Sunday, February 15, 2015

February 2015: HSU Film Showcase

HSU filmmakers get their first audience while the public has its first opportunity ever to see new student films at the HSU Film Showcase, a free event on February 20 in the Van Duzer Theatre.

 “This is our first celebration of all four film production courses since our film major launch in fall 2013,” said filmmaker and film professor David Scheerer. “We’re especially excited for this big-screen premiere of films produced in our Senior Capstone course, taught for the first time last spring. These are festival quality films by creative and hard-working emerging filmmakers.” 

 “Each film is the result of countless hours invested by HSU Film students collaborating with their crews, staff and faculty both in and out of the classroom to express their unique vision and aesthetic.” 

 Andrew Baird’s Deep Sleep and Jassen Lloyd’s Cafe Americain are products of the new Senior Capstone course. Wil Guilfoyle’s  Connection and Jim Simmons’ Old Dudes were created in Film Directing.

 Advanced Production is represented by Turner Bazen’s Moldy Love, Channing Salazar’s The Carpet Sweeper, and Forge by Savannah Carpenter, Zane Critch and Andrew Baird. 

 Melissa Zeigler and Aaron Silviera made Superbad in Intermediate Production, while short films by Alex Orozco, Wil Guilfoyle, Nick Handcock and Tobias Worrall represent the Beginning Production class.

 “To put his or her work on public display for the first time is the ‘moment of truth’ for every artist,” Scheerer said. “Every filmmaker will be watching their own work for the first time at the Showcase, because they’ll be experiencing it through the eyes of its first audience.” 

 The HSU Film Showcase presents student films of 2014 on Friday February 20 at 7 p.m. in the Van Duzer Theatre. Admission and parking are free. No ticket necessary.  Produced by HSU Department of Theatre, Film & Dance. 

Media: HSU Now, Mad River Union

Film Showcase: The Program

FILM 315 - FILM I / Beginning Production (16mm + HD)

 Alex Orozco: Prometheus Unbound – 2:50
Wil Guilfoyle: Allegory – 1:37
 Nick Handcock: Forever – 1:53
Tobias Worrall: The Bookshop – 3:56

 FILM 372 – FILM II / Intermediate Production (16mm + HD)

 Melissa Zeigler & Aaron Silviera: Superbad -4:30

 FILM 415 – FILM III / Advanced Production (16mm + HD)

 Turner Bazen: Moldy Love - 9:40
Channing Salazar: The Carpet Sweeper – 8:00
 Savannah Carpenter, Zane Critch & Andrew Baird: Forge - 7:20

 FILM 425 / Film Directing (HD only) 

Wil Guilfoyle: Connection – 10:07
 Jim Simmons: Old Dudes – 10:06

 FILM 475 - FILM IV / Senior Capstone (16mm + Pro HD)

Andrew Baird: Deep Sleep – 11:42
Jassen Lloyd: Café Americain – 10:28

Saturday, February 14, 2015

February 2015: LOS PAJAROS (The Birds)

Two “free-range homeboys” create a utopia for our time—and it’s for the birds.

HSU Theatre performs LOS PAJAROS (The Birds), a contemporary musical satire adapted by the Chicano American performance troupe Culture Clash and directed by Dell’Arte’s Michael Fields, for two weekends: Thursdays through Saturdays, February 5-7 and 12-14 at 7:30 p.m., with a 2 p.m. matinee on Saturday February 14 in the Van Duzer Theatre. Tickets are $10 general/$8 students and seniors, with a limited number of free tickets for HSU students at each performance, from the HSU Ticket Office (826-3928) or at the door. Produced by HSU Department of Theatre, Film & Dance.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Foxx (played by Geo Alva) and Gato (Ivan Gamboa) are “a couple of sorry-ass immigrants” who want a better life. They’re searching for a bird who was once a man, to ask him if he’s seen a perfect place for them from the sky.
But when they find him Foxx gets a better idea, and he convinces the bird/man Hoopoe (Jesse Chavez) to call a council of the birds to listen to his proposal.
Foxx’s plan is simple: for the birds to build their own utopian city in the air, between the gods above and humans below. By controlling the borders, they can become masters of the universe--with Foxx as their increasingly imperious leader.
The scheme is blessed by Hoopoe’s wife Prokne (Ambar Cuevas), who was transformed by the gods into a night club nightingale.
They seem to succeed and everybody’s happy, until a series of farcical and familiar visitors (like President Nixon, a real estate agent, John Lennon, various political activists, the IRS and Mother Teresa) complicate the dream. They set out to be free as birds, but end up mired in old problems and their own weaknesses.
Adapted by Culture Clash from one of the western world’s first great comedies, The Birds by Greek playwright Aristophanes, this brand new production features a professional six-piece band headed by Tim Randles, backing the cast in the blues, salsa, gospel and rock and roll composed by Michael Roth. This HSU production is the first anywhere not performed by Culture Clash. 

 Sometimes outrageous, this contemporary retelling from a Latino perspective (further updated for today’s audiences) uses satire and slapstick, music and dance, to locate laughter and tragedy in our continuing struggle to reinvent the American Dream.

Los Pajaros: Our Cast

Foxx: Geo Alva
Gato: Ivan Gamboa
Hoopoe: Jesse Chavez
Prokne: Ambar Cuevas

Various Characters and Ensemble:
Ina Loaiza
Christopher Moreno
 Camille Borrowdale
 Gino Bloomberg
 Veronica Brooks
 Elio Robles
Mark Teeter
Madison McCormack

Latin Peppers (the band)
Andrew Barnett, Jimmy Durchsiag, Jon Lewis, Orlando Morales, Lee Philips, Tim Randles.

Los Pajaros: Our Production

Director: Michael Fields
Music Director and Sound Design: Tim Randles
Scenic/Projection Design: Heidi Voelker
Costume Design: Marissa Menezes
Properties Design: Marisa Day
Technical Director: Jared Sorenson
Stage Manager: Ellen Martin
Asst. Stage Manager: Elena Kay
Production Manager: Derek Lane
Scenographer/ Lighting Design: Jim McHugh
Asst. Lighting Design: Ian McBride
Asst. Costume Design: Isabella Ceja
Wig Design/Construction: Samantha Silva
Costume Shop Manager: Catherine Brown
Prop Shop Manager: Emma Lubin
Scene Shop Supervisor: Jayson Mohatt
Administrative Support: Lorraine Dillon, Debra Ryerson
Photography: Kellie Brown
Publicity/blog copy & design: Bill Kowinski

Los Pajaros: Our Director

The Culture Clash script of its adaptation of The Birds by Aristophanes includes a prefatory quotation by the art critic Robert Hughes that begins: “Americans are suckers for utopian promises.” Hughes observes that each new generation “will have some other fantasy to chase, its approaches equally lined with entrepreneurs and flacks, who will be its main beneficiaries.”

Michael Fields is producing artistic director of the Dell’Arte Company and director of the California Summer School of the Arts as well as director of this HSU production. He referred to the Hughes quotation in explaining that it is a “very pointed adaptation. It’s about two guys who are legitimately searching for a better life, but they end up re-creating the same kind of world they set out to escape.”

 Culture Clash updated the ancient Greek play in 1998 and gave it a contemporary urban Latino perspective. Fields took this process a step further by changing the play’s title, from English (The Birds) to Spanish (Los Pajaros.)

 “Language is culture,” Fields said. “We want to be true to the perspective of the main characters. I talked with members of Culture Clash and they’re fine with the title change. They also gave us permission to change whatever we needed to change to make it contemporary.”

 Fields had the collaboration of his largely bilingual cast to decide what to change in the script, especially for a 2015 audience. “It’s like commedia that way,” he said. “You have to keep it on the edge of what’s current, which is what Aristophanes did for his time.”

 “For example, there’s a line—‘older than Dick Clark.’ Dick Clark is dead now so we needed somebody else. The cast suggested Betty White.”

 Fields also discovered references that didn’t need to be changed. “I was thinking of substituting somebody else for President Nixon, but they said he’s a character on Cartoon Network, so everybody still knows about him.”

But the basic story remains, from ancient Greece to now. “It’s the vacuous quest for utopia,” Fields said. “The idea that if only we had this or that, then everything would be perfect.”

 In this version there’s an unhappy ending. “It’s pretty brutal,” Fields said.

 But that isn’t the only element that may shock people. “Structurally this is a farce, but it has a lot of flat-out satire, which Culture Clash designed to be very topical and intentionally provocative,” Fields said. “Some people are probably going to be offended, but the satire and the stereotypes are spread out evenly. Everybody is a target.”

 Along the way there are jokes, physical humor, outrageous costumes, projections and scenic elements that remain secret, as well as dancing and music. Lots of music. 

“The music is really great,” Fields said, “and in many different styles—including salsa, blues, gospel, rock & roll. Thanks to an HSU diversity grant we’ve got a live band of professional musicians, led by Tim Randles. The cast does a lot of singing that keeps the story moving.”

Los Pajaros: Culture Clash

This adaptation of The Birds by Aristophanes was created by John Glore with Culture Clash, with music composed by Michael Roth.  It was produced at South Coast Repertory and Berkeley Repertory in early 1998.

The show began at South Coast Rep, which requested a Culture Clash confrontation with a classic.  At first they did the Aristophanes script, then developed their own in a series of workshops. "We worked from a multicultural perspective," Glore said, "and somewhere along the line we decided that the Greek chorus should sing songs, so the composer Michael Roth was brought in. We've avoided calling this adaptation of The Birds a musical, but it is musical in nature."

The HSU production is the first time an ensemble other than Culture Clash has performed their script of this play. Director Michael Fields consulted with composer Michael Roth on the music, and with members of Culture Clash, who gave their permission to update contemporary references, and to change the title to Los Pajaros.

According to their archival site at California State University Northridge: "Culture Clash is Richard Montoya, Ric Salinas and Herbert Siguenza. The Latino/Chicano comedy and theatre group was born on Cinco de Mayo, 1984 at René Yáñez's Galeria de la Raza in San Francisco, California. Originally composed of six members, this innovative troupe gained a place in the national spotlight with their 1988 play, The Mission.

Counting influences such as Charlie Chaplin, Bertolt Brecht, Cantinflas, and the Marx Brothers, Culture Clash have brought their blend of social and political satire to prominent venues including New York's Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Miami's Colony Theatre, and Los Angeles' Mark Taper Forum; to their television specials and comedy series; to their movies and short films; to their artwork and visual style; and most recently, to the publication of their collected works--Culture Clash: Life, Death and Revolutionary Comedy (1998) and Culture Clash in AmeriCCa: Four Plays (2003)."

In 2007 Culture Clash did their updated version of The Birds as an "elaborate readers theatre" piece at the Getty Center in LA.  In 2009 they did their version of another Aristophanes play, Peace, also at the Getty Center.

Los Pajaros: Aristophanes and Old Comedy

Most HSU students today have lived much of their lives with the US at war in Afghanistan and Iraq. Aristophanes was around 14 when Athens first engaged Sparta and its allies in the Peloponnesian War, which lasted for a quarter century. When it began, Athens was an imperial power, fighting to hold on to its empire and then extend it. When the war ended, Athens was an impoverished and subjugated state, and its years of cultural as well as economic and political glory were over.

Aristophanes is believed to have written some 40 plays, though only 11 survive. Many express his antiwar sentiments and opposition to the imperial ambitions of the Peloponnesian War, particularly to war profiteering.

 His comedies target political and military figures, and other prominent people of his time, including fellow playwright Euripides and the philosopher Socrates (who was amused by the caricature, but his disciples were upset, especially Plato.) He was a controversial and sometimes feared critic of Athenian society.

 Theatre as we know it was born on the Greek stage in this era. Tragedy was the predominant form at the festivals where plays were presented, and after a series of such tragedies, a comedy was the classic definition of comic relief. Aristophanes is the major proponent of comedy whose plays survived. His work defines comedy as it changed during and after his lifetime.

 Scholars divide this period into Old, Middle and New Comedy. Women in Congress by Aristophanes (presented last year at North Coast Repertory Theatre) is Middle Comedy, with less pointed caricature of known figures. It’s a little closer to the story-dominated comedies of our age, which developed from New Comedy through the Romans and branched off into everything from commedia dell’arte to situation comedy.

The Birds however is Old Comedy. The story is less prominent. Old Comedy is closer to the bawdy fertility revels and rituals in honor of the god Dionysus, which are believed to be a major source of both comedy and tragedy. Old Comedy was highly musical.

 But even with less of a story in our sense, there was a set form to Old Comedy. There was a prologue spoken to the audience (parados), a staged debate (the agon) and the chorus addressing the audience (parabasis.)

 In between there were episodes we recognize as story, though there is less development of a complete beginning, middle and end. In our terms, Old Comedy combined sketch comedy, farce, political satire, physical comedy, rude stand-up and the kind of bragging to the audience that boxers and wrestlers engage in before matches.

 Many of these elements of Old Comedy are preserved in this Culture Clash adaptation, including addressing the audience and lots of music. But it has more of a story shape, and while not quite a black comedy, it has elements of classical tragedy and no happy ending. Within its southern California urban Latino milieu, stylistically it might be thought of as Saturday Night Live meets Duck Soup and Doctor Strangelove.

Los Pajaros: Utopia Parkway

The Birds provides a name often used to sum up the wishful fantasy of utopian dreams: “Cloud Cuckooland.” But even though utopia is a Greek word, it doesn’t appear in Aristophanes. The elaborated idea of an ideal or at least a better society enters Western literature with Plato, but it was the Englishman Sir Thomas More who gave it this familiar name in the 16th century. His book is called Utopia (which means “no place”) but in it, the fictional society he describes is also called eutopia (the good place.)

 Utopian tales have been told for centuries. More recently, an opposite sort of story has predominated, called the anti-utopia or dystopia. It often takes features of contemporary society to their extreme logical conclusions to demonstrate possible consequences of today. The Hunger Games series of novels and films form a prominent contemporary example, but there are many others.

 So in these terms, is Aristophanes describing a utopia or a dystopia in his play The Birds? Scholars gathered in San Francisco in 1990—about eight years before Culture Clash produced their version—to discuss this question (among others.) The traditional utopian view was seriously challenged by those who consider it dystopian. One scholar called The Birds a classical precursor to George Orwell’s The Animal Farm. Another points out distinct differences between Aristophanes and Plato's utopia in The Republic (Apparently the two didn't like each other.)

Since then the anti-utopian view predominates. But there's still scholarly division on this point--maybe it's basically utopian.

 Still, the two wanderers at the beginning of The Birds are definitely looking for a society more to their liking. The walled city in the sky built by the birds (Cloud Cukooland) isn't an impossible dream: it successfully forces the gods to bow to its power. But there are many complications.
 Yet Aristophanes The Birds has what would become the classic happy ending of comedies: a wedding (or in this case, preparation for a wedding.) The violent ending of the Culture Clash version however is very different. And partly for that reason, it has a clearer sense of utopia sought but dystopia found, or created.

There is a strain in American thought and writing that supports this sense of what HSU production director Michael Fields called “a vacuous quest for Utopia” by those who unconsciously “ end up re-creating the same kind of world they set out to escape.”

 Historian Frederick Jackson Turner proposed a now- famous thesis that the American character was forged by confronting and conquering the western frontier. Others however have pointed out that the frontier was a movable dream that eventually became the same old nightmare.

As civilization moved west, new settlers dreamed of building a different and better place just beyond the latest frontier, only to eventually replicate nearly all that they left. The dream of an American utopia beyond the next frontier ended in California, which was, as the poet Lew Welsh wrote “the last place/There is no place left for us to go.” (At least until there was Alaska and Hawaii.)

 But there were still spaces between the cities, and the utopian dream was transferred to suburbia, which one writer called “the crabgrass frontier.”

 On Long Island from New York City, in an ever-widening concentric circle around Chicago, all along the new freeways in southern California, and most everywhere else in America, suburbia sprouted in the 1950s and 1960s. That these were to be utopian alternatives to the city was an explicit promise, most vividly preserved in one of the new highways built expressly as express lanes carrying commuters from New York to suburbia: the Utopia Parkway.

 But the highways themselves were immediately overcome by reality. Noting that “expressways opened in 1952 were by 1955 carrying the traffic load that had been forecast for 1985,” author Robert Caro observed that these highways, “of dimensions literally unknown in history, could be opened one month—and be filled to absolute capacity the next.”

Suburbia by David Shankbone
 The fateful irony can be summarized in one story: in the early 20th century, doctors on the U.S. East Coast and Midwest sometimes advised severe sufferers of hay fever and other related allergies to head for Arizona, where the air was clear and dry, and hay fever was pretty much unknown. Over the subsequent decades many took that advice, but once there, settlers planted the familiar trees and grass that were the sources of these allergies. By the late 20th century, Arizona had the highest incidence of hay fever and related allergies in the country.

 Fictionally, the unconscious habit of polluting utopia was extended to “the final frontier” by various science fiction writers, notably Ray Bradbury in The Martian Chronicles.

 Utopia has often been ridiculed as naive fantasy, as the name Cloud Cukooland now implies. But the notion of creating a utopia became suspect in itself in the 20th century due to the utopian pronouncements and horrific consequences in Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union, China in the Cultural Revolution, and Cambodia under the Kymer Rouge. The temptations of attaining power is an important theme in The Birds, reflecting Athenian imperialism. It is even more explicit in the Culture Clash adaptation.

 But even though utopia has possibly its worst press in history today, some contemporaries (including science fiction writers like Kim Stanley Robinson) still insist on the need to imagine utopias in which humanity consciously confronts its current problems, including those self-delusions that turn utopias into dystopias. They are needed partly to provide models of a better future, and partly to provide the hope that might motivate attempts to work towards it. Even creators of dystopias are warning against thoughtless acceptance of new technologies and old patterns of behavior.

It’s become a feature of our age that due to the immense power of technology as well as its cost to the natural environment, our civilization may well be left with only two choices. They are, in the words of Buckminster Fuller, utopia or oblivion.

Friday, November 21, 2014

December 2014: The End of History

With video, projections, sound and music as well as live action in a transmedia event, HSU students explore themes of love and revolution inspired by the earth-shaking happenings 25 years ago in 1989. 

 The End of History is performed Thursdays through Saturdays, December 4-6 and 11-13 at 7:30 p.m., with a matinee at 2 p.m. on December 14, in Gist Hall Theatre. Tickets are $10 general/$8 students & seniors, with a limited number of free tickets for HSU students at each performance, from the HSU Ticket Office (826-3928) or at the door. The End of History is devised and performed by HSU students, directed by professor Mark Swetz and senior Shea King.

Media: KHSU Art Waves, Mad River Union, Humboldt State Now
"The End of History is about love and revolution,” said co-director Shea King, a senior theatre major. “That’s essentially what’s been driving the show from the beginning.”
Beginning in a class in spring semester, students have been researching, improvising and devising this “transmedia” project.

 “Transmedia is a newer thing in the theatre world,” King said, “but it’s just a fancy way of saying a mixed media project. There’s a lot of video projection, sound mixing and live mixing. We have a band for certain sections of the show as well as dance pieces. It’s all mixed in with film realism, scene work and so on. We’re bringing together all these media to make one cohesive show.”
                                              Isabella Ceja

“On our team we have historians, we have science people, we have people from other majors, we have a film documentarian coinciding with the show,” King said, “so it’s ultimately just this big collage of arts and people from different parts of the university, because that was really important to us from the beginning, getting different student partners involved."
                              Thanat Berhe and Kyle Lassen in rehearsal

Co-director and HSU Theatre, Film and Dance professor Mark Swetz agreed. “With the exception of my involvement, this is an entirely student created, performed, staffed and designed show.”
“It started out as ‘the 1989 project,’ but now it’s inspired by--but does not take place in--1989,” King said. “We’re loosely following events like revolution in eastern Europe, the first same sex marriage in Denmark.”
Other important events of 1989 include the fall of the Berlin wall, rebellion and repression in China’s Tiananmen Square, the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska, and the Loma Prieta earthquake in the Bay Area.

“The catalysts for the show are quite numerous and at this point fairly abstracted in the final project,” Swetz said. “We don’t want to mislead people who might come looking for a show about “x” since “x” will most likely not be obvious in the production.”

The End of History: Our Cast

Thsnat Berhe
Isabella Ceja
Aurora Commeree
Ambar Cuevas
Tossa Hayward
Kyle Lassen
Cory Stewart

The End of History: Our Production

Director/Sceneographer: Mark Swetz
Director: Shea King
Lighting Director: Ethan Ng
Sound Director: Rilo Wade, Connor Spurr
Costume Director: Kayden O'Keefe
Video Artist: Samantha Boyd
Choreographer: Fiona Meila
Script: Heidi Voelker, Harry Sundberg, Bryan E. Kashon
Dramaturge: Stephanie Buck
Production/Stage Manager: Jillian Park
Head Dresser: Michelle Purnell-Grace
Assistant Director: Cody Miranda
Assistant Stage Managers: Margaret Champaux, Sam Silva

Costume Shop Manager: Catherine Brown
Administrative Support: Debra Ryerson, Lorraine Dillon
Publicity Photography: Kellie Brown
Publicity/blog copy & design: Bill Kowinski

The End of History?

commemorating the Czech Velvet Revolution
The phrase "The End of History" comes from an article and a book (The End of History and The Last Man) by political economist Francis Fukuyama.

After the revolutionary changes in eastern Europe begun in 1989 and the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Fukuyama maintained that the defeat of Communism meant that there was only one triumphant political system left.

"What we may be witnessing," he wrote, "is not just the end of the Cold War, or the passing of a particular period of post-war history, but the end of history as such: that is, the end point of mankind's ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government."

In the early 21st century, after 9/11 and more recent events, his conclusions seem premature at best. ( Some even believe a new form of the Cold War is beginning.) But it was not this book that guided HSU's production of The End of History.  Most influential was The Darkness Crumbles: Despatches From the Barricades by BBC World Affairs Editor John Simpson.

Simpson reported from Germany and eastern Europe as well as China in 1989.  (A series of his BBC reports revisiting 1989 are on the Internet.)

Both directors agree that this book was important to the final script.  Simpson's re-evaluations of events, reported optimistically but tempered by time, were especially valuable.

The End of History: The World in 1989

Just weeks ago, the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall was celebrated. The city of Berlin, once split in two and now a single city, marked the occasion with a symbolic wall of 8,000 glowing balloons. Press stories recounted events from political and personal perspectives, and examined their legacy.

A series of fast-moving events in 1989 culminated in the opening and then the destruction of the Berlin Wall which had separated the people of East Berlin and West Berlin for more than a generation.

But this was only one of the titanic events of 1989.  Though the production The End of History may not deal with them directly, here are some of the events of that year that continue to shape our world 25 years later:

The Polish United Workers party votes to legalize Solidarity, the dissident union headed by Lech Walesa.  Elections are held in June, Solidarity candidates triumph and by year's end, Poland leaves the Soviet-dominated Warsaw Pact.

The Velvet Revolution takes to the streets in Czechoslovakia, bringing down the Communist government.  Playwright and activist leader Vaclav Havel is elected president.

The Romanian Communist Party unanimously reelects President Ceausescu, protests erupt, the government is overthrown, Ceausescu and his wife are tried and executed.

Hungary proclaims a new constitution to create a multiparty democracy, and reorganizes as a republic on the 33rd anniversary of the Hungarian rebellion of 1956 that was crushed by Soviet tanks.

France celebrates the bicentennial of the French Revolution.

On October 1, civil unions for same sex couples became legal in Denmark, the first such law in the world.

The Exxon Valdez created the world's largest oil spill to that time when it ran aground in Alaska.  The effects (and litigation) continue today.

President Bush authorizes the allocation of $300 billion in federal funds to prevent the collapse of the savings and loan industry.

Young Chinese protesters gather in Tiananmen Square and erect The Goddess of Democracy.  After a period of tolerance, Chinese troops and tanks crush the rebellion, killing hundreds and perhaps thousands of protesters.

The Dalai Lama wins the Nobel Peace Prize.

Hurricane Hugo devastated the Caribbean and South Carolina.

Terrorists in the Middle East hang an American hostage taken in 1986.

General Colin Powell becomes the first African American appointed Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The last Soviet troops leave Afghanistan, ending military occupation begun in 1979.

Five Central American countries agree that the U.S. backed "contras" attempting to bring down the government of Nicaragua should be disbanded.

The U.S. and Canada begin negotiations on an acid rain treaty. Twelve European countries agree to stop production of all chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) by the end of the 20th century.

The 7.1 Loma Prieta earthquake hits the Bay Area during a World Series game between the San Francisco Giants and the Oakland Athletics.  It causes significant damage.

Douglas Wilder becomes the first African American elected as the governor of a U.S. state (Virginia.)

Lithuania becomes the first Soviet republic to abolish Communist control of the government.

Chile holds its first free elections in 16 years.

A number of events, some initiated by Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev in 1989, would culminate in the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991.

The first Global Positioning System (GPS) satellite is placed in orbit.

The first Al-Qaeda cell in the US is reportedly formed in New York City.

Monday, October 6, 2014

October 2014: Coraline

Erin Harris as Coraline
Coraline, Neil Gaiman’s famous, wondrous, funny and scary tale of a modern Alice through the Looking Glass is a best-selling book and an animated film that children know and love. But as a fast-paced, unconventional musical, it’s mostly unknown outside a few big cities, and has never been done by a university—until now.

Explore the otherworldly in the everyday... HSU presents its production of the musical play Coraline in the Van Duzer Theatre for two weekends: Thursdays through Saturdays October 16-18 and 23-25 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday October 26 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $12/17 general, $10/15 students and seniors from the HSU Ticket Office (826-3928) or at the door. Directed by Rae Robison, produced by HSU Department of Theatre, Film & Dance. Because of the scariness, it’s not recommended for children younger than nine.

Media: Eureka Times-Standard Urge, HSU Now
Reviews: Urge, North Coast Journal, Mad River Union
Erin Harris, Kyle Rispoli
Young Coraline has just moved into a new house. New to her anyway—“it’s old and ordinary/fifty miles from the next city/and dull as one house can be.”

 She lives on the second floor with her parents—above them is Mr. Bobo “a crazy old man” who says he’s training a mouse circus. Below them are two retired actresses lost in their memories of theatrical glory. There’s also a cat who ignores her.
Her parents don’t seem to have time for her (“Mum and Dad are not commuters/They stay home at their computers/Which means they have to work from nine to nine”), the other tenants can’t even get her name right, and Coraline is yearning for something different. So when a door that used to open onto a brick wall suddenly leads to another world, she’s ready to explore it.
Erin Harris, Anna Duchi, Mickey Thompson
This world seems to be the same as her own, except better. Her Other Mother and Other Father dote on her, feed her delicious food and allow her to dress as wildly as she wants. Although those black buttons on their eyes are strange.
Patrice Elise-Byrd, Erin Harris
The ladies downstairs have their own theatre—and best of all, the cat talks to her. "When you’re a cat you see it all, without detection; you’re good at that."
But it is not all that it seems, and as Coraline learns the truth she has to take action, not only to save herself but her real parents, and the souls of children who have been captured in this other world before her.
Even when she escapes, Coraline realizes her task isn’t over. She must face the evil Other Mother once more.

 How will she succeed? The ghost children advise her: “Be wise, be brave, be tricky.” 

 And her other old and new friends can help.

 But what is bravery? It’s returning to what scared you. “When you’re scared but you still do it anyway, that’s brave.”
A fast, funny, scary and exciting ride ends happily. Coraline goes back to her ordinary life with a new attitude. 

You follow your long fairytale 
wherever it go
meandering through mazes
and dancing through snow 
You'll probably grow, little one,
 as big as a whale 
Amazing? Keep chasing your tale
 O! Follow your tale.


Coraline: Erin Harris
 Mother: Erin Henry
Other Mother: Anna Duchi
Father/Other Father: Mickey Thompson
Miss Spink (and Other Miss Forcible): Hanna Jo Clark
Miss Forcible (and Other Miss Spink): Jesse Chavez
Mr. Bobo/Other Mr. Bobo: Kyle Rispoli
 Cat: Patrice Elise-Byrd
 Other Characters & Ensemble: Bryce Luna, Hannah Jo Clark, Justine Bivans, Valerie Castillo Puppeteers: Dakota Dieter, Mary May, Hanah Toyoda

 Musicians: Brian Post, Charles Thompson