommon one. When Ihe verb is a link- ing, or copulative verb (such as forms of to a question sometimes arises ns to whether the subject is the noun fore or the one jift. A good rule of thumb lo iv- oddities. A two- faced word with belli a semi-agreeable and a disagreeable meaning is cnnl. Tn semi-agree able sense il means the "in" language of a par- licular profession or trade or guage understood, for the most parl, only hy fellow workers in a specialized area. In iLs disagreeable sense cant refers to the secret jargon of such people as beggars, thieves, peddlers and (ramps, and to the hypocritical use of religious language. The word seems lo derive from the Old North French canl akin to the French chanl, meaning singing: it apparently was linked lo (ho singsong whining of beggars. office nfter he rend l.ho n.-ipoi1 I In- day there was a filler nhoul serv- ing us n Iwislor in the slow, "I honr you aren'l going home for he said. I didn'l Immediately cateh tJir implica- tion of Ihe remnrk according lo my family 1 am normally dense nmi won- dea'cd bow Joe knew 1 was planning lo (jo si McKillop lo llu1 me-iVs chib dinner I'mled Church lo Ihe church was a wise derision 1 was served n splendid meal. The ser- vers, all members of Elspclli's UCW unit, were very nice lo me, too. This proves thai wor.icn don't cixe.'.MrLly close aulomalii-aHy l.hf hand, maylw Ihey hadn't had lime lo read Uic paper.