Casey DeFreitas

Hey, I'm Casey DeFreitas. Considering my passion for videogames, I have decided to write about them. Here's a blog with some writing examples. Enjoy!
Casey DeFreitas has written 4 posts for The Digital Bullpen

Grotesque Burlesque provides an artistic outlet for theater student

Places. Curtains. Lights. The music starts. The crowd applauds. They are ready for the show. This show will tease the senses far beyond most. This is a show put on by the Grotesque Burlesque.

The troupe began on a late night two years ago, as University of South Florida theater major Mary Beth Spurlock, aka Sissy Mary Sinful, exchanged hopes and dreams with her best friend Kenzy Yager-Sidaui.

“I told her I always wanted to own a performance troupe,” Spurlock, 28, said.

Yager-Sidaui, 25, responded with, “I desperately want to get back into burlesque.”

Yager-Sidaui’s great aunt used to do photography for Betty Page and told her stories about the pin-up girl. The rest of the era seemed glamorous to Yager-Sidaui which prompted her to collect antiques from the time period. Burlesque was just another piece of the 1940s that interested her, so in her hometown, Miami, she started exploring the art.

The two friends collaborated ideas and almost immediately created an email account for their new company. With the account they created Facebook and MySpace pages to recruit. Now, Spurlock refers to Yager-Sidaul as her business partner as well as best friend.

Grotesque Burlesque was not chosen as the name simply because the two words conveniently rhyme, but because Yager-Sidaui has an affection for Marilyn Manson.  The goth musician made an album by the name and uses the phrase multiple times in some of his songs.  It’s a fitting title considering the troupe does vintage burlesque with a macabre flair. Themes have included zombies and Gotham City villains.

Spurlock doesn’t only manage the troupe, but dances in the shows as well.  “My business partner and I own a burlesque company, so of course we make sure we can do burlesque,” Spurlock said.

She recently performed as a sexy Poison Ivy during the troupe’s Gotham City villains show.

Burlesque, the art of striptease, is dying Spurlock said. It has been around since the mid 1800s but became popular during the Roaring ‘20s.

“When a girl was too tall or too short or too big or too heavy chested, they couldn’t be a member of a chorus line,” Spurlock said. “So they turned to burlesque for an outlet for their art.”

During most shows the performers shimmy down to just underwear and pasties, but never completely nude. “It’s the art of tease. It’s meant to be beautiful and artistic,” Spurlock said.

Spurlock, a senior, has been balancing theatrical shows and classes for years. She has acted in many USF productions, including Othello. Because of this, she doesn’t find it difficult to balance managing and participating in the troupe and completing her classes. But when her class load gets a bit too much to handle, she has her partner Yager-Sidaui, and her partner’s husband, Alan Sidaui to pick up what she can’t do. It’s the same when it happens the other way around.

When Spurlock does graduate, she plans on continuing with Grotesque Burlesque. “My full vision would be to own my own troupe and theater company,” Spurlock said.  “This is just the beginning of my dream come true.”

It’s studying, really: A false fight for finals in theater

Krystal Wilkins prepares to slam Karyn DeLoach’s face into a small tabletop. It’s all in good fun, though. The young women are rehearsing for their final in stage combat, a class offered by USF’s Theatre Department.

USF theatre department says an arts fee would make its productions more accessible to students

The Tampa campus athletic flat fee of $10, tacked onto tuition costs, allows USF students to attend sporting events throughout the semester for free. Some believe the arts should receive the same treatment.

David Frankel, theatre professor and director of the play, “Life of Galileo,” said it is as important to support the arts as it is to support athletics, and that the question of whether to pursue the implementation of an arts fee has been ongoing for a long time.

“The thought pops up periodically,” Frankel said.

On average, there are about four theatre productions and three dance recitals a year. The tickets for these shows usually cost the same as a ticket for the current production of “Life of Galileo,” which is $8 for students.

If an arts fee were implemented, most, if not all, productions would become free for students.

“The fee wouldn’t be an extreme amount,” said Merry Lynn Morris, the theatre and dance adviser.  She hopes if shows, recitals and some concerts were free, more students outside of the arts would attend.

Frankel said he understands that sometimes, $8 or $10 for every show can be hard to come by for students.

To compare, the athletic fee is $10 a semester for USF students with Tampa as their home campus. Both Frankel and Morris agree it would not exceed this amount.

Ticket sales for shows sometimes covers production costs, but often doesn’t, Frankel said. He hopes the implementation of an arts fee would pay for such things as set and costume materials, lights and production rights.

“An arts fee would help create more stable funding for the department and foster stronger arts programs, which would create a stronger university,” Frankel said.

“On a philosophical level, having an arts fee along with the athletic fee would show prospective students that the university values both,” Morris said.

Diandra Thompson, a junior majoring in theatre performance, said the budget for shows is already low, so the fee would really help.

“Art students already see shows for free, so we’d be paying again, but if it helps the department, I’m for it,” Thompson said.

“If all the shows were free, I’d definitely go,” psychology major Nicole Zasloff said. She said she often has friends encourage her to go to shows and recitals, but having to pay for each production makes it difficult for her to attend.

“It’s not fair athletics has a fee but the arts doesn’t,” Zasloff said. “Creativity is equally important as going to games and getting buff.”

Others, such as anthropology major Miranda Hammond, are opposed to more fees.

“I refuse to pay for yet another fee I will never use,” Hammond said. She said if the university wants to charge her for something superfluous, they must take care of another issue first – sparse parking.

Wrestling motif inspires USF art exhibition

The “Winner/Loser Binary Complex,” an art exhibit created by USF student Peter Cotroneo, which explored the dynamic through a wrestling motif, took place Sept. 26 through Sept. 29 in the William and Nancy Oliver Gallery on campus.

The exhibit was in Room 102 of the Fine Arts building. It featured wrestling-inspired charcoal drawings and paintings hung on white walls and a scene in the center of the room created with cutout figures. The scene depicted two opposing wrestling teams. Each wrestler had the same bunny-eared hood but with different colored Speedos.

One team was depicted as the obvious winner, standing straight with arms raised high. The other was shown as the loser, with each member on the floor, eyes crossed out.

“The scene cut outs dialogue between the winner and the loser,” said the artist, senior Peter Cotroneo. “But it doesn’t matter because the viewer may empathize more with the loser.”

The wrestling motif is very apparent in his work, but Cotroneo doesn’t follow professional wrestling. He enjoyed wrestling as a child, but after rediscovering it now finds it humorous.

“Imagining a grown man tanning indoors and dying his hair blonde for appearances is hilarious,” Cotroneo said. “Plus, they put all of this work in to bulk up but it’s mostly useless because the matches are set up.”

Art student Kevin Tsoi-A-Sue said the exhibit, washed in white with little color, made him feel like a spectator on the sidelines. This was an effect Cotroneo hoped for.

The exhibit started with a painting Cotroneo conjured during an artist block in the summer. The painting, featuring a bunny-hooded wrestler fighting another, evolved into a collection called the “Back to Work” series. The group was featured from start to finish on a single wall.

Cotroneo said he left things out so the observer could make his or her own assumptions. “I didn’t want it to be clear as to who was winning or who was losing,” he said.

Cotroneo will have art featured in the Senior Thesis Exhibit in early December alongside his peers’ work in the same gallery. By then he plans to have most of his art resemble his piece “Buff and Flex Result,” a large charcoal drawing with spare splashes of color.

“I want them to be slightly larger than life so that the figures dominate over the viewer,” Cotroneo said.

Along with classmates from his senior thesis class, other art students wandered into the gallery Monday to observe and discuss the new exhibit.

“I know the William and Nancy Oliver Gallery always has different artists’ work on display,” fine arts major Deanna Larson said. “It’s important to look at other students’ work because it can inspire you.”

Through the time of the exhibit, Cotroneo was not able to be present during all hours, but made appearances when he could to discuss his art.

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