Image provided by: University of Oregon Libraries; Eugene, OR
About Just out. (Portland, OR) 1983-2013 | View Entire Issue (Feb. 3, 1984)
5 E N T E R T A IN M E N T
about no time in particular. It is many periods.
A tlantis opens on February 10 at the newly
refurbished Echo Theatre at SE Hawthorne
and 37th. Atlantis will be a double premiere,
the first production of the play and the first
production in the new theatre space. The
by Jay Brown
“A tlantis?' she says, laughing. “Why, I’ve
been working on it all my life. I’ve only been
writing it for a year and a half, though. And I
am writing the music, too.”
Melinda Pittman has written the story of
Atlantis as the saga of twin daughters. The
twins are Songrile, an oracle and Eschan, a
mute. “The twins search for a way to live, a
way of being a part of the world. They have a
magical language, a twin secret com m uni
The play, Melinda says, is a metaphor for
the conflict between authority and freedom.
“ The Atlantis legend is inherent in our
culture. Everyone is acquainted with the
legend. So, in a subconscious sense, the
Atlantis legend is an ideal setting for a realistic
story of love and power.
The costumes for Pittman’s treatment are
designs by Arthur deBow. The play is set
about 10,000 years ago, but Pittman says it is
by Ja n e Howard
It's not exactly the burning question that
everyone is asking: “Hey, have you seen
51 Ik w ood?"
Not exactly, because it’s not like we once
asked, almost demanded (under our
breaths), “Have you seen it? Personal Best?
or “Have you seen The Killing of Sister
G eorge?' We were dying to see ourselves in
This tim e it is different. T h is tim e w e a r e n ’t
Nyla McCarthy an d Barbara Bosakowski
as the m ute an d visionary twins in Atlantis
photo by Rick Adams
theatre-bound, driven by the old cult fervor,
delighted that there is a movie about us (how
ever vapid or inaccurate), marching off in
party spirit to see ourselves humiliated on the
silver screen. We re not doing that for Silk-
wood, even though a main character is a
That is because Silkwood is a different
kind of movie, miles from those “real-life les
bian" flicks that have come and (fortunately)
gone, far from those statements that seemed
to somehow vilify and glamorize us, all in the
same breathless breath. This movie is light
years from those curious peeks at our lives
which always seemed to come across as
more of an insulting invasion than a valida
tion, no matter how gently it was done.
And there is one very good reason that
Silkw ood is different in the way it comments
on our lifestyle.
W here those old cult films made a specta
cle of us, cut us from the mainstream as if we
had no right to be there, and made us so
bizarre that we hardly recognized ourselves,
Silkw ood plops us down right in the middle
of blue-collar-CISA, right where we belong.
Right were we really are (along with all the
other places that we really are, which is every
where). No lesbian hype. Just the real stuff:
paychecks, kids, plutonium, station wagons,
small cafes, friends, troubles, goofy lovers...
But let’s set all that aside for the moment,
because there are plenty of reasons to see
First there is Meryl Streep (which is enough
for m e). She made Karen Silkwood real, like
any one of us, someone you might know . . .
for a while.
Then there is the important point of the
movie itself. This movie is about the fear that
all enlightened women harbor in our hearts:
fear of knowing too much about the Good
O ld Boys’ Network, fear of being the victim
(again) of their paranoia, fear of getting in the
way of their money. We need to know those
things. But we don’t want to. Not really. So we
m ust Silkw ood shows us again how easily it
can happen, lest we fail to remember, even
for one careless, deadly m om ent
But there is that other reason for people in
general and lesbians in particular to see Silk
wood, and that reason is Cher. She plays a
lesbian, Karen Silkwood’s friend Dolly.
Dolly’s girlfriend is a little odd (whose isn’t?),
but Dolly is solid. And it doesn’t matter
whether or not she stayed true to the story of
Dolly, or even if there was a Dolly in Karen
Silkwood’s real life. W hat matters is that Cher
played it right without the drooling psycho
pathology of Sister George or the giggling
idiocy and insipid, insulting banalities of
Personal Best, or even the depressive isola
tion of Lianna (the best "real life" peek yet
but s till...) .
So why did Cher’s Silkwood role work
when the other films fell so flat?
Well, as ironical as it is, Cher’s role works
because Silkw ood isn t about lesbians. Silk
Echo Theatre was originally, way back when,
a silent movie theatre. It closed in 1926.
Robin Lane, the artistic director of
Do Jum p! Dance Theatre, now permanently
at hom e at the Echo Theatre, is the choreo
grapher of Atlantis. Lane is well known for
her work with Storefront Theatre.
The cast of Atlantis includes Nyla
McCarthy and Barbara Bosakowski as the
twins, Colleen Conroy as the Bulldancer, Jim
Caputo as Mydarc, the prince of Atlantis. Vic
toria Parker, the New Rose Theatre’s Hedda
Gabler last fall, is playing Basileah, the queen
of Atlantis; Clifford Smith, a popular Portland
musician, is playing Daethros, the king of
Atlantis. The parents of the twins are played
by Dalana Lynand Stan Foote. The Voices of
Atlantis; Sally Irwin, Brian Haliski, Deborah
Beere and Shannon Chaffin, with Kate
Ketcham, musical arranger and flautist
Atlantis premieres February 10 and plays
for five weekends only, Friday-Sunday at 8
pm, through March 11. The Echo Theatre,
1515 SE 37th and Hawthorne, 231-1212.
w ood is about people and real life. Whole life.
The panoramic view, cross-section, heart
land America. So in its real-lifeness, in Silk-
w ood's terrifying believabilty, there is this les
bian who is so unobtrusive and matter-of-fact
that it would be easy to overlook the state
m ent she makes.
But we mustn’t overlook her statem ent By
simply fitting in so easily, one character in a
vignette of believable real life, Cher says
something critical about us. She says how
real, how normal, how everyday, we are.
And we mustn’t overlook th at Cher in Silk
w ood was special. Not bizarre, but special.
She did not reflect a character that was
She reflected a sub-culture that 1 could feel
W e’ve been screaming bloody murder for
decades about the way that cinema exploits
women, exploits our sexuality, and when gi
ven the chance, exploits lesbians. Based on
Silkw ood, we might be lulled into believing,
hoping that the film industry is finally begin
ning to work out their stuff about lesbians.
Maybe Silkw ood is evidence of th at
I hope so, but I think not 1 think that Silk
w ood is special and unique. I doubt that
we’ve escaped yet that we’ve been exploited
and vilified for the last time.
But Cher does provide evidence of one
thing. She shows us what we must keep de
manding and expecting of those cinema-
graphic visions as they are splashed on the
screen. If moviemakers are going to talk
about us and pretend to know something
about us, then we must demand that they tell
the truth, that they do it like Cher did it in
Silkwood. They must say that we are human,
that we have sensitivities, loyalties, intelli
gence, that we are no more bizarre than the
rest of this bizarre world, and less bizare than
a whole lot of it That we are just one role in
the slice of human life. Because we are.
I went to see Silkwood because I admired
the courage of one woman against The
I cam e away respecting the movie for that
Just Out February 3-February 17