By Ivy Olesen, Teen Council member
Mark Wing-Davey has a firm handshake and booming voice with a
thick English accent. One could easily be intimidated by his presence and
achievements; he’s an acclaimed director, actor, and the chair
of NYU’s Graduate
Acting Program. Instead, Mr. Wing-Davey is a disarming mix of
wit and mischief. I had the pleasure of interviewing him as part of Teen Night, which allows high schoolers to see Berkeley Rep shows for only $10
and interview people like Wing-Davey -- it’s a deal that can’t be beat.
His gift for storytelling and inclination to talk with his hands
makes him an engaging interviewee. I, along with the 60 or so other teens
attending Teen Night, was immediately drawn in by his descriptions of Pericles, Prince of Tyre, and his work
in directing, acting, and teaching.
He began by describing a prank he had pulled on Berkeley Rep. In
his production of Pericles,
Prince of Tyre there is a (fake) baby
onstage that is swung back and forth, sloshed with water from a fire hose, and
(or so it seemed to me, as an audience member) almost lost to the sea. On April
Fool's Day, Mr. Wing-Davey sent Berkeley Rep staffers an enthusiastic email to let them
know that he had found a real newborn to play the part. This did not go over
well for him, he explained gleefully.
I gasped in astounded laughter and was then compelled to turn the
questions over to the other teens. Their queries yielded even more interesting
answers from Mr. Wing-Davey. Like Aristotle said: “the more you know the more
you don’t know,” and we all wanted to know more about him and Pericles badly.
I learned that there is a time for questions and then there is a
time for the art to speak for itself. For this we all walked a block over to
the Roda Theatre to actually experience the show. Mr. Wing-Davey had proclaimed
that Pericles is a “work in progress” and that although we may not agree with
all of the choices he made, he hoped they would be thought-provoking. Those
provocative choices kept me at the edge of my seat, an unprecedented experience
in my viewing of any Shakespeare play ever.
During intermission, I talked with my peers who were teeming with
ideas, insights, and opinions about the first half of the show. Was it crazy
nonsense? Insane genius? The most profound art that had ever been created? Pure
silliness? Mr. Wing-Davey succeeded in leaving behind the stereotype of a
boring Shakespeare play, creating something that felt immediate and even
relatable to teenagers, which is no easy feat.
As I left the Roda I couldn’t help but smile. All
around me audience members of all ages streamed out discussing the various
things about Pericles that surprised,
disgusted, and delighted them. This, I thought, is just how theatre should be.
Ivy Olesen is a
senior at Berkeley High School. She directed the original play, Orpheum, written by Frances Maples as part of the
2013 Teen One-Acts Festival.
By Sophia Cannata-Bowman, Teen Council Memberwith an introduction by Amanda Spector, Education Fellow
Teen Night is a staple of the School of Theatre Teen
Council programming. The event allows Bay Area teens to see a Berkeley Rep show
for a discounted price, enjoy a delicious meal sponsored by Phil’s Sliders and IZZE Sparkling Juice,
and hear an exclusive interview from an artistic professional. On March 8,
teens heard from Oskar Eustis, director of Lawrence Wright’s Fallaci,
before heading to the theatre to see the show. Teen Council member Sophia
Cannata-Bowman conducted the interview, and her reflections are featured below.
artistic director of The Public Theater in New York City and director of
Berkeley Rep's Fallaci, Oskar Eustis
could be considered a sort of "hero" to the teens he spoke to at Teen
Night. But Mr. Eustis doesn't strut like a hero, or drawl like a hero, or place
any claim on being a hero. As he spoke us about his career and passion as a
director, he exuded a great sense of modesty and told only the truth.
I had the great honor of being Mr.
Eustis' interviewer that night, and he could not have made the job easier for
me. His career alone lent itself to a great many questions already, but the
stories he told in response to those initial questions left me teeming with
many more by the end. When asked to share a moment of great passion that
epitomized his love of the craft, Eustis provided a particularly poignant
answer. Lighting up at the memory, Eustis recalled a moment working with Tony
Kushner on Angels in America. They
had been agonizing over a particular scene for ages, working and reworking it,
but never getting it right -- as a writer, I know the feeling. Then one day,
Kushner came into rehearsal with yet another rewrite. Eustis took a look, they
tried it out, and he knew. They had gotten it. Perhaps that moment of satisfaction
–- that gut feeling that this is right -- is why artists do what they do. Perhaps
we young people dream so fervently for moments like that.
end of the interview, Eustis worked up a great passion as he gave the room full
of aspiring directors, writers, actors, and designers advice on how to overcome
the obstacles of the business. He urged us to fight for our passions and to not
be afraid of failure. And when we do fail, he said, we must not take that as
honesty with which Eustis trusted us, the passion he exuded -- a passion we all
shared to the fullest degree -- was nothing less than inspiring. I am among the
population of wide-eyed students who dreams of telling stories for a living.
And listening to a man of so many accomplishments get excited about the same
things I get excited about gave me, personally, a great sense of comfort as I
strive to make a place for myself in this business -- to become my own kind of
hero doing something that I love.
Cannata-Bowman is a senior at Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory in San Francisco.
Her original play, Story by Leonard Watts, will be featured in the 2013 Teen
One-Acts Festival. For more information on the Festival, please click here.
Here's more from Alex Moggridge (Daniel) and the cast of Chinglish during their sold-out stint at the Hong Kong Arts Festival! Alex shares some excellent insights about bringing this show to a Chinese audience, and what it means for everyone involved in the show. Congratulations on a fantastic run, everyone!
The cast of Chinglish has arrived safe and sound in Hong Kong. Want to follow them on their trip? We've got you covered. Thanks to the candor and wit of Alex Moggridge (who plays Daniel in the show), everyone can follow this awesome cast as they prepare to perform at the Hong Kong Arts Festival. In this installment, Alex chats with his fellow cast members about how they think the show will be received by Hong Kong audiences -- inlcuding some thoughtful musings on subtitles, conjugations, and costume changes.
Be sure to check back on our website for more updates from Alex and the rest of the Chinglish cast throughout their stay.
Greetings repitilian gameboys and gamegirls, we at Berkeley Rep are in the midst of a time warp, and we're taking you with us in honor of tonight's world premiere of Troublemaker, The Freakin Kick-A Adventures of Bradley Boatright.
The year is ninghteen-mighty-four, the place is working-class Rhode Island, and the clothes -- wait just a gosh-darn minute, hold the cat phone, the intel has just dropped via solaroids of our last opening night, and let me tell you, those kicks with that hat ain't gonna do us any good unless you're goin' on the lam.
So gamers, scrap plans a-z on your opening-night duds, and dress as fly as our tween hero Bradley Kick-A Boatright himself with these fashion tips:
1. Whether you're weathering the weather in working-class or business-class Rhode Island, protect your noggin with a knit cap. Orange is a preferred color -- your sidekick can spot your noodle from a light-year away, even if he's got the vision of a mole rat.
2. Forget what your loser mom ever told you about horizontal stripes -- they don't make you look wide as a double-wide; no, my friends, they make you look like a kick-a superhero. And better yet, they come in almost any color to flatter the mugs of even the biggest a-holes.
3. Kick-A kicks are a given. Vans, Penguin, buy whatever your future hipster self would want to own in the year twothousandposerteen, and you'll be aces. Make sure they've got the support of your big sister's sports bra, cuz goin' on the lamb means dozens of high-speed chases, on foot.
4. The most critical portion of your opening-night ensemble's origin story is your wristwatch. Whether it be as old school as your granddad's Casio or hip like a Baby G, it will keep you on course of your mission plans a-z.
So gamers, my Swatch is alarming me that it's time to go -- solaroids to take, yuppy yachts to snatch -- but don't worry your pretty little heads, I'll be back in a flash with more intel on the bestest Kick-A clothing in all of Berkeley Rep.
Our heroes: Chad Goodridge, Jeanna Phillips, and Gabriel King. Photo by kevinberne.com
By Elliott Levy
At Berkeley Rep, we're always looking for ways to be more environmentally friendly and energy efficient. You've seen our recycling and compost bins, we turn the lights on in our admin offices only when necessary, our shops always think about how to reuse and recycle materials -- and that's just the tip of the iceberg.
We've been particpating in the Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star™ energy-benchmarking service. Participation in Energy Benchmarking allows us to view our facilities' energy consumption compared to facilities similar in size, usage, and climate across the nation. This information enables us to identify areas where we can conserve and how to do so most effectively. Of our applicable facilities, we have achieved an organization-wide rating of 91 on a scale of 100, with 50 being the national average. This outstanding rating has qualified our facilities for Energy Star™ Certification.
Last month our efforts were recognized when the city of Berkeley gave us certificates of Energy Efficiency Excellence signed by Mayor Tom Bates and Assemblymember Nancy Skinner, for "helping Berkeley meet its ambitious Climate Action Plan goals." We're thrilled with the awards, but we'll always continue to look for new and more ways to be energy efficient!
By Emily Radler, Teen Council member
On November 4, Teen Council hosted its second CLAIM Conference in
Berkeley Rep's Roda Theatre. The Conference was part of the claimyourARTS ("CLAIM") initiative, which allows teens to speak out about the importance of arts in
education. The CLAIM Conference gives dozens of Bay Area teens, including
myself, a chance to raise our voices for the arts.
The conference started off with a teen-generated
slideshow featuring facts and figures reminding us why arts in schools are a
must, not a maybe. From the slideshow as well as events later in the day, we
learned that student involvement in the arts is linked to higher academic
performance, increased standardized test scores, greater involvement in
community service, and lower dropout rates. These facts, among many others,
were things I didn't know until I participated with my team, the Ferocious
Watermelons, in a series of competitive CLAIM games. The games taught us that
it is important to act fast when it comes to standing up for our arts, and we
learned how to support our position with factual information.
As we all gathered back in the Roda, it was time for the main
event. Towards the end of the Conference, we all had the opportunity to put our
newly acquired advocacy skills to the test by pitching arguments to support the
arts. Our task was to review a case study of a specific arts-related issue, and
then put together and present a pro-arts pitch for three lovely judges. After
this heated battle, each team chose a member to participate in the final round
on the Roda Stage. It was amazing to stand on the stage where so many famous
actors have once stood to proclaim our love for the arts. Six Teen Council
members gave incredibly compelling arguments, some of which included moving
personal anecdotes, specific convincing facts, and some that had the double
threat combination of the two. Each participate received constructive feedback
from the judges and encouraging applause from everyone in the room.
If I had to pinpoint one thing I "claimed" after the conference
(besides the rad CLAIM swag, of course) it would have to be my own unique sense
of empowerment. Armed with facts, eloquent speaking techniques, and a whole new
group of motivating peers, I feel more ready than ever to continue to ensuring the arts play an active role in every teen's education.
I have been inspired to spread the word of this initiative as less and less
money is being allocated to arts in education. As the new co-chair of the
CLAIM Committee, along with Samuel Shain, I hope to be able to reach out
to teens and adults locally and across the nation who find themselves as
troubled about this unacceptable decline as I do. In the future our committee
hopes to host more events highlighting the importance of keeping the arts in
our schools, so you can be sure this won't be the last you hear from us!
To learn more about how you can be a part of the claimyourARTS
intitiative, check out our Facebook page, Twitter posts, and website.
By Amanda Spector, education fellow
So much of how we experience theatre has to do with what we see. Berkeley Rep's Teen Council was lucky enough to meet with Daniel Ostling, the Tony Award-nominated set designer, before seeing Mary Zimmerman’s The White Snake, which is now playing here at Berkeley Rep. Aesthetically, the set designer creates the playing space for the actors and is instrumental in bringing the show to life. Daniel has collaborated with Mary on a number of productions, and shared with Teen Council what it means to start with a book, a myth, or a simple story and to end up with a stunning work of art.
Teen Council member Emily Radler interviewed Daniel as part of Teen Night, which is a discounted night of theatre at Berkeley Rep for Bay Area teens. The event includes an exclusive interview and dinner before the show. Here's a video of the interview, where Daniel shares insight about the creative process.
One of our graphics department's most important tasks is creating the artwork for each show. This artwork appears on all marketing materials: the show program, posters, ads, postcards, and more. Good artwork doesn't give everything about the show away, but it does draw the viewer in.
The past couple of shows (An Iliadand Chinglish) and almost all of last season's shows involved artwork that was created on the computer or with production photos. Depending on the show, it is easier to use an iconic photo (like In Paris), or a type-based logo (such as Ghost Light) for our marketing purposes. Computer-generated artwork — which is readily altered and manipulated for all of the marketing materials — makes our lives as graphic designers a little easier.
Cheshire, our art director, had a very clear image in his mind of what he wanted for The White Snake, Mary Zimmerman's adaptation of the classic Chinese fable. Although we had access to production photos from the world premiere in Ashland, we wanted to create our own image of a particular scene in the play.
We took some test photos of Cheshire's idea — a woman with a parasol in a lush garden setting. Here is a test shot on the grounds of our Harrison campus. Karen, our communications manager, got to wear the big, heavy Chinese dress from our costume warehouse, and Tim, our costumes fellow, lent his hand.
After showing the shots to Mary Zimmerman, we went forward with the final artwork. For the final shoot, we had the costumes of the two main characters, White Snake and Xu Xian, sent to us from Oregon Shakespeare Festival's costume shop, and we used some parasols from our prop shop. Keeping with Berkeley Rep tradition, the artwork uses staff members (okay, just the fellows) as models: Read, this year's production management fellow, and me, the graphic design fellow. We are really lucky to be close to the UC Botanical Garden at Berkeley, where we took the photos. Their Asia Collection garden provided the perfect lush background that we were looking for.
Read and I waiting for people to move out of our shot.
Cheshire adjusts the parasol for the shot
It's always good to have various poses so that we have options to choose from.
After some photo processing, we finalized the image. Here's the photo as used in the show's postcard.
Fun fact: This is the second time Read's hand has been used in Berkeley Rep's show artwork. His hand was first featured in the artwork for Girlfriend in 2009.
The White Snake
, Mary Zimmerman's seventh show here at Berkeley Rep, begins this Friday. (Hint: good low-priced preview seats are available on Friday and Tuesday. Click here to check it out.)
To celebrate, Scenic Charge Artist Lisa Lazar shares a fun tip about prepping some scenery for the show. Take it away, Lisa!
been tending to the scenery for our upcoming production of The White
Snake. This show is a co-production with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival,
and we're using their scenery, costumes, and props.
scenery is moved between theatres, there is the potential for damage, which we
have to repair before the show goes in front of an audience. This
particular show features large imposing bamboo walls, and sadly the bamboo took
a bit of a beating before it arrived in Berkeley. Since the paint is very
transparent, it's actually simpler to strip it off and repaint damaged areas.
a variety of paint-removal methods, including chemical solvents and abrasion,
before eventually deciding on an effective and amusing technique for removing
the unwanted paint. This was a technique I had developed years ago, while
trying to strip paint off of opera scenery. At that time, we needed to
strip away large areas of paint, but couldn’t use chemicals and couldn’t
produce any dust.
did we get the paint off?
right: Bikini waxing. We applied strips of masking tape to the tops of the
painted bamboo, and burnished the tape so that it sticks firmly. And then we
ripped the paint right off. It’s quick, tidy, and efficient.
makes us all laugh, which is always important when working on a potentially
you enjoyed this glimpse into the ever-changing world of scenic painting here
at the Berkeley Rep.
"InstantEncore made launching a mobile app seem effortless."