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Notes are briefs highlighting students, faculty and staff at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh.

Trent Hilborn and Mark Mazur


Mark and Trent header  Photo composite by Shawn McAfee/UW Oshkosh Learning Technologies


by Bradley Beck 

Student Multimedia Reporter


Mark and Trent Surface
Trent Hilborn (l) and Mark Mazur (r) look over the script during filming of their new short film CYCLE. Photo by Tah Hoffmann.

World Premiere
What: Cycle, a short film
written, directed and produced by Mark Mazur and Trent Hilborn. The film stars Matthew Scales, Jessica Westlund and Alden Gaskins. Original music composed and performed by Andre Gaskins.
When: 7:30 p.m. April 7, 2011
Where: Reeve Union Theatre, 3rd fl, Reeve Union, UW Oshkosh
Cost: Free

UW Oshkosh student filmmakers Trent Hilborn and Mark Mazur are no strangers to world of film making. Between them, they have worked on more than 60 films, three of which they co-wrote, co-directed and co-produced.

On April 7, they will host the premiere of their latest collaboration, CYCLE, at UW Oshkosh's Reeve Memorial Union Theatre.

In CYCLE, Hilborn and Mazur tell a story of a scientist, trapped in perpetual grief, who is pushed  to the edge by his eternal need for redemption. Abandoning moral uncertainty, the scientist attempts to be the first to create life without reproduction.

Award Winners

Hilborn and Mazur achieved significant achievement for their previous short film SURFACE that looked at the world without an ozone layer.  After its release, the film won “Best Student Film: Gold Level,” at the Oregon Film Awards.  SURFACE was also featured as on official selection of nine other film festivals.

Mark and Trent medium shot
 Trent Hilborn and Mark Mazur on the Cycle set. Photo by Tah Hoffman.

SURFACE also caught the attention of Academy Award Winning Filmmaker Michael Moore.  Moore personally selected the film to screen at his 2010 Traverse City Film Festival. The trip to Traverse City served as inspiration for the duo. “When Mark and I were driving to Traverse City, we brainstormed for 4 or 5 hours before we finally found the key element of the story. Then we expanded it from there," Hilborn said. The film-making duo also enlisted the help of music professor Andre Gaskins, a professional cellist and the Director of Orchestral Activities and Cello at UW Oshkosh.


Gaskins composed and performed original music in the 20-minute film, which stars UW Oshkosh students Matthew Scales, Jessica Westlund and Gaskins' 7-year-old son, Alden.

"Having worked and collaborated extensively with Mark and Trent as the composer for this film, I would like to emphasize how talented I believe these students are and how exciting it is to know that this is their second film to premiere on campus, prior to their upcoming graduation in May," Gaskins says.

Mazur is equally laudatory of Gaskin's work on the film. "Going in we knew that Andre would be able to make a solid score that can add to the story Trent and I were trying to tell, but he absolutely knocked it out of the park," Mazur says. "He took the film to a whole new level. After watching Cycle with Andre's music, it just brings life to the film, and I couldn't imagine the movie without it."

Mark and Trent tunnel
 Mark Mazur and Trent Hilborn. Photo by Shawn McAfee/UW Oshkosh Learning Technologies.

Cycle marks the second time that Gaskins, Hilborn and Mazur joined efforts on a project. The first was Airboat Rescue 1: When the Ice Breaks, a short documentary by journalism instructor Grace Lim. That film was shot and edited by Hilborn and Mazur and scored by Gaskins., who also performed on the soundtrack.


CYCLE is the third short film from team Mazur and Hilborn, who describe their relationship as symbiotic, a lot of give and take. Mazur said their creative process allows them to “weed out a lot of bad ideas and come out with a much better final product.”  Their collaborative effort, along with a few dozen student crew members and local actors, help tell the tale of a disturbed brilliant scientist.

Hilborn says the process of getting a film from idea to premiere can be a long and arduous one. However, the one of the payoffs come when the audience sees  his and Mazur's vision on the big screen.

 “I want the audience to be able to see the film as enjoyable and entertaining," Hilborn says. "But I also want them to dissect the film afterward to see all of the elements and themes that we interspersed throughout the narrative.”

 For more information of CYCLE, visit



In this short video interview, Trent Hilborn and Mark Mazur, co-directors of the short film Cycle, talk about the collaboration process in making films. The interview was conducted by Bradley Beck and Grace Lim. The B-roll of the Cycle film shoot was provided by Hilborn and Mazur.



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UW Oshkosh film students Mark Mazur and Trent Hilborn are no strangers to film making. Their third short film, CYCLE, showcases a culmination of their many talents.

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Andre Gaskins: Maestro & Musician


Gaskins header


photo illustration by Shawn McAfee of UW Oshkosh Media Services


Maestro & Musician

Andre Gaskins doesn't get stage fright. Ever.

In fact, Gaskins is most at ease performing for an audience with a cello bow or a conductor baton in his hand. With those tools, he's able to do magic.

"The power of music and live performance is this ability to transport people to another place," says Gaskins, who is the new director of orchestral activities and cello at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh. He is also the music director and conductor for the Columbus (Ga.) Ballet. "To be able to get (the audience) to focus on something other than their daily routine, that's really a beautiful thing."

Gaskins' career path, he jokes, may have been pre-determined. The only son of a insurance salesman and a Japanese language translator, Gaskins says his father had told his mother, while they were dating, that they'd have three children and that they'd all be musicians. Well, his father wasn't far off. One of his two sisters is a professional violist, having played with the Indianapolis Symphony. The other sister is a linguist. "Well, he's got two out of three," says Gaskins with laugh. "That's not bad."


Andre Gaskins InterviewIn an interview with COLS Special Reports producer Grace Lim, Andre Gaskins talks about the power of the live performance, the audacity of his asking superstar cellist Yo-Yo Ma for a favor and the value of music in today's world.

The video is also available for download to your iPod through UW Oshkosh iTunesU (requires iTunes).

See more videos




The Big Instrument

Gaskins' choosing the cello as his main instrument wasn't as mystical. "It's a big instrument, and I'm a boy," he says. "I wanted to play a bigger instrument than the violin which my two older sisters played."

But he soon grew to love the sounds he was able to coax out of the instrument. At 14, Gaskins won a competition that resulted in his being solo cellist with the Carmel (Ind.) Symphony Orchestra, playing Allegro Appassionato by Camille Saint-Saens.

He recalls how his fellow classmates asked him, "My gosh, aren't you totally freaked out? I would be so nervous."

To Gaskins, that nervousness was and, to some extent, still is a foreign concept. "This is what I had identified myself with from the very beginning," he says. "To me, it was very natural."

What also came naturally to Gaskins is standing on the the conductor podium. When he was a senior in high school, he asked his orchestra director for a chance to conduct. The director, seeing a musical spark that would not be denied, agreed and handed over the baton.

"He was a very generous and giving man," Gaskins says of his high school orchestra director.

Gaskins remembers the day he led the 85-member orchestra because it was Election Day 1992. "I never got nervous. This is who I am. This is what I do," he says. "It was as natural as walking to me."

After high school, Gaskins attended Butler University for his undergraduate's degree in violoncello performance. Then he earned his master's degree from Indiana University, where he is in the final stages of completing his doctoral degree.

Gaskins orchestraAlong the way, Gaskins has enjoyed a diverse career as conductor, soloist and music educator. In addition to the Columbus Ballet, he has conducted for the Youth Orchestra of Greater Columbus, the Columbus State University Philharmonic and the Richmond Symphony, among others. His recording of Martinu's Concerto for the Summit Records label was nominated for the 2004 Grammy Awards in the category of Best Performance by a Small Ensemble (with or without conductor).

This past Thanksgiving in Richmond, Va., Gaskins logged his 30th performance as a solo cellist. His other solo appearances have included performances with the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra, the Richmond Symphony Orchestra and the Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra. Gaskins can be heard in the soundtrack for the PBS documentary For Gold and Glory (2003) and is a featured soloist for the motion picture soundtrack Forgive Me Father (2001). 

Cello Boot Camp

Since September, Gaskins has been at the helm of the UW Oshkosh Symphony Orchestra and is the music department's cello instructor. He hopes to build up both the numbers in the orchestra (55) and the cello studio (5). 

At the beginning of the fall semester and before his cello students even had a chance to play a note, he called a meeting. He told them that during the first six to eight weeks, they will be participating in a "cello boot camp."

Gaskins shared with them this story about his first encounter with his own instructor at Indiana University, the world-renowned cellist Janos Starker:

Gaskins conducting

"He told me before he accepted me into his studio, 'You are going to be miserable for the first six months of studying with me.'

"I said, 'Why is that?'

"'Because we’re  going to go back to some basics.'

"I thought about it for a few seconds and I said, 'Well, I’d rather be miserable now than be miserable for the rest of my life.'

"Apparently that was the right answer because he scheduled me for a lesson and, from that point after, I was in his studio."

Gaskins has never forgotten that lesson from the master cellist.

In addition to technique, Gaskins aims to teach his students patience. "The younger generation lack patience," he says. "They need to know that this is serious business. It doesn't come easy. It certainly doesn't come overnight."

Says Gaskins: "My biggest hope for my students is that they be able to teach themselves by the time they leave. Just because I'm the teacher doesn't mean that I provide all the answers. They are also responsible for making discoveries on their own."

Even after all these years of playing, performing and conducting, Gaskins still views himself as a work in progress. "You can always improve," he says.

While Gaskins is constantly pushing himself and his students, he will not be pushed by those who say he can't be both a conductor and a cellist. "I know my limits. I know my abilities, and I can do this," he says. "When people tell me I can't do something, I say, 'Watch me.'"

On Dec. 10, 2009, Andre Gaskins will be conducting the UW Oshkosh Symphony Orchestra Concert Dance Trance: Spanish and Slavonic Dances. On Dec. 11, 2009, he will be participating in the Faculty Lecture-Recital Clara Schumann SpeaksJoyce Andrews, soprano, and Jeri-Mae Astolfi, piano, with Carmen Shaw, piano, and friends & alumna. Gaskins will perform with Klara Bahcall, violin, and Eli Kalman, piano. For more information, please visit the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh Department of Music Calendar.

(Photo credits: Shawn McAfee of UW Oshkosh Media Services; photo of Gaskins as solo cellist with the Richmond Symphony Orchestra courtesy of Lynn. C. Felton.)



The following video is also available for download to your iPod through UW Oshkosh iTunesU (requires iTunes).

The following video is of Andre Gaskins playing J.S. Bach's Sarabande from Suite No.1.

Andre Gaskins Playing Sarabande


The following video features Andre Gaskins at age 18, performing the cello solo during the 1993 ISSMA (Indiana State School Music Association) state orchestra contest. His high school, Carmel High, won that year. 


The following video shows Andre Gaskins performing the song Farewell from the soundtrack of the motion picture Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon with the Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra in Indianapolis in 2007.

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The only son of a insurance salesman and a Japanese language translator, Gaskins' father told his mother while they were dating that they'd have three children and that they'd all be musicians.

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The Play's the Thing

The Play's the Thing

The Play's the Thing


The Play header


By Grace Lim
COLS Special Reports

All the World's a Stage

In a rapidly evolving world where entertainment can be found on a cell phone screen, Richard Kalinoski still sees the stage as a significant and viable medium. “If students learn that the theatre offers a level of intimacy not applicable to film and TV—the power of immediacy—they can sometimes begin to appreciate the mystery and charm of the theatre,” says Kalinoski, an award-winning playwright and associate professor in the Department of Theatre at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh.

Award-winning playwright and UW Oshkosh professor Richard Kalinoski.

Kalinoski, who has taught at UW Oshkosh since 1998, juggles teaching, directing and writing with great aplomb. This spring, he directed “Collected Stories,” a play by Donald Margulies that is about a complicated relationship between a professor and her student.

Kalinoski’s latest play, “My Soldiers,” is featured in the May/June 2010 issue of American Theatre magazine. The play, which is about a female U.S. Army medic, back from deployment to Iraq, will have its world professional premiere at the Detroit Repertory Theatre on June 3. Only 15 months earlier, Kalinoski held a My Soldiers reading at the UW Oshkosh with a cast of students, alumni, faculty and professionals. (The reading was directed by Mark Hallen, Eastern University (Pa.), Director of Theatre.)

Kalinoski has won numerous awards including the Osborn – Best New Play in America by an Emerging Playwright - awarded by the American Theatre Critics Association in 1996, and, in 2001, five Ace Awards, including Best Play, in Buenos Aires, Argentina. His “Beast on the Moon,” a play about two Armenian genocide refugees, captured the 2001 Best Play from the Repertory prize at the Moliere Awards in Paris.

His works have been translated into 17 languages and have been produced in venues all over the world, such as Athens, Brussels, London, Moscow, New York (off-Broadway), Prague, Sao Paolo, and Toronto.

In a Q & A with COLS Special Reports producer Grace Lim, Kalinoski shares his goals as a professor and as a playwright.

1. What attracted you to the world of playwriting and directing? How old were you when you realized that you wanted to be the person behind the words or the one who drives the actors to create magic on stage?
When I was an undergraduate at U W Whitewater I had a chance to study theatre at Oxford University in England for a summer between my sophomore and junior years. While at Oxford I participated in a tiny production of King Lear (I “played” Edgar). I learned that I was not an actor even while I became fascinated with the mystery of presenting a play. I had a hunch that I might write a play and when I returned to my home campus I wrote an emotional mess called “Naked on the Subway” (note the lurid title). I had written and produced my first full-length play at the age of 20.  I produced the play myself and together with friends it was presented in the basement of a high dormitory.  The play sold out its entire run. Two years later I was accepted into the graduate playwriting program at Carnegie-Mellon University (then called Carnegie-Tech).

2. What made you decide that you wanted to teach young playwrights?
I suspect that I was influenced by my playwriting professor at Carnegie-Mellon. He was a bad teacher but a smart man. I thought I could do it (teach) better than I had been taught. The art of playwriting can’t be taught. The craft of playwriting can be.  I began teaching playwriting in workshops after my first play was published in 1990. I like to share what I have learned about playwriting with my students but I also learn more about the discipline each time I teach it.

3. What are your goals in your teaching?
The single most important goal (among many) is to help my students understand that they are writing for what Thornton Wilder called the “group mind”.  Students are asked to write for live audiences but also for live artists—the artists involved in producing a play. Of these the actors are the most important. Actors carry playwrights on their backs.


Stage Craft: During a Theatre Appreciation Day this spring, UW Oshkosh associate theatre professor and playwright Richard Kalinoski ran a scene from "Collected Stories," a play by Donald Margulies, with students Lauren Johnson (l) and Kim Davister (r). The play ran in February at the Fredric March Theatre

4.What preconceived ideas about playwriting or directing do your students have?
The most common preconceived idea is that plays can unfold anywhere, can be set anywhere—as in cinema.  PLACE is absolutely essential to the fashioning of a play. Students struggle to understand how a single place (a garden, a deck, a kitchen) will become a kind of character in a play—more profoundly (usually) than the many places used for a film.  Plays don’t “travel” particularly well…films do.

5. In a world where people can find entertainment on screens as small as their cellphones, how do you convince young people that the stage is still a viable medium?
I force my students to attend the theatre often. Many of my students reluctantly admit that they have not attended the theatre. Few have seen a professional production of a play—fewer still have seen a play in New York. If students learn that the theatre offers a level of intimacy not applicable to film and TV—the power of immediacy—they can sometimes begin to appreciate the mystery and charm of the theatre. I don’t lie to my students—theatre can be very good at boring audiences (it usually doesn’t have good explosions). Once in a while audiences (here and elsewhere) can be so transported by a play that the feeling of having attended remains for days or even weeks. I want my students to have that kind of experience. My impression is that many academics dismiss theatre as not being intellectual enough or not being contemplative enough. Vital, visceral theatre should be emotionally compelling and intellectually satisfying simultaneously.

6. What do you want your students to walk away with after their years here at UW Oshkosh?
I teach more than playwriting, of course. I want my students to come away from here with high artistic standards—and to use those standards to inform their lives.


 Richard Kalinoski Video  In an interview with COLS Special Reports producer Grace Lim, UW Oshkosh theatre professor Richard Kalinoski talks about his goals as a teacher and as a playwright. Kalinoski's latest play "My Soldiers" will have its world professional premiere at the Detroit Repertory Theatre on June 3, 2010.


Next: On Balancing Life and Work



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In a rapidly evolving world where entertainment can be found on a cell phone screen, Richard Kalinoski still sees the stage as a significant and viable medium.

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Life on the Run

Life on the Run

Life on the Run


 By Eric Balkman and Andrew Munger
Student News Reporters

Coaching Stars

With happy smiles, a few long pauses and plenty of introspection, two of the pillars of the UW Oshkosh athletic department donned their running shoes and jogged off together into the proverbial sunset.

After three decades each of service to UW Oshkosh that included leading various Titans teams to 24 out of the school’s 42 NCAA Division III national championships, the married coaching couple Deb Vercauteren and John Zupanc has called it a career.  In January 2011, they left their coaching, teaching and administrative positions. 

Zupanc said that despite all of the athletic success the program has enjoyed under his and Vercauteren’s leadership, he will always remember how much he enjoyed seeing kids enter the program and then come back to visit him years later with established adult lives.

“You can see them as guys coming in out of high school and watching them evolve into college graduates,” he said. “And now they get that first job and have a family and come back. Those kinds of things—you remember a lot of those.”

Setting Goals

Vercauteren said she will miss going to practice and the thrill of the competition, but she will most miss seeing her student-athletes achieve lofty goals.

“What I remember most is someone setting a goal that’s way, way out there and maybe persevering towards that goal for two, three—sometimes four—years and they finally accomplish that,” she said. “That’s the part of coaching that I really like.”

Vercauteren coaching career began rather inauspiciously in 1980 when she was hired as the university’s women’s badminton coach. But when that sport was dropped a year later, she became the school’s head women’s cross-country coach. She then took over as UW Oshkosh’s head women’s track and field coach in 1982.

For more than a quarter century Vercauteren held both positions. In 2009 she switched to be the assistant women’s track and field coach with Pat Ebel taking over the head coaching position.

In 1981, Zupanc was a volunteer assistant for the men’s track and field team. He became the head men’s cross-country coach in 1982. Zupanc was named the head men’s outdoor track and field coach in 2005, while taking the same position for the indoor team the following year.

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After three decades each of service to UW Oshkosh that included leading various Titans national titles, the married coaching couple Deb Vercauteren and John Zupanc has called it a career. wo of the pillars of the UW Oshkosh athletic department donned their running shoes and jogged off together into the proverbial sunset.

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