Speaker to address concern for human rights in D.C., Hollywood

michael-haas1Michael Haas, president of the Political Film Society and adjunct professor at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, will be on campus March 11 to discuss the decline of concern for human rights in Washington and Hollywood’s increasing concern about those rights. The talk, which is free and open to the public, will be held at 4 p.m. in the Behavioral Sciences Building, Room A101. The event is part of a lecture series on international human rights being hosted by CSU's Department of Communication Studies and Scott Diffrient, the William E. Morgan Endowed Chair of Liberal Arts. Haas’ passion for human rights and Hollywood began when he moved to Los Angeles with his adoptive family in 1950. He graduated from Hollywood High School in 1956, at a time when left-wing members of the film industry were blacklisted. This directly affected him, as many of his friends’ parents’ careers were terminated or investigated. This prompted Haas to join the American Civil Liberties Union in college. In 1986 he founded the Political Film Society (www.polfilms.com), in part to honor directors who bravely created films that raised political consciousness. Haas receive his Ph.D. from Stanford University, and was a professor at University of Hawaii for 35 years. He has edited and authored more than 40 books on government and politics. In 2010, he was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. Haas said the mass movements in human rights that began in the 19th century caused major political reforms in Washington during the 20th century. “What happened in the 1990s was the dawn of superpower responsibility, flourishing of UN peacekeeping, removal of barriers to world trade, a surge of democracies, government atonement for past sins, environmental protection, and the rise of nongovernmental organizations, particularly in regard to human rights,” he said. Now, in the 21st century, these leaps in human rights have dwindled off politically. Inversely, Hollywood producers in Los Angeles and elsewhere have shown an increase in interest in human rights. During his discussion Haas will address the reasons for this disconnect. According to Haas, one of the significant reasons is politicians in Washington have become insular, while filmmakers have traveled more. In his talk, Haas will discuss the history of human rights and political science, the parallel response of political science and the role of Hollywood in seeking to place human rights back at the forefront of the political agenda. For more information, visit http://col.st/2Wo8L.

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Theatre students represent CSU at Regional Kennedy Center Festival

This article was written by Emma Schenkenberger Each year, CSU students participate in the Region 7 Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF), which brings together student actors and technicians who do exceptional work in their field. This year, the group of 13 CSU students who attended with faculty member Price Johnston travelled to Central Washington University in Ellensburg, Wash.KCACTF students The Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival is a national theatre program, with more than 18,000 participants annually, and, according to the organization’s website, “[KCACTF] has served as a catalyst in improving the quality of college theatre in the United States.” The KCACTF Region 7 is composed of nine western states, including Alaska, northern California, Coloroado, Idaho, Montana, northern Nevada, Oregon, Washington, and Wyoming. More than 1,000 theatre students from Region 7 convene annually to participate in workshops; attend symposia, colloquies, and professional presentations; work with resident artists; and compete for honors, awards, and scholarships for their creative accomplishments in theatre productions and staged at their schools. CSU had three actors nominated for the Irene Ryan Competition, named for the famous American actress from the 1950s. One of these students was senior Ryan Miller, for his leading role in "The Night of the Iguana" (spring 2014). Ryan will also play the role of Gandalf in CSU’s upcoming production of "The Hobbit" (spring 2015). CSU students also competed in several technical theatre areas, including sound design, stage management, properties design, and scenic design. CSU enjoys a history of particularly excelling in the technical competitions at KCACTF, and this year was no exception. Mackenzie Cunningham, a junior theatre major, received a Meritorious Achievement Award for her properties design in "A Year with Frog and Toad" (Fall 2014). Senior theatre major Alex Billman won Best Sound Design for his work on "The Night of the Iguana" and will take his design to compete in Washington, D.C. at the national competition in April. KCACTF students(2)While these competitions are the reason most students from universities across the nine-state region take a week during the school year to travel to another state and attend KCACTF, the festival also offers considerable professional development and networking opportunities. Not only are there auditions that give soon-to-graduate actors job opportunities around the country, but also 10-minute play auditions to perform in original student-written plays during the festival. This year, approximately 180 student festival-goers auditioned, and only 20 students were finally chosen to be part of these staged readings – six of which were from Colorado State University. Full productions that universities mount throughout the year can also apply to be in the running to come and perform for one night at the festival. Three years ago, when CSU hosted the KCACTF Region 7 festival, CSU’s original "The Kafka Project" was chosen to perform. This year these shows came from Linfield College, University of Wyoming, and Diablo Valley College. The festival is a time for students from CSU to not only get to know each other better, but also meet students from other universities who are passionate about the same things. “I got to spend the week with other people who have the same kind of aspirations and dreams that I do, [which] gives me motivation to keep working that much harder on what I do,” senior Chris Olsen wrote of his experience this year. Olsen competed in the Irene Ryan Competition and was cast in a 10-minute play. [caption id="attachment_12031" align="alignright" width="300"]photo of Mackenzie Cunningham Mackenzie Cunningham[/caption] “I think it made me a better performer and able to advocate for the arts as a whole,” he said. “CSU students really made a big impact at this festival, and next year when it is held in Denver, we will be there and will be all the more ready to have these same experiences and even better results in their competitions.” Olsen was nominated for his role as the King of Hearts in "Alice and Wonderland" (spring 2014) and will be playing Bilbo Baggins in CSU’s upcoming production of "The Hobbit." Year after year, KCACTF gives students opportunities to network, perform, compete, and grow amongst their peers from around the country. Junior theatre major Lauren Scott, who attended the festival for the first time this year, said she “left feeling so proud of all of my hard work, even more passionate for this crazy business and a little less overwhelmed about where I will be going once I graduate.” The 2016, after three years away, the KCACTF Region 7 conference will be back in Colorado; this time hosted by the University of Colorado-Denver. Regional Awards Alex Billman (’15) won the Theatrical Design Excellence Award in the Sound Design category for his work on the CSU production of "The Night of the Iguana." He will attend the national conference in April. Mackenzie Cunningham (’16) received an Allied Design and Technologies Meritorious Achievement Award for her work on the CSU production of "A Year with Frog and Toad." For more information, visit the UCA website.

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