The Collegian : the weekly newspaper of Behrend College. (Erie, PA) 1989-1993, December 07, 1989, Image 11

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    The Collegian_ Thursday, December 7, 1989
Student play about
homosexuality marred
by arson
(CPS) - Opening night Of 'a
Southwest Missouri State
University production of a play
about homose,Ttials and AIDS
was marred by an arson fire that
destroyed the home of a vocal
student supporter of the drama.
Brad Evans, president of
People Acting with Compassion
and Tolerance, was attending a
candlelight vigil outside the
campus theater Nov. 15 shortly
before the, debut of "_The Normal
Heart" when the fire was reported.
Two cats died.
Someone had forced open the
back door of.EvanS" single-story
house and spread ,flammable
liquid on the floors of two
rooms, investigators said.
They believe, the fire was
related to Evan's involvement in
supporting the campus staging of
"The Normal Heart," a play that
chronicles the deadly spread of
AIDS (acquired immune
deficiency syndrome) through the
gay community.
When "The Normal Heart"
opened_ in New York in .1985,
some gay leaders worried the
play, in krtraying sick
homosexuals, would make them
1645 k 'bad - - and "enibbtheni
heterosexuals to scuttle gays'
hani-won rights.
They accused playwright Larry
Kramer, himself a gay activist, of
betraying their cause.
When a campus theater group
announced it would stage the
work at Southwest Missouri in
Springfield in mid-November,
however, local heterosexuals
charged the play glorified
During four weeks of
controversy and threats by play
opponents,. who included state
Rep. Jean Dixon and a group
called Citizens Demanding
Standards, called on SMSI3
President Marshall Gordon to halt
the production.
Gordon refused, saying the
play would•help make audience
members more aware of AIDS
and how it is spread.
Heated rallies - .and
demonstrations for aid against
the production were "held
throughout the week before the
ntav:c Nov 15 riethut
.Citizens Demanding Standards.
leader Paul Sunimers called the
play "obscene," a bad -use of
taxpayers'• money and contrary to
the moral standards of the
Springfield community, which is
a center of evangelical Christian
groups and activities: -
Summers drew- about 1,200
people to a public rally to sing
gospel songs and listen to fiery
speeches denouncing the
- Summers' group first tried to
get the production . canceled.
When that didn't work, it lobbied
for a "whole - sonic" AIDS play.
Finally, - three days before the
play's debut, the group appointed
itself watchdog, promising to try
to uphold community morals
when future questions arise.
"I've never, never seen
anything like this," said Bob
Bradley, head of SMSU's theater
departinent, of the controversy.
The day before opening night,
actress Tess Harper, a SMSU
grad who starred in the drama,
joined faculty members to blast
opponents of the play. She
accused them of lying and using
smear tactics like those the late
Sen. Joseph McCarthy used
against his opponents in the early
Campus health officials report
the play - or at least the
controversy around it - made
more SMSU students aware of
AIDS. The health center had
more requests for AIDS
information during the four
weeks of debate about the play
than it had during the preceding
12 months.
Musical alternatives
in time for Christmas
byßote Farnham
Collegian Staff Writer
Sure, this was the year of
New Kids on the Block and
Martika. Nonetheless, a number
of good tunes showed up here and
there in 1989. Several of what I
feel were the most worthwhile, if
not well-known, recordings of the
year are described below.
Music fans (or those
Christmas shopping for them)
who've had. all they can take of
"classic rock" and tenuously
musical, but very well marketed,
teenage acts (would it be possible
for those New Kids to be any less
talented?) can- look to these
albums for alternatives.
"Disintegration" - The Cure.
Group founder and creative force
Robert Smith says that this may
well be the Cure's last' album. If
that's the case, they're certainly
going out in a big way.
"Disintegration," an imposing
and sometimes overwhelming
album, runs to over 72 minutes,
and with its associated bonus
tracks and remixes (on three CD
maxi-singles) exceeds two hours
playing time.
A relentlessly downbeat suite
of songs of loss and isolation
makes, up the,bulk.of the .release,
as the band reprises major themes
with melancholy orchestral
structures made up of resonant
synth chords and decaying,
heavily signal-processed guitars.
Smith sings with conviction the
lyrics of such somber, brooding
compositions as "Pictures of
You" and the menacing "Prayers
for Rain." •
While the Cure may in fact be
headed for disintegration, fans can
at least be assured that this
substantial work will survive the
band's demise.
"Me*" rork" - Lou Reed.
More than 20 years after laying
the foundations of postmodern
music with his first band, the
Velvet Underground, Reed
reaffirms his status as one of
rock's great songwriters with this
14-song, 57-minute broadside.
Employing a basic two-guitar/'_
bass/drums lineup, and making
t h e most of his limited vocal
range; Reed- drives home his
accounts of the downside of big
city life with simple, punchy
riffs and pungent, angry lyrics.
"Dirty Boulevard" and "Romeo
Had Juliette" are stark, plaintive
looks at underclass despair and
Loaded with vivid images of
crushing poverty, street violence,
and the stark inequities between
rich and poor in our largest city,
"New York," though it :
occasionally falters .on - a
throwaway track ("Sick of You");
is Reed's most powerful set of
urban portraits in years.
"Oranges and Lemons" -
XTC. This English trio made
their first big noise on the charts
this year. with ..."Mayor. of
Simpleton," Andrew Partridge's
sweetly self-deprecating account
of a none -too-bright romantic,
end followed it up with Colin
Moulding's quietly political
"King for a Day."
The album largely rises to the
standard set by the fine singles.
"Oranges and Lemons" abounds
in smart, eccentric musicianship
and serves to demonstrate XTC's
considerable stylistic range. They
move freely from an acoustic
shuffle to theelectric techno-rock
found in "Across This Antheap."
At the same time, the lyrics
cover ground from the childlike
delight of "Mayor" and Partridge's
quirky tale of paternal pride,
"Pink Thing," to the cutting, acid
social commentary found in ,
"Scarecrow People."
On "Oranges and Lemons,"
XTC successfully juggles naive,
sentiment and worldly cynicism.
The resulting album, while it
reaches no real conclusions, is_'
certainl' y rewarding listening.