Flashbacks: June 2, 2006

By EDITORIAL  |  May 31, 2006

Liberal helping | 30 years ago | June 1, 1976 | Carolyn Clay interviewed lefty theater director Maxine Klein.
“After much characteristically intense deliberation over coffee she shouldn’t be allowed to drink, Maxine Klein decided to  label the kind of cracking theater she directs like a ringmaster-saint ‘ethical spectacle.’ One might be tempted to call Klein’s taut, collectively devised musical manifestos — the most recent a goosed-up version of David Hare’s Fanshen, adapted from William Hinton’s book about the communization of a Chinese village — ‘political theater’ like Brecht’s or Julian Beck’s or John Wayne’s, but Klein insists that all theater is ‘political’ — even Neil Simon’s.

“ ‘Theater,’ maintains the 40ish acting teacher and director who’s been making waves in Boston ever since she came to BU in 1969, ‘presents images that markedly, horribly, indelibly influence our conceptions of reality. So that when you see that a blonde 22-year-old woman is lovely and a woman over 40 is neurotic and not possibly capable of being desirable, as in Gingerbread Lady, and you see a Puerto Rican portrayed as a grocery boy who must certainly have a screw loose because he made a pass at this 40-year-old woman, that influences your feelings about 40-year-old women and Puerto Ricans. I will never portray a black, for instance, as placing high in crime and sex and music categories but barely placing in intellectual categories. When you see the long-living or the insane as objects of ridicule, when you see homosexuals as being flighty and only concerned about clothes, when you see a woman hell-bent on getting a man and frustrated as hell if she isn’t getting any, that’s political. But what political theater of the left can do is to show that collective experiences can be as satisfying as individualistic ones. Questions like ‘Do we eat?’ and ‘Do we free Bolivia?’ are as valid as ‘Do I love my mother and gouge out my eyes because Daddy wouldn’t let me fuck her?’ ”

Pay day | 35 years ago | June 1, 1971 | Deac Rossell saw Charlie Chaplin honored at Cannes.
“There was a super-gala opening for the Cannes International Film Festival this year, as an unparalleled collection of great names and great namedroppers in film gathered for the 25th opening. The French Minister of Culture, M. Jacques Duhamel, was present, as were a dozen great directors honored by the Festival: Luis Bunuel, Federico Fellini, William Wyler, Rene Clement, Michaelangelo Antonioni, Lindsay Anderson, Votjech Jasny, Masaki Kobayshi and Robert Bresson (Orson Welles, also honored, was not present).

“But hardly anyone noticed the star-studded gathering, for one man dominated the entire gala: a stout, smiling, white-haired figure walking slowly across the stage to receive the chevallier of the Legion of Honor from M. Duhamel. It was the greatest living entertainer in the world: Charlie Chaplin, pried by some miracle out of his seclusion to attend his first film festival. Chaplin listened gravely to the Minister’s long laudatory address, evincing surprise when M. Duhamel quoted some of the great comedian’s own past statements. Chaplin seemed at the verge of breaking up when he politely asked the Minister if he could borrow his walking stick, and in a flash the old grey figure was transformed into the slapstick idol who entertained millions as he twirled the cane and shuffled off the platform, the audience on its feet cheering madly.”

Where are they now?
Mark Bazer writes a syndicated weekly column for Tribune Media Services. Matt Ashare is music editor of the Boston Phoenix. M. Howell operates an advertising and marketing company in Newton Highlands. Anita Diamant is the author of The Last Days of Dogtown and The Red Tent. Carolyn Clay is theatre editor for the Boston Phoenix.

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