Author Archives: Isabel Braunstein

The 1st Time Theater Arts Has No Main Stage Play

This is the first time ever in all the years since the opening of the Theater department at Chabot College there’ll be no main stage play because of budget cuts.

The college is working to reduce the deficit. According to Dean of Arts, Media and Communication, Deonne Kunkel “I’m working with Vice President of Business Services, Ron Gerhard, also Vice President, Stacy Thompson. The program reviews were just completed. All the different areas put in their request and we are now in the process of compiling all them. We hope that the request for the main stage support will be prioritized high enough.”

Theater Arts Instructor Dov Hassan explained that the main reason we will go without any main stage plays this semester boils down to a lack of funds for technical staff. Technical staff are all those who work behind the scenes. The people who make the costumes and stage sets, who do the lighting, run the box office, publicity, marketing, and who handle and produce the shows.

“There is so much work to be done that we can’t just do this with students alone. We have a class for technical theater, but it’s so intense to build a set for a show that that’s about all they can get done. It’s such a mad dash to get it all done in time, that there’s not much time left for really teaching the subject matter in depth. And there needs to be staff support to direct things. Theater offers all kind of training for other jobs. It helps students learn to work on complicated tasks.” said Theater Arts instructor Dov Hassan

Instructor Hassan explained that a lot of people get the Performing Arts Center (PAC) staff confused with the theater arts program. According to him, the PAC staff is solely dedicated to running the theater for rental use. “They have staff, but we get zero support from them. We are not related to them. It’s a totally separate program.”

The funding has been decreasing slowly and steadily. The theater never had to rely on outside funding like grants. The funding has always been inside the college district budget. The theater program sells a lot of tickets for their shows.

“If we don’t get a certain amount of funding from the district, in addition to not putting on a main stage play we will no longer be able to attend The American College Theater Festival, that we have attended every year. nonetheless, theater arts continues to thrive with tremendous student energy and commitment to new original plays. We need to hire professional people for the whole year, and we don’t have the money for that” says professor Rachel Lepell.

The Deficit is not only affecting the Theater Arts but the whole campus. It’s affecting the theater, music, science, digital media, math, and English department. Every department doesn’t have as much funding for supplies as they did before. The new plan under our new Vice President of Business Services, Ron Gerhard is that the Theater Arts has to rent out Chabot College facilities. Renting out the Facilities also means that the Television station Mass Communications class might have to pay for each student to use Chabot College facilities. When asked about the Theater arts and MCOM classes renting out the facilities Dr. Stacy Thompson was uncertain about it.

The instructors who direct the main stage plays are Joel Mullennix, Margo Hall, and Dov Hassan. Every semester they rotate who’s directing the class and the play. Next semester there’s going to be the main stage play “Romeo and Juliet” by William Shakespeare and Professor Mullennix is going to direct it.

Since there’s not going to be a main stage play this semester, emerging works is going to be more ambitious. With six plays, there’s going to be more students in the class that are going to be performing. Emerging works are student’s plays that ran earlier in December.

Vice President of Academic Services Dr. Stacy Thompson added “We had a deficit we’re trying to work out so now the hope is we will be able to fund the performances, and the supplies you need for performances. A proposal was submitted through the program review process we’re hopeful that we are going to have a main stage play next year, and by the end of this fiscal year things would’ve settled down and be put into place. The program will survive, and it will flourish.”

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Ceramics Sale Raises Funds for the Arts

Part-time ceramics instructor Skip Esquierdo started the ceramics sale 40 years ago. Initially, it was started to subsidize the ceramics department but has grown to help out the whole art department. “We raise money for student shows, and I spread it around where funds are needed,” he said.

He went on to say that they sell “donated or recycled pottery that’s left over. That’s why we can sell it so cheaply.” He said it also helps to clear out the ceramics lab.

When asked how much the sale takes in all Skip would say was, “Enough to make it worthwhile doing.”

Teri Lee, a facility assistant for the ceramics lab who was helping out at the sale said, “We’re really gratified by the support shown by the college community. Many faculty, staff, and students have come to do their holiday shopping here. It’s a win-win for them and Chabot.”

Eddie Cruz, another ceramics facility assistant, helping at the sale told everyone who stopped by for the sale, “Thank you for supporting the arts.”

The First Amendment Under Attack

The legitimate press plays a vital role in our democratic republic. By routing out corruption and letting people know what’s going on so they can have a voice in things, a responsible press tries to keep government and local agencies on a straight path to guard the public interest. The news media can also provide an outlet to various voices to spread understanding of different points of view and thereby promote tolerance.

The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states “… Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

The idea that people can derive the truth by hearing from competing views and drawing their own conclusions, while noble, only works if people really do this and the reporters are truthful. The 2016 Elections was the first time that fake online sources figured into an election in a big way. We are still learning our way when it comes to who we can trust and who we can’t. Unfortunately, this will take some time to sort out. Hopefully, by the next Presidential election, the legitimate press will have worked out a better way to get the true information to the public on social media.

Drawing from a November 4, 2017 KPCC broadcast on fake news and the First Amendment comes the voices of Eugene Volokh, David Snyder, and Mark Marino.

Eugene Volokh, a constitutional law professor at UCLA’s school of law said, “Fake news is also constitutionally protected under the First Amendment. The only types of speech that are constitutionally unprotected are libel and perjury.” He goes on to say that “We are wired to be easily duped. They figure out what we want to hear and they give it to us.” Which is why fake news is so effective.

It doesn’t help when the viewing public craves sleazy, sensationalistic, superficial stories. If that is what they are drawn to, then that is what the money-driven media will give them. We have to demand that our news coverage addresses the facts not the bedroom habits or outrageous comments of political officials.

The executive director of the First Amendment Coalition David Snyder said, “The solution to speech that you disagree with is not to make the person shut up,” but to “speak again.” In other words, challenge what they say and route out the truth from the lies. He feels that people will eventually rely on the news outlets that work hard to tell the truth.

The upside of this is that people learn not to take the news media at face value. Reporters are people after all, with their own set of biases and agendas. But the downside is when we doubt everything and don’t know where to turn for the truth. Snyder said, “That’s one of the potential objectives of those who throw around the name fake news, to muddy the waters sufficiently that people don’t think anyone can tell them what really happened.” He says this moves us closer to a dictatorship.

Meanwhile, programmers are trying to come up with apps that can distinguish between fake news (or misinformation) and credible news. They hope to block bot sites, trolls and other spreaders of fake news. A bot is a software application that runs automated tasks (scripts) over the internet, akin to a robocall. Twitter recently came out with a bot blocker called Block Bot which sweeps Twitter for nasty Twitter users, and botcheckme claims to use advanced machine learning techniques to detect propaganda bots on Twitter.

But obviously, the ultimate fake news controller is the reading public itself, who must check things out for themselves. USC associate professor of writing Mark Marino says “news consumers should look at a story’s URL and think about the quality of the news outlet, look at additional sources to ensure there is support for the story, listen to others, and check their own biases and privileges.”

Chabot College’s TV Station Maintains Industry Standards

I walked into the Chabot TV station studio in Building 100, and suddenly on-screen I was looking at myself sitting behind an imposing desk with the TV station’s logo on it, but as I looked around, all I saw were TV cameras, a monitor, a clock and a giant green sheet of material on the walls. This feat of electronic magic is just one of the amazing things that the equipment at the Chabot TV station can do. Sujoy Sarkar, the stations Broadcast Cable Technician who manages the station gave me a tour.

Sujoy, the school, and the cities of Hayward and Fremont have worked hard to mold the station into one of the Bay Area’s premier college teaching stations. Sujoy wanted it to be up to industry standard,s so that students completing the courses would fit easily into jobs at local stations. Sujoy said that 80-90 percent of the graduates who go on to finish their four-year degree, find jobs in the industry because of our connections to the local CBS (Ch. 5) and NBC (Ch. 4) affiliates. He told me that we have mentors from both channels.

Sujoy said, “San Francisco State [University] sends interns here to do their internships because of how advanced we are and because of the variety of opportunities.” He told me that SFSU looked at a lot of other colleges and decided our setup was the best. He laughed and said that a lot of former students end up coming back as interns.

The station, KCTH, is two stations in one, cable channel 28 which is a public access channel. People in the community produce shows on this, and Channel 27 our educational channel. This is where the students learn their craft and put on shows. There is quite a wide variety of shows, everything from exercise shows to celebrity interviews. Sujoy said that right now they have 18 hours of programming running on air. The shows repeat at the same time of day, every day for a week. One show, “Lords Blood”, a sort of Friday night Horror show that runs on our channel and streaming over the internet, got up to 100,000 views worldwide. Chabot hopes to have 4 streaming channels of its own within 3-4 months that will stream around the world. And he commented that, “It would be awesome if we could have video on demand too!” He’s still working on that one.

Khash Naraghi, who is one of the school’s contacts at Channel 5, advised Sujoy on what to get to be compatible with the industry standards so the students get trained on the same equipment as the stations.” Our station has the same switching console as Channel 5 and similar HD cameras. The cameras can spot a speck of dust on a chair from across the room. The IP routers automatically switch between sources as needed, so there is no “dead” airtime. That means there is always something running 24/7.

He said that like CNN we can do 4 Skype calls at once “so we can have a live discussion. Students can use a camera or their phone to send a video. “If they see something driving home, they can send it to the station, and we can record it and use it later or live.” He said the station was 100 percent digital and that we could get information from anywhere. “We can also do Facebook, Twitter and Instagram live on the switcher to do live broadcasts.”

They also changed all the lights to LEDs. Before, each of the 15 studio lights consumed a 1000 watts each. Now they only consume 150 watts total. No more hot, sweaty, miserable performers.