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"A Midsumer Night's Dream"

Last year Rivals of the West, MICA’s theatre company, put on Hair, a stellar performance that sold out the house. This year the production is A Midsummer Night’s Dream, an old favourite written by Shakespeare.

One’s first impression of the production might be how small the set and seating availability is. But after the first scene the small set changes into a beautiful forest with layers and layer of trees that reach the ceiling and trunks thicker than your waist. Combined with the lighting, It looked like a dreamland any child or adult would want to get lost in.

Directed by  Peter Shipley, and produced by Christopher Shipley. the play begins with a  dispute over whom Hermia, a young Athenian girl, should marry: Lysander, the man she loves, or Demetrius, the man her father approves of. She and her beau run away to marry but are followed by Lysander after he is tipped off by Helena, a girl who happens to be in love with Demetrius. This love rectangle of sorts is further complicated when the faerie folk decide to take matters into their own hands.

Woven into this story are the Mechanicals, a group of craftsmen who are directing their own play to perform before the Duke. One of these outrageous performers then becomes an object of affection to the Queen as revenge by the King. More hilarity then ensues as a result.

This delightful performance does the comedy justice, and will leave the audience laughing and sympathizing for the characters throughout the show.

You can purchase tickets for the show online or at the MICA bookstore.

The dates for the performance are as follows:

Wed. March 24 –Sat. March 27: 8pm

Sun. March 28: 7pm

Wed. March 31 – Sat. April 3: 8pm

Sunday, April 4: 7pm

Stay tuned next week for mini-interviews with some of the crew members who worked on the show!



Keith Photography

When it comes to anything glamour related, it’s hard to see humility in the persons who live it, whether it be through lifestyle, profession, constructed media identity, or something else. But talking with Bay Area’s makeup artist Van Pham, founder of Vanity Pham, cosmetics become more than the surface, by making up and thereby creating an aesthetically inclined membrane. She specializes in pageantry and wedding makeup for her work, but her talents and training bring her to areas of work that don’t necessarily make the general civilian think of “makeup artist needed”, i.e. to create gorey looks. Makeup art is one of those places where the line of selling out to working purely for money and client satisfaction runs parallel with the line of being completely independent and free as an artist; this is where Van sets herself apart as one who manages to converge and balance the two by owning both. Perhaps that is because the conversation is shared with Van, or perhaps the conversation serves to represent for the microcosm of makeup art.
Van Pham has always loved makeup. She experimented with makeup on her own face, dashing dark hues, bright colors, and contouring her face into all sorts of shapes through the stroke of a shade. She found that most others didn’t really want to get experimented on, but rather desire to be “beautified”. The various ways of “beautifying” to clients’ satisfaction range as long as their individual interpretations of how to appear beautiful, usually based on media’s wide propagation. They typically come to Van with a desire to look like Celebrity x-y-z. With every face Van makes, she is sensitive to the client’s desire, whether it be a gorey look for Halloween, or a China-doll face for a pageant. Due to her experimental and professional experiences, she can often tell what will compliment clients’ facial anatomy from first glance. Sometimes, clients are very set on a particular shade of red for lipstick, or simply cannot handle “looking so gorgeous”. They tell her just that, saying they don’t feel it’s quite their own face. In those cases, Van will wipe off all the makeup and begin again. As a commercial makeup artist, the client’s wishes are completely privileged. Van just brings her palette of expertise and carefully sensitive consideration. The humility she practices in serving others’ beauty, costume, and or confidence needs is the primer to her professional practice. But when she’s in her own private space, she spirals out with her artistic creativity, having been inspired by the nature around her every day.
Though she loves color, the gentleness and harmony of flowers are also reflected in her professional development and practice. She’s been assistants to master makeup artists, where she learned how to read a face for all its texture variations (i.e. wrinkles, i.e. acne, i.e. scars), moisture and oil production, as well as bone structure. From there, she considers her Asian background as a blessing when she caters to both Asian and non-Asian clientel. Her sensitivity to Asian clients a la being equipped with eyelid tape and fake eyelashes are another aspect of her uniqueness, when others may only be able to make a face appear symmetrical through contouring. But make no mistake, doing makeup is not in Van’s genes, or done out of monetary need.
Van did makeup secretly until she couldn’t keep it in any longer. Her clientel grew, as did pageants to work at, and weddings booked, to stay quiet. Her parents wanted her to “get a good job like being a doctor” because they themselves immigrated to the U.S. and resorted to the beauty industry out of monetary need. But after seeing Van love her work and being loved by her work, they too are proud of her being a makeup conoisseur and experimental artist.
The genuine truthfulness Van brings to her practice is one of the elements for what sets her apart as an artist. She is fully aware of the fact that cosmetics can only cover blemishes i.e. acne and wrinkles, and that they cannot provide a permanent alteration. She lets her clients know that though the makeup will make their face look a certain way for the camera, the fact that they need to drink more water to make their skin brilliant all the time, is something her brushes, creams and powders cannot provide. While cameras have come a long way in technology, the human eye can still spot more than just the aesthetic superficial.
Van’s role as an artist, while quieter than her commercial ego, is still a recognizable one. She’s constantly doing work with other artists, particularly models and photographers. She’s done makeup for photography exhibitions at the Academy of Art in San Francisco and University of California – Davis. And for those who can call a pageant a beauty spectacle or performance involving multi-media, Van’s always sought for those events as well. Maybe you can be the next one to be a time-based art piece of Van Pham.

To see more of her work, here is her website:

She’s currently involved with Miss San Francisco, Miss Asia Sacramento, and Miss Asia America, just to name a few.
Ellice Park

Exhibition Review

If one has not met Sherie Rose, please visit the Gateway Gallery and observe her in her unnatural habitat. Sherie, in actuality is the alter ego of Senior Painting Major Flora Choi, whose performance piece; Deluded Reality: Imagination Infringements of Sherie Rose took place on Thursday, March 11th. The gallery houses an octagonal dwelling composed of eight doors, in which Sherie works at her typewriter. The performance however is not only meant to be viewed. The audience is invited to interact with Sherie and get to know this intriguing alter ego. She is a bit shy, and skittish yet welcome to questions, she seems on many levels confused and there is a theme of displacement in her existence. Adopted from Korea into an English family and at the same time searching again to build a new family, Sherie seems to be in a struggle to find a place to belong to. The gallery in a sense is another example of her displacement. She is quite unsure why she is there and for what purpose. She has admitted that she would rather be somewhere else, and she is a little suspicious about her predicament. To one observer she asked if he is one of “them” who put her in the “octagon,” referring to her dwelling installed in the gallery. While one’s response normally would be “no,” in actuality the audience is partially responsible for Sherie’s trapped existence since the space was constructed for their viewing and interactive pleasure. The exhibit is and interactive experience, in that you are able to personally interact with the project. Through this interaction the viewer is brought directly into Sherie’s world, which is full of oddities and “delusions” about what may be going on around her. There is a direct recognition of her other self, Flora, whose presence is indicated in a video in the show, and Sherie recognizes Flora, although is somewhat confused at her identity. In that sense it is unclear whether Sherie is supposed to exist in her own world that the viewer is invited to discover, or if some part of her is also aware of the rest of the world. In her world we talks about the people close to her, but the only “people” from her world that we see in the tangible sense is her stuffed bear. It is highly recommended to visit Sherie and learn about her strange new world, which includes personal written and photographic documentations, obsessive-compulsive tendencies and phobias. Despite her shy nature, she seems lonely so try to get to know her and ask her questions. I may also add that it is amusing to provoke Sherie, so visit the Gateway Gallery and check her schedule which is posted to see when she will be in. Get there before April 2nd and prepare for an interesting interaction.

Jenny Robinson 2010


Justin Hoch,

Meet Jen Kwok. A slim, cute Asian American working in New York City as a musician, comedian, and writer all rolled into one. Wait, what? Yeah, she’s Asian American… But instead of the usual stereotypical job that Asian American’s have: nail manicurists, restaurant owners, cleaners, taxi drivers, etc, or being a housewife to another stereotyped Asian man with a small penis, this gal is actually trying to fight the stereotype. But wait, she hasn’t joined a human rights’ campaign? How can she possibly be an active advocate? Here’s the catch: comedy through music. Take a look:

Credits: Jen Kwok & her band.


Jen has received a lot of great feedback from her audiences– from inspiring some to become writers, to having Asian drag troupes perform “Date an Asian” onstage, to people covering some of her other songs, Jen has received positive response from excited audiences online and off– not only for her comedic performances but also for the messages that she conveys through her songs. She wants them to just have a good time with it and take it lightheartedly.

In getting to know her a bit, we see that we really get a better climpse at the pan-Asian-American landscape of immigration stories. Jen grew up in Palmdale, California, where she and her family were the only Asian Americans around. The only Asian Americans she ever knew were blood related until the beginning of high school. We see the states as a cultural melting pot, but when Jen was growing up, her teachers wouldn’t even believe that she ate jellyfish. Instead, they told her not to lie. Such a statement is met with either mild surprise or disgust, if not a mixture of both. Another instance of cultural misconception she encountered at a young age was when she was told she couldn’t marry celebrity Jonathan Taylor Thomas because she isn’t white. It was understood as a general assumption that races don’t mix except for polite conversation and in the necessary workforce. At home she’d semiotically translate jokes, and outside the home she’d translate her skin color.

She found that expressing herself through comedy as a language combined with song were two things that could hold people’s attention positively. She spins tunes out of her negative experiences and realities to empower the pan-Asian American voice and shed light on stereotypical injustices. Though she did pursue the job of an accountant after majoring in business, she quickly quit the job to pursue a career in comedy. Good thing she did, otherwise where would we get these great videos that make us laugh and a little more culturally aware? With her ukelele in one hand and microphone in the other, Kwok uses her humour to encourage other young Asian Americans, East and Middle Eastern, especially those interested in the arts–to constantly look within and have integrity with everything they do in life, honestly questioning everything. Then do what they feel is right. She encourages us all to do things for ourselves and not others’ expectations, even if it is incredibly difficult.

Stay tuned to see more of her! She’s coming up with a new music video in April featuring some of the performers in her “Date an Asian” video. And for more Jen Kwok while awaiting the release of her music videos (her youtube site), keep up with her blog!

By Ellice Park and Mon-Mon Wu

Mission Statement

We’re Artists meeting and talking with other Artists. Our interest is the Asian diaspora, and its farflung influences–and on the other hand, how Asian Culture and Arts have been influenced by the inter-culturalistic points its met in its travels. Tune in on Sundays for Microcosm’s regular goodness, and throughout the week for special surprises.
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