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Chabrol didn't deviate from a four-square, realistic mode. The play opened in total darkness with the sound of waves pounding the shore. The set, a grey stone, subterranean dungeon, failed completely to create the claustrophobic atmosphere Strindberg's regressive dyad moves in as their element. The actors took an elegant, comedy of manners approach. When Alice, who looked like a denizen of Toulouse-Lautrec's demimonde -alerted Kurt to the fact that she needed to slip into something more comfortable, she languidly unbuttoned her bodice. When he kissed her open bosom, she squealed like a sow, then burst into giggles. Only Michel Bouqet as Edgar was not deceived by the realistic surfaces of the play. Only he caught the restless spiritual fever that drives Strindberg's lost souls. And the violence. His "Entry of the Boyars" was one of the few scenes that caught fire theatrically. Storming back and forth in a frenzy of impotent rage, one actually expected him to lop off Kurt's head with his saber and then go to work on the audience. "We live, we die, we become fertilizer . . ." By shrugging his shoulders and waving his hand as if to shoo away a nagging fly, Bouqet also pierced beyond the bravado to Edgar's despair. A master actor in a master role, but acting in a vacuum. No production of a great play is ever completely a waste. Chabrol did catch some of the light-hearted good humor of the play-a quality sadly lacking in Anglo-Saxon productions that tackle Strindberg as boxer versus slugger. But high spirits are as much a part of Dance of Death as anger and agression , and in the anniversary scene-with only a candelabra flickering across the stage-one sensed some of the excitement expected from Chabrol all along. "Literature," Strindberg complained "makes me sick. It's a disgusting occupation , stripping yourself and your acquaintances naked." Unfortunately, Chabrol didn't strip Strindberg far enough. FertilityDance Kaibola Village Trobriand Island (Papua New Guinea) Bettina L. Knapp On the Trobriand Islands of Papua New Guinea dances are often associated with yam cults. Perhaps because yams are the staple food in the Trobriands, they have taken on a kind of sacredness. Great care is therefore taken in preparing them. After they have been uprooted from the 61 garden grounds, cleaned and dried, they are exhibited and contemplated with veneration. Then they are carried into the village with the same respect and awe accorded saints' effigies and religious relics in the West. The yams, their number depending upon the tribe's wealth, are neatly stacked in specially built open yam houses located in the center or inner ring of the village, where they are protected by a circle of people's houses. Around the thatched-roof habitations, which are elevated from the ground, is a ring of trees and vegetation which further guarantees the safety of the community's sacred food. Performed at Kaibola village, the fertility dance is an important ritual in Trobriand culture, a ritual celebration of the earth's yam yield, and of the procreative powers of women. Trobriand women are granted great sexual license: from the time they reach puberty to the day they marry, unmarried girls are not only allowed, but encouraged to have as many relationships as possible. Once married, however, they are expected to remain faithful to their husbands-for ten months of the year. Only during the yam festival period, in July and August, does society again sanction sexual freedom for them. The fertility dance, with its explicit gestures and tug-of-war, is performed exclusively by women, usually during the annual feast period, known as the milamela, when yams are plentiful. The milamela, which Bronislaw Malinowski called a "social and magico-religious phenomenon," ushers in a period of dancing that may last from one moon to the next, the dancing accompanied by increased sexual activity. Bare-breasted young girls and married women alike wear grass skirts, some decorated with leaves, herbs, and cowrie shells. On their faces and bodies various intriguing designs are painted, most frequently circular motifs symbolizing cycles of nature. Like the Trobriand men, women have their secret societies...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1537-9477
Print ISSN
1520-281X
Pages
pp. 61-64
Launched on MUSE
2018-01-03
Open Access
No
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