It has been my privilege and shared joy to travel to China often with CSUN and CTVA students and faculty. In May- June, 2010, I was able to take ten CSUN Cinema and Television Arts majors to China as guest lecturers and screen their TV, film and multimedia production work at Shanghai Normal University (SHNU). I received a $10,000 grant from the CSUN Associated Students organization to fund student travel to the Shanghai World Expo where the CTVA students videotaped and photographed the play Meet Me at the Expo. The Theatre Dept. received a similar grant that paid for the trip for 15 students. In June 2010, the students accompanied me on the Culture Matters television program, English-Language talk show.
The back story: In December 2008, Robert Bucker, the Dean of our college, Peter Grego, the Chairman of our Theatre Dept. and I went to Shanghai Normal University (SHNU). While there, the Dean of SHNU Bingxiang Zhao told us about the upcoming Shanghai World Expo (essentially the World's Fair.) Dean Zhao said that CSUN and SHNU should do something together at the Expo in June 2010 to show our international cooperation. While I was at SHNU, Steven Weathers, who is a SHNU faculty member from S. Carolina, and I wrote the original treatment for "Meet Me at the Expo." The story is similar to classical US cinema "Top Hat" or "Meet Me in St. Louis" and also similar to classical Chinese stories of misunderstandings between couples that are resolved by traveling to another place where each person meets someone new who clarifies the misunderstandings. "Meet Me at the Expo" is a 5 act play where students from CSUN and SHNU perform their roles as CSUN or SHNU students, faculty and parents in the plot. Acts 1 and 3 take place at CSUN. Acts 2 and 4 are at SHNU. And for Act 5, the actors literally all come together at the Expo for the live musical performance of Act 5 where all the misconceptions and misunderstandings vanish. Acts 1-4 of "Meet Me at the Expo" were presented on videotape in Shanghai. Act 5 was performed live at the Expo in America's Square eight times.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton attended the dress rehearsal. Here is her quote about us: "After dinner, we will be entertained by an extraordinary group of young talent from California State University Northridge and Shanghai Normal University, who have joined forces to present a singing tribute called "Meet Me at the Expo." Thank you again to everyone who helped to make this evening and this pavilion possible. You have enabled me to sleep through the night once again.Thank you all very much."
Dr. Gustafson & CTVA Students on Culture Matters, English-Language Television Talk Show in Shanghai
Dr. Gustafson lectures at Shanghai Normal University