Tag Archives: Ilyse Liffreing

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Filmed and Edited by Ilyse Liffreing

“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” Modernized: PASJ Updates Shakespeare for Environmentally Conscious Audience

Dancing fairies, competing lovers, and a tree made out of umbrellas. The Performing Arts and Social Justice department, with director Christine Young, will put on A Midsummer Night’s Dream, one of the most famous Shakespearean plays, from March 4-6 in Presentation Theatre. With only four performances, there will be a Friday show at 1p.m., and the rest taking place at 8p.m. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday night. All tickets for USF students are $5 with ID card and general admission is $10. Alia Al-Sharif, who plays one of the lovers, Hermia, in the show, says, “I think when the audience comes and sees the show they will be surprised and delighted!”
Indeed, the classic comedy is modernized, according to Al-Sharif, taking on an “environmentalist” theme (that’s why there is a tree made of worn umbrellas).

She said, “I feel it helps the audience to relate to the language.” While that is true, none of the language has been changed according to Al-Sharif, but the original three- hour play has been cut down to 90 minutes, creating a feasible and entertaining play.

Not all cast members were thrilled about the idea of modernizing Shakespeare through the costumes and sets at first, but soon came to love the idea.

Midsummer Night's Dream by Ilyse Liffering

Forest Neikirk plays Oberon in green-themed play (left); Alia Al-Sharif plays Hermia and David Silpa plays Lysander in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” (right). (Ilyse Liffreing/Foghorn)

For instance, Forest Neikirk, who plays the tough Oberon, says, “When I heard it was going to be modernized I was concerned, but when I heard all the ideas with the scenery and costumes, I’m feeling pretty good about it all.”
A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare is a play about four lovers—Hermia (Alia Al-Sharif), Lysander (David Silpa), Demetrius (Julian Micallef), and Helena. Hermia wishes to marry Lysander against her father’s wishes and so is given four days to choose Demetrius, go to a nunnery, or receive a death sentence.

Hermia and Lysander flee to the forest where comic calamity takes places with Oberon (Forest Neikirk) and Titania (Lauren Lasorda), the King and Queen of the Fairies. Hilarious characters such as Puck (Tess Bellomo and Katie Scardino) and Bottom (Daniel Martinez) make the comedy shine through.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream will be performed in the sizable, traditional Presentation Theatre. This will be the first time since the Studio Theatre has opened that a play will be performed in this space. Neikirk and Al-Sharif agree that it is the best space for a show of this magnitude. With a goal to sell out every night, the theatre should be a perfect match.

Al-Sharif and Neikirk are excited about their roles as Hermia and Oberon, and seem to have learned a lot in the process. Al-Sharif says, “Every time I perform a scene, I find new meaning.” Along the same lines Neikirk says he discovered all the layers to the character Oberon—a character he has always wanted to play. Having just seen Oberon’s tough side before he says, “There’s so much more to him than that.” Furthermore, all actors worked with a vocal coach for the difficult Shakespearian language.

The Mechanicals, who form the comedic chorus, are also excited about their roles in the show and want to stay true to their roles. One Mechanical, Hannah Bear says, “We are a collective—we are excited about everything.” Another Mechanical, Meg Tomasetti says, “The humor is so obvious that it is funny.”

Get ready for laughs and a night of great theatre as A Midsummer Night’s Dream comes to USF in beautiful Presentation Theatre.

Editor-in-Chief: Heather Spellacy

Chief Copy-Editor: Natalie Cappetta

Scene Editor: Tamar Kuyumjian

Channing Tatum Takes On Action in “The Eagle”

Channing Tatum is known for performing in romance movies such as Dear John and The Dilemma or teenage dance flicks like Step Up or Step Up 2. However, with the release of The Eagle, Tatum has now brought his acting resume up to a whole new level.

In a conference call last Wednesday Tatum said, “For myself I want to do as many different things as I can. I do a lot of my learning on set. Two of my favorite movies are Braveheart and Gladiator. I wanted to do a period drama.”

He chose a good period drama to start off with. The Eagle contains just enough in-your-face action with an exciting nod toward a time when honor was central. Tatum plays Marcus Aquila, a young Roman soldier who is desperate to regain his father’s honor by finding the treasured golden Eagle. This all takes place in a Roman-ruled Britain. Jamie Bell (Billy Elliot, King Kong) plays Esca, the slave that helps Marcus through his journey once he saves his life.

Eagle of the Ninth

Channing Tatum stars in the Roman epic adventure “The Eagle.” (Photo Courtesy of Matt Nettheim/Focus Features)

Tatum admits that playing a soldier is tough. He said, “One of the biggest things was finding the right voice because we wanted the soldiers to be American, but not contemporary.” On top of the voice changes, Tatum had to undergo a lot of training to accomplish all the horse riding and sword fighting in the movie. “We worked pretty hard for six hours a day.” He admits this was a difficult process for him even though he grew up in Alabama and rode horses and knew martial arts from a young age.

While on set, Tatum suffered through an unfortunate injury involving a rushing techie and a scalding tub of water that scorched his nether regions. On the issue he said, “I was out for a day. It was painful, but it was just an accident.” Beside that, the actors had to film most of the scenes in Scotland, which, according to Tatum, is “grueling.” Even though he had to undergo all this, he considers himself to be pretty lucky. He says, “I’ve won the lottery!”

Tatum shares the screen in The Eagle with such stars as Donald Sutherland (Pride and Prejudice, MASH) and Mark Strong (Kick-Ass, Sherlock Holmes). He looks highly upon them both, referring to them as “legends.”

Tatum says on his approach to acting: “I draw as much from my own experiences as I can—I know what’s it like to feel pain, anger, and pride.” This especially comes across in the scene with the most dialogue in the movie, which also happens to be Tatum’s favorite. This is when Marcus Aquila tells his uncle that he plans to travel out of the Roman limits to reclaim the prized Eagle and restore his family’s name. In this scene, Tatum bubbles over with a livid energy. The anger and drive he feels can be seen through his eyes.
Tatum admires his character’s honor. He says, “I think the appeal of the movie is the Roman soldiers. Normal day people don’t have as much honor and values in faith. I think we lost a lot of that.”

Editor-in-Chief: Heather Spellacy

Chief Copy-Editor: Natalie Cappetta

Scene Editor: Tamar Kuyumjian

Pixar Art Director Gives USF Glimpse Into Movie Magic

Pixar is an Academy Award winning animation company that has produced eleven films since 2006, when they joined forces with Disney. “Toy Story” 1, 2, and 3, “Finding Nemo,” and “The Incredibles” are all products of Pixar studios located in Emeryville, California.

Art director Tia Kratter spoke at USF as part of the Center for the Pacific Rim series in Fromm Hall on Tuesday, Nov. 16. Dr. Patrick Lloyd Hatcher, the moderator, pointed out the social significance of Pixar movies: “Pixar has created Nemo swimming over Australia’s Great Barrier reef, a coral empire that is threatened by a warming Pacific, and Wall-E who compacts waste on a toxic earth where no humans can live as they hover above in space ships. They are very intellectual.”

Kratter has been working with Pixar/Disney for almost eighteen years as an art director. Her job is to figure out the colors and textures for the movies. She worked with Disney on such films as “Beauty and the Beast,” but became the fiftieth employee at Pixar when she switched. Now there are over twelve hundred employees. At USF, she spoke to the Center about the inside workings of Pixar: what lies inside the walls of the animation studio, how the team goes about making a film, and the jobs that are available. “Pixar has taken Japanese anime and has made it accessible to kids and adults,” Kratter said.

A peek inside the famous Pixar animation studio across the bay is rare because it is shut off to visitors, but Kratter showed a slide-show that gave proof to Pixar’s motto: “Work hard, but play hard too,” Kratter said. Inside the Pixar fortress lies a game room, a special wood fire pizza restaurant, a cereal room, eight separate bars, and even a love lounge.

John Lasseter, the chief creative officer of Pixar, has an office that is filled with Disney and Pixar toys. Also, animators either get an office or a shed they can decorate any way they want. There is even a room of mirrors where the animators can see themselves doing actions that they can then place in their animations.

As for their process, Kratter says for Pixar, “The story is the king. It takes three to six years to make a film and around 2,000 drawings. It takes about twenty-four drawings to make one second of film. Every film I go through is like college. It takes four years and I study everything about the topic.” Indeed, Kratter has to scrutinize every little detail in order to get the colors to fit with the story. She described how in “Monsters Inc.” she had to find a realistic texture that would make Sully appear furry and blue.

Kratter enjoys the process but said there are two sides to it. One side of the studio houses the creative team and the other side houses the scientists and computer savvy technicians. Kratter admits she is definitely not one of the computer savvy employees.

“I parallel the animators. We have this great relationship because we can’t tell each other what to do.” The question came up whether if new technology has quickened the creative process, but Kratter said, “You would think the computer would save us time and money, but it’s the same thing. It still takes around four years to complete a movie.”
With all the success of Pixar, a lot of people want to contribute their talent. Kratter even admits it’s tough, but there are a lot of different jobs available for different talents. She said, “You have nothing to lose!”

All in all, Pixar has made their mark so far in the entertainment industry having won twenty-four Academy Awards, six Golden Globes, and three Grammys. Unlike other entertainment companies, Pixar does not compete in the same ways. “We want to sell our stories, not the actors,” Kratter said.

Editor-in-Chief: Heather Spellacy

Chief Copy-Editor: Burke McSwain

Scene Editor: Tamar Kuyumjian


(March 21-April 19):
Bad news: your turkey gets stuck in the oven and doesn’t come out until after the guests are there and are starving. People start calling you the Grinch of Thanksgiving.

(April 20-May 20):
Your significant other will pay special attention to you…that is, until the football game is on. Stay in the kitchen for this time period, trust me.

(May 21-June 21):
Dear Gemini, your special someone will be at the table this year among the family and feast. Take this time to be truly thankful this Thanksgiving.

(June 22-July 22):
You remember how badly the pilgrims treated the Native Americans during Thanksgiving and lose any wish to give thanks this holiday. You ask yourself, give thanks to what?

(July 23-Aug. 22):
Be bold at this time. You have much to be thankful for. You are in good terms with your family, work place as well as a secret admirer. Hold off on hanging up the mistletoe, however.

(Aug. 23-Sept. 22):
Not only will you burn the turkey, but the yams fall to pieces and the cranberry sauce is lacking any flavor.   Sorry!

(Sept. 23-Oct. 23):
Give yourself credit. You deserve to go home to your family this Thanksgiving. You need their support and love during this time Libra. Let them in and all will be well.

(Oct. 24-Nov. 21):
It’s a time of reflection for you Scorpio. You remember making those turkeys tracing your hands way back in elementary school. Be thankful for such memories. Later at the table you will have a lot to talk about.

(Nov. 22-Dec. 21):
It is your month dear Sagittarius. You will not have to cook any of the Thanksgiving feast! Be wary of the family cooking however. This might upset your daily cycle.

(Dec. 22-Jan. 19):
When you fly home for Thanksgiving your plane will be delayed. You still make the desert though! A thick piece of pumpkin pie awaits!

(Jan. 20-Feb. 18):
You will dream of angry turkeys attacking you at your kitchen table. They have joined together to form a resistance against the typical Thanksgiving feast. Perhaps get a turducken this year..

(Feb. 19-March 20):
You will be forced to cook the entire meal yourself and your favorite dish will be gone before you get to it. Lighten up though, A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving is on TV!

“West Side Story” Stars Support AIDS Foundation

“West Side Story” the musical has taken over San Francisco, and its stars have as well! Right now “West Side Story” is running at the Orpheum Theatre through Nov. 28th. As a show that is now fifty years old, “West Side Story” holds just as much charm and appeal for today’s audiences. The cast members all have extensive Broadway, regional and film credits. Can these star-crossed lovers come together in a city of torn relations? Fortunately for the city of San Francisco, cast members will be performing all their favorite music selections at the Marines Memorial Theatre, 609 Sutter Street, in support of the Richmond/Ermet AIDS Foundation (REAF). They perform Nov. 15th at 7:30 p.m. From the voice of Kyle Harris as Tony to the beautiful soprano of Ali Ewoldt as Maria, the night should prove to be very successful in benefiting the REAF AIDS organization.

With REAF’s “One Night Only” series of shows, they have collected over two million dollars to benefit thirty-three AIDS service agencies over a span of sixteen years. Volunteers make this happen by hosting shows that feature the touring musical in San Francisco at the time.  Often, a special guest hosts the benefit every year.

This special “One Night Only” benefit concert is proud of their successful hosts: Cabaret star, Wesla Whitfield, who has performed at Carnegie Hall five times, and Erich Bergen, who played Bob Gaudio in the touring cast of Jersey Boys. Foghorn spoke to Whitfield and Bergen on their involvement with the “One Night Only” AIDS benefit show and their remarkable careers.

“I know of so many people. In the early eighties many of my friends began dying of AIDS. They need help. That’s why this benefit event is so important to me,” began Whitfield. Bergen’s experiences were along the same lines,“I lost a good friend to AIDS. It impacts a lot of people. I was contacted by REAF and told them I would love to take part.” At the event, Bergen will be singing from the newest show he has been cast in–”Magic Castle”. Whitfield was asked to sing a Leonard Bernstein song, who just so happened to write the music for “West Side Story”.

The purpose of bringing together artists is to make an opportunity for gathering crowds, in hopes of raising money for a large contribution to fight AIDS. In fact, Bergen said it’s his “favorite part about these things. I don’t know anyone on this tour, so I love how we can all come together for a cause and put together our tricks.” Whitfield agreed, “It’s fun to meet other performers that are passionate about the same causes.”

Of advocacy work, Bergen said, “There’s nothing more important in the world. Volunteer your time. Make people understand those major problems. Donate time and words.” Of theatre work, Whitfield said, “Learn as much as you can and make friends—from the doorman to the producer. Besides, everything is more fun when they are your friends.” You won’t want to miss this special occasion bringing such talented performers together to promote one cause.

Editor-in-Chief: Heather Spellacy

Chief Copy-Editor: Burke McSwain

Scene: Tamar Kuyumjian