Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Lanford Wilson's The Mound Builders |
Broadway Theatre Archive
Actors: Tanya Berezin, Brad Dourif, Trish Hawkins
Directors: Ken Campbell, Marshall W. Mason
Genres: Drama, Television, Musicals & Performing Arts, Mystery & Suspense
This signature production by New York's Circle Repertory Company is a story about civilization. Imbued with edgy vitality and raw social surfaces, Lanford Wilson's 1975 Obie Award-winning play dramatizes a confrontation of... more »
Age-old conflict of historic preservation vs "progress."
Mary Whipple | New England | 06/20/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Filmed for public television on location near the (real) Coster dig in southern Illinois, this 1976 production of Lanford Wilson's Obie Award-winning play details the excavation of Jasker Field by archaeologists as they try to solve some of the mysteries of Native American temple mounds from 700 - 1000 A. D. This is frantic work, since a nearby lake is rising and a planned interstate, under construction, is scheduled to bury the site. Wilson creates a cauldron of emotions by housing all the principals in a farmhouse belonging to Mr. Jasker, whose son Chad enthusiastically awaits the expansion of the lake, which will give him valuable "waterfront property," and the building of the interstate, which will bring some excitement and change into his life.
As traces of civilization are uncovered at the dig, followed soon after by the discovery of artifacts and bones, the tension inside the house grows. Each of the main characters has problems--a previous emotional breakdown, a pregnancy, the unwanted attentions of Chad Jasker, a divorce and loss of personal direction, alcoholism, irresponsibility, and professional stress--and the viewer cannot help but make comparisons between the seemingly structured lives of the mound builders and the chaos in the lives of their "civilized" investigators. The "resolution" to the drama proves to be far more "uncivilized" than anything the early civilization might have contemplated.
Directed by Marshall Mason and Ken Campbell, the cast consists of relatively unknown actors. Trish Hawkins, as the gynecologist-wife of one of the lead archaeologists, acts naïve and without direction, and it is impossible to imagine her as a competent physician. Brad Jourif, as Chad Jasker, is suitably menacing but lacks the vulnerability and intellectual curiosity that the author has given him. Project director August Howe, played by Rob Thirkield, lacks the affect one would expect as he shows slides of the dig, which took place the previous year. Despite the angst and the confessions, these characters behave stereotypically, and the acting lacks the subtlety that would have made the themes and the resolution truly moving. Only Tanya Berezin, as alcoholic writer D. K. Erikson, the sister of August Howe, plays her role with a sense of cynical realism, becoming the linchpin of much of the action.
The videography is outstanding with many dramatically filmed scenes (Red Berridge), often framed by architecture, with interesting lighting and composition. The play itself deals with important ideas, preservation vs. progress, which are still at issue thirty years later. Though the acting may not be world class, this on-site production has a sense of immediacy often lacking in theatrical productions. Mary Whipple
Very educational, but not boring!
Julia Acevedo | San Jose, CA USA | 03/09/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The eastern half of the United States is dotted with thousands of ancient earthworks, most of them flat-topped pyramids, but some zoomorphic in design. These earth mounds were built by the Adena, Hopewell, and Mississippian Cultures that had all nearly vanished by the 1500's. This History Channel production gives the viewer a basic understanding of these mounds and the people who built them, as well as why they were built. It was interesting to hear the "theories" of early Anglo scientists as to the origins of these mounds! Because of racism, it was believed that anyone BUT Native Americans had built the mounds, from the lost tribes of Israel to Egyptians and Mayans to lost Welshmen (? )! This documentary moves at a pretty good pace and isn't dull, and covers a few of the major mound sites in the country, such as the Cahokia site in Illinois and several sites in Alabama and Georgia. If there are mounds in your area, watch this video and then go see the actual earthworks yourself. I guarantee you will be impressed!"