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Final Self-Reflection of Art in Motion FAA 110

Written by Weon Taek Na

As I searched for a last course to fill my general education requirement, I wanted the course to be special. I wanted a course that I gave me a hands on experience outside of the typical engineering courses that I took. A close friend of mine suggested FAA 110 as such a course, and I am so glad that she did. FAA 110 became the favorite class that I took at University of Illinois. I had very little knowledge nor experience in arts and I was able to enjoy the amazing performances and museums that were held at our university.

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It Has Come To End

Written by Jackie Dominguez

When I was picking my classes for Spring 2020 my advisor suggested that FAA 110 would be a fun class to take. However, what I didn’t know was that FAA 110 would become my favorite class I’ve ever taken in my college career. When the semester first started, I realized that class would be meeting on Wednesday mornings and also be meeting on the scheduled event days. When I found that out I wanted to drop the class because I thought it would interfere with my social life, I’m so grateful that I didn’t!

FAA 110 provided me so much more than free performances, I truly believe it gave me a new pair of eyes for art. I have never been the type of person to attend performances or visit museums during my free time and that is simply because I just never gave art the opportunity to be appreciated. This course allowed me to have a better insight on the amazing opportunities the University provides students with that are often not taken advantage of. I truly enjoyed this course because whenever I attended class and the events, it felt like academics wasn’t the one thing constantly on my mind but instead my own feelings. I’ll never forget when Professor Collins said this in class, “Your voice is important. Never allow your voice to be stifield…Not only in this class but in everything!” This really has stuck with me and will continue to, because no professors in my college career ever made me feel like my opinion truly mattered enough to make a change. I’m so glad that FAA 110 taught me about the beauty of art but also that there is power within myself.

I’ll never forget the first performance I attended, Shanghai Ballet. What a masterpiece, I never thought I would be able to appreciate a performance without any words being spoken. However, I learned that art doesn’t have to say much, you just have to allow art to speak to you. I’ll always remember this performance as the first performance that brought me to tears. I wish more people were able to see this performance through my  perspective. 

Step Afrika!: Drumfolk was the second performance I attended in the Krannert Art Performance Center. As a history major that specifically loves African American history I can honestly say, I wish this performance never ended. This performance tells the story of how African Americans were stripped away from their culture and have had to continue to fight for till this day. There were so many different elements that overall made the performance unforgettable!

The third performance I attended was Jonathan Swensen’s cello performance. I never thought I would have truly enjoyed a cello performance, but I also never thought it would bring me to tears. Jonathan Swensen’s performance allowed me to reflect on my thoughts and let all my little broken pieces in me feel like they were put back together just by simply listening.

The fourth performance that I attended was Micheal Barenboin and the West Eastern Divan Ensemble. I was fortunate enough to be seated in the front row, this allowed me to get a view that I felt like no one else in the room had. The orchestra players were unbelievably talented and anyone could tell that these performances have played their instruments their whole life. This performance was truly unforgettable.

Cabaret, a true masterpiece full of meticulous details that truly made the show shine! This musical not only made you feel like you could connect with the characters such as Sally, Clifford, Fraulein Schneider or even Herr Schultz but it made you feel like you were part of the show!

Virgo – Man Dem: While watching this performance, I must admit that I was a little lost. I didn’t quite understand why the dancers were making weird movements that didn’t go along with the music. I think that’s the beauty of art. Sometimes no one understands because it’s not always for the audience, sometimes it’s for the artist himself. What I learned through this performance is that I as an audience member would not be doing my job if I were to not make the effort to at least understand. Sometimes you’ve got to be able to listen to yourself and be okay with no one else understanding. 

Drum Tao: Out of all the performances I have gotten the opportunity to attend, Drum Tao is by far one of my favorite performances for multiple reasons. It was a performance that showed me that art has the ability to completely ease your mind away from your problems even if it’s just for a while.

The Container: This was the first and last performance I viewed through the online database. This production showed me how refugees seeking refuge have to endure. This really touched me because it made me think of the difficulties a lot of my family members had to go through in order to provide me and siblings a better life. 

FAA 110 provided me so much more that what I could’ve learned in a classroom. I promise to always to try to convince friends to take this course because it truly has been one of my favorite courses I have ever taken. I just want to thank Dr.Collins and Dr. Robinson for making the course so exciting and enjoyable!

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Final Reflection of FAA 110

By Daniel Holley

FAA 110 was one of the most interesting classes I’ve taken in my time at college. Since my time here at university is ending soon, I appreciated the opportunity to get a better idea of the artistic capabilities this campus has. I enjoyed the ability to learn more about our facilities at the art museum and performance centers. I hadn’t been to the art museum or most of the theaters of the performance center before, so it was nice to explore and learn about the people and resources that makes them function. We also watched many diverse live performances this semester, from joyful ballets to intense plays. It is incredible to see how different productions make use of the same stage for their own purposes.

My ticket to the Shanghai Ballet’s performance

The Shanghai Ballet’s performance of The Butterfly Lovers was the first ballet I’ve witnessed, and I was more impressed that I predicted. The dancers moved elegantly across the stage, perfectly in rhythm to the music and each other’s actions. Although it was at times difficult to understand the story they were trying to tell, their athleticism and humor kept me entertained.

The cast of Step Afrika! wraps up their performance

Step Afrika!’s performance of Drumfolk was my favorite performance this semester. The high energy music and dancing paired with the cultural and historical significance really spoke to me. The performers did their best to include the audience in some of their musical acts as well, further raising the energy in the room.

Somi’s band plays

This musical performance by Laura Kabasomi, or Somi, was our first production focused on the story of a single person. Although Somi was accompanied by her band, the stories she told and songs she sang spoke mostly of her own experiences with race and her African heritage. Her performance was filled with emotion that was clearly straight from her heart.

Anna finishes her performance to a standing ovation

Getting through the Day by Anna Deveare Smith was the first performance this semester that did not have a musical focus, but instead relied on impersonations and spoken stories. Anna’s ability to capture the essence of characters both known and unknown to the audience was incredible, and the way she wove humor and more serious tones into her performance was impressive as well.

My program for this performance of the Cabaret

The Cabaret was one of the more humorous performances I have seen so far. The characters were relatable and engaging, and no opportunity for a joke was missed throughout the play. I was especially impressed by the narrator, who had an amazing sense of stage presence.

The following performances were viewed using the website Digital Theatre+.

Mirai Moriyama plays Gregor in Metamorphosis -Digital Theatre Plus

Metamorphosis was a bizarre, radical shift from what we had seen so far in this class. The humor was scarce, and the characters were faced with impossible ethical dilemmas throughout. Nonetheless, Mirai Moriyama’s performance as Gregor was the best display of acting I had seen in any performance this semester. He was able to conjure a visceral feeling in me with only his body and its movements, needing no help from prosthetics or costume changes.

The colorful stage and costumes of Virago-Man Dem -Krannert Center

The most impressive feat of Virago-Man Dem was its masterful use of vibrant colors. During this performance, the cast changed between costumes that varied greatly in appearance, and the screen behind them displayed colorful murals and silhouettes that helped tell the mood and story behind the play. Visually, this was one of my favorite spectacles this semester.

The Businessman observes his reluctant companions -Digital Theatre Plus

The Container was undoubtedly the most bold and intense production I have seen this semester. The plot was based on real situations people still struggle through today, and it didn’t hold back in showing the seriousness and dangers of immigration. The most interesting part of this performance for me was the stage: having the audience mere inches from the cast, trapped inside the dark container with them makes this quite an uncomfortable play to sit through.

In conclusion, this class has helped me gain appreciation for various types of performances. Without FAA 110, I may have never seen a live ballet or spoken word performance. After being exposed to these different styles, I am happy to say that I enjoyed them much more than I predicted. Although my time here on campus is soon ending, I plan on attending live performances more often when I have the opportunity to. I’m thankful to the teachers and students who have led the discussions on these topics, and helped me learn more about the history and efforts of the people who make these productions possible.

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The Final Blog: A Semester in Review

Written By: Zackarya Faci

Let me start off by saying this has been the most enjoyable course I have taken in all my four years here at the university. I was able to explore the arts and earn a new appreciation for them–something engineering students don’t often find themselves doing. I looked forward to coming to class, since we were always either doing a cool activity or taking an interesting tour, and spend my evenings in the Krannert Center. Sadly, we were not able to spend the entire semester together due to COVID-19, but I was still able to explore beautiful performances online through Digital Theatre+. Here’s a recap of the performances seen throughout the semester:

The Butterfly Lovers

The first performance we saw as a class was The Shanghai Ballet performing “The Butterfly Lovers” at the start of the Chinese New Year. I had never seen a ballet prior and was half-expecting to be bored by the event. However, that was definitely not the case. I was enamored by how well they were able to tell a story without ever saying a single word. The skillful movements and intentional lighting were enough to convey the exact emotions felt onstage.


The next performance, by Step Afrika!, I enjoyed even more. They brought history to life with the their percussive talents. With a simple stage and intriguing costume design, it was easy to focus on what the performers wanted us to see.


Somi is a Jazz musician who performed some songs from her recent album. I never really listened to Jazz music before, so I am glad I attended this performance. Somi’s songs were so soothing yet powerful all at the same time. She also sang about some issues that were important to me.

Anna Deavere Smith

Seeing Smith perform was a bit of a curve ball to me. I was not sure what to expect when heading to this performance. It was not like any of the other performances we have seen; this was a one-woman show. She recreated interviews she conducted and did so with a lot of emotion. While being funny, yet serious, her impersonations of her interviewees sold the show.


The night of Unofficial the class attended Cabaret–which was very fitting. Cabaret was a comedic, scandalous musical set in 1930s Germany. Many scenes were risqué, but honestly it was refreshing to see a performance that was more adult-oriented. This was also the first performance I’ve seen that had subtitles above the stage–something I found very interesting.

The Merchant of Venice

The Merchant of Venice was the first performance I viewed online after in-person classes were postponed. It was a witty comedy that touched upon some serious topics. I read the play in high school so it was nice to revisit it and see how the performance compared to simply reading the play.

The Container

The Container was a very unique performance. Being performed in a shipping container with low light really set the mood for the entire performance. The choice to perform in a shipping container was ingenious, and I wish I could have been there to see it performed live. The story was already compelling and sincere as is, but being there in person would have been a whole new level of immersion.


The final performance I viewed this semester was Metamorphosis. This was definitely a wacky one. The movements by the performers were flamboyant and exaggerated–fitting with the peculiar story. The performance was also in Japanese, so I had to follow along with subtitles. Metamorphosis opened my mind to watch other forms of media that may not be in a language I understand.

Closing Thoughts

A sincere thank you goes out to Dr. Collins and Prof. Robinson. I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect from this class, but I took away more than I could have ever asked for. They always had so much energy and never failed to brighten up my day. They also helped us explore the arts in ways a typical class could never. Thank you for helping me explore performances I probably would have never seen on my own. Thank you for making my final semester a great one! 🙂

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Final Reflections: A Lovely Time

By: Jacob M Rominger

I decided to end my college career exploring what only the University of Illinois could provide: an experience exploring the culture and arts of the University’s feature facilities like the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts and the Spurlock Museum. I lamented being cut short of the fun times I was having, but I am happy I got to take part. Dr. Collins and Dr. Robinson provided a course that broadened my horizons, taking me to performances I may not have otherwise. This stayed true into the pandemic as I was directed to online performances to compliment my education. My classmates were friendly and fun. My brief encounters with them are ones I treasure immensely and some of what I miss the most in this isolation we all suffer through today.

Original photo I took at the Shanghai Ballet
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Final Reflection: A Wonderful Experience

Written by: Lydia Amezcua Ramirez

Where to start off…first of all this class gave me an insight on all the creative things that the University provides which we must take advantage of while we can because our time there is short. This semester proved that point. We never know how long we have with something, it is up to us to not take it for granted and take every opportunity given to us while it’s there. I feel this way about this class. I am glad I ended up taking a class I never took before because of all of the amazing events I was able to experience. That was something I could not have done on my own, but now I may thanks to this class.

Even though our in class person time was cut short this spring semester of 2020, that did not stop the learning nor viewing the events in an alternative manner. Thanks to Digital Theatre Plus, the online viewings were still made possible. Even though it was not the same experience as an in person production, it still continued the entertaining as the other events.

Productions through Krannert

A moment of captivating happiness as the Butterfly Lovers got their happy ending

“The Butterfly Lovers” was the first production that the FAA 110 class introduced us to. I was really glad it involved butterflies in the title because butterflies are so captivating to me, which got me more excited for the performance rather than viewing it as mandatory. What I loved about this production was the acting through ballet, the performers could not speak with their mouths so the only other alternative was through dance. I really believe they did an excellent job in conveying their message to the audience because after all, everyone stood up for a standing ovation !

The beginning of the performance where the dancers showed us various rhythms using their bodies

“Step Afrika!: Drumfolk” was the second performance that we viewed through the Krannert Art Center. Originally I thought this performance was going to be mostly drum playing, but it meant much more than that. This performance gave me an insight on a culture’s traditional ways of expressing themselves. It brought to life the horrors of the past but at the same time the kindled spirits of those who are warriors. It was truly a wonderful and impactful experience that I would recommend for others to view if they ever have the chance.

Somi along with some of the performers of that night

“SOMI” was the third production that I got to view in person. What I liked about this performance was the fact that the main singer, Somi, had an amazing and diverse range of voice pitches to share with the audience. I’m pretty sure that everyone was amazed with her work. Personally, I really looked up to her given the fact that she always took the time to have the rest of her performers recognized, asking the audience to clap for them whenever they had an individual part to play or whenever they played with her. That showed her humbleness, which I really admired.

Reading about the author herself before the performance had begun

“Anna Deavere Smith” was the fourth In person production I was able to watch. This was a new type of experience for me because I had never gone to see a comedian/storyteller before so I did not know what to expect. Anna Deavere Smith had a unique form of storytelling that was new to me, but it was well vocalized given that the audience kept laughing at the jokes that she would incorporate in her stories.

The beginning scene of the production, filled with dances

“The Cabaret” was the fifth and last in person production I was able to view. This performance also included a historical event but it was told in events leading up to it, through different people. This production was more musical/entertainment like, which I really enjoyed to see. To me, the characters really drew in my attention because of how different everyone was and how they viewed life back then in Berlin, Germany.

Productions through Digital Theatre +

The women in the film afraid as the disadvantage of being a woman is showcased

The Container” was the 6th production I viewed, but the first one through an online database, because of in person classes being suspended. What I enjoyed about this production was shedding to light the gruesome realities of the world. The actors took on the role of what refugees seeking refuge go through because of the opportunities they are denied of. A tragedy, but this Is real life for many people, which we often don’t think about.

Taking on the role of an insect by crawling on the ground.

“Metamorphosis” was a production that I never imagined seeing. So many aspects of this play made it unique, the costuming, the storytelling, the set, but most importantly it was the storyline. The life of an ordinary salesman is turned upside down as he transforms into an insect out of nowhere. When I first heard the title I associated it with growth and butterflies, when I viewed the film it was nothing like metamorphosis for the better of an individual. It was more like a metamorphosis for the family and how to continue going about life.

Macbeth taking the role of a King

The final production was a Shakespeare one but one of my choice. I chose to view “Macbeth” because I have heard about it in high-school but never got to read about it. The only thing I knew I was going to be in store for was confusing language. After reading an overview of the film I was able to go along with the storyline and conclude that Shakespeare productions are filled with tragedies and drama but at the same time creativity.

Concluding Thoughts

Overall, all of the productions were all entertaining and had a unique storyline behind it as well as the way the performance was delivered. Being in this class was an amazing experience and what makes it well liked are the teachers behind it. I am grateful that I had amazing, helpful, and encouraging teachers, Dr. Collins and Dr. Robinson, that really helped me through the class and explore messages within the productions.

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Final Thoughts on FAA110

By: Veronica Y Gonzalez
Foellinger Great Hall
Colwell Playhouse
Colwell Playhouse Audience

I never thought that I would find a class as fun and enlightening as this one. I had taken a theater class my freshman year and absolutely hated it to the point where my love for theater had plummeted. This class helped resurrect it and brought it to twice the intensity. I got to feel the excitement of looking forward to the day of the shows. I realized I love the whole experience of being in a performing center. I got to see the beauty of the building itself, the passion the performers have, the shared emotions in the audience, and I got to learn more about different cultures as well!

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Final Reflections: A Class That I’ll Never Forget

By Elena Grantcharski

I am extremely grateful that I was able to be in this class. I was able to reunite with my love for the arts in full force. It was amazing to have a performance to look forward to every single week and I am going to continue going to performances at Krannert more often because I have realized how healing it is to experience art and how much it has helped me deal with stress this semester. I was disappointed that I was not able to enjoy this class to its full capacity due to COVID-19…I was really looking forward to the remaining performances. However, I am still extremely happy with the experiences I took from the first half of the semester and I also really enjoyed the Digital performances and I am also happy that I now know that a website like that exists so I can enjoy more performances online this summer if I want to.

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Revisiting the Semester

Despite my lack of experience with the performing arts, I decided to take this class to step out of my comfort zone and I’m glad I did. I had a grand time watching these performances and trying to form my own opinions about the message of each show and their purpose. Through this course, I’ve found the type of performances I like the most and I definitely want to be visiting the Krannert Center and local performing arts theatres in the future.

By Grace Chen

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The news, on re-opening businesses: yay or nay?

by Aki Akhauri

A restaurant sign saying the restaurant is closed
Many public places, including restaurants, are closed indefinitely because of lockdowns and stay-at-home orders. (Credit: Aki Akhauri, March 31, 2020)

            Since several states have instituted lockdowns or stay-at-home orders because of the covid-19 pandemic, many businesses have had to shut down. Businesses being shut down leaves many people without an income, so there has been a push to re-open businesses even in the midst of the pandemic. I’ve picked one article each from several news sites to use an example of how they are covering this. Here’s how different news sources are covering the issue of re-opening.

NPR: Around The Country: How States Are Planning To Reopen (Apr 21)

            NPR is generally very factual in its reporting, and is a well-known news outlet. Due to being a non-profit, it does not have to worry so much about what sponsors think, though it does still have sponsors.

            This article in particular focuses on three different cities: Chicago, LA, and Dallas. These cities are different in where they are on the path to reopening. At the time this article was written Chicago’s stay-at-home order was still in full effect, while Texas was starting to reopen some businesses and LA was having protests about reopening.

            The article mentions the falling oil prices as a reason Texans are anxious to reopen soon, to keep the economy going. This is an important point and one I hadn’t considered before. It also talks about the rationale behind the Chicago and LA stay-at-home orders. It doesn’t say one solution is better than another, and remains neutral on this issue.

WESH: Florida tourism industry plans to ease into reopening (Apr 22)

            WESH is a local news station for the Orlando, FL. It is affiliated with NBC.

            I decided to analyze one of my local news organizations since I’ve been using it quite a bit. Florida’s tourism industry is one of its most important sources of income, so it makes sense for local news to report on this specific issue when talking about reopening businesses.

            This article is very short, and is accompanied by a package recorded right off the air. I think that’s strange – they didn’t even cut off the end part where Michelle thanks Jasmine for throwing it to her after the package. The b-roll of the package itself was confusing as well. It didn’t seem to have anything to do with the voice-over or the soundbite. Even though this is important information to know, I found myself distracted by these issues.

            Unfortunately there aren’t many local news sources in this area besides WESH and clickorlando.com, and that one doesn’t even sound like a news site.

Vox: “I’m being forced to choose between my health and my job”: Georgia’s controversial reopening plan, explained (Apr 23)

            Vox is a company that, from what I know, is famous for the videos it makes explaining things. I’ve seen them on YouTube a lot. They are a left-leaning site.

            I can tell just from the headline and sub-headline (“Georgia’s governor is determined to reopen the state’s economy, ready or not.”) what the tone of this article is going to be. It looks like a relatively long article, but it repeats itself a lot. It also doesn’t flow well. It feels disjointed. It mentions something, goes to talking about something else, and then goes back to the first thing paragraphs later. If I didn’t have to, I wouldn’t finish reading this article.

Fox: Trump touts states opening ‘safely & quickly’ from coronavirus lockdowns (Apr 28)

            Fox news is famous for being a right-wing news outlet. It has a lot of viewers on its TV channel. Fox is known for generally being very supportive of President Trump and his policies. If Trump is more concerned with the economy than with stay-at-home orders, it’s likely Fox will be too.

            Fox’s coverage of the coronavirus has changed a bit over time. At first, it tried to dismiss by claiming that it was being blown out of proportion. It’s still reporting on conspiracies, though, like the one being investigated about Wuhan releasing the virus on purpose.

            This article on re-opening is a bit strange. First of all, it discusses President Trump’s tweet while quoting part of the tweet, then it quotes the whole tweet, and then it embeds the actual tweet. It does this three times in the same article. It does talk about other information, like the number of cases, but mostly it quotes Trump and repeats what he says. I could just as well go read Trump’s twitter feed rather than reading this article.

BBC: Coronavirus: This is what reopening in US looks like (Apr 29)

            BBC has reported a lot on the coronavirus, but most of the stories I saw on their front page this last week were about Europe and other countries, not the US. This makes sense since the BBC is located in Europe, and that’s where its primary audience is. I don’t know much about the BBC since I don’t read them often, being in the US and all. From what I remember, they are a reliable news source.

            This re-opening story was a story I was surprised to see, because I didn’t think the BBC would want to do such a local American story as certain places in Georgia reopening. The video was a bit boring though. I would’ve liked to go more in depth on any of the 3 places or situations mentioned in the story. Also, why was there music? There didn’t need to be music, and the music chosen set the wrong mood entirely.

            I didn’t feel like I got much out of watching the video, and frankly, it felt like a waste of time. Watching a news video should not feel like that.


            There’s a lot of coronavirus coverage out there, but more doesn’t necessarily mean better. Covid-19 may be ruling our lives right now, but not everything we see about it is informative or worthwhile. We’re all trying our best to put out good coverage, but it doesn’t always work out. We also have to be aware of which source we’re getting out news from. This is always important, but it’s even more important when we’re in the middle of a crisis. We have technology and we have ways to get good information now, unlike during many crises in the past, so why not use them to our advantage? The past doesn’t have to repeat itself.

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Final Reflection of One Amazing Semester

Written by Zeying Lang

FAA 110 is one of the most inspiring classes I have ever taken. It lets me experience different types of arts and allows me to explore the possibilities of artworks and exhibitions. I still remembered that we took a tour in Krannert Center, and that’s the first time that I actually realize how amazing Krannert Center is. I learned how much preparation work needs to be done before a show is presented on the stage. And I also learned the different purposes and design concepts in each performance hall, and the story behind the establishments of Krannert Center. So many performances are happening each day here. It is a bridge that connects the artists and people who love arts from all around the world to share their thoughts of arts. 😊

Shanghai Ballet: Butterfly Lovers 


Photo by Zeying Lang
Photo by Zeying Lang

The first performance we watched together this semester is the Ballet dance from Shanghai that tells an ancient love tragedy in China. It was absolutely a fantastic experience since I know this story when I was only a child. I was amazed by how they used their body movements to express their feelings and tell the story to the audience who are not familiar with the story. The ending scene: the transfer from human to butterflies was imposing and a little bit romanticism.  



Photo by Zeying Lang
Photo by Zeying Lang

This is the first time for me to watch a performance that used body percussions as the beats. When the performers and dancers show the audience how to clap and make the moves with them, the audience could also be involved in this show. What impressed me the most in this performance is the passion conveyed by the dancer’s body movements. The dancing crew has incredible cooperation, and their moves are synchronizing. The sound they generate is their beats, and the drum in the show is a symbol of freedom.



Photo by Zeying Lang
Photo by Zeying Lang

Somi was born and raised in Champaign, Illinois. After she becomes an outstanding artist and musician, she comes back to her hometown, and share her thoughts and philosophies of life with people. Her music is unique, and her arts could inspire people. She unites her own stories and feelings in her music, and her art not only relaxes the audience but also brings inspiration to the audience. I really appreciate the thoughts she shared. I remembered that it was a hard school day for me, but the voice and music of Somi really made me feel relaxed and relived.

Anna Deavere Smith 


Photo by Zeying Lang

I had an exam that day, so I went to the Talk with Anna Deavere Smith and Julia Wolfe. Anna Deavere Smith said she’s been caring about the hunger problems of children, and she believes that more attention should be given to the children and the new generations. She shared her experience of how she entered the media business and how she dealt with the challenges she met in her career. It was absolutely an inspiration from her about how young artists should face the rapid changes in the current world, and how they could impact the world positively by using the strength of art. As an experienced artist in media, she encourages young artists to express their opinions about politics, and she says, “every significant change starts with a small step.” 

Romeo and Juliet


Photo by Zeying Lang

Due to the impact of COVID-19, all university classes have transformed into online sessions. Though many of the events got canceled, it is lucky that we could still enjoy high quality shows from home on the University’s media library. The reason I chose Romeo and Juliet as my first virtual performance is that we watched the Butterfly Lovers at the beginning of the semester, and some may say that it is the eastern world version of “Romeo and Juliet.” This version that I chose is also quite different from the classic version of Romeo and Juliet: it is modified to happen in the current society. The transition from traditional to modern is exciting. Some designs are made on the costumes of the characters to show their personalities. The surprise of this show is that the modern version adds a little humor in this play.

The Container 


Photo by Zeying Lang
Photo by Zeying Lang

This event brings me a new understanding of how shows could be made. Everything happens in one scene: a container. All the background and stories are conveyed to the audience by the talks among characters. At the end of the show, I realized that the audience, photographers, and actors are all in this container. The audience could watch the actors’ performances in person, and I couldn’t help thinking about how cool that could be!

The Metamorphosis


Photo by Zeying Lang

Adapted from Franz Kafka’s novella, the story tells the tale of how a salesman is transformed into an insect, and how his families change their attitudes towards him before and after the transform. One word I could use to describe this show is delicate. There are only a few simple props and scene sets on the stage, and it is tough to show the transition from a man to an insect. However, the excellent Japanese actors used their exaggerated facial expressions and body movements to convince the audience and bring the audience into this story. The man who played the salesman is really a great artist.

The Nutcracker 


Photo by Zeying Lang
Photo by Zeying Lang

I’ve watched several versions of The Nutcracker, but the one presented by the Royal ballet from the British is the best one I’ve seen. I love how fancy the scenes are set, and each detail of the props and the costumes are perfect. The skills of the ballet dancers are startling. My favorite scene is when the prince takes Marie to the Candy Kingdom, all the toys start dancing to welcome them. All these toys are alive, and many of them are exotic. Chinese tea, hot chocolate, coffee from Arabia, candy canes and mother ginger, and etc. The solos and duets are definitely eye-catching. As this is the last event of this semester, I chose the same types of art as the first event of the semester to make a sweet end. 

Thank you! FAA110! 🌹

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Reflections on a Semester from Home

By: Aki Akhauri


            This semester was very rough. For the first half, when we were having in-person meetings and recording shows, I was too anxious to go out and interview people for my packages and VOSOTs. Because of that, I wasn’t able to get a lot of my assignments in on time. I was going to work with Professor Collins on that, but pretty much immediately after we decided that, classes got moved online, so we weren’t able to do it.

            I don’t feel like I accomplished anything in this class, but I’m sure I would have if we’d had more time. I did finish my news updates though.


This semester has been a lot different for me as a journalist outside of this class. First of all, I can’t do my job as a photojournalist for the Daily Illini or the Illio Yearbook anymore because I’m with my family and they don’t live anywhere near the University. I would really like to do my job (which practicing social distancing) but I don’t have a say in the matter.

I’ve been working on a short documentary about the impact of coronavirus while I’m here. I’m planning to use part of it for my documentary production class. When I first got to Florida in mid-March, my dad agreed to drive me around town so I could get some b-roll of what it looked like outside. At that point, people were being a lot more cautious than they are now. There were hardly any cars on the road that day. I think they’ve gotten more used to it now. The streets are never that empty anymore.

Since my parents live near Orlando, we decided to drive through the Disney area. We kept to the public roads. We found that it was pretty empty except for the people just driving through the area, even though Disney hadn’t been officially closed yet. I got some b-roll of the relatively empty place. We drove up to Disney Springs, where there are a bunch of shops, to see if that was open, but a Disney employee told us we were trespassing so we had to leave. I would have argued the point but it was obvious my dad was scared, so I didn’t.

Other than this documentary, I’ve been doing a few other multimedia-related things, but they’re not related to journalism. I don’t feel like a very good or active journalist right now. I wish I was doing more to cover the coronavirus.


As a student, having to complete my classes at home has been more of an inconvenience than a serious problem for me. I’ve done online classes before, so it’s not like that part is anything new. One problem I have with the classes is that some of my professors have never taught online before and have no idea how to do it, so I end up having to study everything on my own anyway. I’m used to this too, though.

Another problem I’ve had is that I can’t interrupt a lecture to ask questions anymore. I can do that in my class that meets through Zoom, but I can’t do it in my class that’s taught through audio powerpoints. The powerpoint class is the one I usually ask a lot of questions in. I can email the professor my questions and she’ll respond, but it’s not the same. I end up talking myself out of a lot of questions.

I was also worried about whether I’d get to go back to my apartment at all before I had to pack up and move somewhere else. Thankfully, I got accepted into the grad program at UIUC, so I get to live there for another year. It’s sad that I’ll never be able to see most of my friends again, though. I was prepared for that, being a senior and all, but I wasn’t prepared for it to happen before May.


            As a citizen, the pandemic has been mostly annoying. It’s annoying because people don’t follow the guidelines, which is just making the pandemic worse. Would it kill them to not go to the beach for a few months? A lot of us want some sense of normalcy back, but we can wait.

We drove through downtown a few days ago just to get a change of scenery. We didn’t get out anywhere. We just drove. When we got downtown, we saw a bunch of people not wearing any Personal Protective Equipment or even practicing social distancing. I was really annoyed by that.

I went to Target yesterday because my insurance only allows me to pick up my medication from CVS, and the CVS in this area is inside a Target. There were a lot of people there not wearing any kind of face covering. I know masks are hard to find, but something is better than nothing. My dad, my brother and I wear handkerchiefs over our faces because we don’t have masks. My mom wears her thinner scarves.

I know some people can’t wear masks for medical or sensory reasons, but I doubt it’s this many people.

I want to be able to go back to my apartment in Illinois, but I won’t be allowed to until things get better, and I hope things will get better by June or July, but I can’t tell. I spend a lot of time window shopping online for things I want to decorate my apartment with when I’m able to go back, like I did the month before I moved into the place. I’ve also been sewing a lot of decorations. I did a lot of sewing just to keep my hands busy during online classes. It turns out a lot of other people are also taking up sewing now though, since I can hardly find anything in the craft section of Walmart anymore.

One good thing about having to stay home all the time is that my family is spending less money. Of course, we still do online shopping like we did before, but we used to go to the shops whenever we felt like it. We didn’t always buy things, and we never bought anything expensive on a whim, but the little things add up eventually.


            Technology has made quarantine a lot easier to deal with. I don’t know what I’d do to keep myself occupied without my laptop or my phone. There’s only so many books I can read and walks I can take. I do spend time with my family, which they are happy about, but I can’t handle the amount of social interaction everyone else seems to be having with theirs, even on my best days, so I couldn’t spend all that time playing board games or anything like that. Sometimes I spend hours at a time writing in my quarantine journal. I’d have a lot less to write about if it was just me and my family.

            I’m still able to finish my classes, and I can talk to some of my friends online, so it keeps things interesting. I’m lucky that I have no more group projects and the people I need to get in touch with mostly live in the same time zone. My brother, who studies TV and Radio Production, is not so lucky, and it sounds like a pain. His college also decided to shut down while he was home on break, and he’s not even allowed to go back to the dorms to pick up his textbooks.

We’ve also been talking to our extended family in India more, since it’s no less convenient than talking to people who live nearby. We have to do everything through Zoom nowadays and I don’t think I like it. I particularly don’t like that my bath was interrupted for the call two weeks in a row, and I didn’t know in advance that the call was even happening.

            At the very least, I can keep myself busy with schoolwork and my documentary. I wouldn’t be able to make my documentary without technology either.

            As a photographer, I’ve been taking some time to practice my nature and macro photography. It turns out my phone camera is better for that stuff than my DSLR is. My DSLR doesn’t have manual focus, so it’s harder to get clear close-up pictures. My phone doesn’t have manual focus either, but it doesn’t try to override me when I tap somewhere on the screen to tell it where to focus.

            I’ve photographed a lot of flowers, insects, and spider-webs. That’s really fun, but I don’t need to be quarantined to do it. I do it all the time, even when I’m walking home from class. It’s good to have time to practice though.


            When I first heard about the coronavirus, I didn’t think it would get as bad as it did. The last pandemic I remember was the H1N1 pandemic of 2009, and that hardly impacted my life at all. I was in India at the time, and no one I knew got H1N1. Schools and workplaces didn’t shut down. The 2010 Commonwealth Games went on in Delhi as planned. It was barely a blip on my radar. At first, that’s what I expected Coronavirus to be like.

            I didn’t understand how big of a deal it was until I found out the University was canceling in-person classes for the rest of the semester. My dad called me in a panic, and so I started panicking too. I wasn’t panicking about the virus, though. I was panicking because my plans for the rest of the semester had just gone out the window. My dad put it into words.


            I panicked about this off and on for a month. It was more of a low-grade panic than what ­­­­I felt when my dad first called me, but it was still there. I ended up having a huge fight with my dad. We didn’t talk for almost a week. We talked about the whole situation afterwards and I feel less anxious now.


            I think initially, I mostly thought of the pandemic as a regular citizen. Sure, it was newsworthy, but I didn’t think much about it because it wasn’t impacting my life yet. Now, I’m thinking about it equally from both perspectives. I want to be covering the virus and its impacts more because it’s important for everyone to know about it. People need information about the impact of the virus and where we are in the process of stopping the pandemic. I also wish the whole thing would end already so I could go back to my regular life.


            I can’t say what led to my success because I did not succeed.


            Critical thinking is important because it helps us come up with backup plans when our original plan didn’t work out. I wasn’t good at coming up with backup plans this semester. Critical thinking is also useful for solving a problem quickly, like if we are in the newsroom and the teleprompter isn’t working, and we decide quickly to use paper scripts instead.

            This is especially important in these times because we never know what will come next. We constantly have to change our plans and solve problems on the fly.


            Self-confidence is important because if you don’t have at least a little of it, you’ll end up like me and not get anything done. Self-confidence is good when you know your limits so you know when and how you have to do things to get the assignment done on time.


            I’ve learned that working in a team can be fun sometimes. Well, I learned that before this class, but it’s what I remember most about it.


THIS CLASS: I am most proud of how I was able to help out in the newsroom, whether it was writing or editing CNN VOs, teaching someone how to run playback, or running camera. I like helping.

THIS SEMESTER: I am proud of myself for being able to keep up with classes even though we have to do them remotely now. I know a lot of people are having trouble with that.

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How News Outlets Have Covered Coronavirus and Education

The Uncertainty of Schools Re-opening

By : Armani Baker

Background and Topic 
The Coronavirus has changed the educational experience of students of all ages all over the world. Since mid-May in-person classes have transitioned to online classes, forcing students to complete work from home, parents have to balance work and assisting their children with homework and high school students are questioning their attendance for college in the fall. Most news outlets are reporting about this topic in agreeance that there is much uncertainty about returning back to in-person classes. The future for students of all ages is unknown as the culture and dynamic of online instruction has affected the lives of students all over the country. 

New York Post, The New York Times, USA Today, CNBC and Los Angeles Times have reported about returning back to in-person classes in different yet similar ways. 

Similarities and Differences of how each News Outlet Covered Education

         All of the news outlets discussed the uncertainty revolving around the idea of schools re-opening for in-person instruction. However, USA Today, The Los Angeles Times and The New York Times all discussed what a potential school day would look like when and if schools decide to re-open and the significant changes that re-openings will bring to schools. 

What schools will look like when they reopen: Scheduled days home, more online learning, lots of hand-washing.  

USA Today introduces the potential idea that if schools re-open in the fall, students could possibly only attend classes in-person for two or three days a week. This article includes images of what social distancing could look like when schools re-open such as a certain distance between the desks inside of classrooms. USA Today includes an image from the Schloss-Schule elementary school in Heppenheim, Germany, of a teacher measuring out markers for the desks of students, giving the audience a visual to connect with the text of the article. Additionally, this article offers an outline of the new rules that could be put into action when schools reopen. 

Reopening California schools: 4 things you need to know

The Los Angeles Times story centers around four things that the audience needs to know about the potential re-opening of schools in California. The main source for this story is Governor Gavin Newsom as he states that public schools could reopen in the late summer to give students the opportunity to catch up on work. This article is similar to the USA Today article as they both report about how social distancing and hand washing will be enforced and how schools will potentially operate differently when open again. 

Despite Trump’s Nudging, Schools Are Likely to Stay Shut for Months

The New York Times reports about how schools could possibly continue on with on-line instruction regardless of Trump’s urgency of school re-openings. Similar to USA Today, this article includes the potential of alternating the days that students attend classes in person to practice social distancing in order for the spread of the virus to decrease. Additionally, this article uses the same exact picture from the Schloss-Schule elementary school in Heppenheim, Germany, that USA Today uses in their article to help develop their story. This article includes quotes from Trump, Governor Gavin Newsom and various education officials from all over the country. 

As stated above, all of the news outlets discussed the uncertainty of re-opening in-person school instruction. However, both the New York Post and CNBC focused their stories specifically about higher education. These two outlets gave the audience a deeper connection to the sources within the stories by using quotes from actual students and or parents.  They also used pictures of actual sources in the story. Lastly, they both described students’ dilemmas caused by COVID-19 as a “limbo.” Limbo defined as, the decision between deferring college admission and getting a job or the decision of completing their college education or dropping out permanently. 

High school seniors are in coronavirus ‘limbo’ with college deposits due

New York Post focused on specific high school students, with various quotes from the families of students, that are questioning whether they should begin their college experience online or wait until things go back to normal and get a normal job for now or complete charity work.  

This story gave the audience a face for the story, Jack Zimmerman, and included his parents’ concerns about him not having the traditional college experience if he decides to begin his freshman semester of college online at Vanderbilt University. 

Some students are considering dropping out of college because of coronavirus

CNBC highlights how the college experience has changed for students. Students are asking for their money back from universities as they unhappy with online instruction. This article raises a question from the sources in the text – Should students stay in school or drop out permanently? Similar to the New York Post, this article gives the audience pictures of actual college students who are balancing part-time jobs in order to make money to survive during this crisis. Also, the idea of differing college to take a gap year is discussed just like the New York Post. Unlike other articles, CNBC provides a video with facts about how the college experience has changed since March for students all over the country. 

What is Next?

Many citizens of the U.S. such as Michelle Butler, mother of three, feel very strongly that schools should not reopen anytime soon. However, if they do re-open, students should change the way they interact with each other. Social distancing should continue to be practiced throughout the day and washing of hands should be increased. 

Marcus Gatlin gives his perspective as a master’s student that has had to transition to online courses. Prior to COVID-19, Gatlin was studying in-person at Solent University in Southampton, England. The last week of March, he traveled home to the United States to begin his journey of remote learning. Gatlin offers a piece of advice for graduating high school students that possibly cannot begin their traditional college experience in the fall. 

Overall, the future of many students’ lives is currently unpredictable as there is not a definite start date of when classes will resume in person. One thing most agree on about the Coronavirus and education is that people are unsure if it is a smart decision to open schools again. 

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How China Get Portrayed in Coronavirus News Coverage

How China Get Portrayed in Coronavirus News Coverage

By Megan Xu

Quarantine Life – Mengjia Xu

I was on my way to the supermarket, wearing a N95 and gloves.


Currently there is an outbreak of a novel coronavirus infection, and people are getting nervous about this virus. Novel coronavirus is concerning because no humans have immunity to it, and it’s not the same as SARS. It’s a virus that mainly affects our respiratory system, so mostly our lungs and air pipes, the danger is the disease passing from humans to humans.. It is a new strain that most likely developed from an animal in Wuhan, which then passed to humans. Prior to last night, the coronavirus had reached its 3,249,022 confirmed case in the United States, causing a total of 230,804 deaths.

Five News Outlets

I will do a comparative study on five news outlets about how they covered coronavirus: CNN, AP, The New York Times, NPR and Live Science. 

First of all, a brief introduction on each of the media outlets. CNN ranked third in viewership in 2019, averaging 972,000 viewers. Globally, CNN International is seen over 212 countries and territories. The network is known for its dramatic live coverage of breaking news, some of which has drawn criticism as overly sensationalistic, and for its efforts to be nonpartisan, which have led to accusations of false balance.

Live Science on the other hand, is a science news website run by Future via Purch. It focuses on covering scientific breakthroughs, stories with scientific facts and odd facts from around the world in an online newsmagazine format.

Social Distancing – Mengjia Xu

Social distancing notice is posted in the County Market.

How They Covered Virus?

To this day, people are getting increasingly curious about where coronavirus originated. Though there’s no certain answers, multiple conspiracy theories have widely circulated on the internet. President Trump believes China intentionally handled the coronavirus pandemic in a way to make him lose his re-election bid. He even accused the World Health Organization of being a ‘pipe organ’ for China. With blame on China rolls up, AP published an article with the title “Trump harshly blames China for pandemic; a lab ‘mistake’?” Similarly, CNN wrote the title “Trump administration draws up plans to punish China over coronavirus outbreak.” While The New York Times takes the stance that the overwhelming probability of coronavirus is that it leapt from animal to human in a non-laboratory setting. The Guardian also referred to The New York Times and says intelligence agencies are forced to link coronavirus to Chinese labs under Trump’s pressure. Life Science on the other hand reveals the science and rationale behind why there’s no way coronavirus originated in Wuhan’s lab. 

This is a situation that’s changing all the time, and media outlets are already polarized by taking different stances. Journalists are biased in a way of choosing whose opinion they decide to write on, Trump’s? Or the U.S. intelligence agencies’?

Change Over Time 

The conspiracy theories will continue to grow until the real reason behind COVID-19 being found out. Some say it’s China’s fault, while others claim people could have died of coronavirus early on, but mistaken it as flu. Until then, each party will argue its stance to the death.

What Does It All Mean?

Because mass media are publicizing Trump’s criticism of China, racism and fear against Chinese people are now spreading along with the coronavirus. It’s unwarranted and hateful. Joe Biden also released a video to assail Trump for not doing enough to push China to reveal its “secret”. Before any official conclusion of COVID-19’s origin being made, President Trump shouldn’t blame China for the pandemic, using it as a political weapon to intensify battle with China.

Fridge – Mengjia Xu

My fridge is full of frozen food.

What’s Next?

Misinformation is what needs hype amongst people. As students in the community, through all our social networking channels, we should strive to make sure that the misinformation is not being spread. As long as you are limiting the spread of misinformation and rumors, that is a good service for the community.

There’s a lot of misinformation, and there’s a lot of conspiracy theories going on on the internet. So if we are making sure people are using the right resources, like the CDC or the WHO for information, it would be the best way to improve the image of what’s going on. 

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Quarantine Diary Day 39

Quarantine Diary Day 39

I was doing my standup (sit down) shot.

As the semester approaches its end, I start to think about what I accomplished in this semester, and where the road will lead to in the future. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I suddenly got tons of time to reflect upon myself, to scrutinize my work, and to write this self-reflection blog.

I walked away with solid technical skills and professional broadcast experience from class Journalism 445. I become more independent, and know to act accordingly to different situations more swiftly. 

I was able to complete three packages, one VO, and one news update for this semester. The first package I did was coronavirus’ impact on campus. At that time, the administrator of Champaign-Urbana Public Health District Julie A Pryde told me the coronavirus situation in Champaign-Urbana is fairly optimistic. Nobody had been tested positive for COVID-19 and it is safe for people to go to public areas without a mask on. Ironically now, we can see how quickly the pandemic struck our area with 120 cases and 6 deaths as of April 30th. Looking back at the package, I wish C-UPDH’s misinformation didn’t get aired. If people had known early on that they need to be cautious and wear masks in public spaces, maybe less people would get infected. 

I was interviewing Wei Hu, a Chinese student from Wuhan.

On the bright side, I was able to interview a Chinese student from Wuhan. Being cyber-bullied by her identity, it is a difficult time for her to deal with COVID-19 while convincing her friends to wear masks. She clarified the rumor that not all Chinese people eat bats. The majority of Chinese regard eating bats as gross and unbelievable. I felt lucky to have reported this international topic from a local angle. Narrowing it down, we see how COVID-19 is affecting local health centers, Chinese students, and the rest of our life.

Footage of the Cat Show

I also had the chance to shoot the Cat Show as my third package. Approximately 150 cats on the show——haven’t seen so many cats in my life. I have no knowledge about how to breed cats or judge them. Worse, I cannot even name a breed. The only way to familiarize myself is to talk to people. Knowing I only needed three interviews, I still talked to six participants, two judges and one organizar of the event. Knowing I only needed a minute and half of footage, I still stayed at the event for three hours, until my hands were all sweaty. I push myself to always go beyond expectations, carry more footages and interviews than I possibly needed. In this way, I can pick the best shots instead of filling my track with mediocre ones.

In the middle of the semester, classes were switched online, posing huge obstacles for the rest of journalism classes. Thanks to the plans A, B, C Professor Collins gave us, we were able to continue learning in another form——reading news article and gather interviews.

I was adding Chinese subtitles for my vlog. This is a shot of our trunk full of groceries.

Facing a pandemic unlike any other semesters, our news shows had to pause. However, grounded at home doesn’t mean we can’t do journalism. I decided to start a vlog series recording my quarantine life. It’s a bit hard to carry cameras around, so I take Professor Collins’s advice to use a phone to record my daily routine. My video shows what I cooked, how I exercised and what I did at home. The longest time I stayed at home was ten days, without even leaving my door to throw the trash out. I normally only go out for grocery shopping when supplies run out. I would wear a mask and gloves to the County Market and swipe the food for next month all in. I would buy a total of approximately 400 dollars of groceries, which takes forever to get them from the car to my room. It is an unusually hard time for all of us, so I hope people who watch my vlog feel less anxious when they see someone is also experiencing the difficulties as they do. 

Professor Collins’ TV2 instilled passion for broadcast journalism in me. I started to make videos not only in a classroom setting, but also a real-world environment where I build my career on. UIUC has been an amazing journey and getting to know you all definitely is the best experience I have. As I continue my education in Northwestern Medill next semester, I hope to learn to fuse data-driven insights into serious reporting. My career goal is to develop a more well-rounded news app. One in which people are no longer only recipients of, but also contributors to the news flow. Most importantly, it also analyzes the trend in already distributed news, to reveal commonalities among related events, which further helps the government unearth underlying issues, and implement measures to combat tragedies like COVID-19 pandemic. 

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The words that I speak are spirit

By: Taylor Howard 

The Bible says in Proverbs 18:21 , “ What you say can preserve life or destroy it; so you must accept the consequence of your words.”; this means that the words you speak over life can manifest. My name is Taylor Howard and I grew up in the South suburbs of Chicago in a home rooted in Christian foundations. I firmly believe that the lessons instilled in me have been applicable not only to my faith life, but within my professional development as well.  I have always been a dreamer and take on any task with enthusiasm and a learning spirit. My optimism and drive have gotten me through my collegiate career, and with my final semester coming to an end, I have learned so much about myself as a professional, student, journalist and a young adult. 

My experience in college has been nothing short of amazing. I was afforded the opportunity to serve in leadership positions, obtain a respectable GPA, and have joined extracurriculars that helped me advance in my career, all while still allowing time to have fun and spend time with my friends as well. Before my final semester began, despite the challenges of classes, I wrote these words on a Post-It Note to say every day until graduation, “ This will be your most pivotal semester, but your best semester yet!”

Little did I know how drastic and unpredictable this semester would play out…


The experiences from the College of Media and the Journalism department have created a platform for me to be more versed in multimedia and understand the dynamics and ethical standards of this profession, however TV1 and TV2 taught me how to be an effective reporter and to never sell myself short. I’d like to consider myself an optimistic person, so I would  handle the pressure of the newsroom with ease right? Uh…. maybe not!

Initially, I was discouraged, because I felt like many of my peers were more advanced with Adobe, broadcasting writing and editing; not to mention I was not learning as fast as others. I’m sure you all know at this point that the news waits for NO ONE( if you do not know this yet, by the end of taking this course you will) . However, Dr. Collins and my classmates challenged me to optimize my strengths and work on my weaknesses. I quickly remembered that if I keep speaking on the things I am not good at, rather than embracing what I am good at, I will continue to lack confidence and never succeed in these goals. As I recalled the Bible verse as aforementioned, I changed my language from “ I can’t” to “ In due time, with hard work and determination, I will”. 

… And that is exactly what I did. I knew that I had Leadership experience and was organized, so for our first news cast, I agreed to be the assignment manager, the position that handles the logistics of each newscast and ensuring all content is done by the deadline. Boy what this crazy! It was already challenging to manage all the reporter’s individual work, but the morning of our first newscast, our 30 minute segment was extended to 45 minutes! Myself and the producer of the week had to quickly assemble a game plan on how to add content to the show and I was able to get a live guest and still ensure that everyone still met their deadlines. Yes, there were many issues that arrayed, but for our first show and for the position I was in helped me realize that I have the flexibility, leadership and tenacity that it takes to work in media. My classmates and I had a unique relationship, as we were not just peers, but each other’s biggest supporters. Everyone was very supportive and assisted one another with their packages and assignments, which helped me catch up and learn how to edit faster and more effectively. Though there were mistakes, I successfully did my first news update, was the weatherwoman (1:21) and my package ran in our newscast (12:32) ! Myself and my classmates were getting in the swing of the routine of things… until March 13, 2020, when we began to receive information via email about closing University buildings and modifying face- to- face interaction to online learning.  


Hold up… this was not how I planned to end my college career!

When I received the initial emails, I was confused, yet was not concerned about the virus. As it was to many citizens in the United States, no one knew what was going on regarding the virus, other than how fast- spreading it is. I was not expecting that within a span of five days would mean my commencement and graduations would be cancelled, my internship opportunities have either been halted or cancelled, and had to say goodbye to my colleagues prematurely. Like many students, I am in a state of devastation and saddened by the current circumstance of how the duration of the semester will pan out.

Just as quickly as college was changing, the community and campus town that were my homes, did not seem so familiar. The Chicagoland area, known as the “City that Never Sleeps”, was now empty. The small interactions I encounter with strangers throughout my day- whether at a grocery store or at a local restaurant, people barely made eye contact. The joy and pleasure I had attending church services and shopping centers, I now have to go online. This is the normacely of life.

What hit me the most however, is that reality began to set in that due to the abrupt interruption, I was unable to prepare for my post graduate plans like I anticipated.  I did construct my reel yet, I wanted to put more content out, I wanted to continue working on my tone and practice at Richmond Studios after classes, etc. However, I was not afforded with the resources such as camera equipment and a Mac computer to work with Adobe applications. Imposter syndrome set in quickly and I began to get discouraged once again. For the first few weeks after spring break, I was extremely unmotivated and did not know I was able to finish strong in my classes.However,  It is no coincidence that I was reassured by the verse that changed my mindset throughout my life! I did not realize at the time; how applicable this quote would be in many situations throughout my life.


 On Thursday, March 19, I began to “reset” and prepare for alternative ways to achieve academic and professional success by utilizing an unfamiliar learning platform. While adjusting to online classes, I am also challenging myself to find creative ways to ensure that my organizations are remaining compliant and diversifying program planning. As I began to change my mindset, I realized that the lessons I have learned in TV1 and especially TV2, that as journalists, our careers have prepared us to deal with the unpredictable! As I have stated, the news does not stop for anyone…. And neither should we( journalists). Sure, I experienced some difficulties navigating online classes and staying on top of my school work, but I had to adapt to the changes and spend extra time familiarizing myself with it. Additionally, I faced a lot of technical problems as well. I did not have a Mac computer, but the computer I did have broke; because of that, I was not able to get on my zoom calls and it was setting me back on my homework assignments. Rather than giving up, I called into my classes, got additional office hours and borrowed a computer from the media center. 

I began thinking as a journalist, and not as a regular citizen. Journalists embrace change and find alternative ways to inform the public. Journalists are flexible and move with urgency. Journalists put their all into their content. Journalists never give up on their purpose and platform. I can confidently say this, as I gained this through quarantining. Most importantly, I learned how to be a critical and independent thinker. The Journalism department at the U of I challenges their students to use autonomy and express oneself.  TV2, however, introduced me to a new way of thinking about the content in which I put out. As this class operates as a student- produced show, our peers are tested to help us make more reasonable and sound decision making when it comes to the quality of our work. Dr. Collins encouraged healthy disagreements and taught us how to balance challenging, yet respecting one’s way of thinking; we collaboratively helped each other be better decision makers. I cannot stress the importance of trying to master this, as we will make bigger, more impactful decisions in our future. 

During the pandemic, the logic of critical thinking has helped me analyze my issues at hand ( technology issues and  lack of motivation) and come up with strategies of a plan of action on how to overcome these obstacles. I learned the value of planning ahead and celebrating “small victories” of completing homework assignments on time, etc. by treating myself to a treat. As my class is the producer of our own news article for our alternative final project, I have to make all the decisions for the betterment of my personal project. Utilizing the exercises from class, I weigh all the pros and cons of a story and question the “why” of my angle. Even though I wish that I was in the newsroom with my classmates, quarenting has helped me become a better journalist and adult. 


As my time at the University of Illinois has come to an end, I cannot forget the lessons, experiences and privileges that I have had over these past four years. I am grateful that I was challenged in my TV2 class and I would be remiss if I did not share a few suggestions on how to navigate through this class. Yes, we know the obvious: to work hard, to not miss deadlines and to go to class, but here are some that are often overlooked and that I will carry on with me for the rest of my life: 

  1. Never miss an opportunity- no matter how substantial, or small a position might be, ensure that you are making the most out of the class and gain as much holistic experience as you can; you never know if saying “yes”, might open a door for you.
  2. There is always room for you to get better- We are all students seeking media jobs after we graduate. Take the initiative to do the extra package, to stay later to learn the switch board, to be the producer more than a few times, ask your peers for help! The amount of effort you put in will reap wonderful results!
  3. In the words of Ken Erdey, “It’s just TV”- Public speaking is a difficult task! Although I have experience, anchoring is another ball game. Initially, I used to get down on myself when I made a mistake, but I quickly realized that I must not let it define me- I must move forward. I have learned, outside of journalism, no matter the obstacles I face, I can always prevail! This mindset is so crucial to become the best you can be. If you don’t believe in you, who will? 
  4. Lastly- “pay it forward”, something I will take with me for the rest of my life. News is not a one an show and there are many moving parts. It is essential to work collaboratively with your peers and create content that is ethical, tasteful and relevant for the audience they are informing. It was inspiring for me to be in a class of students who were intelligent and brought different perspectives and promoted inclusivity. Help one another, as we all impact each other in some way. 


I will miss the many memories of being in TV2. I will remember the hustle and bustle of Newscast days and the urgency we all had to meet deadlines, I will remember the laughs, encouraging conversations we had and the music breaks we did. Most importantly, I will remember the late nights before a newscast, how my class worked diligently to have the most perfect show the next day. As I reflect and conclude my final blog, I can genuinely say, I am proud of myself. I am proud that I am more intentional with my reporting and that I can convey a story more effectively. I am proud that I carried out my Post- It. 

“ This will be your most pivotal semester, but your best semester yet!”

Sure, I have had more eventful semesters, but unlearning bad habits, prioritizing my mental and physical health, adapting to the normalcy of life and choosing joy in a time like this has undoubtedly made this the most provital, but best semester. My words that I speak are spirit.

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My Final Blog

This semester was one to remember for sure. What started out as just a normal semester took a quick turn as schools nationwide started closing down their campuses due to COVID-19. Here, I will share my experiences from the semester and being a part of FAA 110.

By Moises Sedano

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More than a Statistic; Surviving as a minority during the pandemic

By Taylor Howard 

A little over a month after President Trump announced the national “shelter-in-place”, an order that all residents must stay home, US coronavirus cases have surpassed 1 million and the death toll continues to rise. 

Though deaths rates are the highest in the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions, it was recently discovered that minority communities are disproportionately affected by the virus.

Five articles and media outlets covered their reasoning and perspective on the increase in cases within minority groups. 

While CNN, CBS and British Broadcasting Corporation are news organizations, YouTube and Twitter are web applications that connect people around the world through dialogue through visuals or through text. 

CNN is an American news based television network and it is owned by the following: CNN worldwide, a unit of WarnerMedia, a division of AT&T’s WarnerMedia. Since its founding in 1980 by Ted Turner, it has turned into a 24-hour cable channel and has over 91 million television household subscribers. 

The worldwide streaming broadcast station, CBS News has been on television since its founding in 1927 by William S. Paley and Arthur Judson in New York. CBS broadcasting is a news division of American television and radio service. Though not 24 hours on television, They now operate as a 24-hour digital news network and have over 4 million subscribers. 

Localizing things a bit, the British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service in Westminster, London. Known as the oldest national broadcaster since its founding in 1922, As it is owned by the public and covers over 14 channels.

YouTube is an American online video-sharing platform. Founded in 2005 by Jawed Karim, Steve Chen and Chad Hurley in San Bruno, California, the platform is one of Google’s biggest subsidiaries and brings in over $1.6 billion each year. It houses many news corporations and has over 1.3 billion users. 

Launched in 2006 by several men including Evan Williams and Noah Glass, Twitter is an American blogging and social networking service. As Twitter averages 1.6 billion search queries a day, and holds over 330 million users.

On April 7, 2020, President Trump admitted the racial disparity at the task force briefing, but unsure of what the cause is.

“Why is it three or four times more so for the black community as opposed to other people?” Trump said. “It doesn’t make sense, and I don’t like it…”    

Trump may be unsure on how to solve the issue, but CNN as well as the local station CBS News mentioned that inequity in minority communities make the citizens more vulnerable to COVID-19.  

Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot said the death toll for Black Chicagoans was seven times higher than other groups. 

“The numbers take your breath away,” she said. “The distribution of this disease tells a story about resources and inequality.” 

CBS News mentioned the lack of healthcare and under reporting among minority residents in Chicago. However CNN reported ways the disparity gap is affecting minorities around the country, especially African Americans. 

U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams said this conversation is long overdue. 

“My office has been talking about the need for people to understand when they are at risk and when to intervene,” he said. 

The video proceeded with Adams listing several factors such as low socioeconomic status, overcrowding of cities and generational health issues like diabetes. 

Though CBS was more specific to Chicago in its initial article, both news organizations used numerical data to educate the public on how the fast- spreading disease through video and graphics. 

(From Left) This graph shows the percentages of population in its comparison to death rate in several US states. The other graph shows the case rates of coronavirus by race. 

Whether it was local or national news, the focus of the articles was to address the gaps in healthcare and statistical data, as well as credibility in their choice of sources. 

Race is still a factor in this newsroom, however BBC took a slightly different approach addressing the disparities. Their article focused on specific examples, rather than just explaining race. 

The article is loaded with many factors pertaining to the coronavirus, which includes income inequality, occupational factors, housing differences and more. Among the several factors listed, food insecurity and massive layoff was mentioned as a potential factor in obtaining health problems, due to lack of nutrition. 

New York resident Cherlora Williamson is a byproduct of this effect. 

Williamson has been put on furlough and is seeking to apply for unemployment. 

“Instead of making 3 thousand dollars a month, I will only be making $600/month,” she said. “That’s basically being unemployed because my rent, utilities are 900/month.” 

The holistic perspective of the BBC article is similar to the CNN article, as they both highlighted issues in America. BCC took it one step further, by highlighting global inequality. 

As the news outlet highlighted inequality, the article also breaks down racial concepts like environmental injustices and racial biases.  

Not mentioned in the previous articles aforementioned is mentioning cultural factors. BBC reporter shared how biases can discourage minority groups from wearing masks  in fear of “ being seen as a criminal or dangerous, rather than as simply protecting their own health.

Senior in Education Ty’Kira Dubose said that masks may be seen as demeaning  to most. 

“In terms of pretty much post- 9/11, I think that for all minority students, specifically of the Islamic nationality,” she said. “I think that has then triggered other minority groups to fear what happens or being judged by having their face covered.” 

BBC did not use graphics or videos, however, they used photojournalism and quotations to convey their message in informing the public. Rather than reporting on facts, this article used a more emotional perspective. 

The similarities among the news organizations are challenged to remain objective, while Twitter users are challenged to exercise their freedom of speech. 

With exercising freedom, comes with conflicting viewpoints. One Twitter account stated their opinion that constates the articles used. 

The user said in a Tweet, “Corona is not a racist disease stop. people are getting it because they’re being stupid and going out and touching…”.  This form of social media has become a direct source of news outlets. The strategy behind posting such tweets is to provide immediate response and can subconsciously skew the way people perceive specific issues. 

A person’s opinion holds validity in which the platform they serve and what Twitter and YouTube have in common is the control users have to post, with no limitations. Used by many news outlets, the video platform captures an array of topics. 

It might be questioned on whether or not a disease can, or cannot be racist, but on ABC’s YouTube, Dr. Fauci said that disparities cannot be overlooked after the coronavirus. 

“We are very concerned about that and it’s very sad, but there is nothing we can do about it right now, except to give them the best possible care with its complications.”

ABC posting the task force briefing is another way to reach large masses of people. Because YouTube is the largest video hosting website, the wanting to publish on the channel has increased due to the phenomenon of visual journalism. 

The emphasis on racial disparities is fairly newer information in the media, however, each platform continued to seek additional solutions. 

Circling back to news outlets CNN and CBS, both platforms have utilized video reporting instead. Both produced packages, however, their target audiences have both expanded. 

In the beginning of April when both of the articles were initially published, CNN provided national coverage regarding minority groups and CBS covered local news. However, in the recent articles published, CNN extended their target audience to global news and CBS extended their audiences to national coverage. 

The tone of the articles has taken two different approaches-  the UK minority coverage is updating the increase of minority deaths are causing citizens to make coffins, while the U.S. minority population is getting the virus at a rapid rate, testing sites are being prioritized for communities, like New York. 

“So in Brooklyn alone there are 2.5 million people. So once again, I think they are trying to do their best to provide testing centers close to or in each neighborhood, but I feel like it’s unrealistic. “

Less than 24 hours after its initial post, BBC did not sway from their ethos strategy and also posted a video. This time around, the news organization uploaded a package on YouTube and discussed the healthcare workers who had died. Since the initial article published on April 21, BBC has reached more audiences outside of their website through video outlets and social media outlets. 

Speaking of social media outlets, Twitter audiences continued to voice their opinion regarding the impact on minorities. Whether or not users agree, the application provides an outlet for people to say what they want to say. BBC is an example of how tweets incite opinion. 

Lastly, YouTube has been partnering with various news outlets and has provided NBC, Global News and more. The number of views for packages and briefings have remained consistent throughout the last month. 

  Pew Research has proven that social media has surpassed print newspapers as a source for American. As one-in-five U.S. adults said that they often use social media to retrieve their news over print, consumers can have all the information they need with a touch of an app, and with limited text. 

With nearly 2.4 billion internet users, 64.5 percent utilize Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other non traditional media outlets. It is shown that despite initial publications on such topics as minority issues during a pandemic, news outlets are aware that visualization grabs people’s attention quickly.

The phenomenon of visual journalism has been prevalent within the 21st century and has increasingly become more popular. With the absence of video, photos, or audio journalism, the story will lack in the quality of coverage of the effects of an issue such as this. 

Using microblogging websites and YouTube with open commentary allows news to be reshared, but has outlets for people to engage and express their opinions as well. It provides a diversity and point of view that objective news outlets cannot provide. 

Senior in the College of Media, Coltrane Zerai-Che agrees that having a platform to voice her opinions has heightened her interest with worldly issues. 

“A lot of times when opinions are based, people want facts to back them up and people are looking for credible and reliable resources and oftentimes a place where you can get those reliable resources are through the news .” 

There is power in respected media outlets and informing the public, but influence in citizen journalism and the freedom of opinion is a privilege Americans have. The mass media plays a crucial role in the millennial generation and by providing a public space for that, it allows one to express themselves, as well as encompass large numbers of people worldwide as well. 

The coronavirus still does not have a cure, but public officials and healthcare/ frontline workers are working to flatten the curve. Despite the differences of the platforms, one thing that remained consistent was the concern to address the disparities in the world. The media industry is only getting more creative in its way of storytelling and traditional networks are shifting with the culture. 

Statistics provide audiences the facts. Photos and Videos show audiences the reality. Social media gives audiences the ability to talk through issues and seek change in communities in which they live. Visual journalism allows audiences the most authentic story. 

Zerai-Che said she believes as journalism increases its multimedia dynamics, it will convey more symbolism and emotion. 

“When I think about how a picture can capture a story, I think of the quote, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” she said , “Those images tell those stories through those words.”  

With these pictures and addressing racial polarization through these platforms, change can happen in the near future.

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Five Months of Life-altering Change

Before the evidence of a global pandemic was undeniable in our country, my semester was already far different from all my others throughout college.

In January, I had to have my gallbladder removed after years of extreme stomach pain and increasingly distressing digestive issues. While some of these symptoms continue to persist post surgery and have affected my time as a student journalist prior to surgery, the recovery process made me anxious to start my last semester at the University of Illinois.

Returning to campus, I received a note from DRES saying that I could not carry anything over 10 pounds. For many other majors, this would not be an issue. For a broadcast journalism major, this had me concerned how I would manage to complete all assignments carrying heavy camera equipment. Luckily, I was able to assistant produce UI7 News Broadcast 1 and lead produce Broadcast 2.

In TV1, I had the opportunity to produce with Alex, leaving me with such a sense of accomplishment that I was eager to try again. As a producer for TV2, I was able to contribute organizational, editing and creative skills, along with leadership abilities, to design beautiful newscasts.

At the beginning of the semester, I remember staying up late one Wednesday night at Richmond Studio with Dan, Taylor and several other students to plan the first newscast. As the trailblazers, we were overly nervous how this production would go. That morning, we received an email saying the show should be an hour and see what we can do. At the time, I was about to walk into work, which is in a courthouse where I could not have my phone at the time. So with any little communication I could use, Dan, Taylor and I turned a half hour prepared show into a successful one hour newscast.

Though there are things we did not accomplish in our first broadcast and though it made me extremely anxious, this situation showed me my ability to perform under pressure. In the moments the newscast began, I realized an unrecognized passion for producing.

Besides the benefit of not having to carry equipment while recovering, the opportunity to produce was imperative to know what abilities I can bring to the table in the job market. Through work this semester, I have been able to fully recognize my love for writing, storytelling, editing and organizing.

The Rise of a Global Pandemic

It was around 8 p.m. in Urbana and more than half the TV2 class was at Richmond Studio working on packages or news updates for the last class before spring break. It was almost as if the United States recognized the severity of the coronavirus within a matter of hours. Colleges were going online after breaks, the NCAA cancelled games, the NBA suspended the season and Tom Hanks tested positive for COVID-19.

This would have been an incredible amount of information to process as a college student, but we had a job to complete. Many of us stayed late into the night to complete news updates as a team, which showed me the bond our class made even in the short two months we had together. In hindsight, I’d like to think we wanted to complete the assignment because we were all committed journalists. But more likely than not, we were also trying to escape reality — unable to accept how our lives were about to change.

Especially for myself, I’ve realized how much more I thrive in busy, stressful situations. I recognized this in college and, as a student, have become heavily involved in various organizations, worked several jobs and enroll in the maximum amount of credit hours each semester. Going from my naturally busy, organized self to suddenly being ordered to shelter-in-place has been a huge shift mentally.

To stay busy, I still make a schedule for myself to work on my schoolwork, read for a while each day, cook something new for my family to also go on my blog, workout or go for a walk, watch the news and work on a puzzle with my mom.

However, I’m sure educators and students alike can recognize the impact of technology during this time. Like what was mentioned at the start of the semester, cell phones are a monumental innovation for journalists. In this climate more than ever, we are able to take photos and video, record audio clips and compose written stories all from the palm of our hand. Breaking news can be more “breaking” as communication shifts to social media and instant calling and messaging. This became clear throughout the semester, but also enabled us to continue to do our job amidst national stay-in-place orders.

As the weeks have passed by, the more frightened I have become for the situation the country is in and the more it impacts my mental wellbeing. Though being home has been beneficial to my recovery process from gallbladder removal, it has also made me less motivated and actually less determined to accomplish projects to the best of my ability. As a journalist, though, I have realized the absolute need for the press and how crucial it is that we have honest and quality reporting in these times.

Reporting Amid COVID-19

Though I’m reminded each day of the negative effects of this virus, which I believe is invaluable to recognize, I have been trying to look for any positive to keep my spirits up. Staying active and keeping my food blog have been beneficial in keeping hope alive. Fortunately, I was also given an opportunity I wouldn’t have otherwise had if it not for this quarantine.

At the end of March, the head of the digital department of NBC Chicago called me to explain they had a job opening available, but I would have to start in two weeks. Had I been in Champaign, I would have to deny the offer. But because I was already working remotely just outside the city of Chicago, I was eager to accept the offer.

This past summer I had interned for NBC Chicago Investigates and would email this woman I’m sure a much too excessive amount asking about potential job openings. Though in the interview I could speak about my time at NBC, I was also able to draw on experiences in TV2 such as the time of producing an hour newscast after originally thinking it would be only a half hour show. Incredibly grateful, I can now say I am a digital media producer for NBC and use what I have been taught in TV2 for each shift so far.

Having to keep up with news on a daily basis, I have seen how pivotal it is to be aware of what is happening across the world and strike a balance between necessary and hopeful content. As the head of NBC Digital and NBC News Chicago told me, it is more rewarding now than ever to give the news to people who hunger for knowledge and rely on journalists to give them essential information.

Being a citizen of the United States has gone hand in hand for me as being a journalist. There is a feeling of commitment to the the country to save lives, but also give hope so those on the front line don’t give up. Having the man we have leading our country terrifies me even more. Not only because there seems to be a denial of the seriousness of this pandemic and continual attacks on the media — the ones delivering truth to a country who needs it now more than ever, but also because he is making a global pandemic a partisan matter. Saving human lives from an unexpected pandemic should not be drawn down party lines and that mindset could heavily alter the public’s cooperation during an extremely crucial time. That scares me. That makes me want to be a better journalist.

Ever since starting this job and keeping busy again, I have felt more motivated to complete schoolwork, daily projects, keep a healthy lifestyle and become a quality journalist in such a crucial time. Though a tragic and difficult time, I have found my strengths and weaknesses and can, thus, find confidence in knowing my best abilities.

Looking Back and Moving Forward Post-Pandemic

As many I know would agree, I wish we had more time working together in TV2. However, moving forward, this class and this experience as a student journalist amid a global pandemic has taught me to never take a moment for granted. Even if at times it felt like simple schoolwork to complete, I would give anything to be back in the studio with our team or shooting a package on campus.

Looking back on this past semester on campus, I still believe I grew as a multimedia journalist. I learned to adapt. Because I produced the first two shows, I predicted the rest of my semester would be filmed with shooting and editing packages, VOs and VOSTOVOs. My first VO was for Hack Illinois (4:08), which is the largest Hack-a-thon in Illinois. I planned for this to be a package, but when I got there, my camera equipment would not turn on. For future, I planned to always triple check at home, but at the time this was out of my control. I shot what I could with my phone and made a VO for my News Update.

That same week I decided to film another VO, as another area of Champaign was being declared a “historic district.” (3:25) I planned to make this a VOSOTVO, but my interview audio was almost inaudible that I decided it would just be a VO. Needless to say, this taught me I need to work on shooting and how to best prep for these situations. I learned that the element of physically shooting content is my least favorite part of being a journalist, but I also strive to be better with practice.

The same week, February 21 – March 5, I also wanted to get at least one VOSOTVO done, so I did one on an IDOT town gathering (2:34) in Urbana as construction would soon begin. It was interesting to hear such a variety of perspectives from the town and I could sense the energy in the smaller-than-expected room.

Anchoring this news update was enjoyable for me, but I know I need to strike a balance of professionalism and personality when in front of the camera. For the past three years, I have anchored Good Morning Illini, where I think I have found a way to strike that balance as I am able to be more carefree, per se. If I have the opportunity to anchor or report in the future, I know I need to be aware of this and practice as much as I can even just in front of a mirror or my phone camera at home.

Before leaving for break, I was able to film my first and only package for TV2. The University was hosting an event for International Women’s Day (3:07), which was more speakers than they originally explained. Hence, it was a challenge to find interesting b-roll and I hope the package did not seem too “wallpapered.” On the other hand, I had the opportunity to interview the University Chancellor Robert Jones, which was an exciting opportunity for me.

It’s a shame I will not be able to return to campus to practice the skills upon which I need to improve such as fixing shooting technicalities, using cleaner editing and maintaining energy as a reporter and anchor. However, this time quarantined at home in Chicago has taught me we can be journalists anywhere at any time if there is a story to be told. If we are creative and use critical thinking skills, we can tell still tell a story through written word, text or email messages, photos and videos shot on our phones and audio recordings also taken on a handheld digital device.

“Graduating” in mid-May seems even more surreal from our homes instead of on campus with close friends and life-changing professors, but I am taking away from Champaign much more than a degree. Thinking back on my experiences in college, I can truly say the University of Illinois built much of who I am today. My beliefs and skills have been challenged, along with my mental and physical strength. I have overcome more than I thought I ever could and can only thank the people who constantly challenged me to be better, who tend to be the same people who have shown me true appreciation and compassion.

Thank you, Professor Collins, for teaching us more than journalism this semester. You’ve shown us how to better our entire lives and how to be good, authentic, determined young men and women. Thank you to the entire TV2 class for constantly having each others backs and being the greatest support system I could have ever asked for these past four years. This semester has been far different than expected, but I am grateful for every minute of it.

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So Long UIUC

Coronavirus Dilemma as a Student

By : Armani Baker

         My spring 2020 semester has been unpredictable, stressful, insightful and fun. Although I learned a lot this semester, the main thing that comes to my mind is time management. WHEW! To begin with, I spent Monday-Thursday evening on campus and Friday-Sunday at home in Chicago. I wanted to keep my part-time job in Chicago while still being a full-time college student. Who does that? This girl does. However, I’ve always chosen to do multiple jobs and or internships while in school. No Days off…  Not only did the miles begin to add up on my car, but my homework began to increase. Therefore, I had no choice but to figure out time management. On the first day of class, we received the syllabus and on that same day I planned out how I was going to complete all of the assignments while having this loaded schedule. Once I realized that news updates would probably take more time to complete than packages, I made a goal to complete both of my news updates before spring break. I am happy to share that I completed my goal. 

         The first assignment that I completed was the news update #1. Within this new update I completed a VO about a campus recreation cooking class and a VOSTVO about the “Art with A Queen workshop” at the Spurlock Museum. I absolutely loved shooting both the cooking class and the art workshop, because I love food and colors. There were so many opportunities to get close-up and medium shots of colors, food and interaction within these projects. I am pretty confident when shooting footage. Self-confidence is important when completing assignments because self-doubt just wastes time, and there is no extra time in broadcast journalism (at least in my opinion.) When you exude self-confidence, your work will get done much faster… having a “just do it” mentality is very effective. However, I still struggle with putting all of my footage together without the content looking choppy and this is evident in the final product of my news update #1. 

         The second assignment that I worked on was package #1. This package was about the online black-owned business directory “Buy Black Chambana.” Completing this package was a struggle because I shot all three of my interviews in two days and edited the entire package the morning of because by the time that I arrived at Richmond Studios, the lab was full for the night, due to the labs in Greg Hall under construction. So, there I was that Thursday morning, editing up until the time of the show. I was beyond overwhelmed because I chose to take an opportunity to work All Star Weekend in Chicago as a production assistant for two different companies, making my time on campus very limited to finish this package. I encountered other challenges besides time, trying to finish this assignment. I struggled with finding sources, editing with a clean flow and adding “file” for courtesy to clips that I didn’t shoot before the start of the newscast began. I wish I would have shot two of my interviews in better locations but shooting interviews in between classes doesn’t allow you much time to make executive decisions. A piece of advice I would give to future student is to allow yourself more than two days to complete a package and always have a back- up source in mind. Dr. Collins expressed to the class to always have a Plan A, B, and C and I will continue to apply this mentality to my work ethic. 

         The last assignment that I completed before COVID-19 interrupted my last semester as an undergrad was my news update #2. As I stated above, I like to shoot stories that I know will have a lot of color and human interaction. Within this update, I shot a VO about the campus student elections and a VOSOTVO about Hamamatsu Girls Day at the Japan House (used in the 5pm newscast.) Well, this day was overwhelming as well because I had two phone interviews which took away time from me learning how to do playback for the show. Luckily, I have amazing peers and classmates that helped me learn playback in less than 10 minutes. Which brings me to the point of how important collective collaboration is in broadcast news. If it were not for my peer’s assistance and help, I would not have been able to successfully fulfill my role for playback. Another piece of advice I have for future students is always be willing to help your classmates and do not be afraid to ask for help.

         Let’s talk about Coronavirus… I noticed that my journey as a student online is completely different than a student in person. I always complete homework at the communications library because it is very difficult for me to focus on academic work at home. I do not think I have completed a homework assignment at home since high school.  The days go by much faster at home… and I developed a new skill of setting alarms for everything such as to drinking water, calling family or friends, relaxing and to complete homework. While completing work remotely, I have to set alarms on my phone in order to stay on top of homework. If I do not set alarms, I will easily finish a Netflix series and lose a day of work. Another piece of advice would be to set alarms during quarantine, it really helps!

         It’s the end of the semester and I am most proud of my ability to complete one package, both of my news updates, two VO’s and two VOSTVO’s all before spring break. 

I am most proud of my ability to balance so much at once and still be able to get my work complete in this semester. I will remember all of our long Wednesday nights in Richmond Studios editing until midnight, ordering dinner together and our ability to help each other get our work done before the 1pm Thursday deadline. Our teamwork as a class was really remarkable, I have never had such a supportive community of classmates in my entire college experience, and I am very grateful for this experience. 

Coronavirus Dilemma as a person/family member/friend

         When I first heard about the virus, I relied heavily on my faith to get through this crisis. I continued to pray and have faith that everything would be okay. Fast forward to the day we received the email that classes would move to online format, I was like okay this is going too far…what is happening? My feelings about my faith have remained the same, but my feelings about this process are just nonexistent at this point. I’m tired of being on lock down but I do plan to follow the rules and stay in-doors. 

         Technology has played a major role in my journey of quarantine. I am blessed to be home with my family, as this is definitely a privilege during this crisis. However, I do not have the privilege of seeing some of my closest friends that I would usually see almost every other weekend. Our hang outs have transitioned to zoom calls and active group chats. 

Coronavirus Dilemma as an aspiring professional journalist

          Considering we are facing a pandemic-unlike other semesters, I noticed that a lot of working professionals and students in the field are offering free webinars to help people stay motivated during this crisis. For example, I had the opportunity to moderate a panel “Journalism: Who is telling our story?” at #TheNextStopCon a free digital conference that promotes horizontal networking for college students from underrepresented communities. I also noticed that for the first time in my collegiate career I do not have a detailed plan for my future. I normally plan out my entire year as an aspiring journalist. Now, I have no clue what my future will look like. Unfortunately, my summer internship was cancelled, and I was devasted. This was the second year that I applied for this position and I finally got it. I know that many other students have lost their summer internships due to COVID-19 and I hope that other opportunities become available as we have all worked so hard to get these opportunities. 

         I think I viewed everything that was happening like everyone else. I experienced so many losses such as graduation, my internship, my apartment on-campus, human interaction and the list goes on. I had so many plans that quickly became extinct due to this virus. Although all of these losses hurt, I am so grateful to have my health and the fact the people that I love are still healthy and alive. This virus has reminded me that I am truly blessed. Seriously, if you are reading this right now… you are blessed. 

         As I move forward in my life, I learned that there is always a resolution to conflict if you plan ahead of time. I learned this from simply being a student in this class, there were so many moments where myself and others had to improvise in order to get the job done and I plan to keep this mentality throughout my life and future career. Overall, Journalism 445 can be overwhelming, but it is an incredible experience that will not only challenge you, but it will build a strong work ethic and a supportive community of peers that truly care about each other and the work that you produce. 

With love, light and HOPE


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Let’s do this one last time

Photo by: Alexandar Aguilera

By: Alexandar Aguilera

My last semester as a college student was different and I think many other students would say something similar. I went about my semester like I had in previous years and did what I had to do in order to pass my classes. All of a sudden I went back home and found out I wouldn’t be able to walk across the stage for graduation. If there is one big thing I learned this past semester it was to roll with the punches.

I had many days where I was fed up with school. Taking one day at a time was the best piece I gave myself to get through any tough day. But they weren’t all that bad. I think what I always enjoyed was just hanging out with my friends. Knowing there were other people going through the same stuff as I was made the journey a little easier. 

Obviously with a world changing pandemic it made this semester a lot different from others. As a graduating senior the realization hit me that I will be entering a tough job market. In general I’ve had to think about my future more in this semester than any other semester. For the first time I really don’t know what’s in front of me. I feel the journey of this semester has been different mainly because it’s sort of a transition point for me. 

Photo by: Alexandar Aguilera
A basketball court sits empty during COVID-19

When I first heard about COVID-19 I didn’t fully understand the scope of it. I probably reacted differently to COVID-19 than most people. In all honesty I didn’t realize how big it was until NBA player Rudy Gobert got the virus. Sports has and always will be a passion of mine. To see something I’ve admired since I was little come to a sudden stop was the realization that this thing is serious. 

With technology being the way it is made this whole pandemic scary. Hearing everyday a couple hundred people a gone because of a virus is just frightening. It’s hard to avoid when it’s the first thing you see on your phone or the first thing you hear on TV. 

Photo by: Alexandar Aguilera
A plant overlooks a vacant street.

It’s weird that even though things sort of look the same, nothing feels right at all. I look outside and everything just feels odd. One month ago I had no clue what social distancing was and now I feel like I say it everyday. Everyone had to adjust to a new normal in what seems like an instant. 

As the pandemic has progressed I feel I’ve viewed it as both a regular person and a journalist. I feel like any other person in the sense of being concerned about the situation and how to go about it. At the same time as a journalist I’m looking at the news more than ever to learn and understand any and everything I need to know about the pandemic. 

Photo by: Alexandar Aguilera
A once busy Chicago neighborhood sidewalk is empty.

I will say being a student during this pandemic has also been an adjustment. Being at home and still having assignments to do is different. Something I feel I’ve always done in school is finding a way to get things done one way or another. I think the many scenarios I’ve faced in college where I’ve had to think outside the box has sort of prepared me for this. Considering the circumstances I adjusted to getting my work done one way or another. I also feel the fact that I’ve gotten this far has also given me confidence that I can finish the semester and earn my degree.

Looking at this class and college in general I think it has prepared me to face adversity at any given moment. I gave myself a personal goal at the beginning of the semester to bounce back and finish off strong. I think TV2 and this semester as a whole I feel that I’ve bounced back and gathered myself to push through one last semester. I think for any college student out there they should take things one day at a time. College is not any easy thing and it takes a toll on you mentally. Whatever you do to relax, do it. Give yourself time to rest that way you can push yourself and get things done. Take the time to make sure you’re alright and you will be alright at the end of the day. 

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What to expect from the media during COVID-19

Photo by: Alexandar Aguilera
Two people practice social distancing at a park.

By: Alexandar Aguilera

The world has been blindsided by the massive effects of the COVID-19 virus. It has left many to wonder it’s true risks and unknown lasting effects. From stay at home orders, to face mask requirements. Many news outlets have been flooding TV’s, news feeds, and websites on the latest updates on COVID-19. The news has been a vital source of information during a constantly changing pandemic. 

With the virus being the top story everyday for the past month every outlet has approached its coverage of it in both similar and different ways. In particular, we will be looking at NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN, and FOX. Despite different approaches and possible messages they might be trying to send it isn’t necessarily a bad thing. 

On April 22, these news outlets led with different leading stories regarding COVID-19. With NBC’s leading story it can give the impression that they chose to focus on Dr. Bright to highlight President Trump’s handling of the pandemic. This included a video of Dr. Bright speaking on his firing as well as President Trump addressing it.

With ABC, they decided to focus on President Trump avoiding questions which also leans toward the idea that they are also focusing on the President’s response to COVID-19. The story had a photo of him next to Dr. Fauci and a video which discussed Dr. Bright’s firing as well. 

FOX took a different direction compared to NBC and ABC by noting President Trump pushing back on a claim by the CDC of a second wave of COVID-19. The story also leads with a video of what President Trump actually said regarding the claim. 

Both CBS and CNN had stories not related to President Trump. CBS reported on Mitch McConnell while CNN had various stories ranging from health and updates on COVID-19.

As time has passed the focus of stories has shifted. If there is one thing that has been consistent is that there is something new each day. 

One obvious similarity all these outlets share is that each of their leading stories pertains to COVID-19 in some form. However, each outlet also has a different approach or reasoning as to why they went with the story they chose. 

Yolanda Aguilera who works as a Human Resources manager expressed some thoughts on how news outlets are reporting on COVID-19.

As time has passed the focus of stories has shifted. If there is one thing that has been consistent its that there is something new each day. 

She also touched on outlets coverage on state’s reopening specifically. 

There is a lot to take from all this. Outlets such as NBC and ABC can give off the impression that they are presenting stories targeting President Trump’s poor response to the COVID-19 pandemic. A notion can also be made that FOX tends to try and defend President Trump’s action. 

While President Trump can be an easy subject to look at when comparing the coverage of these outlets it isn’t necessarily the point. With anyone of these news outlets regardless of their status or credibility they should be taken with a grain of salt. Each one is going to present a story in their own unique way.

Julio Aguilera who works as a Director of Security addressed outlets presenting different perspectives and saying how you can’t listen to just one.  

There can always be the possibility for one of them to present one side of the story.

Eric Harris, a high school freshman talked about he receives news and outlets’ one-sided coverage of testing

Having several outlets provides a wide variety of perspectives and information to gather. From there it falls upon the reader to do what they will with the information. 

Yolanda spoke on how she reacts to information from news outlets. 

Either way news outlets are going to provide information they believe the public should know during this pandemic. 

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“I’m Sorry Ms. Rona”- Outkast Students of UIUC

Tyler Tubbs

Thank you once again for visiting my blog! Sadly, this will be the final iteration in what has been quite the saga of entertainment. Over the semester, I had the privilege to view eight completely unique performances that have broadened my perspectives on not only art, but also how to approach novel cultures.

Although I had an incredible experience over this past semester, I am incredibly disappointed that it was brutally cut short by our current pandemic. Thankfully, we were able to get a solid start to the semester with such incredible performances as Somi and Anna Deavere Smith. Both performances gave such incredible insights into emotions, thoughts, and experiences of cultures all over the world. In closing the in person semester, my favorite performance, was the fantastic Cabaret. I have always been a fan of musicals and cabaret is the first that I actually got to see in person, so it will always carry meaning to me.

The heart wrenching end of the in-person semester destroyed just about every normalcy in our lives, but, thanks to Digital Theatre+, I could at least continue my genre-hopping expedition from home. The first performance, The Container, highlights the struggles faced by refugees headed toward England in a gripping, single-set performance. Another single-set performance, Metamorphosis, challenges traditional asian values in which the parents completely depend on their eldest son. This is all changed when the poor young man transforms into a human-sized dung beetle. The final event of the semester was Macbeth. Shakespeare’s timeless classic was incredible, even online. Macbeth hosted some of the best acting I have ever seen.

I had such a great time this semester, and I want to thank my two professors for making this all possible. Dr. Collins and Professor Robinson have been nothing short of amazing throughout this whole journey. I want to deeply thank them and anyone else taking their time to read my posts for being such incredibles guides and partners in this experience.

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For the last time, I’m Taylor Mattingly UI-7 News…

Wow, this has been a heck of a semester. I have to say that I have learned so much. Going into this semester, I was excited to be finishing my last semester at the University of Illinois. I had just accepted a promotion at my job, and the first two and a half months in school was cancelled. We attended class on Tuesday, and by Thursday the world was no longer the same. Now, I’m turning this in just having accepted another promotion. My wedding has been postponed, and the same goes for graduation… My heart is broken, but I also have more than a lot of people do in the world.

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The Journey We Never Expected

A Semester Reflection Written By: Danielle Catlett

In general, my journey this semester was both difficult and unpredictable, however, it was beneficial in the sense that it simulated what the experience in a real, working newsroom would be like. I most learned the importance of being able to work under pressure, and the necessity of getting tasks accomplished as early as possible. Though I did not have the opportunity to go out and film packages and vo/vosots as often as I wanted to, I did enjoy coming together to produce a newscast alongside my fellow classmates every other week. I especially enjoyed the opportunity I had to anchor one of our full- length newscasts.  I had the opportunity to see my work progress throughout the semester, beginning from two VOSOT’s and a VO that I filmed. I was able to film the grand opening of The CBD Store located on Neil Street, the Champaign-Urbana annual CU’s Got Talent Showcase and the Illinois vs. Northwestern wrestling match. I was able to include all of these pieces in a 5-minute self-produced news update. In addition to this, I also had the opportunity to later film a package on the Urbana Poet Laureate Showcase and run playback for our second newscast and second round of news updates.

Credit: Danielle Catlett
Me studying from home during the coronavirus lockdown.

In comparison to other semesters, it was very difficult to make an adjustment from in-person learning to online learning. As a journalism major there is always an expectation to be doing a lot of hands on learning, however, with a global pandemic outbreak, that simply became an impossible task. As an aspiring journalist, I feel that I missed out on part of the experience that I was hoping to gain by losing half of the semester, but I also learned how to work under the conditions of a national lockdown.

Credit: Danielle Catlett
Drivers traveling down I-57 following J.B. Pritzker’s announcement of a statewide Stay-at-Home Order.

As a student, this journey was different because it is unlike anything any of us have ever experienced before. I am sure many of us have taken one or two online classes before, but to take every single class online at the same time has proven to be quite a challenge, especially when, as a journalist, much of the job is learned by getting out and doing. In this respect, I had to decide whether I wanted to return to my on-campus apartment or remain in Chicago for the rest of the semester. Ultimately, I decided that I would likely have a better work ethic if I returned to Champaign. It was especially disheartening to learn that our graduation ceremonies had been postponed or cancelled after working so hard for four years and finally being able to have our families and friends watch us receive our diplomas. Personally, the fact that myself and so many others across the country are experiencing this issue is extremely disheartening.

As a citizen of the country, it has been very difficult for me to adjust to our current way of life, especially being a very social person. However, despite that, I feel that it is our duty as human beings to stay home as much as we possibly can and do whatever we can within our power to minimize the spread of the virus. I have found some ways to cope with having to stay inside for such extended periods of time, including taking walks and visiting local nature preserves.

Credit: Danielle Catlett                              
University of Illinois student Garret Barch takes a walk through Busey Woods Nature Preserve

Technology has played a major role in my journey because it is truly the only way we, as students, have been able to continue with our studies. Without access to technology, the entire semester itself would likely have needed to be suspended entirely during the pandemic. Considering that technology is an important aspect of journalism, I feel that I learned a lot of new information relating to technology in the newsroom, however, I missed out on the knowledge that I could have gained throughout the second half of the semester had the pandemic not spread as widely as it did. It has definitely proven to be difficult to continue the semester online without having the same access to all of the resources typically offered through the University. In doing our newscasts, I was able to learn how to run the playback system proficiently and how to produce the weather graphics, as well as anchoring for both the weather segment and an entire newscast. I was also able to further improve my skills in editing using the Adobe Premiere editing software. Unfortunately, the program itself is more difficult to use on my personal laptop than the Mac desktops we had access to in the classroom, but overall, I have still been able to gain a wealth of knowledge through the technology I did get to interact with.

Credit: Danielle Catlett
The Illini Union, normally a hub for student activities, closed in the midst of the pandemic.

When I first heard about the virus in China, I didn’t necessarily think much of it because China is so far removed geographically from the U.S. though it is a major source of economic interaction for us. I felt empathetic for the people there who were having to deal with the virus and any students that may have been there from other countries for education or visiting. I thought back on when I actually had the opportunity to travel there several years back and hoped that China would be able to take the measures, they needed to really contain the spread of the virus as well. I also assumed that the U.S. government would take the necessary precautions to make sure that it didn’t spread as much as it had because of the severity of the situation. But as time went on and the virus continued to spread to other countries, I grew more worried considering how it seemed to debilitate healthcare systems and economies, suspending non-essential travel and jobs. The virus had begun to ramp up with alarming speed near the university’s spring break, making its way to every continent and there had even been a confirmed case or two in Chicago. Prior to this, I had been working on a package on a professional artist on the University campus. It was left unfinished and due to the stay-at-home orders, leaving me to instead turn it into a print story with soundbites from the artist’s interview.

Throughout the process, my feelings have changed because of the way in which we were taught to handle changes in the original plan through this class. For example, when out filming my second package on the Black and Latinx Women’s Summit, I ran into a lot of audio related issues and it was very difficult to find quiet places to conduct interviews. It was also very difficult to gather footage of the event itself because of the limited space and the set-up of the room. However, I managed to find a means of working with the footage I had gathered. I also was able to stretch the 10 seconds of natural sound I had under the video. Despite this being the most difficult event I filmed all semester, I managed to find a means of making it work. Similarly, in class we have typically managed to find a means of making things work in the end despite all of the restrictions and constraints we have come to encounter.  Because the transition to online learning was so sudden, I found myself wondering “how can we possibly still do journalism as aspiring journalists in the midst of a pandemic?” But after we collectively worked together with Dr. Collins as a class to come up with a manageable way of tackling the rest of the semester, I felt much more confident about the rest of the semester.

Credit: Danielle Catlett
Myself and other shoppers searching for toilet paper and other household items among the empty shelves

I believe that I viewed everything that has been happening from both the perspective of a media messenger and like everyone else. For example, as a citizen, I felt the same concern and confusion over the sudden shortage of toilet paper and cleaning supplies as others. However, I also wondered what was causing this stent of panic buying and why it was happening now as opposed to during other outbreaks. I feel that I have kept in mind the necessity of consuming news from multiple different outlets as there can typically be some form of underlying bias. On the other hand, when the average American finds a news source they like, they tend to stick to that one singularly.

The lessons, skills, talents, and insights that I have found to play a major role in the success of my assignment are time management and persistence. Especially in relation to longer assignments, I have had a difficult time actually focusing and completing work from home because I got so accustomed to studying in the library. However, by doing a certain amount of work for a set amount of time each day, I’ve been able to adjust more comfortably to online learning. Working on collective collaborations is a bit easier because of the technology that we have available to us and the ability of each person to contribute their specific skills to complete a task or assignment. Critical thinking skills have also been useful in the context of learning to create and prepare backup plans.

Critical thinking is important to completing assignments and meeting challenges during this time of the Novel Coronavirus because of the uncertainty associated with our new way of life. Many of us are relying on technology to continue our jobs or education, as well as for communication with friends and family we do not live with. In the instance of technological failures or needing to change the structural makeup of classes or work, it is imperative that we are able to think critically about how we can find solutions to the challenges we will be facing. During the pandemic, this will also be important for doing regular tasks such as grocery shopping or exercising, seeing as how we must find new means of accomplishing these activities while maintaining social distancing.

Self-confidence plays an important role in completing assignments and meeting challenges because it allows you to trust the decisions that you have mad. Self-confidence also acts as a de-stressor because you can trust that, regardless of the number of things you need to do, it will get done in due time.

As I move forward in my life, I have learned from this class that there is always room for improvement in my work. There may be instances where mistakes are made and you have to work with what you have but those mistakes are always learning experiences that help in gaining knowledge. This journey has definitely taught me of ways to adapt to different working environments. It is a huge change transitioning from being in a class that simulates a somewhat hectic newsroom to working directly from home. I have also learned ways that phones can be used as devices for creating a producing media in the event that there is no camera or production crew readily available.

  From this class I am most proud of the video production and editing skills that I was able to improve upon, especially under the circumstances that we ended up facing midway through the semester. I feel that, even though we didn’t have much time for in-person classes, we were able to make progress in huge strides over a short period of time. In terms of the semester overall, I am proud of the way that I was able to adapt to such an abrupt change in learning as the coronavirus became a more serious and impending problem. What I will remember most about this class is the way that it has constantly challenged us to prioritize, problem-solve and out forth our very best efforts. For the next person who is a student, I would simply advise them to put forth their best efforts and to not be afraid of failure or asking for assistance when they need it.

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Student Artist Gives a New Meaning to Painting

Written by: Danielle Catlett April 28, 2020

Credit: Danielle Catlett
 “Comfortably Lost” by Kyla Offord

The University of Illinois is filled with talented students. But how many of those college students can call themselves professionals? From musicians and dancers to painters and filmmakers, there are no bounds to the creative ability seen on campus. However, some students, like professional artist Kyla Offord, have been able to offer something unique to the world by taking their craft to the next level.

At age 19 Kyla framed the first art piece she made that she was genuinely proud of. It was her first drawing, done all in pencil. Though she had been doing art prior to 19, she voices that she has always been frustrated with art because she always practiced it but “I could never get the image in my head to show on a piece of paper,” she said.

Now a fifth-year senior, Offord is majoring in painting. “Coming to college has just been the most life changing experience for me because I’ve been challenged in the way that I want to be challenged”. She recalls the first painting she ever sold as “The Rose Haired Girl,” a painting of a girl with flowers in her afro made from foundation. Though it was a small painting for her, it managed to make a difference for the person who bought it.  She now frequently receives commissions to do paintings of relatives that have passed on and she has even sold one of her paintings to one of the New Orleans Saints. “People get paintings all the time, yeah, for sure, especially because I want them to be cheap and I want them to be accessible and I want everybody to have a piece of my work in their room, whether it was $20, $40 or $1,000,” she said.  

Though she is a professional artist, Offord describes her relationship with the term, saying that before she received the training to be an artist from the university, she had an “artistic itch” that she couldn’t scratch. “I will be a master painter, technically, after twelve years of painting…and hopefully 12 years from now I’ll know exactly what I’m doing and what I’m saying,”  she mentioned.

“It took me a long time to see the talent that I had. It just felt natural, like reading a book. And Now that people are telling me, ‘no, I’ll give you $1,000 for this thing behind you,’ I’m like ‘oh,’” she said as she gestured to her most recent piece, a  large painting situated behind her. The canvas stretched over more than half of the white wall it was hung against. In it a woman covered in vines sat on a bed situated in the middle of an expanse of water. The woman had only a third-eye, a mouth and flowers covering the rest of her facial features. Slightly lifted from the canvas was her hair made of yarn, flowing in ripples down her back.  Behind her, fairies flutter between bunched of clouds in the sky above her head.

Already, Offord’s pieces are created for a sophisticated audience. Most of her work is associated with fantasy, but she sees her pieces as autobiographies of herself and what she is going through. Under the assumption of the adage that “the eyes are the window to the soul”, by taking away to pupils and eyeballs in her paintings, she removes the audience’s window to her soul, while she gets to look into the viewer’s through the painting’s third-eye. “It’s just kind of like a constant theme of self. I can’t talk about anything that I haven’t gone through or I’m not feeling. So I’m always present in my paintings, even if I’m in a different scene or the vibe is different or even if the time period is different, it’s still a manifestation of me. Of either what I was or what I want to be.”  

In the future, Offord sees herself being the face of art. She plans to continue showing her work and doing commissions while developing a better sense of knowing what she wants artistically. In addition, she hopes to travel the world promoting black art and sharing the story of black women as a spokesperson to influence the world’s perception of African-Americans. More of Kyla Offord’s work is available through her website https://kylatheartist.wixsite.com/kylatheartist .

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The Shadow of Coronavirus on Politics in News Coverage

Zihan Wang

self-quarantine in an apartment in Champaign, IL.

The COVID-19 has been a huge impact on this world. The coronavirus is not only impacting the community’s health, but also politics.


Since the coronavirus firstly outbroke in China, the coronavirus has been not only a pandemic, but also a political issue. While the Chinese community in western countries is helping to combat the coronavirus, also Beijing is sending their help, there has been a wave of questioning and criticizing China from politicians in the world.

While although the attack against China in public opinion field could be treated as methods for political interests, as the Washington Post opinion shows, it is still an interesting topic to observe the news coverage on China in different media outlets, and how their news articles reflect the value or opinion they are holding — also the message they deliver to the public.

Background of the News Outlets

Thus, I would like to choose the following 5 media outlets for discussion, and each of them we will pick one article as an example of their characters.

New York Times:

Coronavirus Diplomacy: How China’s Red Cross Serves the Communist Party

The New York Times Company owns the famous newspaper, the New York Times. As a liberal media, the New York Times has been widely seen as a flag of liberalism, and the news coverage from the New York Times about China has been negative for a long time. This media outlet has been widely accepted by liberals in the U.S., also in the world.

In the article, I picked above — which “unfold” the corruption and connection between CCP and the Red Cross in China. The message of this news outlet, clearly, is attacking China. And so does other articles contain information both about China and coronavirus.


Coronavirus: China rejects call for probe into origins of disease

The background of this story is that as China and U.S. are quarreling in the origin of coronavirus, as Chinese spokesman denounced that the U.S. spread the virus in Wuhan while Trump administration rejected that statement. And the story is trying to criticizing that China is not cooperative in the probing of the origins.

BBC, as one of the most famous media outlet in this world, is funded by the British government. Although mostly the BBC is treating as an “Independent Media,” there has been questions and criticizing that BBC’s narration in their stories could also be influenced by the propaganda needs of the British government.


China could have 50 times more coronavirus cases than claimed, Trump administration official says

As a conservative media, the FOX is owned by Disney now. The Fox has been a supporter to the Republicans for years. The audience rating of Fox is the highest among all the media in the U.S.

In the news I picked above, the news coverage showed that source from the White House told the reporter that China has far more cases than the 80,000 more cases that Beijing announced. One thing we need to be alert is that, in this article all the information comes from the White House and “intelligence.”

Foreign Policy

In the Post-Coronavirus World, Chinese Power Is Overrated

This article might be the most “not-news” article in all the articles I have picked. Compared to traditional media, the Foreign Policy is more like a journal of diplomatic and international-relation studies. But still, the news coverage and analysis of the ongoing issues could still be treat as newsworthy, for the value it shows in the stories.

The Foreign Policy magazine is owned by the Graham Group. It is one of the most influential magazine of international relations.

And the article I picked above, which is discussing the hot topic recently, that whether China would be more influential or not for its advantages in the pandemic, could be a good example of how they would deliver the message to the readers.


China’s Wuhan ends its coronavirus lockdown but elsewhere one begins

Reuters is among the world top 3 news agency. As a branch owned by Thomson Reuters, the news service is actually partial of its all services — Reuters is also an influential financial data and information provider.

Compared to the BBC, Reuters are more neutral in reporting the cases. In the article above, which is an example I choose, it told the public the message that Wuhan has ended the lockdown while Heilongjiang Province, a northern province in China, is suffering a new surge of cases.

Comparison and Analysis

One thing in common in all the news articles above is that they are all focusing on the coronavirus. However, the difference is more about their standpoints of the message they want to deliver to the public.

The information of the articles is not of vital importance. Actually, they are the least important part of our comparison. The most important part is that, from the organizing of the stories, we can found that the New York Times, the Fox, BBC, and Foreign Policy, are trying to build connections in coronavirus and CCP, the Chinese Communist Party, while the Reuters is more balanced and they are trying to not blend everything with the politics.

And if we take longitude research of the articles in the whole March and April, during the outbreak in the U.S., about the series news coverage conducted by those media, we could find that they have never changed their positions. In fact, nothing changed, only the facts and their angles of reporting.

That has been a long history of these media outlets. But it’s not about the critique of whether they are fake news or not. The similarities and focuses they have could push us to ask a question, how would the reporting shapes the standpoints of the public?

The word “stereotype” firstly introduced by W.Lippman, a famous journalist in 20th century. The word stereotype was from the printing, as a metaphor of the public’s prejudice and cognition towards a group of people or subjects.

It is a great metaphor we could also share here. The different audience of the media outlets shares different stereotype — the conservatives have their stereotypes, as we always say, but it could be also that the liberals share the stereotypes against another group. The stereotypes are simplifying our understanding of the facts, and that is dangerous to us all.

And that’s horrifying, especially when we are doing longitude research on those media because they are all sharing hostility against China in politics. We always say if we want to avoid stereotypes, we need to observe the subjects from different angles. But what if we seem like having multiple choices of information sources, but they are all sharing the same hostility, how we could stay at a neutral position to analyses the information we acquire, and being really informed?

And as we can see now, in the U.S. the racism is raising again because of the coronavirus outbreak — also “thanks” to the great efforts by President Trump — the media outlets are still staying in their traditional position, reporting the news from the angles of criticizing Beijing, how the public could understand that even Beijing and CCP have mistakes, corruptions, and other dirty things, they have valuable experience and methods that could really help with controlling the disease?

The priority now is combating the disease but not escalating the tensions between the two nations, and to the public, the thing they need to understand now is that China is not a monster but also a country has effectively controlled and suppressed the outbreak of coronavirus. The ignorance and arrogance would save no one, but only left pains and death.

And what about the Reuters? Yes, they are staying in a neutral position and reporting the facts but not merging with bias, but what about those people who have already been forged with stereotypes of China? When they receive the facts and information how would they take and understand it?

What’s Next?

My prediction to the next stage of the news coverage would still be pessimistic — nothing would change. All the media I mentioned above, that I believe, they would follow the same pattern they have already done in the past two months, covering the news in the same angle they have done before.

But there could still be turning points. Donald McNeil, science and health reporter for the New York Times, shared what he saw in Wuhan, and trying to inform the public of the effective methods the Chinese government has been using to control the disease. While the media outlets are stuck in the track of narration they have been holding for years and decades, the journalists can still make their own efforts to tell the public, what they have seen, and what they should do.

And together, the coronavirus can be defeated, so does the racism and sterotypes.

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How the Media Handles A Global Pandemic

Written by: Danielle Catlett on April 25, 2020

Credit: Danielle Catlett
Customers shopping in Walmart among the barren shelves during the Covid-19 outbreak

The coronavirus pandemic has taken the world by storm. Countries around the world are going to extreme measures to ensure the effects of COVID-19 are limited enough to avoid a total overload of the health care system. Most U.S. states have been under some form of lockdown since the end of March, leaving all non-essential businesses closed until further notice. With the greater portion of the country being restricted to their homes, news has become an even more imperative source for information about the outside world. Though almost all news sources agree that the most relevant and major news to report is the global pandemic of coronavirus, each one uniquely decides which aspects of the virus to cover and how broad a scope of information to use. Most reports share the perspectives of nurses or doctors, information from the government, and finally, glimpses at how COVID-19 has affected the civilian population both here in the United States and abroad. However, some stark differences can be seen in coverage between traditional news sources CNN, Fox News, Buzzfeed News, ABC 7 Eyewitness News and WCIA News.

CNN became a main source of information within my household. This widely used subscription television-based news network was first launched in 1980.  As we were just beginning to understand the severity of the situation in the United States and taking precautionary measures at the state level ,CNN gave a quick look into how countries around the globe are dealing with the coronavirus and the effects it has on the population. With reporters and correspondents stationed in China, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom and Spain. In addition, this story was made available through the social media platform Instagram, making it available to a broad range of audiences.  One of the most uniquely reported coronavirus stories reported from CNN ais an in-depth report from inside a New York emergency room. Reporters manage to get as close and personal as possible to doctors and nurses as they fight the coronavirus on the front lines in what has now become a medical warzone.  Another unique aspect of CNN’s coverage is it’s reoccurring series of podcasts with their medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta.  This series manages to address more localized and personal concerns specific to the population.

Fox News, on the other hand, was created with the conservative audience in mind. Owned by the Fox Corporation, Fox News is available through both subscription based and digital television, as well as through online platforms. Fox typically focuses on the political impact of COVID-19 for the U.S. Published just a day after the previous CNN article, Fox News reported on the apparent tension between the U.S. and China as a result of the rapidly spreading virus. The issue at hand was not immediately reported to those in China, nor were other countries advised of the virus as early as they should have been.  CNN also has made similar reports on this issue. However, Fox News places greater emphasis on China being the source of the virus. Fox also addresses the somewhat confusing messages Trump has been sharing as he seeks to begin reopening the country. As protest against stay-at-home orders have begun to break out in places like Michigan, Trump has seemingly shown support for the protestors even though they are not adhering to the social distancing guidelines and potentially further spreading the virus.

In comparison to CNN and Fox News, Buzzfeed News is specifically an internet media source. A study conducted by Pew Research Center suggests that Buzzfeed tends to represent and cater to those who are more left leaning on the political spectrum. Buzzfeed has had a slightly different take on the coronavirus pandemic and has focused on more human aspect of the issue. Through localizing the issue as a problem that affects those in a wide range of social, economic, racial and political backgrounds. From the affects that coronavirus has had on farmers to the issue of student loan payments during the outbreak, Buzzfeed manages to make the issue relatable on a more personable level. Another notable aspect about Buzzfeed in comparison to other news outlets is that a reporter overtly reached out to members of the black community through an article on the website, hoping some would be willing to share their stories and experiences being disproportionately affected by COVID-19.

Chicago’s ABC 7 Eyewitness News is one of many newscasts across the country that is owned by ABC Owned Television Stations, a subsidiary of the Walt Disney Company. This news source is available through digital television broadcasts as well as online. ABC 7 Eyewitness News covers the COVID-19 pandemic with respect to the affect it has had on Cook County and the Chicago area, emphasizing strategies that have been implemented to keep up social distancing despite the improving weather. In addition to that, ABC 7 News has also addressed the threat of grocery stores becoming potential terror targets. In addition to this, ABC7 covers educational resources for kids at home, cancellations of major events and festivals, as well as the expectation for Illinois to reach it’s peak of COVID-19 cases by the middle of May. Overall, the issues that are addressed in Chicago encompass the major changes that affect the huge, vibrant and diverse community of Illinois residents, both in the city of Chicago and beyond.

In comparison Champaign’s very own WCIA focuses on more small-town related issues. WCIA is owned by Nexstar Media Group and can be accessed both online and through digital television in central Illinois. With a much less dense population than Chicago, WCIA offers an abundance of resources on the spread of the coronavirus, new cases and city-wide closings and cancellations. WCIA gives similar coverage of statewide coronavirus updates from the Illinois Department of Public Health and Governor J.B. Pritzker. Most notably, WCIA has interactive graphics that show the spread of the coronavirus by country, and state. These also show the number of tests that have been administered in the U.S. On a lighter note, WCIA also addresses ways that families have been able to come together for fun during the pandemic through a project called Curbside Clicks, in which volunteer photographers take photos of families on their porch.

Though there is a wide range of variation in COVID-19 coverage during this globally unsettling time, each news outlet has its own unique aspect of the pandemic they choose to focus on. This emphasizes the importance of relying on a variety of news outlets rather than solely any single one. Overtime, almost all news outlets have come to agree on the seriousness of the coronavirus. Though the pandemic has shown some signs of slowing down in some U.S. states, the world’s battle with this deadly virus is far from over. The general public must continue to focus on their responsibility of staying informed on new developments and staying at home.

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A Semester of Change

By Dan Gerardi

This semester has definitely been different. With all the changes to our class schedule, and then the coronavirus pandemic, it was not easy. We got through it though, and I learned a lot. 

From a news perspective, it is hard to imagine something not only dominating the news cycle for as long as COVID-19 has, but also shutting down as much of American everyday life as it has. COVID-19 has wiped out virtually all events and stories that do not have some sort of coronavirus connection. Many people lost their jobs, and many others are working from home. All “nonessential” businesses are suspended. Schools are closed and students are learning from home. All sports and public events are suspended. People are supposed to stay six feet away from each other and gatherings of ten people are deemed dangerous. It is hard to imagine anything having this kind of a truly global impact. Outside of a world war or some kind of horrible global natural disaster, I can not think of anything else than can touch the lives of virtually everyone around the globe like a worldwide pandemic can. Very quickly, these wholescale changes to the most constant pillars of our everyday lives have become the new normal. It is not ideal, and it is not a very happy time since some of the events postponed were very near and dear to our hearts. It is also not something to feel angry or discouraged by either. The cancellations, postponements, and social distancing are all necessary to slow the spread of the virus, and (somewhat) normal life will return before too long. With all that in mind, there were still classes to finish, chiefly this one – Journalism 445, the last of my major classes. Despite everything that happened this semester, this class really did teach me a lot.

I remember first hearing about the virus over winter break probably in early January. I felt bad for the people of Wuhan and of China, but I never imagined it would affect our daily life like it has. We talked in all my classes about how the virus was affecting life in China as cases started to pop up in South Korea, Italy, Spain, Iran, and other countries throughout Eurasia.  I could see it spreading and figured we would eventually have some cases in the United States. For a long time, I never thought it would get worse anywhere else in the world than it was in China, As the virus started to get a lot more widespread in Italy and other European countries, we started to get a few more cases in the United States. By early March some smaller events started to get postponed, and some precautions started to be put in place, but it still did not seem that bad to me. Then in the span of less than a week, starting on about March 10th, my entire world changed. Large scale events started being postponed. Professional and college sports leagues announced they would continue without fans in attendance. On Wednesday March, 11th Utah Jazz basketball player Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19 and the following day actor Tom Hanks tested positive. This put an immediate halt on all American culture. Sports leagues were suspended indefinitely. Then, the University of Illinois announced all classes would convert to online indefinitely. The NCAA College Basketball Tournament was cancelled. All spring NCAA sports were cancelled. After going home for spring break on Friday, March 13th, we were ordered by Governor J.B. Pritzker to “shelter in place” and gatherings of 10 or more people were banned. All Illinois public schools were ordered to move to online learning. Stores even started limiting the number of people allowed inside at one time.

My Mom and I had to wait in line for over 15 minutes just to get inside our local Costco.

My daily life had been so dramatically changed in less than a week that by the time the U of I announced commencement was postponed, it had little effect on me. I had become numb to such massive change.

As an aspiring journalist, this semester was incredibly unique. It is not often that a single news story completely dominates the news cycle for an entire semester, and this one will continue to dominate for a lot longer than that. Even before mid-March brought large scale, COVID-19 related changes to everyday American life, we were doing news stories about the novel coronavirus. As early as January, we were talking about the massive outbreak in China and how it was spreading to Italy and Europe. By mid February, we were talking about the small number of cases that were in the United States. The story was beginning to have Champaign-Urbana related consequences. We have a large population of Chinese students at the U of I and many of them were concerned about their families back in China. I remember I produced our class’s first newscast on February 6. We changed the show from 30 minutes to a full hour because coronavirus was already such a big story. I’ll also never forget Megan Xu’s story during that newscast about U of I students from China who were buying masks in Champaign-Urbana and sending them back to China because there was such a shortage of masks there. This caused Champaign-Urbana to have a shortage of masks. That was the first time I got a sense for how big this virus could get, and Megan brought a perspective I had never thought about. 

As a student, this semester was certainly challenging. Being a second semester senior and having to finish up my classwork while trying to find a job was hard enough without the global pandemic. It was not easy at first to convert all classes to online learning. Through it all, I just had to be flexible. I just had to roll with the punches. As classes resumed after spring break, I got into a rhythm of how to handle each class, and it was working out fine. The social aspect of being a student was incredibly missed, especially in the last semester of my academic career. I am a lot more engaged and applied to my schoolwork when I am seeing my friends everyday in class and talking with them about our assignments. That is especially so in a class like this – where we put on a newscast and everything I do affects someone else. I hold myself more accountable if someone else needs my package or VOSOTVO for the newscast as opposed to me having a lot of time to complete an assignment that does not affect anyone else but me. If having to do schoolwork is the price to be paid to go to a classroom full of people who truly are my friends, I will pay it all day long. Being a solitary student unable to truly interact with my peers was by far the hardest part about being a student through all of this. It is a reminder that the drive and motivation to get things done has to come from me. At the end of the day, I am the one who has to care about the quality of my work more than anyone else, regardless of whether anyone else is depending on me to do it. 

As a citizen of the country, it feels like I am going through a historic time. Granted, I would love everything to go back to normal, and I wish this pandemic never happened. I cannot help but feel somewhat fascinated to be going through such a historic time. I feel it is my duty as a citizen to follow the shelter in place order and do my part to ensure I do not spread the virus to others. I get the feeling this is something that will be a “before and after” time in our country’s history. What will a post-coronavirus United States look like? What about the globe? What aspects of everyday life will be different forever because of this pandemic? My dad always talks about what airports were like before the tragic events of 9/11. He mentions the lack of security compared to now and how now it takes so much more time to get through the airports because of increased checks and security measures. I wonder if things like high fives or hand shakes will start to disappear from everyday life after this pandemic. I think about large gatherings like sporting events, concerts, or even churches and wonder if there will be measures put in place at events like these to ensure people do not catch diseases. Living through this unprecedented event in United States history makes me wonder how much of the rest of my life this pandemic will shape. 

This semester made me use many technologies in ways I never have before. Even before the pandemic, things like Facebook and Google Calendar were critical resources to finding story ideas. Facebook was great for finding events on campus that I did not even know existed. Once I found an event that intrigued me, it was also very easy to message the event organizers on Facebook and set up an interview. As the coronavirus pandemic spread across the globe, I was constantly checking my email for messages from my teachers about how classes would change as well as MASSMAIL updates about how the university would be handling the pandemic. In the past, I really did not use my laptop super often for schoolwork, but it quickly turned into my classroom as I started attending video classes on Zoom. My sister, who is a student at Ohio State University, also used her laptop more than usual for all her online work.

My sister takes a test online during quarantine.
My sister used her laptop, iPad, and her phone to help her do homework at home.

Technology also really influenced my mom while at home. She is a preschool teacher, and her class has been sending her videos of them counting and finding different shapes around their house. I also helped my mom film several videos for her to send to her students.

This is a screenshot from a video I filmed of my mom teaching her preschoolers about farm animals during quarantine.
My mom watches videos of her preschoolers finding different shapes around their house.

Television also played a key role in staying informed throughout the pandemic. My family and I watched countless press conferences from Governor J.B. Pritzker and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot talking about how our local areas and our state were handling the pandemic. We also watched many press conferences from President Donald Trump as he explained the national response to the virus. Where I once went to class with dozens of other students every day and talked to them about our common experience of our class together, my phone became the only way to keep up with these people both as fellow students and as friends. Technology played an instrumental role in helping me get through this semester. 

I think I viewed the events of the coronavirus pandemic as part journalist and part citizen. As a student journalist studying towards a journalism degree, I naturally viewed the pandemic through a journalistic angle. Coronavirus completely dominated the news cycle in the U.S. from mid-February or early March on so much so that it was very difficult to find a story that was not coronavirus-related from a local or nation news outlet. News has been very important throughout this entire pandemic. News outlets have been the only way people have been able to stay informed throughout this unpredictable pandemic. Many people know very little about the virus or the best practices about staying safe during a global pandemic so it has been the duty of news organizations to give health experts and local and national leaders a platform to reach every American and help them stay safe. There were also times where I naturally took a step back and noticed all the little parts of daily life that were impacted by the pandemic. It is hard not to think about missing my last semester of college and all its fun events. It is also difficult not to get caught up in the struggle of social distancing. It is very painful to not be able to see my friends or some extended family members. We have not been able to be with my sick grandpa, but we have been going to his house and talking to him through his door.

My family and I have to talk to my sick grandpa through this door during the pandemic.

Social distancing has been something that has been difficult for everyone. Viewing the pandemic with a journalistic eye is not so different from viewing it from the perspective of an everyday citizen. As journalists we give a voice to everyday citizens and bring to light events, issues, or feelings that everyday citizens may not have noticed they share with each other. The human interest stories of how people are coping with social distancing and their new normal are even more important because they remind people they are not going through this alone and we all have to do our part to help get through it. 

When time is of the essence, self-confidence is very important to completing assignments. When there is a lot to do in a short amount of time, there is not time to doubt yourself. If you have kept up with the work but just find yourself a little behind, confidence is key. When people lose confidence, they can confuse themselves and become anxious. Self-confidence is especially key as a journalist. It is your story or your package, and that means you are in charge. You are the one calling all the shots when interviewing, filming, and editing. I have found it is critical to trust myself and know that this is not the first time I have done a package. Getting caught up in every single little detail can be overwhelming. Whenever I have been worried about an assignment at the beginning, I usually end up wondering why I was so worried to begin with. I have begun to trust that I have the skills to get the job done and that has helped me immensely in completing my highest level assignments. Self confidence can be very empowering.

I have learned a lot in this class that I will take with me for the rest of my life. I have definitely learned to be flexible. Anything can change at any given moment, and that means you have to adapt. If you stop adapting, you might get left behind. When there is change, just go with it. It can be difficult to think that something is set in stone and then suddenly everything changes. Things happen. The world is always changing, and I will remember that in my career. I had to move the time of my news update on March 5 to an hour earlier than I was supposed to do it. I was not expecting that, but it was not a big deal. I just went with it and it turned out fine. I have also learned it is never too early to get started on something. It can be crucial to always try to stay ahead of the game especially when projects are on deadline. I could always improve at managing my time, but if I know I have to do something, it would be very helpful to get started sooner rather than later. Getting started can sometimes be the most challenging part for me, so I will try to jump in with both feet more often. One thing I will also take with me is my relationship with my coworkers. I always do my best work when I am working with peers I respect. This class was truly an amazing group of people, and seeing their work and drive to do their best inspired me to do my best. I always tried my best to stay upbeat and keep everyone in a good mood. To me, that really makes a big difference. I was lucky enough to get the chance to anchor our newscast on March 5. I tried to keep the mood loose and positive and I really think that helped all of us to be more relaxed and comfortable during our broadcast. I was even confident enough to throw in an adlib about a VOSTOVO I shot for that newscast. I made a lot of friends in this class, and having such a positive environment increased my drive to do my best work in filming, editing, and working in the studio. I want to remember that I can have a positive impact on those who work with me. When they are positive too, that in turn has a positive impact on me and my work. Creating a great work environment and great team of coworkers could start with just one person. Luckily for us, we had a whole class full of great people this semester. 

I learned a few things about leadership this semester as well. We had great communication within the class, and I was able to check in with everybody. For the most part we all knew what each other was doing every week which was very helpful. One major thing I learned about leadership is it is important to rely on other people. People like to feel like they are contributing. Also when a leader tries to do too much, it can seem like the leader is acting like they are above everyone else and make others feel like their work is not good enough. I produced our first newscast of the semester and I could not have done it at all without Becca Wood and Taylor Howard, my assistant producer and assignment editor. I let both of them do their jobs and they were both instrumental to our newscast doing well. I relied on them for a lot and they were amazing. Our packages were strong that week too. I was happy to help people when they needed it but I knew they have all edited packages before. One thing that I do not like is when leaders try to micromanage everyone. It can make people feel devalued when a leader tries to teach people something they already know. For me, the best leaders are ones who are always there when people need help, but also trust them to do their jobs. Inclusion is also a very important part of leadership. As a leader, it is important to check in with everyone and let them know you are there for them. It makes people feel valued and increases their self worth when they see the leader care about them enough to have a conversation with them about how they are doing. One other thing I found to be important about leadership is positive reinforcement. A compliment or some encouragement can go such a long way toward increasing people’s confidence. It also brightens moods and helps create a positive environment. Hearing a simple “nice work” or a “thank you” can really mean a lot to someone. I think leaders do not give enough positive reinforcement, and telling someone they are doing a good job can have lasting positive effects. Overall, this was a successful semester, despite the pandemic and all the changes it brought. I was most proud of the leadership skills I learned in this class. I enjoyed producing our first newscast, and I was happy I could help some people get their news updates filmed in the studio by serving as director on the night we all got the news classes would be moved online. I knew how to use the switcher as well as how to record and save new supdates, and I was more than happy to direct news updates for Yuhan, Becca, Maddie, Liam, Alex, and Danielle W on that crazy night. Being there with everybody also helped me to feel calmer about all the changes that were taking place. Both situations were very hectic, and I am proud that I stayed calm and positive and was able to help everyone else feel more confident. This semester I was most proud of the opportunities I took advantage of. Both in the classroom and outside of it, I was proud I put myself out there. I do not always jump at leadership opportunities, but I am really proud I did this semester. Being a leader in this class helped me to be a better leader in my job with the Illinois Athletics video department too. I will definitely most remember the people of this class. I made some friendships in this class that will last far beyond our college years. I was so proud of how we all were able to work together. This was a very special group of students, and I was honored to work with each and every one of them this semester.

This rainbow offers a glimmer of hope that things will soon return to (somewhat) normal.

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COVID Covered Differently Across Channels

By Dan Gerardi

I took a look at five different news websites to see how their coverage of COVID-19 differed.

For the last two months, the coronavirus pandemic has completely dominated the American news cycle. With coronavirus being pretty much the only news story being covered, different news outlets have found different ways to cover the pandemic. Some lean left, some lean right, but most news outlets tailor their coverage to fit their viewers and readers. I took a look at five different news outlets at roughly the same time on the same day, Thursday, April 23, to see how the coverage differs between news outlets. I also spoke with my Mom Mary, my Dad Michael, and my sister Kathryn, to get their thoughts on how the pandemic is being covered.

    The first news outlet I looked at was CNN. CNN is known for leaning left in most of their coverage, and the coronavirus pandemic was no exception to this. CNN.com’s top story on April 23 was about racist tweets that were deleted by the Health and Human Services Spokesman. I did not think this was a surprising top story to find on CNN since it is criticizing the credibility of a spokesman within the Republican Trump administration. The front page of CNN’s website also featured articles about how the pandemic affected prominent Democrats Elizabeth Warren and Maxine Waters. Warren’s brother unfortunately passed away from COVID-19. I was also not surprised to see these articles featured since they discussed the pandemic’s effects on two very prominent women within the Democratic party. This is something CNN’s viewers and readers would be interested in hearing about. Another featured article on their website discussed how House Democrats were calling for an investigation into the firing of a Trump administration official who oversaw the purchasing of vaccines. This story was similar to their top story since it also criticized the Trump administration and the people it put in place to handle the pandemic. The final story I saw featured prominently on their website was the only one that did not have to do with coronavirus. It was a list of potential candidates Democratic presidential front runner Joe Biden could choose as his running mate. This article was a good one to include because it takes a break from the coronavirus to talk about the election, something CNN’s primarily Democratic readers are certainly invested in. My Mom said she believes the pandemic has taken some of the focus away from the election. Overall CNN’s top stories were very indicative of their leftward lean, and they mostly blamed the Trump administration for problems the country is having handling the pandemic. They talked about its effect on Democrats and even included the article about Biden’s potential vice presidential picks to remind their readers about the importance of this fall’s election and ensure it does not get lost amid nonstop coronavirus coverage.

    Next, I looked at Fox News. Fox News is known for usually leaning to the right. I found that they too primarily stuck along these lines with their coronavirus coverage. The top story on Foxnews.com talked about how New York antibody tests may show that more people had COVID-19 than they previously thought. I was also not surprised to find this top story on Fox News since they have supported President Trump’s handling of the pandemic, and have blamed most problems on the states. Foxnews.com also featured a video criticizing New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s response to protestors amid the pandemic. Their coverage was very New York focused partly because it has become the global epicenter of the pandemic, but also because Fox News can place the blame for any of New York’s problems on its Democratic Governor Cuomo, and Democratic New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. This is smart by Fox News because it is what their readers most want to hear – that President Trump has done a good job and other Democratic lawmakers are mostly responsible for problems in dealing with the pandemic. My Dad, however, said he wishes coverage was not so New York focused. One article on their website’s front page that I found intriguing was about Democratic Representative Karen Whitsett from Michigan who recovered from COVID-19 and says she supports the President’s efforts. Whitsett went on to say Americans should put politics aside, stop attacking President Trump and work together during the pandemic. Her message is one that would be receptive to both Democrats and Republicans. In the way that it was framed, I got the sense that Fox News felt they were giving her a national voice to say Democrats should stop attacking President Trump and focus on the country’s needs during the pandemic. One last noteworthy article I saw featured on Foxnews.com was about Vice President Mike Pence saying coronavirus could largely be behind us by the end of May.  Whether the reader agrees with this statement or not is not the point of including this article near the top of their website. This article is meant to show Fox News’s primarily right leaning readers that things are going well for the Trump administration in their handling of the pandemic. It is also meant to portray Vice President Pence in a positive light as the leader of President Trump’s Coronavirus Task Force. Both CNN and Fox News showed their bias in their COVID-19 coverage.  My sister, Kathryn, said these biases have become more noticeable over the last few years. Foxnews.com’s top stories all showed their lean to the right. They supported President Trump’s leadership during the coronavirus and blamed Democratic lawmakers for some of New York’s problems – two things their readers like to hear. 

    The next news source I looked at was NBC. Nbcnews.com did not lean far to the left or right like CNN or Fox News, but their coverage was more unbiased. Their top story took a look inside President Trump’s temporary immagration ban. The article talked about how it did not become very seriously considered until the President tweeted about it. The article was a little critical of the process happening that way. It also made it seem impressive that the Trump administration got it all done in less than two days. Their website also prominently featured an investigation into how distributors of child sexual abuse images are getting bolder while more people are at home (and online) during the pandemic. This was a very unpolitical story with a message that was not in any way politically controversial. Neither Fox News nor CNN talked about anything related to this. It was a very good journalistic article that I have not seen anywhere else. The next article I came to discussed a new coronavirus aid bill that was passed by the House. The article discussed how both Democrats and Republicans have some issues with the bill, but ultimately it was passed because the country needed it. It was another pretty unbiased article. My eye was next drawn to an article talking about the impacts of COVID-19 on scientific research at the North and South Poles. This was a very unique article and another one I have not seen any mention of anywhere else. It was also pretty politically unbiased. The article was interesting because it showed how COVID-19 truly affects everyone, even scientists in the most remote locations. Another prominently featured article contrasted the views of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Trump on the future of the coronavirus pandemic. Nbcnews.com also had a similar article to CNN about Senator Warren’s brother dying of COVID-19. Additionally, they included a link to a live stream of President Trump’s daily press briefing. These have been very popular throughout the last couple months and have delivered great ratings to TV Networks. My family has watched many of them. My Dad said they are very informative, but can also be entertaining. NBC had very unique research throughout. From the look inside President Trump’s immigration ban, to the child sex abuse story, to the story about research at the Poles, they covered the pandemic from angles I did not see wnywhere else, and it was very interesting. Their articles also had a very global, big picture focus overall, as opposed to the left and right focuses of CNN and Fox News respectively.

    The next news outlet I took a look at was ABC News. The stories on their website had a very national focus overall. The top story on abcnews.com talked about the coronavirus aid bill that was passed by the House. The article was pretty unbiased and similar to the NBC article. The next news article I came across discussed Vice President Mike Pence’s positive outlook on the pandemic. Like the Fox News article, it mentioned how Pence said that the pandemic could largely be behind us by the end of May. Pence has been pretty public throughout the pandemic as the leader of President Trump’s Coronavirus Task Force. This position has given Pence a truly national voice he did not have before the pandemic. The next article that caught my eye was about how the infant daughter of a New York firefighter died from COVID-19. This is obviously a very sad story, but there have been countless depressing stories about coronavirus from all different parts of the country and the globe. I thought it was very interesting they picked this one to cover, and it at least in small part further highlights the New York bias of media coverage of this pandemic. New York has become the global epicenter of the pandemic and certainly warrants lots of coverage, but readers hear about New York a lot during this pandemic and it would have been more interesting to hear about how coronavirus affected another area of the country. Another article featured prominently on abcnews.com highlighted five people who died in tornadoes in Texas and Oklahoma. This was the only non COVID-19 article I found among their top stories but I think it stuck with their national focus. The severe weather that week was a large event that affected much of the country. It was appropriate for them to cover it and include it among their top stories. Of all the news outlets I looked at, this was one of the only non-coronavirus articles included in any outlet’s top stories. The final article I noticed was about how a Georgia mayor received racist text messages from an anonymous number amid Georgia’s plan to partially reopen the state.  The article discussed how the mayor was against reopening the state and how she was worried to receive such texts. This was a story I did not see covered by any of the other news outlets I checked, and it was a very important story. Many people have differing opinions on reopening the country, and it will be interesting to see those opinions come to the forefront going forward. Currently, many businesses are operating with their employees working from home, and they are wondering when the country might reopen. My Dad, an advertising executive, said working from home has gone smoothly so far, but it has not been easy. In total, ABC’s stories had a more national focus while NBC’s stories were more global.  It also seemed like many of ABC’s articles focused on more personal stories, and did a good job of relating their messages to their readers. 

My Dad works from home during quarantine.

    The final news source I looked at was WGN-TV’s website. I chose WGN because they are Chicago focused, and my family and me are quarantining in the Chicago suburbs, so we have been viewing the pandemic through a Chicago lens. Their top story was about the stay at home order being extended and amended by Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker. Illinois was one of the first states to issue a stay at home order. Like President Trump, Governor Pritzker has been holding daily press conferences keeping the state updated on his team’s efforts to combat coronavirus. Pritzker has been pretty well received at these press conferences even as Illinois has consistently had some of the highest numbers of COVID-19 cases and deaths in the United States. My sister Kathryn said she feels Pritzker has been very credible throughout the pandemic. The next article I came across discussed Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s new team to help Chicagoland recover. Like Vice President Pence, Lightfoot is someone who has gained a much wider audience during the pandemic. Lightfoot has been vocal about slowing the spread of the pandemic in Chicago. She has gained popularity in Chicagoland over the last couple months. The next top story I saw was about the third Chicago Police officer to die of COVID-19. This is an article that is very important to Chicagoians, but would probably not appear in any media outside of Chicago. Many people throughout Chicagoland know someone who works for the large Chicago Police Department and would like to know how the virus is affecting them. Next, I came across an informational article about the new requirement by Governor Pritzker that all Illinoians wear masks in public starting May 1. This is also a very important article for WGN to include because it affects all people in Illinois. As recently as a few weeks ago, my family did not wear masks anywhere when we left the house, but even before this new requirement my Dad has insisted we all wear masks when going anywhere in public.

My family has primarily been using bandanas like this one as face coverings when going out in public.

    The final article that caught my eye was about the state parks that are reopening on May 1. This was a very nice article to include among their top stories. Many people are feeling cooped up at home because of the stay at home order, and this article gives people some options of where to safely take a scenic walk or run during quarantine. It also reminds people to get their exercise amid the pandemic. Because of WGN’s Chicago/Illinois focus, many of their stories affect my family and me directly. Their coverage of national news regarding the pandemic is pretty unbiased, but sometimes mentions how the news might affect Chicago. Their Chicago bias is certainly warranted, since most of WGN’s viewers and readers live in the Chicagoland area. Much of the news that appears on WGN affects my family and me more directly than news from national sources. 

Overall, the five news outlets I looked at were very diverse. All had a different top story, which was very interesting to me since I checked them all at roughly the same time on the same day. It was easy to see the left lean of CNN, the right lean of Fox News, the global focus of NBC News, the national focus of ABC News and the Chicagoland cocus of WGN in their stories. Each source kept their readers updated and informed but in very different ways, and in some cases with different information. A viewer could have different views on the pandemic depending on which news outlet they got their information from. My mom said this differing information can confuse viewers. While they all differed in their coverage, they all also braved the duty of reporting to the public during a truly historic pandemic, and that is absolutely something to be commended. 

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Journalism 445 Final Self-Reflection Blog

Photo by Ken Erdey

Going into this semester, I knew I was going to have a large amount of work ahead of me and that it would be different compared to other semesters in the past. Having two jobs, taking 18 credit hours, being the Music Director of an A Cappella group on campus, participating in numerous extracurriculars and more resulted in me attempting to get a head start on anything I could for this course. Anytime I saw an opportunity to work ahead, I took it. For example, our first newscast.

Originally, I was scheduled to produce a News Update, which I was both nervous and excited to do, as I had never had an opportunity to do something like this before in a class. Because I knew I was going to have a lot of work to accomplish in the semester, I aimed to produce most of the content on my own. I had planned to complete a VO on the Krannert Hive Exhibit, and a VOSOTVO on a concert taking place at the University of Illinois Spurlock Museum. After filming both of these, I began editing as early as possible. However, my plans changed upon coming to class the following day.

We had been scheduled to have five packages, but by the Tuesday of that week, only four had been worked on. Seeing the stress our producers for the week were facing, I stepped up and volunteered to create a package, as I had captured enough B-Roll and three sources to complete this. I was stressed about completing this in addition to the work I had already signed up for, but I was determined to do whatever I could to help my fellow classmates.

Though it was not perfect, I was proud of the finished result of what I completed. In addition to my own News Update, I was able to assist my fellow classmates who had produced their own News Updates as floor director. This was my first time in this position, and was one I enjoyed for the Updates. It gave me an opportunity to encourage others and get them excited for their solo on-air moments. After the News Updates were completed, our newscast was next.

This was a slightly longer show than we were told about previously, which proved to be somewhat hectic the day of the show. Floor directing was slightly harder in this scene, as it was a faster-paced episode with more content than the News Updates. Near the end of the show, I was brought onto the set to discuss my package I had worked on.

However, due to technical difficulties, my package had not played as it did during my actual News Update. Though this was frustrating to watch and know that there was nothing I could do about it, I remained calm and discussed the concert to the best of my ability. The end result of our newscast was excellent due to the hard work of everyone who helped.

For our following newscast, I was allowed to take a week off since I had completed both a News Update and a package. This came at a great time, as I had several projects, an exam and an interview for graduate school that week. I was instead able to anchor our newscast alongside Yuhan Ma. The following week, I was able to create a package related to the upcoming U.S. Census for 2020. I had some difficulty with this, as I had to miss a class in order to film for it, but I was committed to getting the job done so I could continue to get ahead in this class. In the end, I was able to put together a package I was proud of and later aired on UI-7 News (1:30).

With two packages and one VO completed, I was determined to complete as many of my assignments as possible in order to get prepared for after spring break. I signed up to complete my second and final News Update, so that I could produce more content to ensure my work was aired. For this update, I had planned to film an event on scientific consulting for a VO and a VOSOTVO on a play at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts.

Upon filming the play, I found that I once again had much more information that I could create into a package instead of squeezing into a VOSOTVO. I decided to create my final package, and was very excited to do so. The actors and producers even requested a copy of my final product for their own use, which I happily sent over to them.

Photo by Ken Erdey

In the midst of editing together work for my News Update, we received word that the University of Illinois would be suspending classes for two weeks after spring break due to the coronavirus. Wanting to report this, I began preparing a VO on the email. A few hours later, President Timothy Killeen announced that the university would indefinitely be holding classes online, so I updated my VO to further reflect this. While doing this, I realized how this would impact the rest of the year for my fellow classmates and myself. Everyone at Richmond Journalism Studio who was part of Good Morning Illini or Illini Sports Night expressed their upset regarding this. People would be missing out on producing shows they were passionate about. They wouldn’t be able to film segments for the programs they loved so much. I not only felt upset for myself, but for them, especially for the seniors.

Following this, we were told that we could not hold class the following day, so those of us who were producing News Updates decided to take matters into our own hands. Alex Agulera, Liam Dwyer, Dan Gerardi, Yuhan Ma, Danielle Williams, Becca Wood and I all stayed at Richmond studio and assisted one another with our News Updates until roughly 2 A.M. that night. We worked switcher, audio, playback, helped one another with mics and cameras and supported each other so we could complete professional and high-quality updates that we could also use for our future reels.

At that time, we still had the technology and resources available to complete works that could be used for a future career. Even though we were all tired and exhausted by the end of the night, this showed our determination to get the job done in order to do well in this course, and I am proud of the work I completed in order to do this. I am extremely grateful for every single one of my fellow classmates who helped out that night, and it reflected on their ability to get the job done, even during a crisis.

Once we learned that we would be working at home for the remainder of the semester, I was concerned how the work I had already accomplished would be reflected in regards to this. However, I tried to work diligently and broke up each section of my article into sections. That allowed me to get a fresh start every day.

In spite of the events that have occurred within the last month, I feel as though this class prepared me for creating the best broadcast productions possible. If I could give any advice, it would be to work ahead and get the job done as soon as possible. Most of my work was completed prior to spring break, which began on March 13. Capture more footage than you think you will need, get an interview if one is available and always help others.

This class has taught me that teamwork can truly get the job done. Make sure you save your footage when editing as much as possible so you don’t lose anything! Most importantly, don’t be afraid to ask for help. One thing I’ve learned as a journalism major is that so many other students are in the same boat as you, so someone may have had the same problem or question you have.

Another thing I would mention is to not be discouraged when things do not work out. Personally, I am a detail-oriented person who likes to know a strict plan and stick to it. However, I know this is not how the real world works, and this prepared me more for the future. Using critical thinking skills allowed me to develop more as a professional, and inspired me to think more on the spot about how to accomplish a task to the best of my ability with the resources I had been given.

Photo by Ken Erdey

Additionally, confidence is key. There were times in this class where I felt I did not perform to the best of my ability, but that only inspired me to try harder and to build my confidence. A lot of that confidence came from the support of my wonderful fellow classmates. Our class was one that supported, encouraged and helped one another. When we all put our heads together, we were able make creations that we were all proud of. That is one of the things I will remember most about this class.

As a journalist, there will often times be roadblocks that occur when you least expect them to. The best thing to do is be flexible and try your hardest to do your best work. This goes for anyone in any occupation, not just journalism. Being flexible and working through situations together with the help of others will only make you stronger. At the end of the day, I am grateful for the opportunities I had in this class, because it allowed me to work harder and develop my skills as a journalist and a professional. This was without a doubt the hardest semester I have faced at the University of Illinois, but this class taught me that with hard work, determination and a positive attitude, you can accomplish anything you set your mind to.

On top of everything that has occurred to me personally throughout this semester, I was able to complete nearly every assignment in this class before spring break. Additionally, I led my a cappella group in rehearsal for nine hours a week, and even led us in a competition. I worked two jobs in order to help my family. I applied, interviewed at and got accepted to a graduate school with one of the top programs in the country that I thought I stood no chance of getting into. Looking back on this semester, despite every obstacle I faced, I am proud of that.

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A Story of Pandemic Proportions: How Education is Impacted by COVID-19

By Maddie Ehret

Students; Coronavirus: College; Education; Precautions; Multimedia journalism
Students at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. Photo Courtesy of Time Magazine

The COVID-19 outbreak has impacted people on an international level, and the media has spared no efforts in attempting to cover these events. People from all over the world have been impacted by the spread of the novel coronavirus, including students.

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign announced on March 11 that they would be suspending classes for the time being, which initially resulted in classes for the remainder of the semester being conducted online via Zoom. UI-7 News reported on the initial steps that were taken. However, campus all around the world have been impacted by this outbreak, and several news sources have attributed to the spread of media to the public. This article examines how CNN, Fox News, NBC, Forbes and U.S. News have discussed this issue and how the virus has impacted students.


CNN, which was originally founded in 1980 in Atlanta, Georgia, has kept a steady flow of reports regarding the virus. It is currently owned by Time Warner Inc. and was created by mogul Ted Turner. CNN was also the first network to produce 24-hour full news coverage cycles, making it easier for viewers to catch up on current events that may be occurring. The platform also includes an email service that informs subscribers of the most pressing matters daily. The platform has an average of 1 million total viewers. It has been reporting about the pandemic since the issue first arose in Wuhan, China near the end of 2019.

Originally founded in 1996 by Rupert Murdoch, Fox News is recognized for its rather conservative views, some of which may be reflected in their coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic. The views may be connected to Republican political consultant Roger Ailes, who was enlisted to oversee the network in the 1990s. Fox News is currently owned by 21st Century Fox, and was tied for top-rated basic cable network in total viewers alongside MSNBC, with an average of 2.5 million viewers on air. Their website has the ability for users to search for specific topics related to current news, such as coronavirus.

NBC, which was founded in 1926 in New York, is currently the oldest major broadcast network in the country and is owned by Comcast and parented by Universal. NCB Chicago first began reporting on the air in 1948. As of December 2019, NBC receives roughly 8.1 million viewers. Their national website has been posting updates with articles, statistics and other media since the outbreak began. NBC Chicago has been updating their viewers and readers with local news related to the pandemic with a live blog.

Forbes Magazine is recognized as the original major business magazine in the United States. They currently have roughly seven million readers from around the world. The magazine is also published in 35 languages. Founded in 1926 by Bertie Charles Forbes, the media outlet features stories related to business areas, such as finance, investing, marketing and more. However, they also have sections related to law, science and technology. As of March 2020, they have reached roughly 107 million viewers on their website. Currently, they have a portion of their website dedicated to stories about the coronavirus.

Lastly, United States News, known as U.S. News, was founded in 1933 by David Lawrence. They are currently owned by U.S. News and World Report and are headquartered in Washington D.C., the capital of the United States. Though it provides national and international reports to its readers, it is also known for its popular annual authoritative rankings on universities and hospitals. Their website currently has a page for all recent news updates relating to the virus.

Coronavirus: Face-mask production cranked up in Taiwan to ease ...
Students in class wear masks to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Photo courtesy of StraitsTimes.com


CNN: In an article posted on April 27 by CNN, the central issue surrounding a majority of schools from around the country is when they will be legally allowed to reopen their doors to students. One option mentioned was to have students wear masks, staggering start times so there are no large groups of students, as well as suspending extracurricular activities and assemblies. Even with those restrictions, school administrators still remained concerned about the possibility of furthering the spread of the virus.

Furthermore, some are unsure of this would even be allowed or if it would break the current social distancing protocol. Matthew Hazel, an English teacher at Freedom High School in Orlando, Florida said, “Anyone who says there’s a way to socially distance in an American high school is kidding themselves or you. It can’t be done.” The article cites that almost every school in the nation has been closed for the remainder of the 2020 academic school year. However, some state governors have potential plans for the future. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo hopes the state may reopen as early as May 15 with schools reopening shortly after. Former New York resident Melissa Ehret discusses her views on the matter.

Fox News: On April 28, Fox News published an article discussing how President Donald Trump is reacting to the pandemic in relation to the end of the academic school year. He stated in a press conference on Monday, April 27 that it would be a “good idea” to have schools open up again for in-person classes before the school year ends. This is because those who are younger tend to have better immunity to the virus. Vice President Mike Pence also mentioned that “every state” would have the ability to enter phase one of the White House reopening guidelines. Several states, such as Georgia, Oklahoma and Alaska, have started to loosen the rules on social distancing. However, over 30 states have decided to remain closed and continue with online learning for the remainder of the academic year.

NBC Chicago: Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker announced that all Illinois schools would suspend in-person learning this past March. NBC Chicago reported on April 17 that schools would continue to stay closed for the rest of the school year. Pritzker was quoted as saying, “The importance of our schools and our in-person school days is not just a question of tradition and sentimentality, as essential as those things are – the shutting of in-person classroom time also risks a drop in instructional time, an extended window in which students can potentially experience summer learning loss, and an educational landscape in which some districts have more experience with remote learning than others.” The article includes other information, including the current number of cases in Illinois, the belief that the state has yet to hit the peak of the virus and that more tests are becoming available throughout the state.

Forbes: Boston University was the first college in the country to announce it may be suspending in-person learning until January of 2021, as Forbes reported on April 13. This is primarily because so much is unknown about when the virus will end, as some predict a second wave may occur in the fall. The campus is home to nearly 33,000 students from all over the world. University president Robert Brown announced administration was working on a recovery plan since the campus announced its closing in late March. If the current state of the virus were to remain until the fall, the campus would continue with online learning protocol and return to in-person learning in the start of the new year. Currently, the article has about 514,723 views.

U.S. News: Before COVID-19 impacted the United States, it was prominent within Asia and Europe. U.S. News gave a report on March 27 of what would happen to students who were studying abroad at the time. Several colleges cancelled their abroad programs or requested that their students return home early in order to avoid coming into contact with the virus. Students such as Brennan Sisco, who had been studying in London, England for two months, were able to experience a portion of their time abroad. Others, however, were not as lucky. In the article, students recall hearing of the, at the time, epidemic, but not paying as much attention to it. Events began to take a turn as more and more programs became cancelled every day as the virus began to change in threat levels.

Comparing and Contrasting

CNN: Other states were listed to compare what matters they were taking into consideration, as well. This may have enticed their readers to see what precautions their state was taking into the matter, as well as what may happen in the future. Furthermore, educators may have looked into this to see how they can learn from other educational systems in order to see what steps they can take during this time.

Fox News: Based on their conservative viewpoints, this article may have gotten attraction from those who share similar values. Additionally, this may have gotten attention from students who are hoping to return to college sooner rather than later. Included in this article are several other links that lead to other stories related to how Trump has handled the virus up until this point. Additionally, a video that gives a summary of the coronavirus is listed at the beginning of the story.

NBC Chicago: While this article relates to the current state of the schools, it also provides additional insight into other factors of the coronavirus. This can increase the number of people who view the article, as it relates to multiple demographics. Throughout the article, there are multiple links to other stories, as well as a video of Governor Pritzker’s updates on the virus.

Forbes: Because this is the first university in America to announce taking such action in response to COVID-19, the story may have a variety of difference audiences. In terms of other media in the story, one picture of the Boston University campus sits at the introduction of the article. Students and faculty members of the university may have been drawn to this article, as it pertains to their education and employment. Similarly, students and faculty from other universities may have read the article, as they may be concerned that their university will soon be taking the same measures.

U.S. News: This article provides links to other articles related to coronavirus. A picture of the Vatican in Rome is seen at the beginning of the article. Additionally, more study abroad programs scheduled to take place in the summer or fall at several universities have been cancelled due to safety precautions since this article was published.

Among all of these articles, each had a relation to the educational aspect of the coronavirus. Because the articles listed previously are all relatively new, they are mostly up-to-date. However, each of the websites have individual pages where viewers can see new and updated stories related to COVID-19. Each of the outlets covered their stories with as much information as they had. Some included more media links than others. For example, Forbes included only one picture in their article in comparison to Fox News, who included both videos and several other hyperlinks in the story. This may be because Fox News’s work in the broadcasting field contributes to a number of their views, so adding a video may increase the number of views for a story. Forbes, on the other hand, is primarily editorial-based, so they may provide less visual information.

Though there are differences, each of the platforms include some sort of page or blog dedicated to updates surrounding the coronavirus, and each have been updated on an almost daily basis. CNN had the largest number of reports on a daily basis. Similarly, each page includes a variety of topics related to COVID-19, such as the current political climate, what to do and what not to do, various statistics and more. However, each of the platforms speaks with their own voice and has a number of audiences that tend to graduate towards them. Each platform discusses a different way in which education and students have been impacted, as well as how they have dealt with the problems they have faced.

How Students Can Get Ahead During The COVID-19 School Shutdown
A student uses a computer to complete remote learning. Photo courtesy of Forbes.com.

What’s Next?

As the future of the virus remains uncertain, some schools, such as Boston University, have remained undecided about what steps they will take in order to continue education. Others are unsure, but remain hopeful that they will be able to welcome their students back to campus in the fall of 2020. However, how will students be impacted by this in the future? Currently, e-learning may not be ideal for all college students, especially for those with majors who require some sort of physical element to their education, such as engineering, nursing or even broadcast journalism. Similarly, every university provides a different curriculum to each of their programs compared to other universities. What one student may be learning online may be very different from that of what another student may be doing.

The job market looks especially unclear for the moment, and this could impact the likelihood of securing a job for current college seniors. They have already lost great moments of celebrating their successes, as well as being able to spend their final moments of college on their home campus. What remains unknown is when the virus will fully end, which may arise with the help of a vaccine. However, it is not clear when that will be available, as the BBC reports that most experts believe it will be available by mid-2021. E-learning may continue to be in effect until an effective vaccine is released, but universities remain hopeful that they will be able to reinstate normal educational protocol by the time fall classes come around. The media has kept readers up-to-date with current results of COVID-19, and they will hopefully continue to do so as it progresses.

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The Year of Quarantine

Written by Taylor Mattingly

When 2020 began, people weren’t worried about the now famed covid, covid-19, coronavirus also known as… Corona…. January and February were seemingly normal, and the United States was doing what it does best, being invincible. Eight year old Jacoby Gabree simplifies Corona which actually isn’t all that simple.

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A Great Course, A Great Semester

Written by: Yushan Guo

Time flies. It feels incredible that another semester is about to end. Although lots of unexpected things happened, it was still a great semester overall. And FAA 110 was one of the main factors that made this semester “great”. I remember I registered this course simply for a general education course. However, this is such a great course that brought me much more than just having a few credits.

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Farewell to FAA110

By Jiaxuan Meng

I had a very fruitful semester with Dr. Collins, Dr. Robinson, and my fellow classmates. This class gave me a lot of great opportunities to see a wide range of performances and artists in Krannert Center and Spurlock Museum. It made me widen my horizons and stimulate my curiosity and creativity in modern society with different forms of arts.

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A Long Journey of Zihan Wang

It’s Me! I’m Zihan Wang!

The semester of 2020 Spring is a pretty strange semester — because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the courses of this semester have to be taken online or implemented through a different approach. Such a situation reminds me of how important the back-up plans shall be, like what we have learned in the course of jour 445. 

In the class, Prof.Collins reminded us to have plans A, B, and C for any situations we have encountered, in order to make sure we can produce the videos. I have never expected that what we have learned in the course could be applied in my life so quickly — I am stuck in my home and it has been impossible to produce any work or do anything outside, only trying to produce works inside the room. Such a moment requires creativity, independence, but also a sense of crisis, which means we should always be prepared for the worst.

But still, it is impossible to imagine that the coronavirus could cause such a horrible influence in the U.S., especially in the first quarter of the year, China has provided quite enough experiences and information we need. Even Trump was racketing his nonsense, there has been proof that we could have done better than the situation we are encountering now. But that’s not only his problem, also the journalism industry, because we have failed to inform the public of the upcoming crisis. The media follows to slow, just like the package I have done about the test, too slow. That’s a combination of different packages.

Since the shelter-in-place regulation affected, I have been stuck at home for a long time. Here are some moments for me in the home.

When I was standing on the balcony of my apartment, I was looking outside, and wondering, when I could go outside?
The life of self-quarantine turns to be boring and boring. We felt that it is going to burying us — just like the paintings in the corner of my apartment.
Exercise can be necessary for this moment — but I felt that I’m just like the dumbbell, teared apart by the self-quarantine.
And when I was looking outside the window, I just found a red wall. Plain, red wall.
And this is a photo I shoot before the self-quarantine. Oh, I really missed those days.

The self-quarantine provided me the most different experience compared with normal days — when people cannot go on streets for stories, the only way they could conduct news stories is through the internet. I surf online news channels every day to keep up with where we are now in the pandemic and also learning the stories of ordinary people. A crisis is a crisis, but one can turn the worst situation into opportunities. It is a great chance for me to learn how to pick information and reorganize them into a story with a more complete format. Besides that, I also have to conduct stories about my roommates or my girlfriend — although it is not quite journalism, only a special method for contingency. 

I think the most enjoyable part of this course shall be producing newscasts in a dynamic environment. Like the first show we have done for this semester, nobody would predict the result of the impeachment release. This is a great opportunity to experience a tight working pace in a real TV newsroom.

And the journey we come through this semester, which I believe is quite the same as what other students and ordinary citizens are experiencing now. We are all in self-quarantine in our apartments in a country shut down for the pandemic, while also suffering from the same solitude, pain, and anxiety. Students are suffering from learning knowledge virtually, which actually is impossible, especially for some majors like the design. So do we. We can never conduct news in a small room without real talks to people. Citizens in this nation are suffering from anxiety of losing their jobs and shorts in their pockets — so do we. We, journalism students, are facing a terrible job-hunting season this year because of the great hit on the economy, and also have to stay in apartments without any jobs to get paid. Personally I have lost a couple of hundreds of dollars because the coronavirus has caused cancellations of several part-time working invitations — I’m a part-time photographer. 

But to different people, it can be different things. I have interviewed several people for their thoughts on how the coronavirus could impact their life. One of the people, who is my roommate, actually feels not that bad of virtual courses.

I think technology plays a vital role in my journey. Without the pieces of equipment like cameras, mics, and sound recorders, I would never be able to finish my videos. And technology plays an even more important role in my current journey: for working remotely in my apartment, all I could do is relying on my laptop and network. Through my chrome, I reach to the corners of this world. And that’s how I explore the world of journalism in such a difficult time.

And technology also helps me to conduct some videos. I still remembered the hardship I encountered for shooting the drag queen show. It was in Canopy, a local club. It was pretty dark there, and if I used my own camera for that video, that would be a disaster. But thanks to the camera from the College of Media, I could conduct a decent video and capture the highlights of the drag queens’ performances.

I heard about the virus pretty early — since it first broke out in China, I have got plenty of information before it got the outbreak in N.Y.C. At the early stage in China, I was terribly nervous, and I called my parents every day to check if they were ok and followed the necessary self-protection guidance. It was a very horrible disease and I felt very worried about my parents’ safety. But at that time, I have never expected that there could be such a terrible outbreak in the U.S., because since during the two months’ struggle, China has shown the world how we could effectively stop the spread of the disease and how we could stop the disease in a limited scale. Even because of the difference between the two nations’ political system, the U.S. could at least control the disease, but not let it spread like such a terrible condition.

But when I look back at the end of this semester, I felt that something has changed. I would not be so panic about the dynamic reality I’m encountering, and it has been easier for me to stay cool for urgent situations or breaking news. It has also been a great opportunity for me to practice viewing the events in a professional journalism view — for example, like the humanitarian disasters caused by the coronavirus, I could stay calm down and try to cover it in a professional way — I have tried in writing some practice stories of them. Also, I found that I could review the information I got in a more efficient way, like looking for different angles to cover them.

There have been many things playing a role in leading me to success for my assignments. Individually, I believe the key element is the skills to catch the opportunity — for example, when I was shooting a story of the author corner in the bookstore. There was a lecture done by guest speakers. I happened to catch a chance for shooting a video of the authors — there were plenty of people and hard to find a position to set up my camera. The other example would be the experience of shooting the story of tax assistance. In the beginning, I thought it might be just a VO, but when I got there I felt that there could be a chance to turn it into a package– only if I can catch subjects for interviewing as quickly as possible. And finally, as you can see, that was a good package. 

Self-confidence also plays a vital role at such a moment. We need to persuade our subjects for interviewing that we could offer them the best opportunity to tell the public their stories and endeavors. This request a great self-confidence that we believe what we have done is correct, is helpful and is worthful. For so many times I thought that maybe skills and talents are the most important characters we have, but after times and times that I was cast into challenging situations, I found that self-confidence is the last threshold I have to keep moving on and achieve something I want. And that helps me to finish the project about the Spring Festival Gala. The cancelation of the Spring Festival gala was pretty distressful for the Chinese student community. It was good news, but there happened to be many difficulties to finish that story, including tech issues. However, thanks to the self-confidence, I had a sharp and clear mind and finished that project.

I would bring what I have learned from this class to my future professional practice in journalism, including the confidence of our works, the vigilance of unexpected situations, and what’s more, the belief in the cooperations. All that we have learned in the journey to the end would enrich me in understanding the dynamic society, also provide necessary skills and faith in overcoming challenges upon the road. 

In the end, I would say I’m pretty proud of the works we have done for the class. It is the crystal of our cooperation, endeavor, and sacrifice. The proudest part for this semester would be the team we have, that we have come through many unpredictable situations, handled breaking news, together walked through a hard time of coronavirus, and finally achieved to the end of our undergraduate life. I would remember all the people I have met in the class, all the moments we worked together, and I will bring what I have been guaranteed in this class to the future. 

My Works Lists

VO:Purim Drag Show




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Cheers to a Fun Semester!

By Willa Wu

Reflecting back on the classes I have taken from freshman year until graduation, it amuses me that the two most impactful classes I have taken throughout my college experience were two that I decided to take on a whim, not for the extra credit hours or any major requirement. FAA 110, one of such classes, has forced me to sit back and spend time appreciating the creativity in the arts, which I have very rarely done due only focusing on STEM subjects most of my life.

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A Study of Perseverance and Adaption

Photo by Susan Dwyer

by Liam Dwyer

As I reflect upon the long and tumultuous semester I spent in Journalism 445, I find myself coming back to two key attributes that aided in my success in the class, perseverance and adaptation. These two key traits were vital in the success of not only every assignment I worked on and every newscast I worked with, but also to my bludgeoning career as a journalist as well. I would be remiss, though, to say that there were never moments of celebration or relaxation, that jour445 was a constant battle for success, those moments did exist. But with the coming pandemic, and even before, I found that without constant vigilance on deadlines and assignment progress, things can quickly start to fall apart, as my first assignment taught me.

The first assignment  I worked on was my first package, a story about how issues with Illinois automatic voter registration were leading to people being both incorrectly denied and approved for voting. This assignment started with problems from the get-go, as my original story was about the recent legalization of marijuana with the idea of interviewing a local dispensary. After the interview fell through, I attempted another story that also failed on take-off, before ultimately settling just a few days before the deadline with this story. This meant interviews had to be quickly scheduled and editing was an all-night, day-before-deadline affair. Ultimately the story was a success in my eyes, but only after numerous set-backs where I was forced to adapt and persevere, a strong example for my case on their importance.

My second assignment, I served as an assistant producer under Rebecca Wood to create the Feb. 20th UI7 Newscast. Of the two assignments thus far, I certainly enjoyed this one more, and it perhaps hints at an inclination towards producer over straight reporting. This assignment too saw moments of crisis to be sure, scripts were in later than either me or Becca would have preferred which made creating a working rundown difficult. Also working around the scheduling of the smaller News Updates meant that sometimes the people we needed to talk or work with were busy at the moment, so we had to adapt and multitask. Overall though I found this to be enjoyable, the organizing of stories, helping reporters with questions, and such was engaging. It also served as a good experience for my next assignment when I was the lead producer for the newscast.

Assignment three was a double-edged sword of an assignment. It was by far the most stressful assignment, but also the one I felt most energized and happy about upon its conclusion. This assignment differs from the previous in that for this Newscast I was the lead producer and thus all the accountability and responsibility fell on my shoulders if(and when) things went wrong. Instead of following Becca’s lead now, I was the man in front leading the charge, and that was an aspect I enjoyed. The assignment taught me the importance of delegating work and trusting those you work with, while also showing me what work I myself needed to do that couldn’t be delegated out. I was able to apply the lessons I’d learned from the previous newscast and polish the show up until the last minute. It’s one of the reasons I think this newscast was the best of all three we were able to accomplish.

Some of the things I did still need to adapt to and learn from are my limitations as a producer in both knowledge and skills. I was constantly asking others to print something for me for example, as I didn’t know how to myself. My script-writing also left something to be desired, though by the end I think I was able to get the hang of it. These lessons are what I hope to truly take away from this class, the need to always strive to learn and improve no matter how much you think you have the hang of something. Indeed I thought this week would be my greatest challenge, how woefully unprepared I was for the coming months with such a mind-set.

My final wok before the start of this wild pandemic was two VoSots that I shoot and editing into my first(and last) News Update. The two VoSots were covering local events such as a photography club and a cat show, and both illustrated different lessons I learned from. The cat show illustrated my need to learn how to focus a camera, something after 4 years of college I still appear to have trouble with as my Sot is nowhere near in focus. Always check focus folks, always. The camera club, on the other hand, demonstrated the need for creativity in the field. Held in a single room and consisting mostly of people looking at projected images, filming varied and interesting B-Roll was no easy task. These are lessons you can learn on any VoSot however, and the true test of adaptation and endurance came with the filming of the News Update itself.

School wasn’t the only thing cancelled, even the State Farm center was immune to the shut-downs

TThe day the news updates were supposed to be filmed, the news came out that school would not be resuming classes and were offered the opportunity to film our News Updates on our phones. I and a number of dedicated other Jour445 students were in Richmond Studios finishing edits when the news came down, and as a group, we decided to band together and do it ourselves. Here I must reflect and thank my fellow students, Dan, Becca, Maddie, Alex, Yuhan, and some I’m sure that have slipped my mind. Without their teamwork, I wouldn’t have been able to do it, and it shows just how much of a collaborative process.

Once my favorite place to eat lunch between classes, now just another empty building.

After Winter Break I made the decision to return to cAfter Winter Break I made the decision to return to campus despite the move to online classes. What I returned to wasn’t the University of Illinois I knew, however. The Union was closed for the rest of my time here at the University, no chance for me to say goodbye.

The following weeks as both a journalist and a student have been increasingly difficult in this new world of isolation. Without the thriving campus scene, my walks around town to elevate stress seem again to a post-apocalypse movie, even the quad was empty on days of sunshine and warmth.

Grey skies in this photo, but the scene is much the same even in sunshine.

I found it imperative to find ways to keep my mind busy and active in these less than perfect times, and recently have taken up cooking to better myself between online classes and assignments. I’m no Gordon Ramsey yet, but with time comes skill, and everyone has a lot of that these days.

Twice-baked potatoes, something I didn’t even know existed, cooked deliciously by myself for the first time

One thing that I have learned in all this, especially as a journalist, is that times of trouble can offer some of the greatest opportunities to our profession. On my daily walks, I noticed an increase in construction, for instance. Ever the curious one I began taking photos, as you can see and found that construction was booming in this ghost town of mine.

It would appear without 50,000 students walking and driving around town. Without them using buildings daily, construction is suddenly able to drive heavy equipment through otherwise busy streets even during normal rush hours.

Suddenly the sound of jackhammers and the site of workers lounging around during lunch has become a common occurrence, something just waiting to be documented by the likes of journalists like myself.
Through it all, I think that the most disheartening image has to be of either Green Street barren of people or the University Health Center on Green testing for Corona. Both show just how completely Corona has taken hold of the world, removing any chance of normalcy for the time being

 This of course, brings us to the working of the Final Assignment. Tasked with interviewing 6 individuals for soundbites in a time where close contact is prohibited was no easy task, but here again, adaptability and perseverance rear their heads. Critical thinking was also key to this assignment and I overcame these initial challenges by simply seeking out and talking to people I could still meet in person, namely family, roommates, and girlfriend. Each of these individuals I knew was healthy and willing to talk, especially since I live with 5 out of the 6.

The most prominent challenge, in fact, turned out not to be interviewing my subjects but re-interviewing them. Upon the eve completing my assignment I was uploading my soundbites to my computer when my SD card became corrupted, wiping two interviews from existence. While it turned out all right in the end, it does provide a valuable lesson to always back-up your files. Luckily technology in the form of Zoom allowed me to call those I no longer had easy access to and rerecord their interviews from scratch.

Now we come to the conclusion of my self-reflection of the semester to end all semesters. It’s been one bumpy ride, but in all, I can’t help but look back fondly on it. Sure the stress of Corona was hard, but I’ve been blessed with my health and the health of friends and family during it. The last NewsUpdate was the most hectic I’ve ever felt, but the camaraderie that it created meant I wouldn’t trade the experience for the world, same with the rest of the semester. In all, Jour455 is tough, its hectic, and at times it might seem overwhelming, but if you stick with it and roll with the punches, you’ll come out a better journalist no matter what comes your way. As the old saying goes come rain, come snow, come sleet or hail, a journalist delivers the news… or something along those lines.

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Different Generations: Different News

By Liam Dwyer

With the recent pandemic, many people are finding out how different new sources are portraying the event differently.
Photo by Liam Dwyer

The coming of each new generation brings with it a flourish of new ideas, new fashions and tastes, as well as new ways of doing things. In this particular instance, that difference is what news sources different generations trust and listen to. No time has better illustrated that difference than the before and during this current Covid-19 pandemic.

For the younger generation, those currently in college, many are turning to alternative forms of news. They watch Youtubers like Philip Defranco that morph international and Youtube-centric news in short daily videos. Some scroll through Twitter or Facebook following official news organizations or random individuals they trust. For them the news is only found on the screen of their phone or computer, not television.

The older generation of parents and grandparents, however, still prefer their TV news. They tune in every evening to CNN or Fox news for the latest information about world affairs.

A person’s choice in news can shape their perception of the day’s events. It can tell them whether a small viral outbreak in a region in China will bring the world to a halt in the coming months, or whether its nothing to worry about.

On one end of the spectrum stands people like Julian Dwyer, a freshman in General Studies at the University of Illinois. He almost exclusively gets his news secondhand from talking to his friends or via Twitter. Julian attributes his early concerns on the virus to his following of non-mainstream media accounts on twitter,

Some of the account he follows may have “called it” earlier than others, but they also appear to engage in a number of dubious or otherwise proven false conspiracy theories. One such account Julian mentioned following, @LokiJulianus,has also been known to post racist or otherwise discriminatory tweets prior to focusing on the CoronaVirus. In the end Julian admits that while this method of following non-traditional media works for him, it likely wouldn’t work for everyone,

“You’re rolling the dice with these people. It works for me, I don’t think it would work for a large amount of people, a country couldn’t listen to these people as gospel.” – Julian Dwyer

Julian wasn’t the only person to mention primarily getting their news from alternative sources. Cameron Bryum-Ramberg, a second-year senior studying English and Creative Writings, get most of his news from YouTube videos, specifically those by Philip Defranco.

The channel currently has 6.4 million subscribers and puts out daily videos about everything from YouTube drama to national stories to international news. Defranco would be considered a second-hand source as the majority of his information come from other news organizations, but that doesn’t mean he’s slow to report the news.

In fact, while he may not have started talking about Covid-19 as early as late December, the first video he posted on the subject was January 21st, about the first case of the virus in America, the same day that NPR made their post about the story.

Both Twitter and Youtubers have the potential to provide factual news, however, unlike mainstream media, it often isn’t as consistent. Twitter is as likely used to talk about the latest Tik-Tok trends as it is viruses, and Defranco often covers several topics in his videos that aren’t news related.

This may be one reason both Julian and Bryum-Ramberg mentioned not feeling overly concerned about catching the disease as Bryum talks about,

I do look at the global count every so often to keep up with today with how many people are infected, but I still don’t think I personally am scared of the virus. Mainly because I am relatively young and probably wont be affected if I do get it. Like I probably won’t die.“ – Cameron Bryum-Ramberg

Without a 24-hour news cycle constantly talking about and debating the virus, they have time to let other concerns keep their attention. They can choose when to rejoin the conversation by picking a video or opening Twitter, or when turn it off.

More to that point, the two individuals interviewed who partook in a hybrid news experience, i.e using Facebook to follow traditional sources like NPR and NYT or following twitter and watching CNN, seemed more concerned about the disease.

Roberto DeVera is a senior pre-med student at the University of Illinois and until he went home primarily got his news from twitter and friends. When he got home, however, the conversation surrounding Covid-19 was from CNN, and he says he saw a noticeable shift its in his perception,

“When I got home we had CNN playing all the time, my mom was watching CNN… You didn’t know quite what to think but, definitely a lot of concern and not really that many answer to the concern.” – Roberto DeVera

He also noticed a certain amount of misinformation being broadcast, something he felt emphasized the importance of picking your new source carefully as he talks about,

DeVera isn’t the only one that found uncertainty and concern in traditional media. Alexa Yeo, a senior in Engineering, talked about how the severity of the disease hit her one week after a flood of stories from NPR were posted on Facebook,

Just looking at NPR’s archives for March 31st, around the time Alexa remembers her experience being, reveals that out of the 40 or so stories NPR published, around 30 were related to covid-19. While all of those may not have been posted to Facebook, it does bear questioning what amount of news is too much? Does this flood of information serve the public, or simply serve to fuel the public’s fear.

On the flip side of that question is what happens when the media doesn’t tell you enough or take a pandemic seriously enough. Fox News came under fire from several organizations including the Washington Post for what they say was “downplaying of the coronavirus

It’s something that worries people Susan Dwyer, a part-time flight attendant. Her father watches Fox News exclusively and she believes it has lead him to be continuously misinformed about Covid-19,

Proclaiming to be “fair and balanced”, Fox News has often talked about how it stands apart from the traditional mainstream media message. This time, however, it may face legal trouble over its portrayal of the virus according to one Vanity Fair article,

“Fox is now layering up, bracing for a litany of public-interest lawsuits and letters of condemnation for pedaling misinformation for weeks prior to coronavirus’s explosion in the U.S.”

Whether anything is to come of the action is not at this time known, though it is interesting to note that out of the 6 individuals interviewed for this article, 3 mentioned Fox News and the accusations of misinformation, citing it as part of why they don’t trust that particular news source.

This might simply be an indication of their preference in news as those 3 also indicated they viewed CNN as part of their daily news intake. Serving as an example of typical mainstream TV media, CNN, along with Fox News, is often quoted and cited in many of the second-hand news sources mentioned early like Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

One notable stand-out among my interview with long-time CNN follower Tom Dwyer is his perception of how long this pandemic might last. CNN has long been critical of the federal government’s, and President Trump’s, response to the Covid-19 pandemic. They have published articles that call out the President for talking about disinfectant in the latest press briefing and calling into question his disagreeing of Georgia’s decision to open up. 

That may well be the origin of Tom Dwyer’s belief that the virus could last up to a year due to the lack of federal response,

In the end, though, every individual is different. The way they watch the news and the way those sources tell the story minutely biased in one way or the other. While Twitter and Youtube might be a quick on-demand option, its sources can often be dubious or secondhand. While official sources do tend to be less biased, the flood of information they produce might be overwhelming, and they may at times give in to bias themselves.

While the question of which new source is the right one can never truly be answered, it is clear that a new generation is taking to less traditional sources of news, to Twitter, Facebook, and Youtube, while the older generation decidedly sticks to TV news. What effect this change will have, if any, remains to be seen, but this pandemic demonstrated now more than ever the generational gap that even reaches as far as our choice of media.

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How COVID-19 becomes political: a comparison of news outlets’ coronavirus coverage

Yuhan Ma

 Students are doing grocery shopping at an Asian market at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

COVID-19 — the contagious respiratory illness caused by a novel coronavirus — continues to spread worldwide. The extent of this outbreak is rapidly evolving and risk assessment changes daily. The first known patients in the U.S. contracted the virus while traveling in other countries or after exposure to someone who had been to China or Europe. Since then, 210 Countries and Territories around the world have reported a total of 2,827,981 confirmed cases of the coronavirus. The stay-at-home-order has greatly affected the economy and people’s daily life and work. Zishan Cai, who works in Chicago, shared how his team members communicated while working from home. Students are also facing changes because of the pandemic. Victor Zhou studies at Purdue University, and he said that there were both good and bad changes. As the disease continues to spread in the U.S. creating all kinds of uncertainties to people’s daily life, news outlets become their crucial tool to gain information about the issue that is affecting them all. Therefore, the discussion of how American news outlets are covering the story can be valuable and meaningful. This article will compare news articles from five mainstream news outlets in the U.S. on how coronavirus is being covered. The five outlets include CNN, Fox News, U.S.News, ABC News, and NBC News. Through a careful examination, it appears that American news outlets’ coverage on the coronavirus is closely connected with political stances. 

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Completing the last semester of undergraduate online

My college life during the COVID-19 pandemic

Yuhan Ma

As an international student who is graduating in May, The COVID-19 pandemic has definitely brought changes to my school life. I have gained lots of experiences, either good or bad, that were totally new for me thanks to the pandemic. Therefore, in this self-reflection blog, I will discuss what I have achieved in my last semester studying at UIUC, specifically in my Jour 445 class, and how the coronavirus has changed my life at the university. 

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So hard to say goodbye!

By Bingchen Li

FAA is the best class I have ever taken! I really enjoy our in-class discussion and wonderful performances at Krannert Center. By taking this class, my understanding of art is deepened and this class opens my eyes that I experienced different cultures through those fantastic performances. Although we canceled 2 performances due to the COVID-19, the online performances provide a good experience to me and it is no exaggeration to say those performances are the lighthouse for me during the bored self-isolation at home.

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Self-Reflection for Spring 2020

Danielle Williams


   The third week of class I did my first News Update which stressed me out. The outline for TV1 and TV2 are entirely different so I didn’t feel like I was prepared for everything that needed to be done for a news update. I anchored almost every newscast in TV1, color-commentated and moderated a few Illini Hockey games and am an actress so talking in front of a camera wasn’t really a problem for me. That’s actually how I knew that everything that had to be done to create a news update stressed me out because my overall performance on camera was really bad. However after finishing everything and getting through the mental breakdowns of that week I learned better time-management. 

   My first news update I created a VO and VO SOT VO. For my first VO I decided to cover the re-opening of one of the Zhang Family Lawsuits. It was a little hard to find good footage that hadn’t already been used a million times when the original Yingying Zhang case was open. I went with a few photos taken during the first trial of both her family and Brendt Christensen. It occured to me that very few news outlets posted photos from her memorial, so I decided to get some footage of the memorials set up for her on Main and Goodwin.  My first Vosotvo was on the effects of the Australia fires on Australian students. I interviewed gymnast, Clay Stephens and soccer player, Ashleigh Lefevre. I worked in the sports department of the Daily Illini and still remain in contact with a lot of the athletes, coaches and Sports Information Directors that I talked to throughout the years which is why I was able to get an athlete that was currently in season. A funny thing about this is that I conducted my interview with Clay Stephens at around 7 AM so finding good lighting was a little difficult and I was forced to use a green camera since that was the only one that Ken allowed to be checked out overnight. I unfortunately wasn’t able to use the footage I captured with Ashleigh Lefevre because I didn’t have enough time to turn my vosotvo into a package. We live in Illinois so I obviously wasn’t able to get any of my own wildfire b-roll but CNN helped in that department. 

   The week after my first news update, I decided to take on the role as assignment manager. I felt that I would be more of an asset to the class that way because I could monitor everything that was going on while not worrying about submitting any assignments myself. It was also the smarter move for me because it was tech-week for the play that I was in and I also knew that I would be traveling to and from Chicago the weekend before the newscast. In my role as assignment manager, I reached out to each student in the class to ensure they were making progress on their work. I also helped the producer and assistant producer with the rundown. 

   The fifth/sixth week of class I decided to stick with making a package because I was a bit behind on the assignments that needed to be completed. Liam told us about a natural hair panel at BNAACC and I jumped on the opportunity to cover it. I really enjoyed covering this particular event because I am a black woman who loves rocking natural hair whenever I can. I managed to get shots of the speakers, the audience and the gift that was given to everyone who attended the event. I did a phone interview with Robin Collymore Henry who was the main speaker for the event. I also got a chance to interview Brittany Wright through facetime but for some reason couldn’t find the audio from the interview. Interestingly enough I found out later on that the majority of the panel were members of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated, a sorority that my mother has been a part of for almost 30 years. This helped tremendously because I was able to have more in-depth conversations with both speakers over the phone. My third source was Nengi Obamanu, a senior at the University of Illinois. She talked about how important an event like this was because natural hair was at one point, and still kind of is, taboo in social and professional settings.

   The last week that we were allowed on campus I completed my second news update in a less traditional way. I struggled getting this last update done. I was sick the majority of the month. In fact, I had strep and a respiratory infection that made it harder to breathe (I have asthma so breathing is already more difficult than it would be for someone without it). I shot a VO on the Open Mic Night at the Illini Union. I focused on the guest poet, Katie Kramer. The quality wasn’t what I wanted it to be as I was stuck with the green camera. The night that I finished editing this was also when we found out that the campus would be shutting down after spring break which changed a lot of things. I was in the studio with a few other people when we received the news so we decided to pre-record our news updates, cameras, lights and all. Even though I struggled to produce the program that I envisioned, it was still a fun experience. We ordered food, read through each other’s scripts and just helped each other out overall to finish our assignments. 

The switch to remote learning has been challenging to say the very least. I was forced to go home because my parents didn’t want to risk my sister or I possibly being infected. This class has probably been the most accommodating for me and I am sure other people as well. A lot of the professors are taking the “everything is normal” approach which has done nothing but frustrate students. Between having to pack most of my apartment in a day, switching to all online classes, losing graduation, losing multiple job offers and trying to stay alive, this has been the craziest time of my life thus far. Writing this self-reflection blog was surprisingly therapeutic. There’s a lot going on and as weird as it might be we really don’t have time to sit down and process it. I completed my news article a few weeks after being told about the assignment. It didn’t take very long because so much is happening and all of the news outlets in the world are talking about the virus in one way or another. I decided to write on the 5 news articles that talked about how Trump is siding with the very small percentage of the population that are protesting these quarantines and attempting to re-open select states in response to these disruptions. 

   My advice to future TV2 students and even journalism students is to get used to adversity. I’m praying nothing like this happens again but things change at the drop of a dime all of the time. It is also best to have multiple plans when shooting any media work. Whether that be a package or a vosotvo, it’s better to have to have more than less. At the beginning of the school year, you should think of about 5-6 topics that interest you and do some research to find events or stories that you can cover throughout the semester. Always have one or two ideas for a package because, as said before, things do change quite often. Try to shoot for more interviews than what you will actually use. This will save you time in the long run when you are editing your package and realize that something doesn’t fit in with the rest of your shots. Even when the event is boring, find interesting things around it that you can capture for b-roll and possibly create your story around. You should give yourself at least two weeks to complete a package. The first week you should work on the physical aspect of it which is doing your research, getting interviews and capturing b-roll. The second week should be used for editing and filing. What I mean by filing is making sure everything is air ready which consists of clean videos, scripts being in the system and everything is in playback. Also, make sure that your file is saved on multiple devices. I always made sure that my assignments were both in the class folder and a storage drive. There is nothing worse for a producer/assignment manager than having to run around the newsroom the day of a newscast because there are missing files one place or another. Find time to relax in the midst of the craziness that is journalism. It is  really easy to get frustrated by the amount of stuff needed to have a successful show so it is smart to find time to get your mind straight. Overall, have fun and make most out of the assignments you are given. 

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The Many Stories of COVID-19

The Many Stories of COVID-19

by Danielle Williams

Amidst all the conversations around COVID-19, re-opening the economy was not one until now.

On April 17th, President Donald Trump introduced new guidelines aiming to slowly re-open the economy and lift the safety restrictions that were upheld in early March.

On this same day five news stations published stories that covered the President’s phases to the protests taking place during this pandemic.

USA Today as well as a local new station, Click Orlando, decided to cover the topic head on.

The article mentions the phases Mr.Trump is hoping to take to successfully pull off this idea.

The key statement that this news station wanted to convey was the President’s main statement, “We are not opening all at once, but one careful step at a time,” President Trump said.  

The two articles both have sources that opposed as well as support the President’s plans.

The USA Today ensured that they included a quote from one of the deans of the global business at The Fletcher School of Law, Bhaskar Chakravorti, that questions the President’s tactics.  

Click Orlando took it a step further and included a conservative’s view that didn’t align completely with the presidents’.

Economist, Stephen Moore, made similar remarks on Fox News a few days prior to the article’s publishing.

“Too many economist and too many politician think somehow you are just going to flip a switch…and it’s going to turn right back on,” said Stephen Moore.

The foreign perspective that BBC News gave in their article of President Trump’s plans to re-open the economy seemed to be the only true unbiased account.

In the first section of the article there is a clip of President Trump saying, “They will be able to go, literally, tomorrow,” an idea that some countries agree with.

BBC used their article to report the progress of countries outside of North America regarding their lockdowns.  

Mr. Trump’s briefing was posted on their website, but they also used Dr. Anthony Fauci as a source.

In the article, Dr. Fauci told the Associated Press that the President’s goal to re-open on May 1st is a bit optimistic.

This comes as no surprise as Dr. Fauci told the TODAY show, “As was predicted, this will only get worse before it gets better”.

Only one of these articles, USA Today, briefly mentioned the push back the government had been getting due to the lockdown.

The Yahoo News (Huffington Post) and CNBC had other plans.

Yahoo News took an alternative approach to the topic and covered the thoughts American people have on the President’s plan to re-open the economy.  

According to a Pew nonpartisan survey, 81% of Democrats were worried that the restrictions will be lifted too soon while only 56% of Republicans shared those views.

These results came about before President Trump released his plan saying, “I think 29 states are in that ballgame…they will be able to reopen again soon”.

Early Childhood Professional, Yvonne Williams, is amongst those who believe that re-opening any of the states is premature.

I understand the importance of reopening the businesses so people can return to work but I think in order for us to properly protect the public, I believe, that everyone should have the opportunity to be tested,” Yvonne Williams said.

While Yahoo News focused on the statistics, CNBC published on another pressing topic: the demand for state liberation.

The President took to Twitter to demand that certain states be freed from the pandemic-forced lockdown.

These tweets follow a group of protests that are demanding the liberation of Minnesota, Virginia and Michigan.

University of Illinois student, Courtney Williams, understands the protesters frustrations but feels that they as well as the president should focus on finding a safe solution instead of opening certain states.

I don’t think it’s a very smart idea especially since there’s not a proper cure for COVID-19 at the moment,” said the U of I freshman.

One thing that all of these articles had in common is their push to get fresh news and to inform the public of updates that affects the world.

Many of the stories that are read about COVID-19 are the same, day in and out.

These news outlets found a way to stay on topic without repeating the same news daily.

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The Container

A film the whole world can relate to.

Written by Jackie Dominguez

It’s crazy that I truly believe that most of the world right now can relate to the film The Container. To be afraid, aggravated, hungry, and uncertain. This time in our live will be marked as history, where many feel terrified just like the immigrants from The Container.

The world right now is being contained by practicing social distancing in our homes. We are being forced to be uncomfortable and to be surrounded by people we may not even want to be around with. This film is very strong into drawing you in on what the characters are feeling to truly understand what it is like to be afraid, lost, and uncertain.

Just like in the film and in our current lives, there isn’t much we have control on. However, the one thing we can is our mindsets and the relationships we choose to have with the people around us. The Containers, sends out the message that we have to work with the little that we have even if it means sacrificing things and taking the risk.

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BoOm BoOM!!

The Japanese Martial Art of drumming and dance that even has you become part of the show! Written by Jackie Dominguez

Out of all the performances I have gotten the opportunity to attend, Drum Tao is by far one of my favorite performances for multiple reasons. It was a performance that showed me that art has the ability to completely ease your mind away from your problems even if it’s just for a while.

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Metamorphosis: Salesman Turned Insect

Metamorphosis is Steven Berkoff’s adaptation of Franz Kafka’s novella, which tells the tale of a travelling salesman who is transformed into an insect. The performance took place in the Parco Theater in Tokyo and was made available through Digital Theatre Plus.

Written By: Zackarya Faci

The first thing that struck me about Metamorphosis is that it was performed in Japanese. The video was accompanied by English subtitles which undoubtedly helped me understand what was going on through the performance. This is the beauty of digital performances; we are able to enjoy works that we might not otherwise comprehend in person. The performance opened with Gregor Samsa elucidating who he was and giving background about the other characters. This is atypical from other performances, and it seemed like he will be narrating the story instead of acting in it.

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The Rhythms of Virago-Man Dem

This production of Virago-Man Dem was an intriguing display of various movements and vibrant colors, blending light and dance for a single product.
-By Daniel Holley

Created by University of Illinois dance professor Cynthia Oliver, Virago-Man Dem is filled with simple movements and dance patterns. The four cast members dance fluidly around one another, and are often not in-sync. This style of dance is impressive to me because each member must keep track of their own specific movements and position on the stage floor. Although the choreography did not appear especially tricky, the cast was able to execute the simple movements in a way that kept the audience’s attention.

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Kafka: A Working Man’s Nightmare

By Jacob M Rominger

In Steven Berkoff’s adaptation of the Franz Kafka novel The Metamorphosis, present by East Productions, we are revealed a heart wrenching tales of the common worker’s alienation to labour.

The performance: https://www-digitaltheatreplus-com.proxy2.library.illinois.edu/education/collections/east-productions/metamorphosis

This is my starting the performance on my computer. I really loved the costumes! Grey and dreary, just like the story.
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The Container: Was I supposed to be made so unhappy?

By Jacob M Rominger

In Tom Wright’s production of The Container presented outside the Young Vic Theater presents an experience novel and uncapturable on the screen. By the end, the viewer is left with a futile outlook on human relations.

The performance: https://www-digitaltheatreplus-com.proxy2.library.illinois.edu/education/collections/digital-theatre/the-container

An image of my bookcase and my mug collection. They make great souvenirs! They are artistic and reusuable. Also easily packed, perfect for smuggling into foreign countries!
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Macbeth, Reminds Me of the Good Ol Days

By Jacob M Rominger

Artistic Director Gemma Bodinetz presentation of Shakespeare’s Macbeth in Liverpool is a pleasant combination of modern and traditional that comforts the solitary.

The performance: https://www-digitaltheatreplus-com.proxy2.library.illinois.edu/education/collections/digital-theatre/macbeth

Not exactly Scottish but here is some local art I keep on my wall of the Irish Ogham script.
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The Container: Refugees Fighting to Survive

The Container, by Clare Bayley, tells the story of a group of asylum seekers being smuggled across Europe, to England, in a shipping container. The performance took place outside the Young Vic Theatre in a real shipping container. I viewed the performance via Digial Theatre Plus (though seeing it live in the container would have been much cooler).

Written By: Zackarya Faci

The performance recounts the hardships of five refugees as they are smuggled across Europe. They discuss their backgrounds, visions of what England will be like, and even get on each others nerves. They fight over what little food and water they have–thinking one is more deserving based on the struggles they have lived through in the past. Though it makes sense that they would be so easily agitated, since they are confined together in such a small space.

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The Importance of Empathy: The Container

Everyone knows the three essentials for survival: water, food, and shelter. But people always seem to forget about our human need for warmth whether it is literal warmth, heat, or a more figurative warmth through relationships with other people. The Container shows us all four of these necessities during its run time but the main takeaway I got from the performance was that having warmth will let people feel safer than water, food, or shelter will.

By Grace Chen

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Dance Constrained: Virago-Man Dem

The performers of Virago-Man Dem did an amazing job at depicting the layers of masculinity, however, they were constrained by their medium of communication: video. Of course, when their performance was filmed, they were dancing for a live audience but for everyone else who wants to watch the show, the audience loses a lot of the experience just because they are viewing through a screen.

 Virago-Man Dem at Brooklyn Academy of Music's Next Wave Festival. October 2017  Pictured: Jonathan Gonzalez, Duane Cyrus, Ni’Ja Whitson, Niall Noel Jones. Photo by Julieta Cervantes.
From https://www.cynthiaoliver.com/virago-man-dem during the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Next Wave Festival.

By Grace Chen

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The Merchant of Venice: A Relevant Comedy

The Merchant of Venice is Polly Findlay’s adaptation of the play written by William Shakespeare. The performance took place in Stratford-upon-Avon, but I watched the performance online through Digital Theatre Plus. The play is a complex tale of money, greed, and prejudice; Antonio, an antisemitic, takes out a loan from the Jew Shylock, which he cannot afford to repay.

Written By: Zackarya Faci

The first thing to note is the language used throughout the performance. It is reminiscent of 16th-century English and stays true to the language used in the original play. While it required more attention to fully grasp what the actors were saying, it was still understandable and enjoyable. One thing that veered from the original play is the costume choice. A much more modern dress was used–which I believe made this play more enjoyable and feel like a newly created work. Also, the contrast of how the actors dressed and spoke added a unique and memorable element.

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Tyler Tubbs

Hello and welcome back to my blog! This week, I used the UIUC digital theater to enjoy the classic Shakespearean masterpiece, Macbeth. In this Liverpool 2011 rendition, actor David Morrissey delivers a wondrous performance that was worthy of his role as Macbeth. Throughout the production, Morrissey’s gripping performance allows Shakespeare’s incredible storytelling to manifest.

Additionally, the set and atmosphere by Francis O’Connor provide the initial construction of the dark and somewhat haunting mood of the show. It was particularly interesting how rapid the transition was from Macbeth’s desolate battlefield to Duncan’s war-room. O’Connor, using nothing but lighting changes and a singular square table, convinced the audience of a complete and dramatic set shift.

Thank you once again for stopping by! Unfortunately, this will likely be my final event blog for the semester. I have had such an amazing time discovering novel and interesting theatrical art forms with each and every one of you this semester.

Link to performance: https://www-digitaltheatreplus-com.proxy2.library.illinois.edu/education/collections/digital-theatre/macbeth

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The Container: The Journey to Asylum

The Container is a production that is filmed by Digital Theatre inside a shipping container at the Young Vic Theatre. This production tells the story of a group of refugees that are getting transported in the back of a truck’s shipping container through Europe to London where they want to ask for asylum. 

By Elena Grantcharski

My first impression is that I really enjoyed this production and I was super impressed by how it was both a short film and a play at the same time. According to the Digital Theatre + website where I watched this production, there was an audience of 28 inside the shipping container with the actors. I found this really impressive because 1) they were able to hide the audience perfectly inside that small container while also basically filming an entire film, 2) the actors were able to act so well in just one take with the presence of a live audience in that tiny space with them. I have never seen such a production before so I think it was really creative and I hope more productions are made in the future this way. I think having the audience inside the container was also a great way to make them feel more immersed in the production. 

In this image, you can spot the audience that is in the container with the actors.
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Metamorphosis: A Commentary on the Working Class

Metamorphosis is a play that is adapted from a novel by Franz Kafka. It was adapted by Steven Berkoff who also directed the production that I watched on Digital Theatre +. This version was performed by the Parco Theatre in Tokyo, Japan.

By Elena Grantcharski

The plot is about a salesman named Gregor who works very hard every day to support his family. From the very first scene, we learn that his job is very strict. He has to take a 5am train to work because if he is late he will be fired. On the next day, Gregor turns into an insect. He can hear his family trying to wake him up, he can understand them, but he cannot do anything to reply because he literally became an insect. The actor’s use of the body here was really impressive. He did not wear a costume of an insect. Instead, he contorted his body and made bug-like motions which were very effective in creeping me out but also impressed me on actually how much he looked at a bug at some points. While he struggles with his new reality, his boss comes to his home and interrogates his parents and sister on his absence, showing how absorbed Gregor’s life was by his job. 

An example of how the actor contorted his body to look like an insect.
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(Make up Event) The Tempest: Magic and Power Dynamics

The Tempest is widely known as one of Shakespeare’s plays. It is a story where magic is one of the main elements.I watched a production of Shakespeare’s world renowned production of the Tempest on the Digital Theatre + website. This play was performed live by the Royal Shakespeare Company with the help of Intel and the Imaginarium Studios. 

By Elena Grantcharski

I will start off by being honest and saying that I generally am not a huge Shakespeare fan. I respect and appreciate his work but I have never been interested in the Shakespeare works that I have read in high school. His writing style is generally not for me. However, something I really do love is magic. I have never read or watched The Tempest and I was surprised by how much I actually liked it. I really enjoyed the magic aspect of the play. The play is about Prospero, an older man with magical powers and a very beautiful daughter. 

The main character Prospero, and his daughter Miranda.
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The Nutcracker

Written by Zeying Lang

Figure retrieved from https://www-digitaltheatreplus-com.proxy2.library.illinois.edu/education/collections/royal-opera-house/the-nutcracker

One of the most famous ballet plays written by Pyotr Llyich Tchaikovsky in 1892, the Nutcracker, is presented by one of the greatest ballet companies, the Royal Ballet. Come to experience a magical night tour with Marie and the nutcracker. 

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Metamorphosis: Misery of a Bug Man

Written by Zeying Lang

“Steven Berkoff’s iconic adaptation of Franz Kafka’s novella, which tells the tale of a travelling salesman who is transformed into an insect, is brought to life in this highly physical and visually striking production. Captured live at the Parco Theater in Tokyo, this landmark performance is in Japanese with English subtitles.” —– Steven Berkoff

Screenshot retrieved from https://www-digitaltheatreplus-com.proxy2.library.illinois.edu/education/collections/east-productions/metamorphosis
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The Container

Written by Zeying Lang

Figure and Info Retrieved from https://www-digitaltheatreplus-com.proxy2.library.illinois.edu/education/collections/digital-theatre/the-container

Hunger. Stink. Darkness. Uncertainty. In a dark container, five people, from different countries, are bundled with the same destinite. They have zero control and information about what’s going on at the outside of the container. 

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Reinterpretation of Romeo and Juliet

Written by Zeying Lang

Poster retrieved from https://www.rsc.org.uk/romeo-and-juliet/

What if the person your love is from the family that you are supposed to hate. What if the love of you is forbidden and strongly against by all your families. Would the love be as passionate and pure, or would you call it the doomed faith for love and leave…

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The Compelling Tale of The Container

The claustrophobic and suspenseful story of refugees being smuggled to England keeps the audience short-of-breath and on the edge of their seats.
-By Daniel Holley

In this production of The Container, we are sent along on the intense journey of several refugees travelling in a shipping container. They each have their own personalities and backgrounds, but as tensions rise and the situation becomes increasingly desperate, we see their frustrations overcome them in some way. Each character makes sacrifices and must live with the consequences, and companionship is hard to come by in these circumstances. One interesting arc is the evolution of the relationship between a man and young woman. While at first the man laughs at the woman’s ambitions, he eventually gives in and encourages her to follow her dreams.

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The Spooky Story of The Container

The Container, a production by Clare Bayley, was performed live in a real shipping container right outside of London’s Young Vic Theatre and made available through Digital Theatre +.

Written by Willa Wu

The director of this production, Tom Wright, sought to explore the disturbing truths of asylum seekers through the setting of a shipping container.  Throughout this production, he adopted a very realistic feel to the audience by having the performance take place in an actual shipping container.

Flashlights illuminating the actress’s face.
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An Empty Stage That Is Full

“Sometimes I feel discouraged and think my work’s in vain, but then the Holy Spirit revives my soul again.

Written by Jackie Dominguez

This past month has been the hardest without a doubt. Today I think it’s safe to say is one of top 5 hardest days in my life. Needless to say, the world keeps on spinning and I need to finish my assignments for the year. When I clicked on the link to the dance performance of Virago-Man Dem, I didn’t know that a performance during this hard time would provide me with a comfort that I didn’t think was possible to have in a time like this.

I would’ve never imagined I would be watching a performance like Virago-Man Dem in my living room, but here we are.
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A Shakespeare Tragedy: Macbeth

One of Shakespeare’s most famous pieces of work “Macbeth” was produced in a play directed by Gemma Bodinetz. “Macbeth” tells the story of a man who rises to power, lets it get to his head, and ends up beheaded because of that reason. This production was viewed on Digital Theatre Plus, where one can also find multiple productions written by Shakespeare.

Written by: Lydia Amezcua-Ramirez

The opening scene where the 3 witches foretell the beginning of the play.

Shakespeare language

This play can be very confusing to understand if one is not familiar with Shakespearean language which involves modern English. Since I do not read his work I was not familiar with much of the vocabulary used in the play. A recommendation for the audience who wishes to view this production would be to read a background on the play, so that confusion does not arise. The overview on Digital Theatre Plus does not provide sufficient information on the play so I would suggest using spark-notes in order to have a good understanding of plot overview. This is what I did beforehand so that I could understand the issues among each act (there were five in total).

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A Contemporary Audience

Since Shakespeare’s plays are dated back to older times, that might be an issue for entertainment purposes since it might not be as interesting as more modern plays. What I liked about this production was that the audience was able to sit alongside the stage instead of being far away from It. This way, the audience would really be able to pay attention since the performance is up close.

What I also like about the production was that it appealed to the contemporary audience by having the characters dress in both modern and ancient costuming, which provided a balance for the viewers. For example, the witches wore ancient, beige, wrinkly gowns along with holding sticks. As for modern clothing, Macbeth would start out wearing modern costuming consisting of black pants and a long sleeve button up shirt.

Also, given that the play is on Digital Theatre Plus, it makes it accessible for people to view if they are interested in Shakespeare instead of having to pay for seeing It or take the longer route and read about It. The production definitely makes it easier for one to view because of the subtitles that go along with it as well as going back to a scene if one was not able to understand it the first time around.

The Overall Conflict

Macbeth wished to overthrow the king of Scotland, King Duncan, due to the trio of witches telling him “All hail Macbeth” at the beginning of the play, indicating that he would become king soon. Macbeth was a general of a battle which succeeded and he was then rewarded by being named thane of Cawdor. Soon after, Macbeth took matters into his own hands to make what the witches had told him possible. Alongside this decision was his wife, who persuaded Macbeth to kill King Duncan in his sleep.

Macbeth after killing King Duncan, shown by the overwhelming amount of blood on his hands.

The blood on his hands was attention grabbing which aided the storytelling because one can easily assume something tragic has happened. If there was not any blood, it would have been harder to tell that Macbeth killed the king. It was in this very scene that he said “Macbeth shall sleep no more”. The guilt of killing someone would be that very thing keeping him up at night because his conscience would not be able to handle such weight.

Macbeth crowned the king after murdering King Duncan.

This scene depicts the uniqueness of costuming. Macbeth had dressed himself in what was the old king’s clothing. The crown especially is something that we do not see in modern times which makes one analyze it more. This type of costuming helps aid the storytelling because of the role that Macbeth was now fulfilling.

Macbeth’s death scene where he is beheaded with a sword.

Overall, the production was an eye opener for me because I had never seen one of Shakespeare’s plays before. I would recommend viewing this play because it gives one the opportunity to expand their range of productions. It can be a good change for one to step out of their comfort zone and view things they normally would not because at the end they might enjoy it !

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A Buggy Life: The Crazy New Life of Gregor

By Veronica Y Gonzalez
Play Preview
The Sister, Father, and Mother

Play Information

Metamorphosis is a Japanese play based on the novel by Franz Kafka. It tells the story of a salesman who works too much because he has to provide for his mother, father, and sister. Overnight, he is suddenly transformed into an insect. His life drastically changes after this. Not only does he lose his job, but his family treats him in a completely different way.

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Magic Metamorphosis

by Tyler Tubbs

Hello and thank you for coming back once again! Not being able to visit the theaters in person hasn’t kept us from continuing our theatrical exploration! Using UIUC’s digital theater, I was able to enjoy Steven Berkoff’s Metamorphosis, an adaptation of a Franz Kafka novella. In this production a young man finds himself transformed into a repulsive, human-sized bug as he’s forced to suffer in a dark, cramped room for the rest of his existence.

The set and props were incredibly simple, with only three stools and and a raised platform with climbing bars perched to it. Although the set was incredibly minimalistic, the use of lighting, slow-motion, etc., allowed the scenes to flow properly and conveyed the passing of time. The actor who played Gregor, the man-bug, really astonished me in his performance. The entire production hinged on having an amazing performer be Gregor as his voice is so critical to the entire mood and tension of the show. All of this is not to mention that as well as giving a dazzling performance, we all know he got an even better leg workout while he was cramped up as a dung beetle!

Thank you so much, once again, for stopping by! Please check back soon as I will be visiting one of the Shakespeare classics on the Digital Theater.

Link to performance: https://www-digitaltheatreplus-com.proxy2.library.illinois.edu/education/collections/east-productions/metamorphosis

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The Complex Dance of Virago-Man Dem

Virago-Man Dem, a production performed by the COCo. Dance Theatre, was performed live at The Dance Center in Columbia College at Chicago and made available through Vimeo.

Written by Willa Wu

The composer of this production, Jason Finelman, sought to explore the complexities of black masculinity through the expression of dance.  Throughout this production, he adopted a relatively quiet and mysterious style to dancing.  

Four dancers silently standing in the beginning of the dance.
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COVID-19: No One is Immune

by: Becca Wood

Whether you’re NBC Chicago, ABC Chicago, FOX Chicago, The New York Times or the Elmhurst Daily Herald, one thing every news source can agree upon is the fact that no one if safe from this pandemic. However, each of these news outlets have chosen varying ways in showing this concept.

The idea that no one is safe does not necessarily mean that every individual will be infected by the COVID-19 coronavirus. No one is safe from this virus because people have lost their jobs, people are unable to visit with loved ones and people have to stay indoors risking mental health or being trapped in an unsafe environment.

Science Without Answers

Each day, new data and information is brought to the public by health experts studying the virus. Doctors and nurses across the country listen for new developments on the novel virus.

Dr. Lara Ferri, doctor in Philadelphia, said healthcare workers are trying their best to prepare for the coming weeks, but can only do so much with limited resources.

Dr. Lara Ferri on lack of resources

Ferri’s husband, Dr. Raj Shah, works in pediatrics at another hospital in Philadelphia, where he has been told to give up beds of his own patients to house more coronavirus patients as the facility’s immediate care units become full.

Though Shah does not ordinarily work in emergency care units, he has provided his medical expertise to assist the hospital in caring for the surplus of COVID-19 patients.

Dr. Lara Ferri on working on the front lines

Since the pandemic began, news outlets such as NBC Chicago, ABC Chicago and Fox Chicago have daily streams of Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker with updates on coronavirus developments and adjustments to the stay-at-home order.

Among the data shared is generally the number of cases, number of fatalities, number hospitalized and, more recently, the number recovered. The briefings also feature symptoms of the virus and what people should be wary of.

Though most symptoms are respiratory based, other symptoms have come into media’s limelight, such as COVID-toes. Other tragic deaths, such as the 16-year-old boy from Wheeling, Illinois, raise questions as to possible additional strains of coronavirus.

As Pritzker grows increasing frustrated with lack of testing kits in Illinois, he has voiced concern over the accuracy of these tests and whether false negative and positive results are possible.

During his daily briefings, Pritzker has said he doesn’t see the Illinois economy fully reopening until there is a vaccine in place and the numbers are going down for 14 consecutive days.

Ferri said she knows healthcare workers and researchers have been doing all they can to form new drugs to combat this virus or use old drugs if they are safe for the time being.

As more recover from the coronavirus, they may not be completely cured. Ferri said many will have chronic lung damage for the rest of their lives.

Dr. Lara Ferri on chronic lung damage

Ferri has lost immediate family to COVID-19 in Italy and, though she admits it is personal for her, she does not want the same to happen across the United States.

Dr. Lara Ferry on abiding by shelter-in-place order

The Everyday Impact

Though the scientific details of the virus are pivotal in the public understanding its severity, many news outlets thought to focus on the everyday impact this is having on people around the world.

The New York Times wrote an interactive article, “The Great Empty,” with images and text showing how this pandemic looks in a variety of countries. The New York Times has daily news updates regarding the virus, but has noticeably chose to write longer form articles to capture the grave impact.

For Chicagoans, COVID-19 became even more real when news outlets like NBC Chicago and ABC Chicago took drone footage of the empty city.

Both news outlets said they chose to feature this drone footage from artists in Chicago struggling to deliver their voice during this time. Though the simple video will not pay the bills, the artists said they are doing anything they can to keep their art alive.

Students studying abroad this semester have had to cut their travels short bringing their books home and, for some, also the virus. Thomas Clancy, sophomore at Clemson University, caught COVID-19 studying abroad in Barcelona, Spain. This is the message he sent his sister:

Meg Frey, a woman living in Elmhurst, Illinois, said she feels fortunate to be living in the Chicagoland area during this time. She explained the leadership of Pritzker and Lightfoot have made all the difference.

Meg Frey on Chicago leadership

Gabrielle Wood, also a woman from the Chicagoland area, has a daughter graduating her senior year at Fenwick High School. She said it’s an upsetting time, but she’s trying to keep priorities in line.

Gabrielle Wood on having a senior in high school

Her daughter, Kimberly Wood, has spent the past few weeks taking classes on her iPad in her bedroom on e-learning. Each morning she is expected to sign-in, otherwise students are expected to “call in sick” by notifying the school.

Kimberly Wood on e-learning in high school

Kimberly Wood said she’s thankful to be healthy and able to spend time with family during the shelter-in-place order. However, she explained she’s sad her and her classmates will not have the senior year they expected.

Kimberly Wood on senior year of high school

Uncertainty of the Unemployed

Before the shelter-in-place orders were announced, my mom and I took a trip to Colorado after choosing to avoid our originally planned trip to New York City due to the escalating coronavirus situation. The severity of the pandemic reaching the United States became very real very quickly, as stores and restaurants closed their doors and travel bans were being issued.

One woman working as a waitress and hostess at a restaurant open for pick-up said all their employees were forced to cut back on hours and are worried about any future paychecks.

She wanted to remain anonymous, as she was instructed to not speak to media while on the job.

Hostess and waitress on being scared for job safety

Shawn Wood, an attorney in Chicago, said his job is safe for now, but he is on a committee that decides what attorneys and secretaries are furloughed during this time, with some not returning to work after the pandemic lightens.

Shawn Wood on furloughing

Shawn Wood said he has tried to save as many employees as possible, but it’s not ultimately his decision who is furloughed. Instead, he has tried to act as a voice of comfort, listening to those in shock from the difficult news.

Shawn Wood on difficult conversations

The New York Times article, “‘Sudden Black Hole’ for the Economy With Millions More Unemployed,” and the newspaper’s podcast, The Daily, both shed light on the crippling effects this pandemic has on the economy.

According to the article, within three weeks, 16 million people had been put out of work. As Michael BarBaro said in his podcast, this number is simply unheard of in American history.

In both the article and podcast, The New York Times explains that people filing for unemployment will receive more money than they ordinarily would. This will aid those out of work amid the falling economy, but can only hold people over for so long.

Hope in Humanity

Despite the efforts of news media to inform the public of the necessity to stay quarantined and the impact this virus is having, many have also been choosing to focus on the positive acts happening.

NBC Chicago has featured several stories on newborn babies arriving amid the pandemic. A recent couple announced the 6-week-early baby by writing pieces of paper and showing their family through a glass window of the hospital.

While each of the news outlets have been clearly focused on real people in communities doing good, some networks are aiding in displaying ways to keep active at home.

ABC Chicago has been providing a combination of uplifting content, along with ideas to keep a positive mindset while staying busy at home.

Fox Chicago has a tab on their website for their show, Good Day Chicago. It’s no coincidence that’s the tab is called “Good Day,” as they showcase daily uplighting stories.

Helping people be aware of their mental health, Fox has produced stories such as a woman creating a Facebook page for people to vent about coronavirus. Another story features a violinist talking about music education at home in Chicago.

Frey said she’s proud to be from Chicago not only for the leadership driving people through the pandemic, but also because Chicagoans appreciate keeping a light-hearted attitude in times of despair.

Meg Frey on Chicago positivity

The Elmhurst Daily Herald appeared to have a constant flow of positive stories — occasionally lacking in hard-hitting news on the coronavirus. From “Humanitarian Service Project launches campaign to combat hunger amid crisis” to “Trivia Night: At Home Edition to raise funds for West Suburban Humane Society,” the writers seem to focus on the good in the community.

Though these news outlets are working through times of uncertainty, each platform featured stories looking into the future, ensuring Americans are aware of reality without losing hope in humanity.

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A Lesson on Humanity: The Container

The Container is a thoughtful play that tells a story about five poor refugees hiding in a container of a truck while smuggling goods to England. The Container is directed by the Tom Wright and written by the amazing Clare Bayley. The play is available for view on Digital Theatre.

Written by Weon Taek Na

The atmosphere inside the container is dark
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Sometimes To Think Outside The Box You Have To Think Inside The Box

By: Veronica Y Gonzalez
Play Preview
The setup of the “Stage”

Play Information

The Container was unlike any other play I have seen or heard of. The setting was extremely creative. The entire play took place inside a shipping container and the audience was sitting among the actors. This looked like it was an amazing experience and I wish I would have had the opportunity to be there.

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To Catch a Container

Tyler Tubbs

“The Container” takes place on a standard size shipping trailer moving across Europe towards England. This container, however, is full of refugees from multiple countries who were unable to enter the country legally. The dark, dingy atmosphere and the visages of the occupants make the miserable conditions inside tangible.

The actors accurately portrayed the primal struggle for survival and safety throughout the production. While trapped in the container, the passengers press themselves against the walls at every stop in hopes they may discover some minute shred of evidence as to where they may be or whether they will be given fresh food and water for the next leg of the journey.

The costumes of each character were absolutely perfect for this production. Through their clothing, it was rather easy to distinguish details about each of the characters. The costume that stuck with me the most was that of the businessman because the creators were able to capture his relative wealth in his style of clothing but to maintain the elements of struggle brought about by their current travel and entrapment.

All photos are the property of the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts. https://www-digitaltheatreplus-com.proxy2.library.illinois.edu/education/collections/digital-theatre/the-container#production-gallery

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“What if you turn into a bug”: The Metamorphosis

Metamorphosis is an ironic adaptation of Franz Kafka’s novel directed by Steven Berkoff. It depicts a fantastic tale that a salesman turned into a bug one day, and his life is changed dramatically.

Written by Bingchen Li

“One morning, as Gregor Samsa was waking up from anxious dreams, he discovered that in bed he had been changed into a monstrous verminous bug” is the opening sentence from Franz Kafka’s masterpiece, The Metamorphosis. The director Steven Berkoff is a good storyteller that he successfully transforms the original into a show. As the curtain rises at the very beginning of the play, the whole stage is showed to the audience directly. There is only a framed structure at the center and 3 actors sit on the chairs. Those are all props used in the play. The main character is Gregor Samsa, a salesman who needs to travel a lot and around the nation to get more orders. He lives with his parents and his little sister, Greta. After a long day of hardworking, as usual, Gregor felt uncomfortable and went to the bed. However, when he waked up, he found that he turned into a bug. His life dramatically changed because of the metamorphosis.

Minimalist stage, only a framed stucture and chairs

Audiences could know the background from the beginning of the play that the Samsa family’s living expenses rely on Gregor’s work. Gregor needs to work hard to feed his families, such as his father’s cigar, his mother’s clothes, and his sister’s violin classes. Gregor does not show up for breakfast and late for work because he turns into a bug. We can notice that when Chief Clerk comes to his home, his parents and sister treat Chief like he is the dearest guest. It all because Gregor’s salary is the only income for his family, and that is why his boss is so arrogant.

Good use of light and shadow to express depressed atmosphere

In addition, people’s attitudes are other details that we should pay attention to. Before his transformation, his father is proud of his son, and his sister thinks he is the best brother in the world. Gregor’s boss treats him like cattle. However, after his transformation, people’s attitudes changed hugely. His father hits Gregor by an apple. His mother does not want to feed him and is fear to face him. Greta loved his brother at the beginning, but when she found Gregor was worthless to her, she suggested her parents expel Gregor. The reason behind the attitude changing is the Samsa family and his boss only care about their own benefit so that ignore the sympathy and relationship between people.

The actor tries to perform an insect with vivid body language

Compare to watch the play in person, I prefer a recorded online performance. Audiences could notice more details through close-ups, such as facial expressions and body language. Gregor’s fingers trembled just like antennas of an insect. There are no props in the show but three chairs, so actors pretend their hands are forks and knives to eat. In addition, Gregor’s room is a framed structure, or from my perspective, more like a cage. It is a metaphor to express Gregor’s life. Before the transformation, he worked to feed his family. He was chained by the family. After becoming a bug, he was locked in the room, waiting to be fed.

All in all, this is a really impressive performance, I highly recommend you to watch it during the time the whole world turned upside down. Be safe!

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A New Beginning: Metamorphosis

Metamorphosis” is a unique production, written by Frank Kafka, where the main character who is a salesman ends up transforming into a terrifying insect and isolates himself from his family and the world. This production can be found of Digital Theatre Plus and since it is produced in Japanese, there are English subtitles to understand the storyline.

By Lydia Amezcua Ramirez

The salesman, Gregor, and his family which he supports through his job


Gregor Is a salesman who works endlessly to help support his family because he is the only one bringing in the income. One day he begins to feel ill and misses work which is unheard of from him. To his family’s surprise his illness was much worse than they expected because he had transformed into an insect that they became afraid of. Gregor spent the rest of his days isolated in his room from his family until one day he dies and his family moves on.

One of the messages that this production taught me is that one cannot solely rely on one person to always be the provider, people will have to learn to fend for themselves because you never know what life will throw at you. Another message that I was able to get from this production is the importance of family. No matter how horrified Gregor’s family were, they never tossed him out, they had to find a way to keep a financial income and at the same time keep Gregor hidden.

Transformed into an insect, the salesman crawls around as his family becomes frightened of him

Unique Elements

When Gregor was transformed into an insect, that impeded his family from being able to communicate with him as well as understand him. This production reminded me of a book in first person where the main character allows us into his thoughts. The audience watching this performance were able to understand what was going through Gregor’s thoughts as he spoke to us while the rest of the cast would be frozen in motion. This was something that I enjoyed because insects cannot speak and one wonders what goes on through their head, but this was something that the audience did not have to interpret.

Another unique element was the set of the production. Most plays and productions have various sets or different backgrounds given a certain scene that they are supposed to act out. Here, the characters performed various scenes within the same arrangement on the stage. What I mean by this is that the kitchen, living room, and Gregor’s room had to be portrayed in the same stage setup. The set up consisted of 3 stools for the mom, dad, and sister of Gregor, and a large metallic design of pipes, which took up most of the set. This was mainly used for Gregor to climb on since he had tuned into an insect.

Lastly, background noises added to the unique elements I noticed in the production. Since there were not enough props because the set was based on simplicity, there would be background noises to add emphasis during the production. For example, when Gregor’s sister had to “thump” on Gregor’s “door” for it to open, there would be noises that made large thumping sounds. I quoted “thump” and “door” because movements would be exaggerated to go with the background effects/noises and because there was not an actual door, the characters made it seem as so.

Part of the metallic pipes which Gregor, now an insect, used to climb upon

At first I was confused as to why these elements were in the production because I have never seen them. Just like the production, the elements were something new to me and given that this was a Japanese production I had to keep in mind that other cultures have different ways of conveying arts. I liked the uniqueness of “Metamorphosis” because it brought a new perspective of how other cultures may use props and storylines differently than what I am used to seeing.

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Funny Girl: I want to be seen with you (Makeup event)

Funny Girl is an American biographic musical based on the life and career of Broadway, film star and comedienne Fanny Brice, directed by Michael Mayer, starring Olivier Awards-winner Sheridan Smith who is known as “an unforgettable star”. Funny Girl was captured by Digital Theatre live at Manchesters’ Palace Theatre. It was recorded by Digital Theatre during the final weeks of this Theatre run.

By Jiaxuan Meng

Sheridan Smith
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The Tempest: Liberation and Exhilaration (Make-up event)

An all-female version of The Tempest starring Harriet Walter as Prospero was directed by Phyllida Lloyd, captivating reimagining explores themes of freedom and justice in a women prison.

By Jiaxuan Meng

“Exhilarating…Ecstatic Energy…The most entertaining ‘Tempest’ I have ever seen…”

-Ben Brantley, The New York Times Critics
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Seeking Refuge: The Container

“The Container” is a production directed by Tom Wright and produced by Digital Theatre. It captivates some of the struggles that refugees face in order to seek refuge in Europe, including realistic and tragic elements.

Witten by: Lydia Amezcua-Ramirez

Beginning of the production where the refugees wait silently to not expose themselves to a possible outside threat

Asylum Seeking

The setting of this production takes place in a real life shipping container, hence the title of the production. The cast consists of six characters, all who come from different backgrounds but with the same end goal, which is to arrive to England safely and begin their new life. The other character is an agent who is in charge of getting them there. While some of these characters hope to start over and escape the violent Middle East, some hope to be reunited with their family. In the past years this was a real and serious issue. There were hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing from the Middle East in hopes of receiving asylum in Europe. However, as the numbers of refugees entering the country was becoming too high, so were the restrictions, meaning that it became harder for the refugees to travel and get into Europe safely.

This production illustrates the difficulty of doing so as shown through the characters. Since they each have a story, they all reveal why they were brought into the container and how tiring their journey has been.

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Elements of the Production

  1. The need for food: In the container, the refugees would go days without food or water, having to conserve the little they had. When a woman had entered the container with them she had brought along a few pieces of bread and chocolate which she shared. The characters had never seemed so eager to eat given that they were starving. This can be expected if people are trapped for days in an isolated, dark environment like the container.
  2. Money: The journey to England would not be free, it came at a cost in which the characters had to pay money for. When the agent in charge of the refugees had demanded more money for the refugees to continue their journey they all had a rough time caving in and not all of them had the extra fifty dollars on them that the agent demanded. This seemed like a trick and a method of manipulation that one would expect to see in a real life situation like that. The refugees had come way too far to give up which is something people take advantage of.
The characters in distress of not having enough money to carry on their journey

3. Women: Just the simple fact of being a woman was a disadvantage. When one of the woman characters in the container did not have the fifty dollars that the agent demanded for them to continue, he suggested a different method of paying. The poor woman had no other choice but to follow the agent elsewhere, where eventually it can be assumed she was taken advantage of and killed because she had never returned.

The woman who did not have enough money to pay, being shoved out of the container

4. False Promises: One of the characters in the production had mentioned that it was his third time traveling to England because the agents he had hired before had tricked him and took his money. This is something that many refugees encounter, false promises of being led to safety when in reality it is a scam to take away their money. At the end of the production, whether or not the refugees got to England safely remained a mystery.

After the production had finished, all the characters entered the container and took a bow

Overall, I really enjoyed the production because it really captivated my attention and because it was on a topic that most people these days seemed to have stopped talking about. This issue was a big concern in the past but should not be forgotten. Many hear about what goes on but do not really take the time to consider all the things that refugees go through. This film did an amazing job at giving us an insight on that situation.

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A play of humanity and kindness: The Container

The Container, directed by Tom Wright, tells a story about five poor refugees who try to smuggling to England in a container. The whole performance, produced by Digital Theatre, is performed in a real shipping container parked outside London’s Young Vic Theatre

Written By Bingchen Li

It is a real container! All the performers play in a real container. Yes, a metal box like those on the back of trucks to transport cargos. Also, as we can see in the news, the container is often used to transport illegal immigrants. The Contain depicts a story around 5 illegal immigrants or refugees and one agent who help them smuggling to England. However, during the trip, the agent denies the contract between him and the refugees, and those refugees have to pay an extra 50 dollars to stay in the container.

The only light in the show are the flashlights held by characters.
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The Merchant of Venice: A Comedy About Humanity (make-up event)

The Merchant of Venice is an adaptation from William Shakespeare’s famous comedy of the same name. It tells a story about an antisemitic merchant in Venice named Antonio who could repay the loan he took from a Jewish moneylender named Shylock. The production was about 130 minutes in total and was captured live in Stratford-upon-Avon. I watched this online via Digital Theatre Plus.

Antonio, Shylock, and Bassanio (A screenshot from Act I)

Written by: Yushan Guo

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Metamorphosis: A Story of Bizarreness

Metamorphosis is a theatrical production based on a novella of the same name written by Franz Kafka. It tells a bizarre story which was about a salesman who was transformed into a huge insect and his struggles to adjust to the new conditions. The production was directed by Steven Berkoff and was captured live at the Parco Theatre in Tokyo. I watched this with English subtitles on the Digital Theatre Plus.

The title of the production, including the director and the year of production
A screenshot of the production

Written by: Yushan Guo

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The Container: A Clash of Humanities

The Container is a play written by Clare Bayley. It tells a story about 5 asylum-seekers hiding in the container of a truck and their conflicts on the way to England. It’s a great story that discusses a lot of relevant social and political issues. The production was captured by Digital Theatre Plus.

The title of the play, as well as the author and the year of production

Written by: Yushan Guo

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The Original Star-Crossed Lovers

By Veronica Y. Gonzalez
First Kiss
Play preview
Play information

I had never read or seen Romeo and Juliet but I knew the overall plot. It is one of the most famous plays ever so basically everyone has heard of it. Today, I had the chance to watch it on Digital Theatre. This version of the play was 2 hours and 51 minutes long. Although it was a long play, it held my attention the whole time. (make-up)

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Metamorphosis: A transformation

The show Metamorphosis is based on a novella written by Franz Kafka first published in 1915. It tells the story of a salesman named Gregor transformed into a huge insect and how he struggled to get used to the new condition. The show was performed at the Parco Theater in Japan, and I watched it through Digital Theatre+ with English subtitles.

Written by Jiaxuan Meng

Gregor transformed into a huge insect
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Metamorphosis: A Unique Story About A Salesman’s Transformation to An Insect

Metamorphosis is a production based on Franz Kafka’s novella. Metamorphosis was performed at the Parco Theater in Tokyo and captured and made available for viewing online through Digital Theatre Plus. Metamorphosis currently has English subtitles supported for international audiences.

Written by Weon Taek Na

Capture 1 of Metamorphosis, available for viewing online at Digital Theatre Plus.
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As You Like It: Online Makeup

As You Like It is a famous comedy by William Shakespeare. It conveys a story portraying love and disguise and was performed at the Royal Shakespear Company’s Courtyard Theatre in Stratford pon Avon. The performance was captured and is available to view online on Digital Theatre Plus.

Written By Weon Taek Na

Capture 1 of As You Like It performance, available to view online on Digital Theatre Plus.
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The Strange Story of Metamorphosis

Metamorphosis, a production based on Franz Kafka’s novella, was performed at the Parco Theater in Tokyo and made available with English subtitles through Digital Theatre Plus.

Written by Willa Wu

The adaptation of this production, Steven Berkoff’s, retells the story of a travelling salesman who is somehow transformed into an insect.  Throughout this play, he follows a uniformed style and design and utilizes the actors and actresses in unique and extensive ways.

Gregor Samsa, during his transformation to an insect.

Having never read Kaftka’s novella prior to watching this production, my reaction during most of the play was that it was strange.  The storyline begins with Gregor Samsa giving an extremely direct exposition, explaining exactly who he is, who each of the other actors are, and their situation.  I quite enjoyed this style of storytelling, as I commonly find myself trying to piece together the knowledge during the story rather than already knowing the backstory.  

The element of design within this production was phenomenal.  Berkoff used a very easy to understand minimalistic set of props to progress the story, and the actors were able to use their body language to help the audience understand the implications of the prop placements. Like Cabaret, the actor’s consistent use of props helped me understand the story more easily.  The entire set only consisted of a framed structure and three chairs placed evenly apart across the stage.  In addition, the minimalist structure extended to encompass the number of actors. There were four main actors (Gregor, Greta, and the parents), and the Chief who came around in select scenes.  I appreciated this style, as I felt as if it was more storytelling, which in some cases can be more entertaining to watch.  

A shot of Gregor Samsa during a monologue.

The use of shadows was also important within this play.  With small tweaks in lighting, the actors themselves can look like shadows or the actors can create large shadows behind them.  This can be used to have the actor appear either extremely large or extremely small in comparison to some other object or another actor.  The actors all wore monochromatic clothing, and hence, with the shadows they create, make the entire play fit in further with the minimalistic look.  The only deviation from such is when there is an angry scene, and a red light would cast upon the entire stage.

It was imperative that this production was to be watched online, as it was recorded in Japanese.  However, if I were to somehow be able to watch this in person, it would look less dynamic to me. This is because as a live audience member, you are subjected only to a wide angle view of the entire stage the entire run time.  However, in the style that this production was recorded, there were rotating camera angles that were used and also close ups of the actors. By doing so, it creates a more dynamic flow to the production as angles are always changing.  In my opinion, the experience of watching it online feels more like a movie rather than a play.

The final bows of the performers.

My favorite design element is the use of the clock noises to tell time.  In this play, unlike many other performances we have seen this semester, the actors do not only depend on themselves to create sound.  It was most noticeable when Gregor’s every step once he became an insect was followed by a sound mimicking the sound of an insect. The precision that is required of the actors is incredible and impressive.

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As You Like It (Makeup)

As You Like It, is one of Shakespeare’s famous pastoral comedies of love and disguise, and it was captured by Digital Theatre live at Royal Shakespear Company’s temporary space, the Courtyard Theatre, in Stratford pon Avon. You can enjoy and watch it online by Digital Theatre +

Written By Bingchen Li

The main story of As You Like It is that Sir Rowland de Bois had 3 sons and he wanted his elder son to take care of his young brothers after his death. But his elder son Olive did not follow his father’s will, instead, he treated his brothers rudely and restricted his brother Orlando’s education and freedom. Olive arranged a wresting battle between Orlando and the royal wrestler Charles to let Olive leave him without taking any heritage. Duke Frederick has usurped the duchy and exiled his older brother, Duke Senior. Because Duke Senior’s daughter Rosalind had a good relationship with Celia, Duke Frederick’s daughter, she could still live in the court. During the battel, Rosalind fell in love with Orlando and try to skip from the court. After lots of suffering, at the end of the show, they all find their love.

Duke and his courtiers formed in a square (Screenshot from As You Like It)
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As You Like It: Online Makeup

William Shakespeare’s As You Like It is a romantic play that started the trope of a woman disguised as a man. His playful play explored the dynamics between multiple couples through friendship, compromise, and love. Performed at the RSC’s Courtyard Theatre in Stratford upon Avon but watched online by yours truly, this play was a joy to watch and you can experience it too on Digital Theatre Plus.

Creative Commons. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Courtyard_Theatre_Stratford_upon_Avon.jpg

Written by Grace Chen

Although these performances are recorded online, the feeling of a live play is still present In the show. The camera work makes up for the lack of connection between the performer and audience in an in-person play. The closeups allow the viewers behind the screen to have a better understanding of what the actor is trying to convey.  In fact, I liked this aspect of watching a recording the most since there have been many times where I’ve sat far away from the stage and have had trouble seeing what the actor’s facial expressions are.

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DRUM TAO : passionate movement

There was DRUM TAO performance at Tryon Festival Theatre on Wednesday, March 11. The performers were from Japan, and their impressive performance using “Wadaiko-drums”, Japanese flutes and harps made the performance perfect.

Written by Aejin Shin

People waiting for the start of the performance


The template said, ‘DRUM TAO was awarded several prizes including Outstanding Cultural Contribution form Oita prefecture’. In addition, in February 2016, their off-Broadway show in New York ended up with a great success. After watching the performance, I thought they deserved the awards. They played drums of various sizes, ranging from small handy ones to big ones which performers can even ride on. Also, the way the drums were played was brilliant. Standing between the drums, people played multiple drums of various sizes together. In addition, their movements were so in sync with each other and well-organized that I felt it was a masterpiece performance.

A ticket

Interesting element

Their performance had two distinct factors which differentiate them from any other performance. The first was that the performers tried to communicate with the audience. They skillfully bought out applause and responses from the audience. They put their hands on their ears and made a listening gesture again and again until the audience gives them back a round of applause. Also, through catered performance pieces that Americans can relate such Michael Jackson’s Moonwalk dancing in between performance, the American audience could relate to the performance more.

Secondly, the performance was full of humors. With all the lights off, the performers wore fluorescent yellow-colored clothes and presented techniques that made them looked like one person teleporting around the stage. It also drew laughter from the audience by making intentional mistakes and putting in humor elements from time to time.

A booklet

The performance was a combination of traditional Japanese instruments and modern choreography. Performers created performances that can be enjoyed by anyone regardless of one’s age and gender by utilizing humors and eye-catching performance. I would like to recommend this performance to everyone!

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Drum Tao; Impressive Feats and Amazing Performance

On Wednesday, March 11, 2020, at 7:30 pm the Drum Tao group performed at the Tryon Festival Theater. A total of 14 performers showed off their drumming skills, acrobatic finesse, and other talents in their dazzling show.

By: Daniel Plata

Before The Start of the Show at the Tryon Festival Theater
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Cabaret: A Challenge

Krannert’s presentation of Cabaret offered a deeply challenging and condemning performance of the dangers of apathy.

Stresemann, a man I knew as a champion of the Republic that would eventually fall to dictatorship…alongside other historical facts to remind us there was a world moving along outside the rise of fascism.
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Willkommen im Cabaret

Tyler Tubbs


The Cabaret at the Krannert is my favorite of the events this semester. The intense storyline is complimented perfectly by beautiful musical numbers performed by a live orchestra and the performer on stage.

Cabaret’s excellence comes as a result of the incredible musical numbers. The songs give a true sense of the character’s beliefs and attitudes. For example, when Fräulein Schneider sings “So What?” she offers insight to the desperation and lack of hope that was shared by countless individuals of post-WW1 Germany. Additionally, the reprisal of “Tomorrow Belongs to Me” at the end of the first act portrays the pro-nazi leanings of certain members of the cast. Most of the cast joins in on this song, showing the growing influence of nazism in Germany during the early 1930s.

During the performance, the set changed countless times to describe multiple locations throughout Berlin. The boardinghouse consisted of Cliff Bradshaw’s room and an adjacent hallway containing Fräulein Schneider’s and Fräulein Kost’s doors. The Kit Kat Klub was mostly empty, but the character’s made up for the empty stage with intense, vibrant costumes and dances. In-between scenes, brief pauses for applause doubled as opportunities for rapid set changes.

Thanks again for checking back on my blog! The next event is this Wednesday, the 11th, for Drum Tao! I’ll see you all again soon!

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Cabaret : the hidden realities of Berlin in the 1930s

Cabaret was performed at the Tryon Festival Theatre in Krannert Center for the Performing Arts on March 5. The actors were students of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Their excellent acting, set-making and music made the performance perfect.

Written by Aejin Shin

A ticket

The setting for the musical “Cabaret” is the Kit Kat Club in Berlin in the 1930s. This was a period of great historical importance and confusion. The performance vividly shows the suffering of ordinary citizens -including American novelist Cliff and his roommate Sally- because of the change in a country’s political ideology and confusion. It showed a part of ordinary life through historical events and some sensitive topics such as eroticism, sex and homosexuality. It begins with an American writer named Cliff traveling to Germany to get the inspiration that he needed to write his novel.

waiting for the start of the performance with the booklet


In Cabaret, music helps to deliver the characters’ messages. This is definitely a kind of musical, so it’s meaningless to discuss the show without music. However, Cabaret’s music is quite different from the usual musicals’ composition. Ordinary musicals play romantic songs that contrast with miserable plots, making audiences forget about the difficulties of reality. However, most of the songs played in the performance do not make the audience forget the miserable reality, but make them feel more afraid of the Nazism. For example, with the ending song, ‘Farewell’, one can fully guess that Cabaret’s audience is no longer ordinary public but Nazi party members.

Overall, the songs played during the show are typical jazz and swing in the 1920s and 30s. Also, the characters sing about what they want – love, a beautiful future, and their own beliefs. Every character wants different things, but the energy they emit in an unstable, dangerous, finite life touched me so much. I like the music because it was quite emotional, so it sets the mood, and I can understand what the characters feeling through the music. Also, the music was catchy. So, I could sing it after the performance ended.

the atmosphere was exciting, and people there were anticipating the performance.


This set shows Berlin at that time very effectively. Two structures rotated and showed new backgrounds. These rotations made a variety of sets, including nightclubs, housing complexes, trains, apartments and fruit shops. This allowed the transition between scenes to be natural.

the band plays on stage

The performance was a combination of funny and sexual comedies and exaggerated expressions. Complex set designs and perfect music allow the audience to focus more on the performance. This performance was more on the love story between people in 1920s and 30s and their lives rather than the big history like WW1 and Nazis, and it makes the performance more interesting. I would like to recommend this performance to everyone!

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The Joys of the Cabaret at Krannert

This performance treated the audience to a unique perspective of Germany in its pre-WWII years through cheerful song, dramatic dance, and rapid-fire humor.
-Daniel Holley

The audience makes their way into the Tryon Festival Theatre for the performance.
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Berlin: The Place Where You can Be Whoever You Want To Be

If you ever felt like you couldn’t be your true self perhaps you weren’t in Berlin. 
Written by Jackie Dominguez De Paz

Before the musical began in Tyron Festival Theatre.

Cabaret, a true masterpiece full of meticulous details that truly made the show shine! This musical not only made you feel like you could connect with the characters such as Sally, Clifford, Fraulein Schneider or even Herr Schultz but it made you feel like you were part of the show!

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Lights, Music, Action: Cabaret

On March 6th, 2020 at 7:30pm the Tryon Festival Theatre presented a musical performance entitled ” Cabaret“. This performance brought about musicality, theatre, and dance while trying to portray some of the issues surrounding the time frame, WW1.

Written by: Lydia Amezcua Ramirez

Waiting for the performance to begin while others read more about the performance.


In the performance there was many ways of expressing expressing character mood/desire. The songs and music helped carry those messages out. The music and songs in Cabaret worked to give a sense of the world of the play by subtly bringing in issues that all tie in with Cabaret. For example, a character who came from America would go to the Kit Kat Club to drink and enjoy life in Berlin, Germany because that is what most people there seemed to do, live life while partying and still having to find a way to pay rent on time. The Kit Kat Club seemed to be the place where people went to enjoy music and drink, but all of that disappeared by the end of the play when there were no more performers or people in the Kit Kat Club. This was due to the beginning of WW1 when the Nazis took power and streets/places were abandoned.

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The host of the night alongside a grand piano player

The music and songs in Cabaret also worked to give a sense of the dreams of the characters through the beat and emotion that went with the music and songs they sang. For example, one of the characters in the play was a performer in the Kit Kat Club and one of the songs she sang was an upbeat one involving not telling her mother about her being a performer because she was chasing her dream. Towards the end of the play she ended up staying in Berlin, Germany regardless of what was going on around that time frame because she wanted to continue chasing her dream of being a grand performer. The song she sang was more emotional that time around with not as much music behind her that way more emotional tone would be coming from her part.

The host of the night performing in the Kit Kat Club along with other dancers

Set Transitions

In Cabaret, the sets would transition as would any play to show the distinct parts of the Berlin setting. In between each transition, songs would be performed by the characters in the play and if not them then by the host of the night along with his background dancers. The sets of the performance included:

  1. The Kit Kat Club, where performers would perform and others went there to drink.
  2. A Railroad Carriage, where the American coming to Berlin would travel to and back.
  3. Schneider’s Apartment, the landlord lady.
  4. Cliff’s Apartment, the American novelist from America.
  5. Schultz’s Fruit Shop, the person who liked the landlord lady.
  6. The Void, an empty abandoned place.

Overall, Cabaret was a mesmerizing performance filled with a variety of music and performance style that left goosebumps on my arms. What I liked most about the performance was all the energy in the characters that remained up to when the Nazis took control. Life as they knew it would change forever because life was not something that one could spend partying without worries. It became a means of survival and the reality of the world they began to live in.

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Willkommen, Bienvenue, Welcome to Cabaret

Cabaret was performed on Friday night, March 6 2020, in the Tryon Festival Theatre. Set in the new year of 1930, the audience was met with a risqué performance in a controversial era of Berlin, Germany.

Written By Zackarya Faci

Cabaret was a musical performance that brought to life some key aspects of history but mainly focused on telling a story of love and lust. It was set in a time period that “could have gone another way”, according to the director. Overall, the performance provided insight into how free and scandalous lives were for some Germans prior to the rise of the Nazi Party.

The musicians practicing before the performance began.
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Cabaret: A Glimpse At a Historical Turning Point

On March 7th, the world-famous musical Cabaret was performed at the Tryon Festival Theatre of the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts. The background of the story is Berlin from 1929 to 1930. It began with an American novelist traveling to Berlin seeking inspiration for his novel. By depicting the fate of the characters at that very moment of history, it told a story that is touching and thought-provoking, and a tale that depicts fantasy and reality.

Written by Yushan Guo

The curtain right before the musical began
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Willkommen, Bienvenue, Welcome to the Cabaret

The Cabaret has a field of complex characters in the conflicting period before World War II in Germany. Although the songs are sometimes fun and exciting, the story is much more dramatic and the actors, students of the University of Illinois, do an excellent job of conveying the layered emotions of their characters.

The actors and musicians at the end of the performance.

Written by Grace Chen

When we first walked into the theatre, the orchestra was already playing music that fit the era. It established the mood of the musical early on and it told me that I was going to be transported to the early 1900s in this musical. The light jazz that blended into the start of the show mimicked how an actual audience member of the Kit Kat Klub probably felt and the Welcome song served as an introduction to the role of the Klub to the story.

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Cabaret: A Story of Love, Dreams, and Reality

A story that begins with a novelist seeking inspiration takes lots of twists and turns as he settles in Berlin, Germany. There he meets people who affect his life and influence his next story.

By Moises Sedano

The entrance to the Krannert Center where the performance took place.
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Carbaret: An Emphasis on the Humanity of Life

Cabaret, a world renowned Broadway musical, was performed at the Tryon Festival Theatre in Krannert Center for the Performing Arts this last Friday. The cast of the play Cabaret set out to give the audience a thrilling yet unique experience through perfect performance, further enhanced by amazing music and set pieces.

Written by Weon Taek Na

Figure 1: Cabaret Cover
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Wilkommen! Bienvenue! Welcome! – Cabaret

By Jiaxuan Meng

On the evening of March 6th, 2020, Cabaret, a famous Broadway musical which includes smoke, haze, violence, nudity, and profanity was performed in Krannert Center for Performing Arts to celebrate Krannert Center’s 50-year partnership with School of Music, Illinois.

Theatre, dance, and music present the joint production of cabaret.

This musical is based on a book by Joe Masteroff and a play by John Van Druten. Stories are based on a novel Christopher Isherwood and the fascinating music come from John Kander with lyrics by Fred Ebb.

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Historical Commentary as Theatre: Cabaret

The world renowned musical Cabaret was performed at the Tryon Festival Theatre in the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts on February 27, 2020 at 7:30pm. The production was in sponsorship with the School of Music, the Lyric Theatre, the Illinois Theatre, and Dance at Illinois. 

By Elena Grantcharski 

Program for the Cabaret Production

The musical took place in 1930s Germany. The music was a testament to this time period because of the cabaret style jazz music. The music was played by a live jazz band on stage. It reminds me of the jazz bands that were prevalent during the Roaring Twenties. This time period in general was the beginning stage of jazz as a music genre in general. In terms of the characters, the music was usually a form of dialogue for each of the characters. For example, every solo piece Sally Bowles sang expressed her desires, emotions, and plan of action at the moment. Her first piece showed us her life at the club and how she ended up having the career she does.

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Life is a “Cabaret”

Cabaret is a really popular Broadway musical, based on 1951 John Van Druten’s play I Am a Camera. To celebrate Krannert Center’s 50-year partnership with the school of music, school faculty and students bring their talent and expertise to this ironic work, Cabaret, on March 6, Tryon Festival Theatre.

Written By Bingchen Li

Music in the show

The timeline background for Cabaret is from 1929-1930, the time Nazi still not powered German. A young American novelist, Cliff, traveled to German and try to look for something to write. Before he moved to German, the host for Kit Kat Club performed a “welcome song”, which is composed of three languages, French, German, and English. The host said, “In here, life is beautiful, girls are beautiful, even the orchestra is beautiful… we have no troubles here… leave the trouble outside…” it implied that before world war II, Berlin was still peaceful, and it was an international metropolis that lots of people from other countries come and go. Also, it set a very important background for the Kit Kat Club, it is an indecent but popular cabaret.

Warm-up rehearsal before the performance
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The Tale of Cabaret

The cast of the play Cabaret set out to deliver a wonderfully unique performance filled with spinning set pieces and music that only enhanced the performance.

Written by Willa Wu

The play Cabaret is set in Berlin, Germany, from 1929 to 1930.  Initially, I was a bit surprised at the choice in the time period.  After all, this was before Hitler’s rise, and after the financial crash of 1929.  However, the director’s note in the program provided insight on the choice; the “in-between” space, as Latrelle Bright, the director calls it, is “a space where one can almost imagine maybe, it could have gone another way.”  The play, although set during a time where the Nazis held some power, focused rather on the love triangle that was created. 

The night’s ticket stub and the entrance of the Tryon Festival Theatre.
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*MAKEUP* Gates Of Heaven

Michael Barenboin and the West Eastern Divan Ensemble: A two-hour performance that sounds like you’re coming home.

Written by Jackie Dominguez De Paz

            There is quote by Ryunosuke Satoro that says, “Individually, we are one drop. Together, we are an ocean”. I believe this quote perfectly describes The Western Divan Ensemble orchestra led by Michael Barenboin. There is no doubt that every player within the orchestra is unbelievably talented, however when they come together, it sounds like what I would imagine the gates of heaven opening to sound like.

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The Spirit Survives: storytelling from Winter Tales Program (make-up)

On February 22nd, the event “The Winter Tales Program: The Spirit Survives” was held at the A. R. Knight Auditorium of the Spurlock Museum. The Winter Tales Program is a series of events honoring the culture and practices of the Native Americans.

Written by: Yushan Guo

The stage before Dovie Thomason started her storytelling
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The Voices of Anna Deavere Smith and Julia Wolfe (Make-up)

Anna Deveare Smith and Julia Wolfe spoke at the CultureTalk at Krannert Center for Performing Arts on Wednesday, February 19th. Anna is an accomplished playwright and actress and Julia is a renown composer. Both are also well-known educators in the artist community.

Written by Weon Taek Na

My ticket to the CultureTalk with Deavere and Wolfe
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CultureTalk with Anna Deveare Smith and Julia Wolfe

Written by Zeying Lang

As an actress, playwright, and professor, Anna Deveare Smith, cares about the issues of how contemporary art confronts the crises that are emerging in the current world. This time, she brought her good friend, Julia Wolfe, a reputed musician and composer, to give this fantastic Culture Talk with the opportunities to communicate with the audience. Together, they talked about how art can be involved in dealing with the world crisis, and what possible changes that art could bring to the world.

Retrieved from https://krannertcenter.com/events/culturetalk-anna-deavere-smith-and-julia-wolfe-artists-voice-times-crisis
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A Unique For of Social Justice: Anna Deavere Smith

Anna Deavere Smith is a major figure in the theatre and social justice world. On February 18, 2020, she performed at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts in the Colwell Playhouse. This is the most unique form of social justice advocation I have ever experienced.

By Elena Grantcharski

The basis of Anna Deavere Smith’s performance was journalism. She would interview these people, pick out the ones that spoke the most and create them into one woman shows and full fledged plays. Her one woman performance was unique and a showcase of true talent because she had no costume, no props, and no stage decorations at all. She was wearing all black and the only tool she used was her voice. She showed the true power of using your voice. However, something important that she emphasized was that she was not giving these people a voice, these people already had strong and beautiful voices, she was just popularizing their stories to a wider audience. She would preface every character with a short introduction and then word for word use her voice to speak as if she were them. It took voice imitation to a whole other level, using it not just as entertainment but also as social justice and education.

Ticket stub for Anna Deavere Smith’s Tuesday night performance at the Colwell Playhouse.
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Anna Deavere Smith; Portraying American Identities

On Tuesday, February 18, 2020 at 7:30 pm Anna Deavere Smith performed Snapshots: Portraits of a World in Transition. Her performance consisted of acting out several of her interviews with people around America, bringing her interviews to life.

By: Daniel Plata

Waiting for the performance to start
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Anna Deavere Smith’s Stories from the States

Tyler Tubbs


Anna Deavere Smith, known chiefly for her unique solo act in which she reenacts interviews that she’s collected from all across the U.S., travelled to the Krannert to share her stories on “Getting Through the Day.” Her act requires nothing but her notes and a microphone, so the stage was set rather simply.

Anna’s compilations of stories guide the performance toward a central theme or idea. In her performance at the Krannert, she used interviews with countless individuals on their various ideals of getting through the day. Between personas, Anna often took time to pause and preface the next interview. Another way to distinguish portions of the show is to pay attention to the expert voice inflections and impersonations.

This incredibly unique performance distinguished itself from traditional documentaries by being a rather interactive show. Anna opened for the audience to participate on multiple occasions, once to allow for the chorus to “Amazing Grace” to ring through the entire auditorium. At the end of the show, she requested that the lights in the audience be turned on as she began a Q and A session right in the theater. This unique level of interaction and mode of storytelling puts all of Smith’s shows in a novel category of performances.

Thank you for returning to blog! I can’t wait to add another to the stack following the march 6th performance of Cabaret, so I hope you find your way back once more!

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New Kind of Storyteller, Anna Deavere Smith

Anna Deavere Smith, revered as a genius who created ‘a new form of theater’ held a performance at the Colwell Playhouse in Krannert Center on Tuesday, February 18.

By Aejin Shin

People waiting before the show began

Anna Deavere Smith. Who is she? According to her program profile, she is an actor, playwright, and educator. These days, thanks to the FAA110 class, I am watching many performances at the krannert center. Some of them I was able to understand the content by seeing the title of the show (like Shanghai Ballet and Drumfolk), but others were impossible to grasp until I saw the show, like Somi. This performance is in the latter case. Until I entered the concert hall, I had no idea what kind of show I was going to see today. Nor did I know if she was a singer, comedian, or even an actor, because I had no background knowledge of her. However, it took only five minutes to fall into her charms.

The appearance of the stage before the show began

This was definitely a new kind of show. There were no fancy stage settings or costumes for the performance, nor were there any other performers. However, she had the ability to dominate the stage by herself. She interviewed others, then recorded their voices and changed the recordings into a performance.

Tickets and pamphlets

Anna Deavere Smith’s performance made her show very special. It was completely different from news stories, documentaries, and dramas that tell only objective truths. She delivered to the audience what she wanted to convey through her acting. Her performance was quite different from any other performances that I’ve seen at the Krannert Center. Her performance was neither news, nor drama, nor stand-up comedy, but humorously allowed people to know the exact truth. She tries to express Americans’ diverse opinions on various social issues. She has already interviewed more than 2,000 people so far. Smith acts out a variety of people by making variations in her voice. She describes people with gestures as well as her voice.

A portrait of Anna Deavere Smith

She also communicated with the audience through questions and answers after the performance. I didn’t fully understand the stories, but I thought it was wonderful to have a moment like this. She could use the audience’s questions as more material for her next performance.

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One Mic, Many Voices

By Veronica Y. Gonzalez
Event Program
Stage before the performance began.
Sign before entering the theater

On February 18, 2020 I had the pleasure of seeing Anna Deavere Smith perform at The Krannert Center for the Performing Arts. This performance was unique because it wasn’t quite standup comedy but it wasn’t quite a play either. It was a mix of both. She incorporated telling her story and doing impressions of people she interviewed into her performance. I could tell when she was doing a new person because she would try and imitate their voice and their mannerisms. I liked how she didn’t use different costumes or different settings because it made us focus on her talents. We were able to use our imagination to try to envision the people she interviewed. There was one person onstage but we heard the stories and voices of many people.

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Getting Through The “Not So Typical” Day

Anna Deavere Smith performed on February 18, 2020 at the Colwell Playhouse in the Krannert Center for Performing Arts. With her, she brought an interesting form of story-telling and impersonations in a bit she called “Forms of Protests”–also know as, “Getting Through the Day”.

Written by Zackarya Faci

Smith’s performance consisted of a myriad of interviews from people across America. She would take the interviews she conducted and interpret them in a way she could present to the audience. Each story came with an impersonation of the interviewee–which helped sell the emotions the individuals were feeling at the time. Smith would use different voices, interjections, and stutter; all these aspects made it feel as though we, the audience, were conducting the interview and Smith was replying to us.

The ticket stub and program as the audience waits for Smith to take the stage.
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Q&A with Anna Deavere Smith and Julia Wolfe (Make-Up)

Anna Deavere Smith is a playwright, actor, and educator while Julia Wolfe is a composer and educator. Both came out tonight to speak at our CultureTalk about the challenges of our time.

By Moises Sedano

CultureTalk, here at UIUC, is a Q&A event which fosters awareness and understanding of the relationships between the arts and society.

The set up for the CultureTalk Q&A session.
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A story night with Anna Deavere Smith

Anna Deavere Smith, an educator, an actress, and a storyteller, gave a unique performance on Feb. 18th, 2020 at the Krannert Centre for the Performing Arts. This is a new and creative form of theatre, by performing portrayals of people she has listened to and interviewed, demonstrated what she calls the “complex identities of America”.

By Jiaxuan Meng

Profile of Anna Deavere Smith
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Impressions by Anna Deavere Smith

Anna Deavere Smith takes her audience on a journey through her colorful impressions of interviews that show how different individuals are “getting through the day.”

Event: https://krannertcenter.com/events/anna-deavere-smith

Her very plain stage,
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The real listener of the Americans– Anna Deavere Smith

Famous playwright, actor, and educator, Anna Deavere Smith, brought her performance to Colwell Playhouse at Krannert Center on Tuesday, February 18. She was praised for creating ” a new form of theatre– a blend of art, social commentary, and journalism.”

Written by Bingchen Li

If you ask me, what is the last show I will watch before I die, I will definitely answer Anna Deavere Smith’s performance. During her performance, she does not have fancy costumes, props, and other performers, what she uses for the performance, is her voice. She interviewed different people first, and then recorded them and turned the conversations into performance, by herself. It is amazing that she can imitate those people perfectly that you can clearly know the emotional condition of the character, the age of the character, and the views from the characters.

No fancy props and stage setting in her performance
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Getting Through the Day with Anna Deveare Smith

Anna uses her impersonation skills to deliver the unique stories of others struggling to make sense of life.
-By Daniel Holley

The stage is set for the one woman show as the audience finds their seats.

Anna brought a unique performance to the Krannert Center as she entertained the crowd not with song or dance, but rather her incredible ability to tell the stories of others. With years worth of interviews from a diverse group of people recorded, she was able to present these characters to the audience as parts of a greater story. Today’s theme of “getting through the day” was showcased with a carefully crafted blend of humor and intensity as Anna impersonated a few of her interviewees. She retold their stories of challenges large and small while imitating their accents and mannerisms, ensuring the audience felt the emotions as much as they heard the words.

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Comedian and Storyteller: Anna Deavere Smith

Anna Deavere Smith held a story telling event that lasted approximately an hour followed by questions from the audience who were intrigued with her work. In her performance she was able to express themes that involve issues in America. This event was held on Tuesday February 18th, 2020 in the Colwell Playhouse at the Krannert Art Center.

Written by: Lydia Amezcua Ramirez

A picture of the author/story teller, Anna Deavere Smith

Creative Expression

Anna Deavere Smith’s theater performance was unique in the way that she took interviews to perform real people. By this I mean that she had taken the time to sit down with people, have them share the story they wanted to convey to her, took their story, and performed it in a way that brought laughter to the audience yet still conveyed a specific theme. At the beginning of each new theme she told the audience what the title of each story that she would present would be. This is how I could tell that she presented a new person, based on the different titles. Also, at the end of each story she would say thank you and the audience would clap.

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Another thing to note about her performance was that she was dressed in a simplistic manner and the set was also set up that way. This is important because she was still able to indicate character without any extra garments to wear. All she needed to present her characters were her use of voice and body gestures. For each new theme she presented she would use a different type of voice to depict that character. As for body gestures, she would also keep it simple and use body movements that indicated the character she was in.

A picture of the stage, showing how simplistic the set up was
This picture depicts the simplicity of the wardrobe worn by Anna Deavere Smith

Stories Told

In her performance, Anna D. Smith was able to represent different aspects of the American past through interview in the way that she selected her themes. The people that she interviewed had a specific theme to share which she wanted to convey surroudning issues of community, character, and diversity in America from the past. For example, she had portrayed a character of a reverend during the civil rights movement. Her themes relate to the present due to the issues that occurred back then in which can still be seen today but less problematic as they were back then.

The way that this performance is different from the news or documentary films is that those are matters of factual detail and given events with names and dates. In Anna Smith’s performance she used theater to convey her characters through acting without giving away the names of the persons she interviewed for the stories. This was a creative performance on her part, especially when she was able to have the audience constantly laughing.

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Somi: A Refreshing Story told through Jazz

On Valentine’s Day, Somi sung songs from her previous albums at the Krannert Center.

Written by Weon Taek Na

My ticket and description book to Somi
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Stories of Many Through One: Anna Deavere Smith

Ms. Anna Deavere Smith visited the Krannert Center of Performing Arts with an hour-long show delving into discussions about social issues through the perspective of people on the front lines in a style I describe as a mix between theatre and Ted talk.

Written by Grace Chen

Anna Deavere Smith
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Forms of Protest with Anna Deavere Smith

Anna Deavere Smith, a one woman show who comes from Baltimore, Maryland, interviews countless individuals and forms portraits of certain powerful excerpts that can be recreated by her to form strong impressions on controversial topics.

Written by Willa Wu

Anna Deavere Smith performed in the Colwell Playhouse of the Krannert Center for Performing Arts on February 19, 2020.  Out of the performances I have seen thus far this semester, this one was by far the most surprising.

The night’s ticket stub and program, which detailed the actress’s accomplishments.
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[MAKE UP EVENT] The Beauty of Cello: Young Concert Artists Winner, Jonathan Swensen

The new star of the cello world, Johnathan Swensen performs in part with the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts’ Marquee Sunday Salon Series for Emerging Artistry in the Foellinger Great Hall on February 16, 2020. 

By Elena Grantcharski

Johnathan Swensen is a Danish-American classical cellist. He is an emerging performer in the classical world and this performance was a testament to that. The first thing that I would like to point out about this performance was that it was in a “salon style.”  When I saw it described as such on the website, I was honestly a little confused as to what that means. I’ve been inside Foellinger Great Hall, but I’ve never heard of a performance that was in this salon style. Unfortunately, I had a discounted balcony seat but salon style puts the audience on stage with the performer. The entire stage is filled with chairs, leaving a small section for the performance. There are also refreshments such as wine and coffee offered. I found this super interesting but it made sense to me knowing a bit about the classical music world. It felt like a very “high class” or elitist event but I don’t mean to say that in a bad way. I love classical music, and I loved this concert.

The salon set up at Foellinger Great Hall includes a table that offers refreshments such as wine or coffee.
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The Heavenly Strings

The heavenly strings that pulled my heart so perfectly and unexpectedly.

Written by Jackie Dominguez De Paz

            In a world where everyone is in a hurry, it feels like one never gets the time to close their eyes, stop for a while and think. To think about everything that life has thrown at us but we have never taken the time to fully understand. A one hour cello performance by Jonathan Swensen allowed me to reflect on my thoughts that have been suppressed for so long.

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An Emotional Musical Performance by Somi

Laura Kabasomi, or Somi, speaks and sings from the heart as she entertains the audience with stories and music inspired by her African heritage.
-By Daniel Holley

The stage is set as the audience files in for the show.

This performance was as much about music as it was about a story. Between musical performances with her talented ensemble, Somi spoke to the audience about what inspires her to write and sing. As a child of African immigrants, clashing cultures and racial tension has always been a challenge for her. However, she finds strength in her heritage, and uses it to connect in similar situations. As a current resident of Harlem, New York, the largely African community helps her establish confidence in her identity, and this confidence is apparent in her powerful vocals.

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Somi : the best jazz performance I’ve ever watched

On the evening of Valentine’s Day on February 14, Somi’s performance was held at Colwell Playhouse in Krannert center.

By Aejin Shin

concert tickets

Somi, the daughter of immigrants from Rwanda and Uganda, was born in Illinois, where the show was performed. She is a very famous vocalist and composer. Her songs have very special theme – the stories of African immigrants in New York’s Harlem.

She told a story before performing. This was a very effective way to get the audience engaged. Also, these introductions and backgrounds also took place in between songs. When perfoming, it felt like she was directly communicating with me. She also naturally included the audience in her performance.

setting of the stage before the performance begins

Somi’s performance consisted of Somi and her band. They showed great chemistry. The band made her song more exciting. Different types of musical instruments were used, and the techniques of the performers were different song by song.

Somi introduced musicians from her team during the performance. The thing I was impressed with was that Somi showed a very deep respect to her band. In fact, this kind of performance is usually performed mainly by vocalists. But Somi shared the spotlight with her band members resulting in most musicians getting a chance to play solo. They looked like true friends, not just partners.

Standing ovation after the performance

She sang various kinds of songs. The day of the concert was Valentine’s Day, and there were songs about oppressions, Harlem, and so on, including a love song centered around Valentine’s Day. She sometimes screamed and sometimes sang in a sweet voice. She led the performance skillfully. I admired her professionalism. Due to my native language not being English, sometimes I couldn’t fully understand her message. However, her music clearly contained a message easy to follow. Even if I couldn’t fully understand the lyrics, her performance helped fill the gaps.

If you’re more curious about Somi and her performance, you can visit Somi’s site for more information.

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Somi: The Refashioning Jazz With A Homecoming Night

Written by Zeying Lang

Somi. (https://krannertcenter.com/events/somi)

This is a homecoming performance. As the music plays, memories flowing by. Born in Champaign, Illinois, the outstanding artist Somi is the first generation of immigrants from Uganda and Rwanda. Tonight, at her home town, with the fantastic jazz band, she tells her stories in her music about growing up as a descendant with African heritage.

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Somi: Being Present & Bringing Cultures Together

Somi, an Urbana-Champaign native, performed in the Colwell Playhouse at KCPA on February 14, 2020. Her jazz performance sent a prominent message about being present and told a story of the diverse, culture-rich Harlem.

Written By Zackarya Faci

From the moment Somi stepped on stage there was nothing but positive vibes in the air. She prefaced the performance with a little background about herself; she would even ask the audience questions and build off that engagement. One could easily tell she was being genuine and sincere as her bright smile and cheerful laugh filled the performance hall. Somi is of Ugandan and Rwandan decent and grew up in Champaign, but she has since moved to New York. The songs she performed were from her latest album “Petite Afrique” (meaning little Africa in French), which pertains to the microcosm that is Harlem.

Somi receiving a well deserved standing ovation
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Somi: A Jazzy Journey

By Jacob Rominger

Somi. a local of Champaign-Urbana, gives a world class performance at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts.

Event: https://krannertcenter.com/events/somi

The stage which the band performed upon. Notice there are no brass instruments in this Jazz band
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Local Talent: Somi Emitting Power and Love

By Veronica Y. Gonzalez
Statue outside the Colwell Playhouse
Stage before performance began
Event Program

For Valentine’s Day, I had the pleasure of attending Somi’s performance at The Krannert Center for Performing Arts. Prior to this event, all I knew was that Somi was a jazz artist from Champaign-Urbana. I had never attended a Jazz performance so I had no idea what to expect. Her performance was breathtaking. She set a really high standard for the future Jazz performances I will see. Her voice and storytelling were beautiful and the musicians accompanying her were extremely talented. It was also exciting to hear her sing in French because I don’t get to practice my French very often.

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Somi:“the voice kissed by the God”

Somi, a vocalist and songwriter, brought a brilliant jazz performance with her band on Friday,
February 14, 2020, at Colwell Playhouse, Krannert Center.

Written by Bingchen Li

At this romantic Friday, Somi and her band brought a brilliant jazz performance to the Colwell Playhouse. On this special day, we can witness lots of young and elder couples watched this show with a loved one, what a meaningful date!

Somi was born in Champaign, Illinois, and her latest album Petite Afrique won the 2018 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Jazz Album. She is an amazing story-teller and she combines African music element to the jazz that you can hear the calling sound from an African tribe and

Somi and her amazing band
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Somi: a crush on jazz on a Valentine’s Day

The set before the performance began

On Valentine’s Day of 2020, the jazz band Somi delivered an amazing performance at the Colwell Playhouse of the Krannert Center of the Performing Arts. Her beautiful voice, the amazing improvisation of different instruments, their collaboration, as well as the ideals of inclusiveness deeply ingrained in their music, made the audiences truly fall in love with the performance and the band.

Written by: Yushan Guo

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Somi: A Captivating Voice

On Friday February 14th, 2020 in the Colwell Playhouse at Krannert Art Center for the Performing Arts a performance entitled “SOMI” ,named after the singer, was executed beautifully. Somi and the rest of her band performed a variety of music which captivated the audience through Somi’s use of traditional jazz along with African elements.

Written by: Lydia Amezcua Ramirez

Before the performance began, the instruments were set up for the musicians

A Night to Remember

Many would spend a valentines day out with friends, partners, or just stay in. This valentines I was in for a treat given that I went to go see “SOMI” at 7:30 pm that valentines day. At the beginning of the performance the musicians came in first and began tuning their instruments. The band behind Somi consisted of drums, piano, guitar, cello, violin, viola, and bass. Once they were set up, Somi came in, in a bright red dress that really brought out the color behind such a festive day.

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Somi’s Music

Somi introduced herself and the reason behind her song selections for that night. By doing this, she was engaging with the audience every now and then to let them know the purpose of her song selections. Usually, each genre of the songs she sang had a certain meaning to it and one could feel that through her voice along with the background of the music. For example, she sang love songs in dedication to valentines day which evoked a feeling of love. Other types of songs she sang consisted of melancholy and upbeat moods.

Furthermore, throughout the songs she would interact with the musicians by gesturing at them so that the audience would give them a round of applause whenever they got the chance to perform a solo in the songs. Not only this, but she individually pronounced their names at the end of the performance so that they would all get recognition. I found this really sweet on her part because when I think of the performance I would imagine that she is the star of the show. When she acknowledged the other musicians I thought that showed a grand characteristic on her part.

Somi and some of the musicians from that night playing behind her

Given that Somi’s performance was on valentines day, my favorite song from that night had to be the one that she dedicated to the holiday. I really enjoyed this song because of the mood that she evoked through her singing and because love is in the air around this time of the month which made me fall in love with that song. As for my favorite moment of the night, I really enjoyed when Somi transitioned from singing the slow songs to upbeat songs which really showed me the diversity in her singing ranges, which were truly outstanding.

A standing ovation was given from everyone in the audience

The Stage was left just like it was at the very beginning of the performance, all the instruments and chairs in place. At the very end of the performance, the audience stood up for a standing ovation to “SOMI”. The way they stood up was pretty neat, it was like a wave since the people in the front got up first and then everyone followed after that. After a few minutes of clapping, Somi came back and performed one last song as an encore.

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Somi; A story of culture and identity told through music

On Friday, February 14, 2020, at 7:30 pm “Somi” was performed at the Colwell Playhouse. The performance consisted of several songs played a a band and lead singer, Somi. Each song was centered around a theme pertaining to Somi’s life growing up.

By: Daniel Plata

Pamphlet and playhouse before performance starts
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A Voice Grown in Champaign: Somi

Somi, a Champaign native, came back to wow the crowd with her amazing and talented voice!

By Moises Sedano

Somi is an acclaimed singer and songwriter with award-winning albums under her accolades. She came to town to perform songs off these albums.

The stage before Somi and her band came on.
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Somi’s Jazz: telling her story

By Jiaxuan Meng

“African grooves, supple jazz singing, and compassionate social consciousness; she is both serious and seductive. ” – The New York Times

Somi , an American singer, and songwriter.

Somi, an American Jazz singer who was born in Champaign, IL, gave her appealing performance on Feb.14th 2020 at Krannert Center for Performing Arts. She has built a career of transatlantic sonics and storytelling. Her album, telling her story of being an African immigrant family won a 2018 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Jazz Album. She has been recognized as “the quintessential artist citizen of the world”.

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Somi introduces other musicians on her team.

Somi: How Music As An Art Can Be A Strong Form Of Activism

Though activism in the traditional sense can involve rallies, protests, and other forms of civil disobedience, Somi showed us through her performance that music can also be a strong force in telling stories aimed at making a difference.

The Event as a Performance

What stood out to me was the fact that Somi sang her first song before introducing herself. Having been to a couple of concerts in the past, I thought this was an interesting storytelling mechanism. By doing this, she intrigued me: her music was interesting but who was she? Though this practice wouldn’t count as direct engagement, it certainly made me more curious as a member of the audience.

I would describe her performance as a collection of culturally-influenced songs that shed light on the injustices that happen around the world. But more generally, I would say her performance was means of connecting more deeply with her audience in the discussion of those injustices.

To form this connection, Somi touches on common touchpoints with the audience (including talking about her early life living in Urbana-Champaign). Additionally, her mention of social issues that we all are aware of (e.g. race relations as it relates to immigrant families or Harlem’s contribution to African-American culture) further reinforces the connection.

Her support staff of musicians adds additional diversity to the performance, which allows us to see various perspectives from the different instruments at play.

Engaging With the Other Musicians

Somi clearly has a great relationship with the other musicians, as she has an amazing rapport with everyone and introduces them several times, thanks them for being present, and gives almost everyone an opportunity to play a solo.

Somi introduces other musicians on her team.
Somi introduces other musicians on her team.

In doing so, Somi is walking the talk as it relates to diversity (racially and instrumentally) and makes the audience feel like she, as an artist, is just as inclusive as her music is.

The Songs — and Deeper Meanings

Though you could generally classify her music to be jazz, primarily on the slower side, the performance was pretty diverse from a melodic standpoint. Some songs excluded certain instruments while others had those same instruments play significant roles in the song.

But more importantly, every song told a story. Whether it was Somi acknowledging Harlem’s role in shaping African-American culture or dedicating a song to her mother, Somi’s music allowed us to get a deeper look at who she really was.

Additional to that feature of her music is her apparent ambition to drive social change. For instance, her song “Two Dollar Day” gave us a glimpse into the relationships between people and their governments — and just how fragile humanity really is in the wake of financial hardship.

So, most fundamentally, her music speaks about the human condition: we’re all different in some ways but we’re also similar in more ways — and have many relatable experiences — that we initially think about.

What Struck Me

I think what struck me most was how engaged the audience was. Of course, jazz isn’t everyone’s go-to genre, but the audience seemed to be intrigued by the stories that Somi told so much so that it considered music as simply the medium to get those stories across.

It’s the first time I’ve thought about music as a tool for storytelling and I think it was a good experience to listen to Somi prove that thesis.

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Somi: A Blend of Beats and Activism

By Tyler Tubbs


Laura Kabasomi Kakoma, better known as Somi, provides a striking combination of art and activism in her own brand of slinky, story-telling jazz that incorporates traditional African elements.

Somi’s eight band members prepare for the show by tuning their instruments onstage.

Somi interacted with each of her band members individually in the form of either a solo performance for the member or a duet between the two. Her frequent interactions with the band gave the performance an informal tone, open for a conversation between the artists and the audience. While the audience’s participation in this conversation was mostly metaphorical, Somi seized the opportunity to speak about herself, her beliefs, and issues facing the African and African-American community both conversationally and lyrically.

Somi and her drummer perform an encore duet.

Somi performed a style of slower, story-telling jazz infused with traditional African nuances. In just one show, Somi was able to use her music to describe many issues facing African-Americans and women around the world. The story-telling element of her music allows her to capture the essence of the common person’s struggle and emotion. This connection elicits similar emotional responses in the audience, empathizing with those who share the strife portrayed in the music while simultaneously providing a lens of understanding for those who may never experience such confrontation.

A well-deserved standing ovation following Somi’s performance

Following Somi’s performance, the auditorium erupted in praise. After such a powerful performance, one can not help but to try to relive their favorite moment of it. For me, that moment was her song “Two Dollar Day” which follows the story of a widowed mother in Nigeria after the government protests over oil. This was such a tremendously powerful song because it reminded me of the struggle that single parents all around the world and in the U.S. face on a daily basis. “Two Dollar Day” is a beautiful tribute the countless sacrifices that single parents make.

Thanks for reading! Check back next week for a fresh blog on the performance of Anna Deavere Smith!

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The Cohesive Performance of Somi

Somi, a jazz musician who was born and raised right here in Champaign, IL, set out to change the definition of what jazz and African music entailed, frequently combining the two.

Written by Willa Wu

Somi performed her music in the Colwell Playhouse of the Krannert Center for Performing Arts on February 14, 2020.  The singer and her group of talented musicians, who have won countless awards, delivered an awe inspiring performance, where each individual in the band had their own time to shine.

The line of people waiting to enter the Colwell Playhouse after scanning in.
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Step Africa! Rhythmical History of Resistance

By Aejin Shin.

I watched an African-American drumfolk performance ‘Step Africa!’ on February 7, 2020 at the Colwell Playhouse. Actually, I knew little about American history before watching this performance. I was born and educated in Korea and just a month has passed since I came to America. So, I just expected that this drumfolk performance would be a fun and interesting one.

People waiting for the beginning of the performance

However, the performance was quite different from what I had expected. Yes, the rhythm at the beginning was exciting and several performers danced like one body. Colorful choreography caught my eyes. They danced and sang to the beat, which made me feel like dancing and singing together in between. But the deep sense of struggle hidden in their jubilant rhythm was something I had not expected. I came back home and studied more about American history. Here’s what I’ve found.

Before starting the show

History behind ‘Step Africa!’

On September 1739, the largest slave revolt in U.S. history took place near the Stono River. The slaves left no clues as to why or how they revolted. The message of the rebellion is told only by  white men who subdued the slaves. However, you can also find interesting features on that record. The drumbeat played a very central role in the revolt. Plantation farm owners were afraid of the drumbeat even after the riot was quelled. So, they made a bill that would ban slaves from using drums in 1740. But the slaves did not give in to them. They made rhythms by using their bodies and continued the African spirit in their own way. My country, Korea, also has a tragic history of being forcibly occupied by Japan. Many were brutally sacrificed, but my forefathers sublimated their suffering to satire and humor in order not to lose the soul of the nation. Because we share a similar history, I could sympathize with the stories in the performance.

Explanations about the founders of the Colwell Playhouse

Impressive Points of the Performance

The performance recounted the events of 1739. The performers used their hands and feet to create rhythms and sang in loud voices. The most impressive thing was that they communicated with the audience and made it a part of the performance. They skillfully elicited a favorable response, and the audience was willing to be part of the performance. I’m not sure if they intended this point, but this seemed to overlap with the images of black slaves who joined the rebels through the drumming in 1739. Also, the most important significance of the performance is that it revealed the history of the U.S that has been overshadowed. We have not learned about many people who fought bravely against injustice. The performance reminds us of many people who fought for a free America in a smart way – through fun, exciting rhythms. I strongly recommend going to this concert!

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Step Afrika! Performs: Drumfolk

The cast of Step Afrika! delivered a powerful performance that made the audience feel the highs and lows of black history in America. Their bodies were the instruments as they sang, stomped, clapped, flipped, and danced their way into our hearts.
-By Daniel Holley

The cast wraps up their performance to a standing ovation.
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Step Africa! : Drumfolk, a fine art portraying Resilience, and Reclamation

February 7, 2020 was a perfect Friday night at the Colwell Playhouse in Kranner Center for Performing Arts. A spectacular performance entitled “ Step Afrika ! : Drumfolk” shared the story that took place when South Carolina passed The Negro Act of 1740.

Written by Weon Taek Na

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Resistance, Freedom, and Community

By Veronica Y. Gonzalez
Stage before show starts
Event Program
Ticket and crowded theater

I attended Step Afrika! on February 7, 2020 at The Krannert Center for the Performing Arts. The performance definitely built a strong sense of community. There were many parts where they danced in unison perfectly. They were all doing the exact same movement at the same exact time. It was unbelievable. I believe moving in ripples is a stronger sense of unity than moving in unison. Knowing when the person before you is going and then moving at the right time is such a hard thing to do. Especially when there are like 7 people ahead of you and you have to know exactly when each of them moves. It was like their minds were connected and they were communicating with each other the whole time.

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A Standing Ovation to “Drumfolk”

On February 7, 2020 at 7:30pm, the Colwell Playhouse in the Kranner Center for the Performing Arts Presented a spectacular performance entitled “ Step Afrika ! : Drumfolk”. This performance brought about expression through body movements, stepping to be more specific, when drums were taken away from African Americans through a legislative law in America in 1740.

Written by Lydia Amezcua-Ramirez

A few minutes before the performance began, I noticed that my ticket matched the seats and thought “wow this would be a cool shot” along with the ominous background of a single spotlight.

History of the Drum

For African Americans, the drum symbolized community, resilience, and determination throughout history in America. When that instrument of theirs was banned, they decided to use their bodies as a means to produce another form of music to express their messages. In the performance, the dancers would chant “they took away our drums..but they could not stop the beat”, and would use their body movements to illustrate that. This showed the idea of freedom and resistance as soon as they began to chant that and continued to express themselves in other ways possible.

Dance as an instrument

The dancers would conduct movements with their bodies using heavy stepping, tapping, clapping, and more which brought the message across that they would not be defeated, showing defiance against the legislation and their determination to continue creating rhythm. The dances that were performed were strongly executed which to me proved the confidence that all dancers should have to deliver their performance well.

The Dancers using stepping as strong indicators of rhythmical music.

As shown in the picture above, the dancers use exaggerated arm and leg movements to showcase the severity and the magnitude of their message through dance. The dancers worked together to bring across a strong performance in each act, staying on cue with one another in terms of body movement and facial expression. This is an example of the dancers using their bodies as instruments because they were making sounds using different parts of their bodies.

A standing ovation from everyone in the audience. What a great feeling it must have been for the performers!

At the very end of the performance a sense of community was shown throughout the audience. Everyone from the audience gradually stood up to give the performers the standing ovation that they truly deserved for their amazing performance. Not only this, but throughout the performance the performers would ask one side of the audience to clap along with their hands and the other side of the audience would be asked to clap too, but in a distinct rhythm. A standing ovation from everyone was well deserved to the performers who claimed it was only their third time performing. This was a performance that everyone must see if they get the chance to because I know I got chills since the very beginning of it.

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Step Africa! : Drumfolk, a Story About Freedom.

written by Zeying Lang

Flashing back to the story happened in 1739, and following the fantastic dance crew to unveil the history behind contemporary African culture. To experience, to touch, their bravery, and the hereditary beats…

Step Africa!: Drumfolk. https://krannertcenter.com/events/step-afrika-drumfolk
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“Clap, snap, and stamp”– the pounding of the Drumfolk

Drumfolk is a highly impressive performance that brought by Step Afrika, the world’s first professional company dedicated to the tradition of steeping. Performers will use their own bodies as an instrument to create their own beat. The Drumfolk was performed on February 6th at Colwell Playhouse

Written by Bingchen Li

Bodies as instruments

Drumfolk brought the spirit and energy to everyone in the show. The reason why performers use their own bodies as an instrument is because of the banning of the drum in 1740. We all know that we have a really dark and grieved history back to that uncivilized time. African Americans cannot use drums because of discrimination. However, as Dr. David said “They took the drums away… but they could not stop the beat.” Even they physically could not play the drum, but they could steeping!

Fabulous stage setting before the performance started
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Step Afrika! Stepping Into Resistance, Resilience, and Reclamation

What a perfect Friday night for a history major with a concentration in African American studies. Drumfolk shares the story that takes us back to when South Carolina passed The Negro Act of 1740 which would change the life of African Americans forever. The Negro Act prohibited slaves from reading, moving freely, gathering in groups, growing their own food, and even having their own instruments. However, Drumfolk showed the audience that they can take away the drums but they cannot stop the beat.

Before the performance that would that would showcase resistance, resilience, and reclamation.
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Revitalizing Black Movements in History: “Drumfolk”

The performers of Step Afrika! gave an unforgettable performance that allowed the audience to reflect on the history of America through the cultural significance of the beat.

Written by Grace Chen

An excited audience waiting for the performance to begin.

Step Afrika performed their new show Drumfolk on Friday, February 7th at the Colwell Playhouse in the Krannert Center of Performing Arts. The performers captured the attention of the audience with its exciting beats and eye-catching dance moves. They also told the history of black Americans and the fight for their rights.

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The Fight for Musical Freedom

The performance of Step Afrika!’s show, Drumfolk, blew the audience away with their dancing, vocals, and story-telling!

By Moises Sedano

Drumfolk is about resistance and fighting for what’s right. In this case, Africans lost their right to use drums so to fight back, they made music with their bodies.

My ticket to the show!
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Keeping the Beat Alive with Step Afrika!

Drumfolk: The second work by Step Afrika! that chronicles and celebrates the African-American experience in early America. With extensive research and years of percussive practice, Drumfolk explores historical events and the use of the drum as an instrument of community, resilience, and determination.

The performance occurred on a cold, snowy night. A sharp contrast from the intense performance of Step Afrika!.

Written by Zackarya Faci

Drumfolk, by Step Afrika!, was performed in the Colwell Playhouse at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts on February 7th, 2020. It was a tense performance as they told a story of oppression and perseverance. Using their voice, bodies, drums, and dance, they were able to recreate the emotions felt by many Africans in the 1740s. It was around this time that their freedom and culture was being restricted as a result of the actions of the Stono Rebellion. As seen in the performance, many Africans would not be easily suppressed and fought back against the new restrictions.

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Step Afrika! Can’t stop the beat!

By Jiaxuan Meng

On Feb 7th, 2020, “Step Afrika!”, a signature African-American drum performance was performed at the Colwell Playhouse (Krannert Center for Performing Arts); and it amazed the audiences with its special art forms, including the tap dance and stepping.

It was an amazing performance! With the strong passion, high-energy, and creativity of performers, audiences had an incredibly amazing experience. They invited audiences to fully enjoy and participate in the performance through a devised process with the cast and great interaction.

Harlem, featuring Mwenso and the Shakes.
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Step-Afrika! and How We Are The Drumfolk

By Jacob M. Rominger

In a moving homage and celebration of the African-American story in the United States, Step Afrika!: Drumfolk, connects the modern practices of beatboxing and hip hop to the Stono slave revolt and the related importance of drum beats to the culture of those persons who, once held in bondage, risked everything for a chance at freedom and justice.

A children’s program ahead of the stage.
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The Power of Movement: The Body as an Instrument Against Oppression

The production of Drumfolk was performed by the professional organization Step Afrika! at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts in the Colwell Playhouse on February 7th, 2020. Drumfolk is a stepping performance that highlights the battles of Africans throughout American history. 

By Elena Grantcharski

Ticket Stub for the Friday performance of Drumfolk

In my opinion, the entire point of Drumfolk was the concept of using your body as an instrument. One of the most powerful parts of the performance for me was when they narrated that, “They took our drums, but they could not stop the beat.” It showed the power of making something out of nothing. They no longer had their drums, so they had to use their bodies. Most of the performance was stepping and beatboxing and it shows how they would not let themselves be oppressed. In a literal sense, they were slaves; but in their mind they would never consider themselves as such. The power of the mind, the strength of their will, and the expression in their movements was very apparent in this performance. Dancing amazes me because of how accurately dancers can express their feelings just by moving their bodies. 

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Can’t Stop the Lively Beats of Step: Afrika!

Step: Afrika! Drumfolk, inspired by the Stono Rebellion in 1739, shows the human will and perseverance of African Americans to preserve their culture.

Written by Willa Wu

Step! Afrika performed “Drumfolk” in the Colwell Playhouse of the Krannert Center for Performing Arts on February 7, 2020.  The energetic performers, who have sold out shows on Off-Broadway, delivered an educational and fun performance on an event that few people are aware of, but is crucial to African American culture: the Stono Rebellion.

The ticket stub in front of the Colwell Playhouse, taken right before entering.
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Could not stop the beat—An Amazing Performance Brought by Step Afrika!

On February 7, Step Afrika!, a non-profit dancing company that focuses on the African American traditions of “steppings”, brought Drumfolk to Colwell Playhouse at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts. The performance explored the historical events and developments of African American culture and eulogizes the fight for freedom and liberty.

Written by Yushan Guo

The creators and performers of the show
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A Performance That Moved Me To Tears

By Veronica Y. Gonzalez

On February 1, 2020 at 7:30pm, the Krannert Center for Performing Arts welcomed the Champaign-Urbana Symphony Orchestra and guest violinist, Rachel Pine. (Make-up event)

Bust outside Foellinger Great Hall
Rachel Pine signing her CDs
Event Program

As I took my seat in the Foellinger Great Hall, the nice lady next to me asked, “Are you a student here?” I answered “Yes,” to which she replied, “You must be the only one not at Kam’s right now.” I found her comment extremely funny so I was already in the best mood when the performance began. I’ve never seen a live orchestra perform, only in cartoons if I’m being honest here, so I didn’t know what to expect. The conductor gave a speech before they started. He was a joyful and lively man contrary to the serious and mean conductors I had seen on television. He put a smile on all of our faces.

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Impressive Shanghai Ballet Performance : The Butterfly Lovers

The Shanghai Ballet: The Butterfly Lovers was held at the Tryon Festival Theatre at the Kranner Art Center for the Performing Arts on January 29.

By Aejin Shin

waiting for the start of the performance with the booklet and ticket

Shanghai Ballet is one of the most famous ballet companies in the world organized in 1979. They present Chinese dance on the international stage. During their 40 years of history, they showed off many ballet productions. One of them is ‘The Butterfly Lovers’. This is true love story in which the main characters sacrifice themselves for each other.

The atmosphere was exciting, and people there were anticipating the performance

Since the ballet I’ve seen has mostly been Western-style ballet that is from Russia, this Shanghai ballet performance felt quite different from what I know. What was especially interesting was that the music and composition were completely different from Western ballet. Usually, in Russian-style ballet, the song with lyrics is rarely used. Instead, Western ballet uses classical music that is just instrumental. But the Shanghai ballet’s use of Chinese lyrics as background music was different. This gave the performance more like a play.

At the end of the ballet, all the characters come out to the stage and get applause from the audience

Also, the synopsis of the performance was impressive. I read the synopsis from the booklet they gave me before the performance started. Although the main characters did not make love in this life, it was interesting that they ended up being butterflies and making eternal love in other worlds. I thought this was similar to the story of Eros and Psyche in Greek and Roman mythology. But it would have been difficult to grasp the content without reading the synopsis because the dancers only expressed their emotions through languageless gestures. Details can be found on the website of Shanghai Ballet. (http://www.shanghaiballet.com/shblwt/n49/index.html)

The most eye-catching thing was the ballet costumes. The morning before the performance, I went to the Center and watched the process of preparing for the performance. At that time, I saw the costume making one by one, and it was very touching. That night, when I watched the Shanghai ballet, not only the main characters but also the supporting actors’ costumes, hair decorations, and every little prop was made up of many colors, and the glittering details caught my eye. It was like magic. Everything came together and I was so impressed by acting, composition, music, and the whole performance of the Shanghai ballet.

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Shanghai Ballet: The Butterfly Lovers

Written by Zeying Lang

An ancient tale from the East collides with the dancing form originated from the West. The Butterfly Lovers tells a love story between Zhu and Liang that happened in ancient China when it was a Patriarchal society.

Figure 1. Shanghai Ballet: The Butterfly Lover. (https://krannertcenter.com/events/shanghai-ballet-butterfly-lovers)
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Becoming A Butterfly To Be With Your Soulmate

By Veronica Y. Gonzalez

The Shanghai Ballet Company is the state ballet company for Shanghai. They perform a blend of traditional and Western dance styles. The Shanghai Ballet presented The Butterfly Lovers on January 29, 2020 at The Krannert Center For Performing Arts. This is a story about two lovers that have to overcome obstacles to be together.

Visual of the butterfly costume
Event Ticket
Costumes we saw during our tour

I attended The Butterfly Lovers performed by the Shanghai Ballet Company. I had never gone to a ballet performance before so I was very excited entering the theater. This performance exceeded all my expectations so I am glad that this was my first ballet experience. My favorite element was the beautiful costumes. In the second image above you can see some pieces that the performers wore. In the top right corner you can vaguely see the green butterfly costumes. My favorite costume from this performance had to be the purple butterflies in the final act. The costumes were a vibrant shade of purple and covered in glitter. Purple is my favorite color and I love glitter so obviously these costumes caught my eye automatically.

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The Butterfly Lovers— An elegant yet tragic Chinese love story performed by the amazing Shanghai Ballet

“The Butterfly Lovers” which is a beautiful yet tragic Chinese love story, comparable to “Romeo and Juliet” in the West, was performed by the amazing Shanghai Ballet in the Tryon Festival Theater of the Krannert Center for Performing Arts this January 29, 2020.


-Written by Weon Taek Na

A large audience forms a line to enter the Tryon Festival Theater to watch The Shanghai Ballet perform The Butterfly Lovers
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Forever Lovers are “The Butterfly Lovers”

Written by Lydia Amezcua Ramirez

The mesmerizing ballet, “The Butterfly Lovers ” brought about a unique form of story telling through dance. A brilliant performance taken place in the Tryon Festival Theater of the Krannert Center for Performing Arts on January 29, 2020.


A Delightful Start to the Ballet

The butterfly costumes introduced at the beginning of the ballet were my favorite because butterflies are my favorite insect. The butterfly costumes the ballerinas wore really caught my attention as they all scattered across the stage to show off their beautiful colors. As the lights went out and the curtain came up the performance began with a dance introducing the theme of the ballet.

Women dressed in butterfly costumes which captured the essence of the butterfly in all its grace and beauty. The dancers soon introduced the butterfly lovers Liang and Zhu along with the bully, Ma Wencai.

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The dilemma

Throughout the middle of the play, this issue seems to be the fact that Zhu is in love with Liang but he does not know because Zhu is dressed as a boy since back then girls were not able to have an education. This can be very noticeable in the ballet since all classmates in the first act were all boys. I was able to relate this to the movie Mulan when she ran away and dressed up as a boy soldier in place of her father only soon to fall in love with the general’s son. They too get close but he fails to recognize her true identity.

Act Three of the Ballet illustrated heartbreak along with reality. The heartbreak here being that Zhu could not be together with Liang given the situation she was put in by her father, an arranged marriage with Ma Wencai. Arranged marriages are the reality that many people had to go through in Chinese traditions along with other cultures.

By this part of the Ballet, the butterfly lovers have fallen in love with each other only to be torn apart by an arranged marriage. A truly saddening moment for two lovers, and a very realistic one as well, not being able to be together given financial differences. This part of the story could be noticeable as Zhu kept running back to her father, begging to not force her into the marriage. The movement of Zhou’s constant tugging at her father indicate that torment she felt at having to be forced into an arranged marriage.

As much as Zhu resists and fights her fathers decision she cannot seem to get out of the situation that she was forced into. Ma Wencai is thrilled by the arranged marriage, not bothered by the fact that Zhu does not want to marry him.

Liang could not have let go of his love without a fight and in that duel for that love he lost his life. The pain and suffering that comes along with losing a loved one affects people in different ways. The pain was too great for Zhu that she ended up taking her own life as well. A creative take on Romeo and Juliet in my opinion, turning to death in order to be with the one you love. For this reason, the fourth act had to be my favorite given the tragic yet heartfelt element it incorporated at the very end, lovers dying to be with each other in the afterlife.

Zhu and Liang reunited forever. In this afterlife Zhu and Liang transform into butterflies, hence the name “butterfly lovers”. They could not have a happy ending in real life so the afterlife brought them that. All is peaceful and happy for the butterfly lovers as everyone is dancing in colorful costumes to joyous music.

Overall, the ballet was a wonderful experience filled with humor, drama, love, death, and happiness. At the very end of the show the crowd clapped loudly for minutes as the performers took their bows. They even got standing ovations from people in the audience which proves that the ballet is a worthwhile event to take the time to watch with family, friends, or even oneself.