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About The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current | View Entire Issue (Feb. 10, 1999)
■ An acting troupe uses
local talent to provide a
quick, accessible version
of the classic romantic
tragedy on Valentine’s
By Diane Broderick
Its name conjures up the story of
star-crossed lovers who would rather
die for love than live without it
And since William Shakespeare
first penned the tale of “Romeo and
Juliet” it has taken many forms, includ
ing innumerable stage and film ver
With support from the Lincoln
Community Foundation, local artists
will present their own version on
Valentine’s Day, when the Lied Center
for Performing Arts, the Lincoln
Community Playhouse and die Lincoln
Symphony combine to present an
adapted version of “Romeo and Juliet”
The collaboration, tided “Romantic
Rhapsody,” is unprecedented, said Rod
McCullough, the executive director of
the Playhouse. The three-pronged effort
involves artistic, administrative and
technical staffs from each of the organi
The synthesis doesn’t stop there,
said Jeth Mill, the executive director of
the symphony. It is also a collaboration
of art forms.
“I think we’re really kind of creating
a new form,” he said. “It kind of has
operatic proportions, but there’s no
The foundation of the production is
the original play “The Tragedy of
Romeo and Juliet,” adapted by Robin
McKercher, the Playhouse’s artistic
director. But its singularity lies in its
incorporation of dance and music.
“It’s a collage of works by a lot of
people whp have taken the theme of
‘Romeo and Juliet,”’ McKercher said.
“I wanted to create a world where it
all fits and seems in sync.”
McKercher shortened the play into
its most well-known moments, what he
calls “Romeo and Juliet’s Greatest
Hits” or “The Classic Illustrated
Version of ‘Romeo and Juliet’”
If it were read straight through, it
would probably be about 45 minutes
long, he said. But with all the extras, it
runs about two hours.
Please see ROMANTIC on 10
THE ACKNOWLEDGED intellectual of the two, Tad Lauritzen-Wright stands in
the foreground with his painting on the left. Although he generally works
alone and enjoys studying art and culture, he occasionally works with his
friend and co-artist George Sisson, standing behind him.
net similar results
By Jeff Randall
Senior staff writer
When looking at the works of Tad
Lauritzen-Wright and George Sisson
side by side, comparisons are
All of their pieces reach out to the
viewer - some intellectually,
although even more do so physically.
All of their pieces betray a naive,
even amateurish, tone. And most of
them are more engaging than the
average work by a local artist.
But in person, Lauritzen-Wright
and Sisson are decidedly different
artists. Lauritzen-Wright is a profes
sional and eternal scholar; Sisson
forces himself to find time for paint
ing and has yet to graduate from col
The two former art-school class
mates have an exhibition running
Typically, a person will look at something
hanging on the wall for 10 or 20 seconds.
I try to force them into staying longer. ...”
through the end of February in the
gallery at Aardvarx, 700 O St. The
exhibit features nearly 30 pieces, a
quarter of which are collaborative
works between the two artists.
“When we work together, it goes
well,” Lauritzen-Wright said. “We
bounce off each other, I guess you
An initial glance at the team’s
works would defy that description.
Several of the pieces are busy and
filled with contrasting and conflict
But upon stepping back and tak
ing it all in, one realizes this is the
case in many of the duo’s individual
“Typically, a person will look at
something hanging on the wall for 10
or 20 seconds,” Lauritzen-Wright
said. “I try to force them into staying
longer, keeping them as a prisoner of
One of the works in which
Lauritzen-Wright achieves this feat
is “Philosophy of Beauty,” a mixed
media word puzzle in which rows of
painted letters become words and
catchphrases such as
“ENCHANTRESS,” “MUD PACK”
and “CUTE AS A BUG.”
Lauritzen-Wright’s attempts to
change the typical art viewer’s habits
are a reflection of his approach to art.
While he is dedicated to creating, he
spends just as much time studying -
everything from Basquiat and Karol
Appel to Jack Kerouac and William
“I’m always reading, always
looking at what others are doing or
have done,” Lauritzcn-Wright said.
On the other side of the room,
Sisson talks about his own way of
“I don’t look around at what
other people do,” he said. “Studying
art really bugs me.”
But Sisson, who prefers to work
without any direct influences, will
admit to one obvious artistic ances
tor: Pablo Picasso.
“When I was a kid, he was the
Please see ARTISTS on 10
Payback’ delivers some action, little else
By Cliff Hicks
At the very least, Mel Gibson hasn’t
lost the bad-ass touch audiences haven’t
really seen since “Lethal Weapon,” but
it’s a shame it had to return with a film
such as this.
“Payback” isn’t by any means a bad
film, it’s just not a great one.
The film dates back a while, being
based on the novel “The Hunter,” which,
in turn, inspired the film “Point Blank.”
But that was 1967, and “Point
Blank” probably hasn’t been seen by
most of the people who’ll fill the the
aters for “Payback.” The chances of
them reading the novel is yet slimmer.
It starts out simply. A sadistic crimi
nal named Val (Gregg Henry) has a
problem - he s fallen out of grace from
the organization he works with called
The Outfit. He needs to buy his way
back in, so he enlists the aid of a hard
ened criminal named Porter (Gibson).
They rob an Asian gang and get away
clean, taking the briefcase back to their
meeting point. Val needs $120,000 to
buy his way back into The Outfit.
It’s not enough.
There’s only $130,000 in the case,
and Porter wants his share - $70,000,
which Val isn’t going to give to him. So
Porter is shot and left for dead, but like
all dogged rough guys, Porter survives.
Time passes, Porter recovers and slowly
prepares to come back.
The opening sequence of Porter
rebuilding himself from scratch is per
haps the best scene in the film, filled
with little sneaky tactics and dirty
Stare: Mel Gibson, Gregg Henry, Maria
Bello, David Paymer
Director: Brian Helgoland
Rating: R (violence)
Flve Words: “Payback" - mostly flash, little
means. This series of events is well
scripted and shot, keeping tight on the
important events, with the camera mov
ing along with Porter. Unfortunately, the
rest of the film can’t keep die same kind
of quick-cut energy, fading out a touch
as it progresses.
Perhaps the opening sequence is just
out-of-sync with the rest of the film. The
film is foil of bleak and washed-out col
ors, a sort of noir feel done in color.
There’s also a definite retro
approach taken, as everything is a
throwback to the late ’70s or early ’80s.
From the cars to the firearms, there’s
nothing from the ’90s here. And instead
of bright colors and pretty shots, we
focus on the city.
This is because, most notably,
“Payback” is an urban film. It could
practically be called “A Thug’s Life.” It’s
not about the big people in the city, not
at first anyway - it’s about the little folk
no one thinks about - the commoners
who are looked at as just another person
on the street
The script, while linear, is well-writ
' . :
ten, with a few sharp plot twists in the
right place. But whoever wrote some of
this dialogue needs to be deported not
only from Hollywood but from writing
Usually the occasional corny line
can be glossed over. But there are sim
ply so many corny lines in “Payback,”
they almost take over the movie.
This isn’t to say there’s not humor
laced throughout, but they shouldn’t
have tried so hard. Too much of what is
intended to evoke laughter just sum
As for hype about the film’s “over
the-top” violence, it’s just that - hype.
The violence is neither gratuitous nor
showy, merely what is called for.
All this aside, “Pay back” is still a
fairly solid actioner and good Sahirday
afternoon cheap-seats entertainment.
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