Hofstra concludes inaugural season of New Globe Theater

Hofstra’s New Globe Theater during an April 9 performance of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged). Photo by CHRIS PERAINO

By Chris Peraino

Heidi Gleichauf, a junior at Hofstra University, punted Yorick’s skull into a crowd equal parts amused and startled. She committed this Shakespeare blasphemy under the same Latin phrase – “Totus mundus agit histrionem”- that The Bard himself performed beneath: “all the world’s a stage.”

The Complete Works of William Shakepeare (Abridged), a three-person comedy that morphs all of Shakespeare’s plays into a vaudeville of parody and slapstick devoid of a fourth wall, concluded the inaugural season of Hofstra’s newly erected Globe Theater replica last Sunday.

“Working on the Globe is like practical application of the training we get in Hofstra’s drama program,” Gleichauf said. “To me, it’s the difference between seeing photos of a landmark in a history class and going to see it in person. Knowing that we have access to the most accurate representation of the Globe in the country is really exciting.”

The design and construction of the replica was spearheaded by David Henderson, Associate Professor of Drama and Dance at Hofstra University in 2016. The stage is the closest American reproduction of the Globe Theater, Shakespeare’s performative stomping ground.

For over 50 years, Hofstra hosted an annual Shakespeare Festival on its original Globe replica until the structure was decommissioned in 2008 in light of new findings that deemed it historically inaccurate. Hofstra’s original had been designed by former Hofstra University president John Cranford Adams and was first erected in 1951.

“The administration had been a little bit perturbed that we had closed the other one down,” Henderson said. “But we were like, ‘you wouldn’t ask a chemistry department to use a 1950’s textbook.’ And so we’re teaching the wrong thing here.”

Since Adams’ original design, two key discoveries have been made: a piece of London’s Rose Theater, an Elizabethan contemporary of the Globe, as well as a piece of the Globe’s foundation, uncovered by parking lot construction. With them, researchers concluded that the original Globe was 20-sided. From a distance, this feigns a circle, a shape Adams said could not be built out of 17th century timber.

Henderson and researchers at London’s current theater believe that the original Globe was akin to a “jewel box,” full of bright imagery. This theory is supported by the few descriptions of Elizabethan playhouses that still exist.

But the actual content of the Globe’s imagery is not known; Henderson garnered inspiration for his images, which include Atlas bearing the globe on shoulders, lion crests and a lineage of Classical figures, by visiting 17th century English houses that still bear their original interior depictions.

“There’s certain rules you have to follow in terms of classical style, classical proportions and classical color scheme,” he said.

The rest is conjecture. “Other than that, it was just kind of what I wanted.”

Fittingly, the new theater ushered in a new era the same way the old theater concluded one: with a rendition of Hamlet.

“In period productions on the globe, like Hamlet earlier this semester, you don’t even have the help of lighting,” Gleichauf said. “You have to suspend your disbelief more than you might using a more traditional set because scene changes or changes of location are dictated purely by what part of the stage you’re using,”

The theater adds somewhat of a minimalist effect. Hofstra opts not to use any extraneous lights beyond stage lights, to mimic the original Globe Theater. Actors have to rely on their vocal projection to create scenery where there largely is none. Simply beginning a play without providing lighting or music cues for the audience can be tricky.

“The most difficult thing was the transition from the rehearsal room onto the stage, and trying to make sure our movements and voices were strong enough to carry out into the space,” Gleichauf said. “So not so much being exposed, but quite the opposite – how to be sure you are matching the grandeur of the space.”

But of course, the actors are not entirely on their own.

“They’re helped by Shakespeare,” Henderson said. “He wrote into the plays a moment that begins the play and things like that. It’s kind of like ‘oh that’s why this in here.’”

For at least two more years, the New Globe will be a staple for Hofstra’s Shakespeare Festivals. Drama staff are still deliberating on its frequency there afterward. Shakespeare lends way to a flurry of interpretations, some of which (modern dance, say) do not bode well with the stage.

Girl’s lacrosse helmets made optional for first time in 2017 season

A Mt. Sinai girl's lacrosse player sports a helmet in a game against Hampton Bays on April 3. Photo by JORDAN BOYD

A Mt. Sinai girl’s lacrosse player sports a helmet in a game against Hampton Bays on April 3. Photo by Jordan Boyd

By Chris Peraino, Jordan Boyd, Christian Cangiano and Joseph Caccavale

The 2017 season will be the first time that girl’s lacrosse players on Long Island will have the option to wear a helmet during play, a new rule sparking debate over whether headgear will embolden players and make the game more physical.

The option follows an Aug. 30, 2016 announcement by US Lacrosse, the sport’s national governing body, to make helmets available for all levels of play: youth league through college. Most schools are leaving the decision to wear a helmet up to the players. Some provide helmets, while others simply allow their students to purchase their own. Seven schools have made helmets mandatory.

“Since this is the first year that wearing helmets is optional in this sport, the district decided to invest in providing this added layer of protection,” James Montalto, Public Relations Director of William Floyd High School, a school that has made helmets mandatory, said.

The allowance of soft headgear in girl’s lacrosse rules has existed since 1996. What is new is a ASTM standard for headgear; manufacturers must prove that their helmets can withstand a 60-mph impact from a standard lacrosse ball before their helmets can enter production. Opposed to the hard shell helmets of boy’s lacrosse, the girl’s helmets are flexible and cave on impact.

“We wanted to maintain the optional nature of headgear, it was a critical part of the standard that it would not be dangerous to other players who were not wearing them,” Caitlin Kelley, Senior Manager of Women’s Lacrosse at US Lacrosse, said. “As such the women’s headgear standard ASTM F3137 requires that the equipment of a certain malleability. It is not completely rigid and can give a certain amount when impacted.”

Since contact is not legally allowed in girl’s lacrosse (it is in men’s lacrosse), the sport is, in theory, a noncontact sport. But players do run the risk of being hit in the head by a ball or another player’s stick. According to a Newsday study of concussions within Long Island high school athletics, 65 of 4,431 girl’s lacrosse players were concussed in the 2015-16 school year. That works out to one concussion for every 68 players, a less frequent rate than that of girl’s soccer and basketball, in which one of every 41 and 54 players were concussed, respectively. Boys lacrosse notched one concussion for every 81 players.

Newsday compiled these statistics by obtaining reports from over 100 schools. The New York State Public High School Athletic Association requires coaches to fill out comprehensive concussion reports at the end of every season. Newsday’s compilation only accounts for the 2015-16 season and it is up to each high school’s coach to accurately report all cases of concussions.

Tracy Wiener, who founded Farmingdale School District’s girl’s lacrosse program in 1991, is a girl’s lacrosse purist. She believes in order to add excitement and make girl’s lacrosse a more appealing spectator sport, USL has slowly implemented rules more similar to that of men’s lacrosse. But what is gained in scoring and physicality is lost in tactic and skill. It is because of this changing landscape, one she claims is wholly different than when she began coaching 25 years ago, that she opposes helmets. She believes that they advance a more aggressive style of play.  

“The changes I’ve seen in the 25 years have been pretty dramatic,” Wiener said. “I think also they’re trying to make it more fan-friendly to watch. You look at men’s lacrosse: on TV all the time. They cover every NCAA game now. Every round of it, on the weekends. You can watch a men’s lacrosse game anytime you want. Because it’s exciting, physical, nasty. The girl’s games are a little harder to find.”

USL opted to make helmets optional and not mandatory due to a lack of data that details they are effective enough in preventing injury warrant a mandate, Kelley said.

“The warrior effect is something that is discussed and something we will be better able to evaluate with injury data and reporting,” Kelley said.

Shannon Smith, Hofstra University’s girl’s lacrosse head coach, agrees with Wiener that the sport is becoming more physical and fast-paced. Because of travel clubs, girls are more skillful than ever before. But she thinks this evolution only supports the need for helmets in play.

“The game has evolved,” Smith said. “It’s become quicker. It’s become faster. People can shoot from further out now. I think the headgear will make the game safer because the game has evolved.”

Some think helmets are even past due.

“Helmets in the girl’s lacrosse game is something that is a long time coming,” Pat Bishop, former professor of kinesiology at the University of Waterloo and an expert on head injuries in sports, said. “While the frequency of such direct blunt trauma may be low, the consequences can be, and often is, very devastating.”

Two helmet models approved

Two helmets have been approved by US Lacrosse: the Cascade LX and the Hummingbird Women’s Lacrosse Headgear.

The Cascade helmet features a two piece look, sporting a visor attached to a base akin to that of a bicycle helmet. The metal visor serves as a replacement to the goggles that players already wear. Hummingbird’s helmet are similar to a baseball helmet and fits around goggles. Neither model provides protection below the eyes, differing from men’s helmets that encompass the entire head.

“This is more like a bicycle helmet,” Carol Rainson Rose, Northport High School’s girls lacrosse coach, said of the Cascade LX. “It’s not hard and it’s a lot lighter than the boys helmet.”  

Cascade outfitted both the Northport and Mount Sinai high school team’s – premiere Long Island squads – with helmets to test out this season.

Cascade and Hummingbird will also monitor the helmet’s performance in order to make future adjustments.

USL will do the same and collect data on the effectiveness and impact of helmets. This season’s players will serve as the first guinea pigs in a study that may potentially lead to future mandates.

Even Wiener thinks that this is inevitable.

“If you had asked me 10 years ago if I thought we’d be wearing helmets I would have laughed at you,” Wiener said. “And here we are today… No school without helmets is going to want to play a team with helmets and have a player be concussed.”

Local Muslims experience double-standard in wake of recent London terrorist attack

An entrance sign at the Islamic Center of Long Island, located in Westbury. Photo by Chris Peraino

By: Skyler Gilbert and Chris Peraino

Abdur-Rahman Partap’s coarse, black beard stands out in mostly white Long Island. To a point that, he says, he gets beeped at, and scorned on his drive to work. The niece of Habeeb Ahmed fears leaving her house in a hijab without her husband now. She has had her scarf pulled in public, and regularly receives dirty looks when wearing it. One woman, who wished to remain anonymous for her own safety, said that the day after the London attack, she got a phone call from an unknown number: “B***h, f**k you. Go back to your country,” the voice screamed from the other end of the line.

Hate crimes against the Islamic community in the United States are at their highest levels since 2001, according to FBI data. And, in the wake of London’s terrorist attack last week, the anti-Islamic rhetoric on Long Island has soared.

“When people say ‘go back to your country,’ what do I have to say to these people?” Ahmed, the vice-president of the Islamic Center of Long Island, asked. “This is my country. My son was born and brought up here. What gives you the right to talk to us, legal residents here, like that?”

Ahmed has noticed a double-standard in the way Muslims are treated after high-profile jihadist attacks.

“[When white people commit crime,] a report comes back to say that a shooter is mentally disturbed,” Ahmed said. “No Muslim is ever mentally disturbed if they do these things.”

Every time a terrorist attack happens, his heart races in anticipation of what could happen to him, his family and his community if the perpetrator claims to be a Muslim.

“I feel that subconsciously local Muslims [wait] after extremist events to settle down,” Hashaam Nasheer, a resident of Manorville, said. “They try to avoid anything that would cause attention to themselves or to Muslims in general.”

Shirley Masjib has upped its security in recent years after heightened discrimination both locally and around the world.

Negativity is not all that local Muslims experience, though it is pervasive.

“I’ve been in the grocery store and had a woman come up to me and apologize on behalf of her country and what’s going on and how Islam and Muslims are portrayed,” Abdul-Lateef Poulos, the Imam of Shirley Masjid, said.

Poulos believes the source of discrimination is American’s zero-sum take on immigration: equal rights for others are equated to a lost rights for the majority.

“I think there is a feeling of losing of power, culturally speaking, in America where what was once a monolithic culture, at least the dominant one, is being lost,” he said.

Other factors that have contributed, Poulos said, including media-generated stereotypes. Some of these ideations are so strong that they can creep into the thoughts of Muslims themselves.

Last June, during the Islamic holy season of Ramadan, Nasheer walked down the streets of Manhattan before the crack of dawn, 4 or 5 o’clock in the morning, wearing his white Thawb, a traditional Arabic robe. Through the early fog, he saw another man donning similar attire, with a black beard and a big bag.

 

“For a second, and just for a split second, I was a bit afraid,” he recalled. “Then I came to my senses.”

The phrase “Islamic terrorism” is also problematic, Ahmed says, due to its improper use of being a descriptor and emblem of a much larger group of people.

“Just call me a terrorist, don’t call me an Islamic terrorist,” he said. “Why do you need to bring a population of 1.6 billion into the picture. That’s a major problem.”

Ahmed, who as a Muslim born in India, says he has always faced religious discrimination and reaches out to other marginalized groups to find solace. He is friends with the brother of Marcelo Lucero, an Ecuadorian immigrant who was killed in a 2008 hate crime. Every anniversary of his death, Ahmed visits Lucero’s grave.

“This is the least I can do to pay my respects to this man,” Ahmed said.

Poulos added that one way to break the tension toward the Islamic community is to abolish the “us-versus-them” binary perspective of many ethnically Western Americans.

“If a view the world as ‘us’ and ‘them’ and you define ‘us’ as being Americans or Christians,” he said. “And the other as being Muslims, than that’s how you’re going to see the world and you’re not going to give those courtesies that you would to your own to the other.”

Despite the visceral attacks to his own people, Ahmed uses the teachings of Muhammad to remain hopeful for the future.

“[God] is going to take care of everyone, whether you’re a Muslim or Christian or a Jew or whoever you are,” Ahmed said. “Because he has created all of us.”

Prom Boutique expands with online innovation

A rack of dresses at ReCreateU, one of Prom Boutique’s drop-off locations. Photo by Christian Cangiano

By Chris Peraino and Christian Cangiano

Prom Boutique, an annual Long Island-wide donation event that supplies young women of low-income with dresses and accessories for their prom and graduation, started collecting dresses online for the first time in early March.

Prom Boutique is in its 23rd year and this is the first in which the program has enabled online capabilities. The Long Island Volunteer Center runs Prom Boutique in conjunction with the fashion and marketing departments at Nassau Community College.

“For girls that are registered for the event, but cannot attend for any reason, we are implementing this year – first time ever – a Google Form for the girls to show out,” Diana O’Neill, Director of the Long Island Volunteer Center, said.

Inspired by recent online retail trends, young women are able to fill out a comprehensive Google Form that asks for various dress preferences and size inquiries. They can then couple the questionnaire with uploaded pictures of their hypothetical dream dress from Instagram or Pinterest. This allows the Prom Boutique to reach an expected record high number of young women, possibly surpassing the 1,800 dresses that were donated post-Superstorm Sandy. Over 300 young women have already signed up, with the request deadline not falling until the third week of April.

Nassau Community College fashion students are given the opportunity to act as personal shoppers who match dresses based on the preferences detailed by young women in their Google Form, offering them field experience, while also benefiting underprivileged young adults. These selections are then shipped to the homes of the young women.

“It’s not just a career responsibility and growth,” Heidi O’Connell, professor of Marketing Retailing and Fashion at Nassau Community College, said.  “It also gives back to the community.”

O’Neill established the first boutique 23 years ago when she serviced 35 young women in an impromptu pop-up dress stand.

Now, the program boasts 20 drop-off location, a staff of 300 volunteers and thousands of donated dresses to young women of low-income families to date.

“I always say that this project validates whatever it took in this young woman to, under adverse circumstances, graduate,” O’Neill said. “Stay in school, get her diploma, walk with her class and now celebrate that accomplishment. Their parents and their teachers tell us that they would not be able to go to their event [without a dress].”

Since the Prom Boutique relies on donated trucks to haul dresses from drop-off locations to Nassau Community College, the host of the dress selection event, it has traditionally set aside a singular selection day for logistical reasons.

Efforts to broaden the collection-side of the Prom Boutique are also occurring. Alumni of Villanova University have established an alternate collection date at St. Anthony’s High School. And while most drop-off locations only accept donations on April 23, a few, such as ReCreateU, a clothing boutique in Rockville Center, are open for donations from now up until April 23 during business hours.

“I always wanted to do charity work… I can help the best I can as long as I can stay in the store and not take too much time away from my store,” Rachel Song, owner of ReCreateU, said. “I started to post on social media and telling all my clients. I even have a mailing list, about 500 people

In order to protect the anonymity of the young women, and to forestall any stigmatization, distribution of the dresses is conducted confidentially. The volunteer center contacts high school guidance counselors, social workers and at-risk youth programs, who in return notify young women of low income families of the opportunity to obtain a prom or ceremonial dress free of charge. If accepting, the women are given the date of the dress selection event, which remains undisclosed to the public; attendance is run via a private, invite-only basis.

Funding for the program, which is wholly volunteer-based, is provided by a number of sponsors, this year’s largest being HSBC Bank.

“When you see that look of pure joy on a young woman’s face, you know how hard she had to work to get there,” O’Neill said. “And know she’s found something that really validates, sets the confidence in her and you can’t almost put it into words. It’s just pure joy. And we as individuals witness that we are just invited to a really special moment: a memory marker in a young woman’s life.”