STILLPOINT Archive: last updated 05/06/2011
Much More than Meets the Eye
by Jeffrey S. Miller, professor of theatre arts
Two performances of Gilbert and Sullivan’s operetta The Pirates of Penzance played to enthusiastic packed houses in the A. J. Gordon Memorial Chapel in January. But what dazzled and delighted onstage was only part of the intense experience for an unprecedented cast and crew of close to 75 Gordon students. And it’s what you didn’t see that moved me most as director.
In the middle of finals week in early December, a crew of student seamstress volunteers gathered with costume designer Christine Alger, her student assistants Amy Laing ’11 and Lauren Mawe ’11, and production supervisor Dawn Sarrouf ’92, to map out the plan to produce close to 100 costumes in just three weeks. Cutting short their holiday breaks, they gathered in early January in the cramped costume shop of Barrington Center for the Arts, creating a virtual costume factory—often laboring 10 to 12 hours a day on elegant summer dresses, flowing nightgowns, spiffy policemen’s uniforms and colorful pirate regalia that graced the actors.
Meanwhile technical director Nathaniel Punches ’11, assisted by carpenter Luke Miller ’14 and other student volunteers, began building the stunning set designed by Amber Primm ’04, complete with runway, rocky cove, crumbling columns and stately plinths. Theatre and art double major Carissa Gerber ’11 assisted with painting the large beach backdrop and ornate Queen Victoria frame. During the week before Dining Services opened following Christmas break, production manager Kaitlin Dalpini ’11 planned and supervised dinners for the entire cast and crew, including a goodly number of special dietary needs.
And this doesn’t begin to touch on the outstanding contributions of choreographer Kaitlyn Ebbott ’11; or the backstage crew led by stage manager Sam Dennis ’11; the chapel sound and light crew headed by Eric Cade; and the makeup team led by Cassie West ’11. Or the rehearsal time invested by the orchestra—largely students—led by intrepid music director Michael Monroe. Or the additional hours put in by the crew and cast moving set pieces, props and costumes between Barrington and the chapel before and after rehearsals; hanging the drops in place; installing lights; and removing everything again after the last show so the chapel could be restored for its normal use.
It was a massive collaborative undertaking. I have never seen so many students on our campus work so selflessly for the sheer love of learning and delighting an audience. And I’d be hard pressed to find a more vivid and inspiring picture of the Body of Christ in action—one body, many parts, each using his or her gifts in service.
The production of this buoyant, sometimes silly but ultimately soaring operetta about the importance of faithfulness and duty, sought to entertain and uplift its audience. But it was all the supporting efforts—what you didn’t see—joyfully given behind the scenes, that served to build my hope;
hope in the future of the arts at Gordon and, more importantly, in our Creator God, the Source of all beauty, music, dance and theatre!
Wall Street Goes to Honduras
by Mac Gostow ’13
Last April Stephanie “Stevie” Bittner, a senior English major, got a surprise email from a man named Chad Petterson, a former Wall Street trader with a vision for a business-oriented reality TV show in Teupasenti, Honduras. He was looking for someone to coordinate video production and assist in preliminary meetings and startup publicity for the show Wall Street Exodus. Petterson had heard about Stevie’s internship work with the CBS News press office and thought she’d be a great addition to the project.
Stevie agreed and soon found herself deep in the impoverished slums of Teupasenti, Honduras, working with 12 brilliant Wall Street businessmen who were attempting to build sustainable businesses. Teupasenti, one of the poorest regions of Central America, was hit hard in 1998 by Hurricane Mitch, setting the region back five years.
During Stevie’s time in Honduras, videographers filmed the pilot as Wall Streeters met with officials and townspeople. Bittner coordinated production and developed spreadsheets and comparative charts for investors. Production was filmed with still cameras for use either as the pilot to a television show or a promotional tool to generate publicity and investor support.
Back in the States now, Stevie has maintained contact with Petterson and reports that the project is still underway. Her experience in Honduras, she says, was good preparation for the work she hopes to enter at the network level. Though Wall Street Exodus was a lower-budget project, Stevie was able to immerse herself in a highly informative, logistically similar experience to that of a larger network company.
Just as valuable, Stevie’s perspective on the network television industry shifted as a result of her internship as she recognized the potential paths she could take in the field. She became aware of the responsibility that big-name network companies have as they spread their influence to economically struggling regions.
This summer Gordon will host an international seminar in Honduras titled Living with a Disability in the Developing World.
Wear a Shirt; Give a Smile; Spread Hope
by Ashlie Michelle Busone ’14
It was a normal summer afternoon for me—I was babysitting two girls with cystic fibrosis, a life-threatening illness—and decided we’d make tie-dyed T-shirts as a fun summer project. Before we even got them off the clothesline, the girls had to be taken to the hospital.
A few weeks later I took the T-shirts to the girls in the hospital. I knew by watching their reactions that I had to help others like them. So I started Hippies for Hope, an organization dedicated to bringing hope to the hopeless. I was only 14.
Later that year I donated over 100 tie-dyed T-shirts to the Fletcher Allen Hospital in Burlington, Vermont. Then I providentially received a call from a woman who had stumbled on my business card. She had a strong connection with a girls’ school in Tanzania, East Africa, called Secondary Education for Girls Advancement (SEGA), and asked if I would be willing to help raise money for it.
After a lot of prayer and research, God clearly pointed me in the direction of helping internationally and locally—by fundraising for SEGA but also donating locally to Albany Medical Center’s Children’s Hospital.
One Christmas I sent each SEGA girl a T-shirt. They sent back a photo with a sea full of smiles and every girl wearing a shirt I had sent. On the blackboard behind them they had scrawled my name. At that moment I knew I had to meet them—to see in person the impact I was making. Last summer I was able to travel to Tanzania to help teach English as a Second Language and tie-dye with SEGA students.
Bringing joy to those who need it most is what keeps me going. Realizing I’m making a difference in people’s lives is incredibly rewarding. When I asked a girl at SEGA what she wanted to do after she graduated, she responded, “I want to help others, Madam, like you.”
To order your own $10 tie-dyed T-shirt or to donate money, call 518.926.8485 or email hippiesforhopegmail.com.
Students Create Scot Radio
by Mac Gostow ’13
After months of planning and programming, Gordon students Anders Johnson ’12, Naama Mendes ’13, Amber Fiedler ’13 and Mac Gostow ’13 have launched Gordon’s own radio station. The station is a live stream on the Internet with airtime at 5–8 p.m. Show hosts will air from a newly renovated Jenks recording studio and cover things like campus and world news, sports, entertainment, religious discussions and faculty interviews. They’ll also play music from student-donated CDs.
In addition to being a service to students, Mac and Amber, a Gordon College Student Association (GCSA) representative, want this to be a medium to keep alumni in touch with the Gordon community by broadcasting informative, entertaining programs.
“Naama and I picked up the idea of Scot Radio after a small group of A. J. Gordon Scholars started working on it last year,” says Amber. “We met with faculty and staff and received funding from GCSA. After purchasing sound equipment and interviewing radio hosts, we are ready to go.”
To tune in, visit:
Wallyball, Cambodian Americans and Smart Thursdays
by Angelina Sykeny ’14
Where is Inn Gee Kim on a Monday afternoon? Playing wallyball! But why is this busy senior—studying political science and philosophy, and an intern with Gordon in Lynn—playing wallyball?
Twice a week Inn Gee volunteers through his Gordon in Lynn internship at Khmer American Youth in Action (KAYA), an after-school program for Cambodian American middle and high school students. “I wanted to apply the idea of service emphasized in the Gordon classroom,” says Inn Gee. Gordon in Lynn partners with the city of Lynn, where students work with various community organizations, learning to serve others in a diverse urban environment.
On Mondays the kids exercise and play sports at the YMCA. On “Smart Thursdays” interns help students with homework and present a 15–20-minute educational workshop. “KAYA is important because it creates community,” says Inn Gee. “The youth form strong bonds with one another. The kids’ love and respect for one another amaze me.”
A few weeks ago Inn Gee’s roommate mentioned that cello students at Gordon are looking for places to perform. That gave Inn Gee an idea: make “Smart Thursdays” a little more interesting by asking cellists to play a few songs and lead short discussions about music.
Originally from the Philippines, Inn Gee has formed a unique bond with the kids through their common Southeast Asian backgrounds. He even brought back some dried mangoes from the Philippines to share with the kids, which they absolutely loved! “The relationships I have formed with the kids at KAYA are by far the most rewarding thing about my internship,” he says. Though he’s not sure what God has planned for him in the future, he hopes to always be attentive to others and help those in need.
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