Category Archives: Art

ALL IN THE TIMING OPENS ON APRIL 19TH!

GUNNISON, CO (March 28, 2017) – All in the Timing, written by David Ives and directed by Western students and faculty, will be presented by Peak Productions April 19th, 20th, 21st, and 22nd at 7:30 pm and April 23rd at 2 pm in the Western Studio Theater of Taylor Hall.

All in the Timing is a series of six one-act plays by David Ives that hilariously explore high concepts about time, language, and communication. Enter the mind of this comedy playwright genius where monkeys write Hamlet, Philip Glass tries to buy a loaf of bread, the universe resets itself until two would-be lovers get it right, Philadelphia (or is it New York?) isn’t quite what you thought it was, a universal language exists, and Trotsky’s place in history is, or maybe isn’t, set into stone. Peak Productions brings you this hilarious collection of plays, directed by both students and faculty.

Admission is $5 for Western students with ID and $7 for general admission. Tickets are available at Western’s Bookstore or a half-hour before the performance in the Studio Theater lobby. For advance ticket reservations or for more information contact Peak Productions at (970)-943-3013 or by emailing peak@western.edu

 

Honors Choir Weekend

Quigley Hall welcomes 150 high school students to the 65th Western Slope Choral Festival

Grace Flynn/ Staff Writer

High school students from 27 different schools all around Colorado spent Mar. 2 through 4 working with Western vocal music majors and guest conductors.

The students traveled to Western to attend the Western Slope Choral Festival. Professor Heather Roberson, director of concert choir and chamber singers, organized the weekend and invited guest conductors to work with the students.

“The most difficult thing about this festival is the amount of time it takes to organize it all. People are aware of what happens when the festival occurs, but they don’t know what all happens behind the scenes and what leads up to it,” Roberson said.

Daniel Afonso Ph.D., from the University of California, Stanislaus, was the guest conductor for the women’s choir, and Jeremy Manternach Ph.D. was the guest conductor for the mixed choir. They worked with the students on techniques to improve their singing skills.

“My favorite part about the festival is the progress the students make in the short time of just two and a half days. It’s just amazing,” Roberson said.

The National Association for Music Education (NAfME) played a part in the festival by helping visiting students find their practice rooms, the rehearsal hall, and navigate the campus. NAfME students helped keep the festival running smoothly and going for the three days of rehearsal.

During this festival, the fire department also held their annual benefit concert. Back in 1953, a committee of Gunnison Volunteer Fireman spoke with the president at Western to suggest sponsoring two evenings of music by the Western band. Since then, the proceeds from these concerts have been used to replace equipment at the fire department. The band concert traditionally features the piece “Third Alarm March” by Arthur Fiedler, which includes fire fighters playing bells and earsplitting sirens.

Western is proud of the Gunnison Volunteer Fire Department and appreciative of their efficient and indispensable contribution to the school and the community. These concerts are a token of that appreciation.

 

Set collapses during theater rehearsal

Incident in Taylor Studio Theater leads to injuries and canceled show

Kennedy Sievers/Senior Staff Writer

A platform collapsed on stage during a rehearsal for Woyzeck Saturday, Mar. 4 in the Studio Theater. Five students—Noah Grutel-Hoyt, Lance Jones, Bella Lewis, Zack Prall, and Spencer Shiplett—were all standing on an eight-foot platform when it collapsed under their weight. Four of the students sustained injuries and went to the ER.

“Honestly, I still can’t believe it happened, though, all the signs were there. We’d been breaking steps on that stage for quite a while, hearing foreboding cracks and moans when we stepped in the wrong places. Still, it’s hard to imagine something like that happening until you’re right in the middle of it,” Lewis said.

Jones received a tetanus shot and staples in his hand, Lewis bruised her tailbone, Prall injured his knee, and Shiplett fractured his spine. All students involved were not severely injured and are recovering.

“There was a warning shot with the initial crack. Then, suddenly, I was on my back, and everyone was surrounding me, telling me to stay down. I’m lucky I didn’t get a spinal fracture with how I fell, and I’m glad no one got severely injured. It was scary, and, had they built the stage again, I probably wouldn’t have stepped on it,” Lewis said.

Western will be paying the students’ medical bills in full.

The cast and crew held a meeting Monday, Mar. 6 to discuss the accident. During the meeting, director Scott Little, Director of Theatre and Technical Director, claimed that the accident was most likely due to malfunctions with the materials used to build the set.

In the same meeting, the cast and crew resoundingly chose to work on a new show in place of Woyzeck called All in the Timing, a set of comedy one acts, which is set to premiere sometime in mid-to-late April.

 

Mountaineer Media attends Moab International Film Festival

Students represent Western media organization at film event in Utah

Sam Thornley / Staff Writer

 

Students from Western’s Mountaineer Media program traveled to Moab to attend the Moab International Film Festival that ran from Mar 4 to 6. Currently in its fourth year, the film festival accepts experimental and documentary independent films that serve an educational value to their viewers. The film festival was rescheduled from a previous fall time slot.

The students, Mountaineer Media Student Directors Elesa Petit, Skyler Stanley, and Samuel Thornley along with student Lane Castro, left for the event on Mar 3 before returning to Gunnison the following Sunday. The students alternated their time between watching films at the festival and exploring the town of Moab.

The students ended up watching three films at the festival on the first day of the event. The films that were showcased were Gun Runners, Antarctic Edge 70° South and Martin’s Boat. All of the films were documentaries, with Antarctic Edge 70° South being the recipient of the Audience Award for Best Documentary at the Lighthouse International Film Festival.

Directed by Anjali Nayar, Gun Runners follows the story of two Kenyan warriors who trade in their guns for amnesty and to become professional runners. The film focuses on the friendship and rivalry between the two warriors as their lives branch into different directions where they are caught in the pull between their differences, the struggles of poverty, tradition and glory.

Antarctic Edge 70° South, directed by Dena Seidel, originally premiered in Spring 2015 in New York’s Quad Cinema. Funded in part by the National Science Foundation, Antarctic Edge 70° South follows the staff of Palmer Station in Antarctica as they study the ecosystem of the ocean surrounding the continent. An insight into the daily lives of these scientists is showcased as they study the warming Antarctic waters in an effort to understand the effects climate change has on the ecosystem.

The last of the films, Martin’s Boat, was directed by Pete McBride, and serves as a means of honoring the late Martin Litton. A protector of the environment, Martin Litton was known for advocating against the construction of dams in the Grand Canyon during the 1950’s and giving boat tours on the Colorado River. The documentary follows a group of people close to Martin that construct a boat in his honor to sail the Colorado River with on its maiden voyage.

The students were pretty enthusiastic about the films they saw. “They evoked emotions I wasn’t expecting from people I didn’t even know. That’s how good they were,” said Petit on the films.

“They were all well-done. I really liked Antarctic Edge. That was my favorite. That had some cool time lapses,” Castro said. For more information on Mountaineer Media activities, meetings are held every Tuesday and Thursday at 12:30 in Taylor 124 and contact can be made through email at mountaineermediaproductions@gmail.com. Student directors also have office hours on Tuesday-Friday from 1:30-2:30.

Wood Workshop

During this Saturday workshop on Mar. 18, students will get to make a six-pack bottle caddy while learning about project planning, measurements, sanding, staining, and safety. Using these skills students will create projects out of wood in the GAC Clay Studio from instructor Jessica Noelke. Wood comes precut to project specifications. Pre-registration required by 3/11. $40/person includes all supplies. 10:00 am – 2:00 pm. Bring a sack lunch. Pre-register at gunnisonartscenter.org, 102 S. Main St or by calling 970-641-4029.

Improv-aganza!

Peak Out Shows Off Their Improv Skills

Marisa Cardin / Senior Staff Writer

Last Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, Western’s improv troupe “Peak Out” showed off their skills and impressed their audiences. Their three-day Improv-aganza had a different theme for each night. The first night, dubbed “Love and Turmoil Night,” and the games focused on and celebrated the recent Valentine’s day, even going as far as to call up a couple from the audience to recount their first date for two of the improv members (Bella Lewis and Maya Jones) to reenact. The second night was called “Good Ol’ Fashioned, Standard, Run O’ The Mill Improv Night,” which featured a selection of games, including a “long form”, where Peak Out members began with a place and a profession, and had to spin an entire story based on it. The final night was “Do or Die Night,” and included games with the audience voting for which member would go on to the next “level,” so to speak. The game ended with Roberta Marquette-Strain having to reenact what was originally a five person scene, with herself playing all five characters at once.

Needless to say, Improv-aganza was a success, and left the audience members on all three nights in tears from laughing. If you’re interested in joining the Improv Troupe, contact Benjamin Pressnall at benjamin.presnall@western.edu for more information. Tune in towards the end of the semester for an upcoming play, Woyzeck, which will be performed in mid-Apr.!

Film Review: Moana

Computer animated musical offers laughs and heart for all ages.

Sam Thornley / Staff Writer

Moana is the latest animated musical feature released by Walt Disney Pictures and offers entertainment as wondrous as the ocean the titular heroine travels. Directed by Ron Clements and John Musker, the film stars the voices of Auli’i Cravahlo and Dwayne Johnson with Temuera Morrison, Rachel House, and Jemaine Clement rounding out the cast. Filled with music by Mark Mancina, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and Opetaia Foa’i, the film was released in theaters on Nov. 23 and will arrive on home media platforms on Mar. 7.

The film revolves around Moana, the teenage daughter of a Polynesian tribe’s overprotective chief, who is about to pass the title on to her. When the life on the tribe’s island starts to decay, Moana is sent on a quest by the gods and her dying grandmother to find the legendary demigod Maui and restore balance to the ocean.

What really makes Moana work is the phenomenal voice acting that drives the film through the main protagonists. Newcomer Auli’i Cravahlo is excellent as Moana, capable of hitting the entire emotional and musical range required of the character, along with having some great chemistry with Dwayne Johnson’s Maui. Dwayne Johnson does an equally commendable job as Maui with a careful application of his trademark wit balanced out with some tenderness during the more emotional scenes of the film.

The supporting cast of the film also delivers some great performances that help power the film’s emotional core. Temuerra Morrison and Rachel House in particular convey a lot of pathos as Moana’s father and grandmother respectively, making the most of their screen time in the film. Finally, Jemaine Clement delivers an over the top and enjoyable performance as the thieving coconut crab Tamatoa and provides a catchy musical number to match.

The most excellent part of Moana is the music, which is bound to remain with the viewer long after they leave the theater. In particular, the songs feature an excellent combination of English, Samoan, and Tokelauan lyrics that are catchy and simultaneously awe-inspiring, which manage to make the film feel more dramatic and sweeping.

Another excellent part of the film is the animation, which involved the development of new rendering technology to create the hair and water featured prominently throughout the film. The sand and water are rendered in incredible detail, along with the hair of the characters as it gets wet and blows in the wind. Additionally, the film features some well-done hand-drawn animation work for Maui’s sentient tattoos that add a creative flair to the computer animation.

Finally, the film has a wonderful amount of humor and emotion all mixed together. The film features funny interactions between Moana and Maui as they try to work through each other’s differences before exchanging pep talks and advice. Often, the film does this within scenes and succeeds at it marvelously thanks to the excellent voice acting.

If there are any real flaws with the film, it’s that the plot doesn’t stray too far from the usual Disney formula for their musicals. It still retains an animal sidekick and the villain has more to them than it seems at first sight, along with a saving-the-world plot and optimistic outlook. There are also some minor moments of repetitive humor that may get tiresome for some viewers.

Additionally, while remaining a funny character throughout the film, Moana’s pet chicken Hei Hei feels somewhat superfluous to the narrative. Since he cannot speak and has the intelligence of a rock, he mostly just sits around in the background while occasionally popping up for a quick joke. Considering he does not have much of a personality or arc behind him, he feels a little tacked on to the film in contrast to previous Disney sidekicks.

Overall, Moana is an excellently made animated film that will charm both adults and children with its emotion, music and, humor. While it has some flaws, its strengths more than outweigh them, and it manages to be an all-around strong film worthy of standing with the best that Disney has to offer.

Kierstin Bridger: A Contemporary Writer

Poet comes to Western to discuss her work

Kennedy Sievers/Senior Staff Writer

Kierstin Bridger after her poetry reading. Photo by Kennedy Sievers.

One line of Kierstin Bridger’s poetry reads, “Stepping out into the wild, the river talks too.” The river talks, and Kierstin Bridger helps it. Bridger, a Colorado native, came to read her poetry on Feb. 23, 2017 in the West Wing of Western’s library.

Bridger has published two collections of poetry: All Ember and Demimonde. Both collections came out in 2016. Among other accolades, she won the Mark Fischer Poetry Prize and the 2015 ACC Writer’s Studio Prize, is the editor of Ridgway Alley Poems, and has poetry in several anthologies.

Many people turned up for her poetry reading on Feb. 23 and her craft talk on Feb. 24. She read excerpts of poems from both of her books, including poems such as “Manifest,” “Caretaking,” “Demimonde,” and “Hey, You There.”

Bridger talked about her roots in Colorado, specifically Buena Vista, Telluride, and Ridgway, where she currently lives.

She also discussed the themes of her two books. All Ember leans towards the autobiographical, whereas Demimonde is a collection of persona poems focusing on prostitution in the early days of mining towns like Telluride and Aspen.

During her explanation of her writing processes and inspirations, Bridger focused on the ideas of passions; some of hers are giving voices to the voiceless and women’s issues. She said she feels Demimonde centers around those passions, and encouraged other writers to find their own obsessions and write to them.

Bridger came to Western as a part of the Contemporary Writer Series, which is hosted by the English department. Throughout the semester, the Writer Series hosts a variety of contemporary authors who read and discuss their work, which is free for students and the community to attend.

Watch out for future writers coming to Western this semester as a part of the Contemporary Writer Series!

Film Review: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Sci-Fi prequel has some issues, but offers an optimistic start for spin off series.

Sam Thornley / Staff Writer

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is a prequel to the original 1977 Star Wars film and the first spin-off film in the long-running series. Directed by Gareth Edwards and starring an ensemble cast including Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Donnie Yen, and Forest Whitaker, the film was released by Walt Disney Pictures and Lucasfilm Ltd. on Dec. 16, 2016. The film also notably features the likeness of the late Peter Cushing digitally recreated onto actor Guy Henry as the character Grand Moff Tarkin.

The events of the story, set immediately before A New Hope, follows the efforts of the Rebel Alliance to steal the plans to the Empire’s Death Star battlestation. When the weapon’s designer leaks information out to a guerilla cell, the Rebellion recruits his fugitive daughter, Jyn Erso, to aid a team intent on discovering the plans before it is too late.

What the film accomplishes above all else is to inspire a message of hope in its theme. This is particularly prominent in how the Death Star’s architect, Galen Erso, demonstrates in a rather well acted scene how being forced to build a terrible weapon took him to some dark places, and yet he never gave up trying to impede the Empire’s progress. Even some of the smaller moments, such as Chirrut’s belief in the Force despite not having it, and the protagonists defying orders to do the right thing, can bring out a small bit of appreciation in the viewer.

Additionally, the film has some pretty fun characters sprinkled throughout, accompanied by some great performances by the actors involved. While the main protagonists of Jyn and Cassian are relatable, if underdeveloped, it is the characters of K-2SO, Chirrut, and Director Krennic that truly stand out. Played by great actors who give the characters a lot of wit and personality, these characters steal every scene they are in and are bound to command the viewer’s attention to the screen whenever they are present.

Finally, the film has probably some of the most spectacular action and set pieces displayed in a Star Wars film. Aside from the dazzling effects, the action scenes carry with them a crisp image with clear movement without throwing too many details into the viewers face at once. This is best expressed in the climatic showdown at the end of the film, where a land and space battle are both depicted, but both sides are shown to be interconnected in a race against time to grab the Death Star plans. As a result, the battle is intense and fast paced while throwing some creative moments in during the ride, which will leave those craving the action parts of the film very satisfied.

While a fun time to be had overall, the film does have some issues regarding character development, alongside a few questionable special effects amidst the otherwise all-star action. With the characters, while they are all fun and interesting, not all of them get development and some of them feel heavily underused. Jyn for example, has an interesting backstory and is appealing as a fighter, but sort of easily becomes a Rebel aside from a few small moments of resistance, which makes it feel rather rushed.

On the other hand, there are some characters who feel outright neglected. Forest Whitaker and Riz Ahmed’s Saw Gerrera and Bodhi Rook in particular suffer heavily from this, as both characters have really interesting backstories as a rebel extremist and a defected Imperial pilot with the jitters. Nonetheless, Saw has very little screen time and a comically over the top performance that feels out of place in the otherwise serious tone of the film, while Bodhi is mostly in the background, which feels like a tremendous waste of interesting story opportunities.

Aside from characterization problems, the film suffers from a fairly slow and confusing first act. Without the opening crawl traditional to the series, the film has a large amount of exposition given while jumping around from planet to planet. As a result, this can feel rather disorienting and will feel unfairly punishing to those that do not pay attention.

The biggest element of the movie that could throw off a viewer, however, is the computer animation used to revive the character of Grand Moff Tarkin, whose actor Peter Cushing had died over twenty years ago. While the effects are rather impressive, the fact it is still a different person having animation pasted over his face is still somewhat disconcerting and raises an ethical dilemma on whether or not dead actors should be revived. Consequently, the viewer may feel uneasy whenever Tarkin is on screen in an uncanny way the filmmakers probably did not intend to have happen.

Overall, the film does have some serious flaws that prevent it from being perfect or excellent, but is still highly serviceable as an above average time at the movies. The action is quite compelling and the characters are fun, if underdeveloped, while the events of the film will compel the viewer to consider watching Star Wars again. It’s not film of the year material, but it is a fun time to be had nonetheless and will hopefully leave the audience satisfied with their ticket purchases.

Social Media Is Winning This Election

Robin Butler / Staff Writer

Social Medias are Heating up Politically in this Election

Every time I go on facebook and scroll through my news feed I am confronted by a plethora of political information. It is that time of year after all, and if I thought a year ago that Facebook and other social medias were heating up politically, I had no idea the firestorm that was to come. 

Facebook in particular has come incredibly far since its introduction to the public in 2005. What was once simply another tool for connecting has become one of the strongest and most influential news outlets on the internet. Its ease of access and abundance of information has created a direct outlet for politicians to reach potential voters whether they are young, old, liberal, conservative, educated, or uneducated. Hundreds of thousands – even millions of people that typically would stay as far away from politics as possible, are forced into the fray with frequent videos and opinion pieces supporting or speaking out against various candidates. 

The king of this platform is the tv celebrity and businessman Donald Trump. From the beginning of his campaign, Trump and his campaign team knew they didn’t have to beat out other republican nominees by much, so establishing a strong online presence was a must. Donald trump currently has 12.6 million followers on twitter and these aren’t necessarily just Trump supporters. In addition to these twitter followers, every news outlet that likes a good story has paid close attention to Donald Trump on Twitter because of just how intense some of his posts seem to be. Put simply, Donald Trump has gained support and followers because he has an entertaining social media presence.  

Hillary Clinton has never reached the level of buzzworthy appearance on social media, but her supporters have taken it upon them to help her out on this front. Ten minutes scrolling through a democrat’s Facebook page will find you countless videos and articles, not necessarily approved by Clinton, but none the less coming to her aid in this election.  

The most fascinating part about the influence of social media in politics is the absolute power of confirmation bias. The way Facebook, for example, works is that every time you click on something a friend or a page you follow shares, it remembers. The more you click, the more it remembers. Facebook’s nature as a business makes sure that every one of its users has the most pleasurable experience as possible while browsing content.

This means that once Facebook has collected enough information on your preferences (not just political) it can start tailoring your news feed to fit those preferences. My facebook feed is drastically different than my girlfriend’s facebook feed even though our political affiliations are moderate left and moderate right respectively. Facebook will inherently only show you information that it thinks you want to see. This means that if you are a Hillary supporter you will almost exclusively be shown pro Hillary and anti Trump posts. If you are a Trump supporter you will see the opposite. 

This format is dangerous. When you have millions upon millions of relatively uneducated potential voters being hit with one opinion piece after another, the value of american politics diminishes. It becomes a war of who can reach technologically tethered voters better and who can send out the most propaganda regardless if the information provided is true or not.  

A popular type of video in the last few months are those that show clips of either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton saying something and then a clip of them years earlier saying the opposite. These videos call the targeted candidate liars and cheats, which regardless of being true or false, is agreed upon by viewers. Both videos are reaching the exact same point, except on two completely different candidates. But people never see the other side, they never see that the creators of these videos are aware of their counterparts and are only looking for views. Potential voters take these videos as fact and that drastically affects how they think. Having this kind of false information so heavily advertised limits the effectiveness of truth and reason in the world of modern US politics. 

It is shocking to see how both parties are manipulating the minds of potential voters, and this caused me to adjust how I see things. As a liberal, my Facebook feed was exclusively pro Hillary, anti Trump… until recently. I was so sick of seeing one side of the picture that I actually went to a friends Facebook page (who is a Trump supporter), looked at the conservative facebook pages that he follows, and I followed them. I was tired of getting only one perspective and I did something about it. Now I am able to see a mixed bag of political information that will help me make a more educated choice on Nov. 8. 

Unfortunately not everyone is as open-minded, and many people, if not most, only want to see the information that they agree with. In 2008 Obama’s election was dubbed the “Facebook Election” because of Facebook’s influence on the outcome. Facebook and other social medias such as Snapchat, Instagram, and Twitter have only grown in the last eight years and will likely continue to grow in the coming years. Their heavy influence in United States politics could bring the end of educated, unbiased voting.