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Houston Breakthrough 1978-02
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Houston Breakthrough 1978-02 - Page 9. February 1978. Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries. University of Houston Digital Library. Web. April 18, 2014. http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/2254/show/2238.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

(February 1978). Houston Breakthrough 1978-02 - Page 9. Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters. Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries. Retrieved from http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/2254/show/2238

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

Houston Breakthrough 1978-02 - Page 9, February 1978, Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters, Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries, accessed April 18, 2014, http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/2254/show/2238.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

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Title Houston Breakthrough 1978-02
Publisher Breakthrough Publishing Co.
Date February 1978
Description Vol. 3 No. 1
Subject.Topical (LCSH)
  • Women--Texas--Periodicals
  • Feminism--United States--Periodicals
Subject.Geographic (TGN)
  • Houston, Texas
Genre (AAT)
  • periodicals
Language English
Physical Description 25 page periodical
Format (IMT)
  • image/jpeg
Original Item Location http://library.uh.edu/record=b2332724~S11
Digital Collection Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters
Digital Collection URL http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist
Repository Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries
Repository URL http://info.lib.uh.edu/about/campus-libraries-collections/special-collections
Use and Reproduction Educational use only, no other permissions given. Copyright to this resource is held by the content creator, author, artist or other entity, and is provided here for educational purposes only. It may not be reproduced or distributed in any format without written permission of the copyright owner. For more information please see the UH Digital Library Fair Use policy on the “About” page of this website.
File name index.cpd
Item Description
Title Page 9
Subject.Topical (LCSH)
  • Women--Texas--Periodicals
  • Feminism--United States--Periodicals
Repository Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries
Use and Reproduction Educational use only, no other permissions given. Copyright to this resource is held by the content creator, author, artist or other entity, and is provided here for educational purposes only. It may not be reproduced or distributed in any format without written permission of the copyright owner. For more information please see the UH Digital Library Fair Use policy on the “About” page of this website.
File name femin_201109_537i.jpg
Transcript onstage TheMound Builders By Beth Rigel Daugherty Neil Havens, director of The Rice Players, chose The Mound Builders because he was fascinated by its strong feminist theme and challenging structure. "I don't like a play in which everything is immediately apparent," says Havens. Certainly, The Mound Builders meets these qualifications. It is a play filled with both parallels and conflicts-a work that allows ample room for audience speculation. On a January evening, the actors arrive for rehearsal of The Mound Builders. No men tonight-the work will center a- round an important women's scene which Havens calls "The Nurturers." As they talk, then warm to each other and the mood of the play, the women unconsciously reflect one of the work's major conflicts—that between men and women. They talk about rape. Subtly, they move to another level of interaction in which they create a world of trust and support. They play what Havens calls warm-up games. In pairs, they lean on each other, imitate each other's body and facial expressions, share each other's weight, explore each other's faces. They rehearse, move from reality into the reflection of reality, and Juli Havens, Nancy Dingus, Margaret Elsea, and Vicki Bell become Kirsten Howe, Jean Loggins, Cynthia Howe, and Delia Eriksen. As they progress, they transfer the support and warmth exhibited during the games to the women sitting in the living room of an old farmhouse in Blue Shoals, Illinois... The title of the play may conjure up grade-school images of ancient Indian burial grounds. But in Lanford Wilson's play, the mound builders become both a metaphor and a vehicle for questions about the nature of civilization—men, women, and the relationships between them. While two archaeologists dig for clues to the lives of the mound builders, the four women around them search for meaning in their own lives. Thus, Wilson forces the audience to do some digging of its own. Tension between the men's and women's work is established early in Act 1. August Howe, an archaeology professor, and his assistant, Dan Loggins, arrive at the dig in Blue Shoals, Illinois. With them are their wives, Cynthia Howe and Dr. Jean Loggins. Both women have careers of their own. Cynthia is a photographer; Jean, a gynecologist. Cynthia uses her talent to take endless pictures of her daughter, Kirsten, and to document her husband's progress, while Jean, pregnant, falls behind in her own work as she types Dan's field notes. August mocks his wife's work, telling his secretary that "Mrs. Howe, with stunning evidence to the contrary, persists in believing she is Diane Arbus." His assistant, Dan, rewards his wife's decision to type for him with a pat on the head. Delia Eriksen, August's sister, has been sent to Blue Shoals to recover from a bout with alcohol. She does not want to be there, and August clearly shows the feeling is mutual. He tells Cynthia to "laugh at her, ignore her. Father did." Chad Jasker, whose father owns the land where the dig is located, has a grand commercial plan for the site. An interstate highway and a dam will turn the spot into a tourist attraction, complete with Holiday Inn, restaurants, marinas, and tennis courts. Poor and uneducated, he dreams of being rich. Chad's idea for the land obviously conflicts with the archaeologists' plans; he makes the conflict even more personal by chasing Jean and sleeping with Cynthia. Director Havens makes the bond between the women very clear in Act 1 by physically grouping them on the stage in "The Nurturers." Later, when the underlying tensions of Act 1 explode into the deception and violence of Act 2, he agains arranges them to form a unified background in stark contrast to the men's destructive conflicts. Havens seems committed to plays with strong female characters; last year, The Rice Players appeared in an excellent production of Chekov's The Three Sisters. He encourages actors to analyze their characters' motivations; he asks questions and makes suggestions as they rehearse, but when they want to talk about their interpretations, he listens. Usually, he combines their comments with his own interpretation in his direction. Kirsten (and Juli) Kirsten Howe, 11, is chiefly a silent presence on stage. MARTINA STAPLES tfttorneq 0< counselor at \a\t/ divorce, cniU custodq Qj< general pvact ice 609 fannin suite 524 kousW texas 77002 713/236-0225 The Mound Builders, presented by The Rice Players, will run February 13 through February 18. Performances are at 8 p.m., Hamman Hall, Rice University. For ticket information, call 527-4040. She observes and listens intently, preparing herself to be a woman. There is an implied pressure on Kirsten to give up her innocence-her father shares secrets with her that he does not share with his wife. Kirsten never articulates her own needs, and only in the presence of her aunt Delia does she become somewhat animated. Juli Havens, who plays Kirsten, strongly identifies with the character. "I also grew up in an adult world. I was always watching, observing." Juli, in contrast to Kirsten, is confident and talkative. A student at Lanier Jr. High School, she knows that she wants to study biochemistry for its practicality, but she won't give up acting, which she loves-'T can always act in community theatres." Joan (and Nancy) Jean Loggins, married for less than a year, impressed Chad Jasker as an independent woman who knew what she wanted. Yet, as the play opens, she suppresses her strength and plays her role in the marriage by the book —Dan's book. Nancy Dingus, a German major, understands Jean. When she was 18, Nancy went to Germany alone for a year. "I know what it's like to be completely on my own, and I don't want that kind of independence." Nancy also identifies with Jean's self-effacement—"I often do what is easiest to avoid conflict." In fact, the similarity between Jean and Nancy is so strong that Nancy insists, "I was typecast!" Rather than read her medical books and articles, Jean becomes a secretary for Dan; yet, she resents Cynthia's implication that she may give up her career after the baby is born-or go into pediatrics. Jean was a bright child, a champion speller-a freak, as she says. Delia's comment is, "We're all freaks-all us bright sisters." Not only bright, Jean is very much in touch with her emotions and the atmosphere around her. She feels close to the baby within her, and very early senses tht something is odd about this summer. Cynthia (and Margaret) Cynthia Howe realizes she has suppressed her own identity, and feels trapped within it, but she needs the protection marriage affords. She has invested a great deal of herself in August's work. It is a sacrifice difficult to discard, even though August refuses to admit how important her talent is to his own career. Her bitterness leads to her affair with Chad. Cynthia likes her daughter and doesn't patronize her, but seems unaware that Kirsten might need more guidance. She has subordinated career to family and suggests that Jean will do the same. Her early hint that women will always serve men is reflected in Margaret's memory of automatically making her brothers' beds. Margaret Elsea sympathizes with the character of Cynthia. "I remember I always defined myself through men. All my friends were boys, and I thought girls were dumb." Just as Cynthia gains strength from her relationships with the women at Blue Shoals, Margaret has discovered at Rice that she can talk to and be friends with women. Delia (and Vicki) Delia Eriksen, a physical and spiritual wreck at the beginning of the play, gains strength and courage as it progresses. Although at one time more dependent on male approval than Director: Neil Havens. Assistant director: Sheila Louis. Lighting: Scott McDonald and Peter Redding. Publicity and costumes: Barbara Ford. Set: Randy Guzzardo. either Jean or Cynthia, she comes to realize that she drank to cope with her fear of rejection: "I have been humiliating myself because people expected it of me." In the end, she is strong enough to thank August for telling her their father laughed at her writing. "Dad's opinion was always too important to me." Often abrasive, Delia can also be sensitive, even prophetic. She knows more about the relationships at Blue Shoals than anyone else; the others are often unaware she is sitting in the dark, watching. Although she is not infallible, Delia's powers of observation and vision make her comments about men, women, art, and life carry a great deal of authority in the play. Vicki Bell feels close to the role of Delia. "For me, security would be knowing I don't have to depend on anyone for anything." She describes herself as a loner who does not allow men to be overly important in her life. Vicki finds it is easy to live by an independent creed, particularly at Rice. "I think women are perceived as equals here. At Rice, it's a joke to say a woman can't do or be something." Neil Havens and the actors agree— one of Lanford Wilson's main points is that women see and think differently from men. Some women may be uncomfortable with this dichotomy; the "rational/intuitive" argument has been used often enough in the past. However, this and other oppositions in the play are not rigid ones, and Wilson generally presents women's intuition, introspection, and endurance as positive, rather than negative, traits. In contrast, his portrayal of the men in The Mound Builders is often a harsh one. Although these characters can be lovable, helpful, or friendly, they turn from problems they don't want to face, and are unaware of the women's needs. August, Dan, and Chad each seek different goals-but each, in his own way, tends to separate and organize, label and compartmentalize, divide and conquer. August, played by John McConnell, talks only about his work, a search for data with a trowel. He either bores people or sarcastically derides them. Kirsten is his "alleged daughter"; Cynthia is an "ex- relation by marriage" and a "horse," and Delia is dying "again." Dan (Steve Ortego) is the partner with a dream, but his vision of harmony with nature is strictly a male vision—subservient women make that harmony possible. He wants Jean to play the admiring squaw to his Cochise. Chad, played by Roger Heymann, finds it hard to comprehend the value of archaeological discoveries-to him, they are abstracts that cannot be translated into cash. Materialistic, sensual, and literally capable of anything, Many conflicts and parallels exist in The Mound Builders, making it a rich study of life, and of the people who live it. Wilson has written a play which demands audience concentration, but the intensity of his lines will both reward and stimulate the playgoer. Some may feel ambivalent about the ending; this is what Wilson intends. The Mound Builders, Neil Havens explains, "does not provide answers; it deliberately leaves the audience with questions." Page 8 February 1978 HOUSTON BREAKTHROUGH