Award-Winning Screenwriter Visits Scriptwriting Class

by: Sophia Pizzo


(Donata Carelli, center, with Professor Louisa Burns-Bisogno, center right, and Burns-Bisogno’s screenwriting class)

On October 4th, the students of Professor Louisa Burns-Bisogno’s COM242 course, “Script Writing,” welcomed a very special guest. Italian writer Donata Carelli presented her film, 2 Euros an Hour, which won the Bronze Zenith award at the 2016 Montreal film festival. After the COM242 screening, students were able to ask Carelli about the screenwriting process and her inspirations for the film.

Set in the small town of Montemerano in Southern Italy, 2 Euros an Hour (known as Due euro l’ora in Italian) tells the story of Rosa, a seventeen-year-old girl who is eager to get away. Behind her father’s back, Rosa begins working at an illegal sweatshop under the rule of a cruel and abusive boss.There, she meets Gladys, a dressmaker starting her life over in Italy. Together, the two women form a close bond as they endure the trials of life and love.

2 Euros an Hour was inspired by the true news story of two women who died in a factory fire in Italy in 2006, working for just two euros an hour. The women were found in an embrace, which inspired Carelli to begin writing her film that same year. Ten years later, 2 Euros an Hour was finally released.



Carelli said that she discovered her love for screenwriting by accident when her father signed her up for a screenwriting class. “Opportunities are always hidden behind something not so interesting,” said Carelli, who had been an aspiring journalist at the time. Her screenwriting teacher, and later mentor, was Ugo Pirro, writer of the 1970 award-winning Italian film Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion.

Though 2 Euros an Hour was based on a specific event, Carelli said that she can find inspiration from anywhere and anything. “If you give me a window, I can pull up a chair and dream,” said Carelli.

Above all, Carelli encouraged Professor Burns-Bisogno’s students to always keep an open mind towards new opportunities and inspirations. “The world is full of stories,” Carelli said.

Concert Review: Western Jazz Combos Breathe New Life into Classics, Debut Original Compositions


by Joseph Oliveri

WESTERN- With three different ensembles performing, The Veronica Hagman Concert Hall on Western’s Westside Campus could have been no better venue for Western’s inaugural Jazz Combo performance of the year on Friday, October 13th. Warmly lit, spacious, yet intimate, the simple stage setting and comforting aura was the perfect compliment to the explosive performance that showcased the immensity of the participating students’ tastes and improvisational proficiency.

The first ensemble, coached by jazz instructor Peter Tomlison, boasted the scatting abilities of vocalist Sarah Sacala’s bouncy scatting on bandmate Bentley Lewis’s (guitar) original composition “Limonata,” a tune with an arpeggiated motif that I still can’t seem to get out of my head. Following was a sultry cover of the standard “Darn that Dream.” With horns and rhythm section layered seamlessly, I was sure I could have heard Sacala’s smile in the lyrics had I closed my eyes, answered by baritone sax, tenor sax, and trumpet solos by Matt Schmidt, Nick Kallajian, and Austin Schmidt, respectively, with particular credit to Austin Schmidt’s whirling diminished lines. The Tomlison set closed with bassist member Niles’s Spaulding’s composition, with the tongue-in-cheek title,“Combros,” a lumbering bossa-nova that shifted to a bluesy, one-chord vamp that all soloists, particularly guitarists Bentley Lewis and Brian Suto, lavished over.

Following was instructor Jeff Siegel’s combo. While vocals were absent from this set, the intensity of the solos made up for it: the double guitar partnership rivaled the Tomilson group’s, breaking in with a crisp version of the jazz composer Johnny Mercer’s “Tangerine.” Second was another Mercer composition, “Emily,” preluded by a duo chordal interplay between guitarists Gianni Gardner and Tom Polizzi who seemed to practically converse with each other through the voices of their axes. Last was “Nimmo,” a ferocious instrumental that drove the guitarists, as well as Austin Iesu on trumpet and Malin Carta on alto sax, into fierce solos that married blues subtleties with avant-garde chaos. For this set, though, the title of show-stealer undoubtedly went to drummer Niles Spaulding, whose long solo on “Nimmo,” drew a few audience members to their feet at the applause.

Lastly, instructor Lee Metcalf’s combo greeted us with a scat version Nat King Cole’s “That’s What,” courtesy of perfectly-synchronized harmonizing between vocalist Samantha Feliciano and guitarist Chris Cochrane. A refreshing new addition of piano, courtesy of Joe Conticello, was introduced to us, and despite having a richer rhythm section, the Metcalf combo carried Feliciano’s voice perfectly, especially on the following number, “Isn’t it a Pity We’ve Never Met Before.” The hugely energetic Miles Livolsi stood out on bass, drawing more than a few smiles from the audience with his lines on the closer “Punjab,” which was marked by the show’s dramatic zenith; a strong-timbre solo from tenor saxophonist Nathan Edwards.

The three ensembles came and left the stage all too quickly; I doubt I was alone in wondering how how nine songs had just devoured the past two hours. If anything, I can only hope the WCSU jazz students’ professional-grade affinity for hot licks and sweet tones are no longer a secret.

“Beneath the Olive Tree” Director Inspires at Film Screening

By Sophie Pizzo


Director Stavroula Toska, third from left, with Dr. Theodora Pinou, far left, Dr. JC Barone, middle, and his students.

Last Wednesday, WCSU and the Macricostas Family Foundation hosted a screening of the award-winning 2015 documentary Beneath the Olive Tree, directed by Stavroula Toska and produced by Olympia Dukakis. The screening was organized by Dr. Theodora Pinou, Professor of Biological and Environmental Sciences, and was followed by a Q&A and reception with the film’s director.

Beneath the Olive Tree tells the story of women who lived in concentration camps during the Greek civil war– a part of history that most of the world, including Greeks themselves, remain unaware of.

In 1940s, the Greek people were made to sign a “Declaration of Repentance”, denouncing communism and declaring their support for the government. Anyone who resisted signing this document- men, women and children alike- were put into concentration camps on remote Greek islands, where they would be subsequently beaten, tortured, and even killed for being associated with the Resistance.

Beneath the Olive Tree focuses on a group of Greek women, now in their 80s, who kept journals of what really happened in the camps and hid them, buried in tin cans underneath an olive tree on Trikeri Island. In the present day, the women make yearly visits back to the islands where they were held prisoner, and share stories that inspire strength and speak to the resilience of women.

When director Stavroula Toska first learned of the women’s concentration camps, she knew had to share their stories.

“I was completely taken by the stories of these women…as a Greek woman myself, I had never heard of any of these stories,” says Toska, who now lives in New York. As the film progresses, Toska learns of her own personal connection to this untold chapter in Greek history. She knew that, no matter what, she had to make a documentary to share with the world.

“I was an ameteur when I first started with this, so I didn’t know what lights to buy, I didn’t have the money to buy the best sound equipment. I was like, I don’t care. I’m just gonna go and I’m gonna dive in and do it, and whatever happens, happens,” says Toska, who spent the course of five years researching and traveling back and forth to Greece to film “whenever [she] had time and money to go back.”

Among the audience were Dr. JC Barone’s film students, with whom Toska shared advice on getting started in the industry and pursuing their projects. While she discussed issues of networking and fundraising, Toska stressed the importance of being persistent and having faith.

“I always say that no matter what, you just keep going,” says Toska. “In hard times, when there’s no money, there’s no people supporting you…it’s that faith that you have in yourself, and in your project, and that commitment that you’re going to see this through, even if it takes six years.”

As the Q&A ended, Toska had another parting message: “Greek women are such badasses!”

Beneath the Olive Tree has been the recipient of several awards, including the Los Angeles Greek Film Festival Award for Innovative Filmmaking, the Santa Fe Film Festival Jury Award for Best Documentary Feature, and the IndieFest Film Awards Award of Merit. Toska continues to promote the film through screenings and film festivals, and is currently working on directing and producing for future projects.

Western’s screening of the film was made possible by the Macricostas Family Foundation and the Center for the Study of Culture and Value.

For more information on Beneath the Olive Tree and Stavroula Toska, visit!/three-candles.

Summer Study Program in Spain

By: Josh Fox

Are you interested in spending your summer in Europe? Want to learn more about a foreign culture at an affordable cost? If so, the Western Connecticut State University (WCSU) Summer Study Program in Spain is perfect for you.

Running from mid-May to mid-June, the WCSU Summer Study Program in Spain allows for students to spend a summer attending class in Malaga, Spain at the cost of only $4,300 – an estimated thousand dollars less than other schools’ programs.

The program is open to all WCSU students, and not only can it be used to fulfill the Intercultural Competency/Foreign Language requirement, but all classes taken can count for electives or major/minor requirements in Spanish. In addition to education, the program also gives students opportunities to travel to the cities of Madrid and Marbella and learn how to dance the flamenco and cook Spanish food like paella and tapas.

“The strength of the program is not only in its linguistic immersion, but also in its cultural immersion,” said Dr. Galina Bakhtiarova of the World Languages and Literature department, founder of the WCSU Summer Study Program in Spain. “Students live with Spanish families who provide room and board. That allows students to be part of the community. We’re not tourists, we’re part of the community.”


The WCSU Summer Study Program in Spain was founded ten years ago by Dr. Bakhtiarova under the belief that studying abroad is a necessity, and she has made it her mission to work with each student to help them fulfill and enhance their academic goals.

If you’re interested in applying to the program, go online to and fill out the application. All applications are due by February 15th. If you have any questions, please contact Dr. Bakhtiarova at or in her office, Berkshire Hall 215D.

Summer Movie Madness

Alana Branch | Arts & Entertainment Editor

Still brokenhearted over the dullness of Batman v. Superman? Then no fear; Captain America: Civil War is here.

Well, almost.

The highly-anticipated blockbuster is set to hit theaters in the United States on Friday, May 6. Yes, it coincides with final exams, but it’s a welcoming reminder that summer is upon us!

Meanwhile in international markets, Captain America: Civil War is meeting all expectations, already surpassing the $200 million mark.

It’s safe to say that it’ll do just fine over here.

So, are you Team Cap or Team Iron Man?

Personally, I’m Team Black Panther.

Do yourselves a favor and check it out!

Happy Summer!

Rock Out with Local Singer-Songwriter Chuck DelRossi

Looking to blow off some steam in midst of studying for finals? Need something fun to do on a Friday night? Look no further! Come check out local experienced folk-rock singer Chuck DelRossi whose music carries 60’s and 70’s rock vibes.


Chuck Del Rossi writes from the soul with music influenced by his life experiences. He will be performing on April 29 8:30 pm at the Filet Bar & Grill on 43 S Main Street, in Newtown.

For More Information go to





Bees and Lemonade

In a generation where one can purchase contraptions like the Smart Mattress to catch a cheating partner, no one should have been surprised when one of our favorite celebrities Beyoncé came out with her visual album Lemonade dishing the details on Jay-Z’s infidelity. Yet, shocked we remain. Beyoncé always manages to create a buzz in the bey-hive, first with her hit-single Formation dropping right before the Super Bowl, and then with built-up anticipation for her the album, Lemonade, which is by far one of her best masterpieces yet.


The album is an hour-long combination of poetry, music, and visual eye-candy. Beyoncé takes us on an emotional journey through denial, anger, emptiness, accountability, forgiveness, redemption, hope. As we know, Beyoncé is not shy to celebrate black culture demonstrated in her video Formation which highlights the after affects of Hurricane Katrina on the black community and discourses about racially-charged police brutality. In her album Lemonade, Beyoncé again does not shy away from commentary on the “black woman as the most disrespected person” and black men’s roles in their families’ lives. Honest, breathtaking shots of black neighborhoods that bespeaks pride of her roots are a welcome sight after the death iconic African-American figure Prince. Lemonade is not just a one-watch album, filled with complex layers of multimedia, it is a truly transcendental experience that breaks the internet and artistic barriers.


WCSU alumnus publishes new novel, “The Code Silencer”

A few years into the elusive and exciting career of bounty hunting, Edwin Rivera decided to turn to the books and attend Western Connecticut State University to major in JLA from 1996 to 2001.

142096ac-f3b7-4bc5-94de-61b426986128.jpgAnd while challenging his creative side, Rivera ended up publishing several poems and eight novels over the next fifteen years.

“Dr. Harold Schramm was a mentor to me at WCSU,” Rivera recalls. “He was always giving me good advice and encouragement. I am grateful deeply to WCSU.”

Most recently, Rivera published The Code Silencer, a novel about a futuristic bounty hunter who must save humanity from an evil one-world government.

“It’s a very misunderstood line of work that provides more benefits to society than one may think,” Rivera says of The Code Silencer. “We’re a group of mavericks not afraid to break the rules and endure personal sacrifices in order to get the job done. This story will open people’s eyes to the work we do.”

This year, Rivera retired from 26 years of bounty hunting.

“My body could not take it anymore,” Rivera says. “I got older, a little worn out, so I stopped. [And] although I still have my state credentials, I don’t take any jobs or assignments.”

Rivera grew up in the Bronx and moved to Danbury when he was 12 years old and always had a knack for reading and writing. It was an English Composition course at Western that turned him onto storytelling.

“It was then that I felt someday to write a novel,” Rivera says.

Unfortunately, life isn’t fair and sometimes throws the hardest curveballs. For Rivera, it was when his sister got sick and writing for fun suddenly came to a halt.

When his sister, Mayda, fell ill in 2007, Rivera promised her that he would finish his book and get it published as soon as possible. And luckily, she was able to read it. 12966229_809194005852742_1887442784_n.jpg

“I was writing for fun, but not serious enough,” Rivera recalls. “I made the promise to her to finish A Writer of Time and to donate money from every book sale I made to fight against lymphoma.”

But by January 2008, his sister had passed. And though Rivera grieved for her, his promise only motivated him to keep writing.

“During her stay in the hospital, I went to her room and gave her a copy of the book. That woman cried – but not for feeling sorry or sad, but of celebration, as she said to me, ‘You did it, bro.’ I never in my wildest dreams knew how impactful writing could be to anyone reading it in the world.”

“I loved her and I dedicated the next upcoming novel, The Realm of Writers, to her. Since then, I’ve been writing to get published,” he continues.

Rivera is also the author of The Hills of Galbothia, Unforgiving to Forgiven, and Dreams Desires.

Most recently, Rivera was inducted into the Poetryfest Hall of Fame. And as for what’s next?

“I have used this gift to get away from the moment of sadness and to bring something  to people around the world,” says Rivera. “My goal is to have my novels on the big screen.”

Visit Edwin Rivera on Facebook, Goodreads, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble.



Stop Recycling My Childhood

Alana Branch | Arts & Entertainment Editor

In movie news, Jon Favreau’s The Jungle Book was released this past Friday to critical acclaim and dominated the box office with $103.6 million for Walt Disney Studios.

And soon there’s to be another live adaptation of the beloved Rudyard Kipling classic, helmed this time by Andy Serkis.

Recently, several entertainment outlets reported that there could be a remake of a Robin Williams favorite, Jumanji, starring dynamic duo Dwayne Johnson (The Rock) and Kevin Hart, whose film Central Intelligence hits theaters June 17.

After reading this, immediately three words come to mind: WHAT. THE. FUCK.

Added to the long list of questionable trends in Hollywood is live reboots/remakes of some of our favorite childhood movies; movies we grew up watching and continue to watch because why not? Most of them appear on TV.

Do you know how many times I’ve seen Toy Story parts 1, 2 & 3 with commercials around the holiday season?

Just last year, Disney put out the very successful Cinderella, and next spring, Emma Watson, who I’ll honestly always see as Hermione Granger, will portray Belle, seen for the first time on big screen in the live version of Beauty & the Beast.

Is it safe to say that originality is lacking like it always has been in Hollywood? For a normal movie-going person, it may not be as big a deal as it is for someone like me, an aspiring screenwriter who strives to look for something different, even if just a speck in a pool of similar ideas.

If it screams big money, then studios will go for it even if it’s been done several times before.

However, if they touch The Lion King, I’m going nuts.



Brothers McClurg to bring indie folk style “Worship Round The Mic” to Danbury

Worship leaders and songwriters Brothers McClurg are set to bring an evening worship,stories, and songs to the Community Coffeehouse (7 Madison Ave) in Danbury at 8 p.m. on April 16. The night will include a time of folk style “Worship Round The Mic” and will be followed by a chance for those in attendance to meet the artist while enjoying free coffee and refreshments. Tickets are $12 in advance and can be purchased online at or at the door.

Hailing from Buffalo, NY, the Brothers McClurg has brought warmth and hope to an area known for its frigid winters, as well as its depressed economy—now making national headlines for as upswing. The band’s mission is to carry Jesus’ message of life, hope and forgiveness to cities that have been told they’re dead, hopeless and forgotten. thumbnail_Brothers+McLurg+Flyer+04-16-16.jpg

Brothers McClurg’s legacy of music and ministry spans three generations and has a rich heritage of serving the local church. What started out as two bands fronted by brothers Anthony and Chris Hoisington, has turned into a group of Christian brothers who share a desire to see lives changed through worship.

The band name pays homage to Anthony and Chris’ greatest influence: their maternal grandfather Pastor Bill McClurg, who led the southern gospel group The McClurg Family Singers.

“We see it as a way of continuing the legacy and ministry while giving it a fresh vision,” says Chris.

The Brothers love their community through prayer and acts of service, blessing the Church and uniting the Body of Christ in worship. Their goal has always included breaking down denominational barriers, starting with themselves as each band member comes from a different church tradition.

“We want to spur one another on, lifting up the name of Christ inside the church, as well as in the streets,” says Anthony. “Our goal is to rally the church to action, loving one another and also loving the ‘unlovely’ and replicating this passion in every city and community we encounter.”

Chris explains, “Brothers McClurg is a traveling version of your church’s worship team, with many players and faces each adding to what God is doing in times of worship.”

The band, with four previous albums, is pleased to announce the release of their newest LP entitled Home. The record was going to be independently released following the band’s amicable parting with Integrity Music, but now finds its home on the Sprig label. Additionally, Around The Mic is Home’s companion release, celebrating the band’s southern roots heritage. Both albums are available on iTunes, Amazon, and other retailers.

For more information about this event or the Community Coffeehouse visit them online at