Tag Archives: sa-performances

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Teens Rule the Berkeley Rep Teen One-Acts Festival

Every spring, the Berkeley Rep School of Theatre invites local teens to participate in a new works festival written, directed, designed, and performed by their peers. Unlike most opportunities for teens, recent college grads guide them through the production process, but the teens carry the bulk of the work. The process is exhilarating, exhausting, and inspiring to watch both onstage and off.

The process for the Teen One-Acts Festival begins in mid fall, when the school’s Teen Council—a diverse group of 9th-12th graders committed to cultivating the next generation of theatre makers and audiences—calls for submissions for one-act plays. The school holds a workshop, and playwrights have about a month to conceive their works. Plays range from period mysteries to futuristic multi-planetary adventure tales. Submissions are reviewed by a committee of select Council members, School of Theatre staff, and Berkeley Rep Fellows. The close-working relationship between the fellowship program and Teen Council makes this program unique—every year the theatre houses fifteen young theatre artists in a range of departments—artistic, production, development, and marketing—giving recent college grads a jump start on their career with real-world LORT theatre experience. Together the Directing Fellow and Literary Fellow help guide the committee in choose two one-hour plays the festival fully produces.

For teens like Morgan Saltz (center), the Berkeley Rep School of Theatre is a place that fosters imagination, exploration and creativity. Photo courtesy of kevinberne.com
For teens like Morgan Saltz (center), the Berkeley Rep School of Theatre is a place that fosters imagination, exploration and creativity.
Photo courtesy of kevinberne.com

After two plays are chosen, the playwrights are mentored through editing and revisions to tighten scenes, rework characters, and make the production feasible on the small stage of Downtown Berkeley’s Osher Studio. The next few months focus on outreach, getting teens from public schools, private schools, and home schools involved. Some are already Teen Council members, spending all four years working on the One-Acts Festival, others get their first glimpse at theatre outside of school.

The design fellows throw workshops, teaching the principles of costume, scenic, lighting, properties, and sound design. From these workshops teens sign up for technical disciplines, while others try their hand at stage management or producing. The Development and Marketing Fellows guide a small group of teens in publicity, graphic design, ticket sales, and promotion, a side of theatre rarely experienced before college.

Of course, acting and directing are the most coveted roles in the festival, but for those who participate multiple years, they usually get the opportunity to work both on and off stage. There challenges are similar to any high school actor’s: playing your peers parents or grandparents, swearing onstage in front of your parents, impressing your crush. The biggest difference is taking direction from a fellow teen. While any high school experience is met with the challenge of personalities, egos, and insecurities, the mentorship of the Fellow program keeps the experience focused on the process of creating professional theatre.

After casting and technical assignments, students begin rehearsal. Stage managers are trained to run rehearsals and note sessions the same way an Equity stage manager would. For many high schools across the country, the notion of a student learning anything about stage management is out of the question. Weekly production meetings are held with designers and their mentors, just like professional theatre. The teens are given the chance to teach themselves how to communicate effectively, skills that many designers and directors don’t attempt until half way through college. Berkeley Rep’s generous production department lends costumes and props, while the production fellows do the bulk of the physical labor, building student’s designs, hanging the lights, and training an eager pupil how to use a sound board. The work isn’t easy. Teens are balancing their festival duties with their school work, and the festival usually falls during AP test prep. The fellow class is always in the middle of a large production, the annual gala, and prepping for their professional lives after the fellowship ends. While both parties are tired, stressed, and overworked, students have the opportunity to learn from young professionals who were just like them a few years ago, while Fellows have their first shot at mentoring. The lines are blurry when it comes to where Fellows step in to tell teens how to create their festival elements—for the most part Fellows want to offer guidance, and teens are hungry for direction.

Caption: (l to r) Rachel Lee and Julianna Aker enjoy a costume seminar for teens at the Berkeley Rep School of Theatre. Photo courtesy of kevinberne.com.
Caption: (l to r) Rachel Lee and Julianna Aker enjoy a costume seminar for teens at the Berkeley Rep School of Theatre.
Photo courtesy of kevinberne.com.

In late spring, the year’s work comes to fruition with a two-weekend run of the festival. Everyone wears their company t-shirt (usually designed by the Graphic Arts Fellow). They sell concessions before the show. They give programs to their family and friends, and at the end of the two long weekends, they strike the show.

Many professionals from the Bay Area start their career, long before they know it, with the Teen One-Acts Festival. In fifteen seasons, the program has given over four hundred students the opportunity to take a show from idea to reality. Lauren Yee, playwright of King of the Yees, and actress Madeline Waters, Diary of a Teenage Girl, are just two of the amazing One-Acts alumni. Perhaps the greatest part about this after school program is that it’s completely free.

For more information about the Berkeley Rep School of Theatre Teen Council and One-Acts Festival, please visit their website.

 

See Shakespeare in the Redwoods at Santa Cruz Shakespeare!   For more information on Much Ado About Nothing (shown here) and other shows in the SCS season go to http://santacruzshakespeare.org.  Photo by RR Jones.

Summer Theatre — Outdoors!

I think it is safe to say — at least, here in New York — that we have finally settled into the summer. It is warm outside, people are heading off to the beach, and the ice-cream trucks are playing their music loudly in the streets. After the winter we just suffered, I am so grateful for the summer sun! In fact, yesterday I was in upstate New York on a road trip to see the lovely Kate Baldwin in The Berkshire Theatre Group‘s production of Bells Are Ringing. As my friends and I were eating delicious soft serve and strolling through Pittsfield Park after the matinee, we stumbled upon a free outdoor production of Romeo and Juliet. It was packed with people – tourists, locals, and families — all eating picnics and chatting under the beautiful sky waiting for the actors to begin!  It got me thinking about how wonderful outdoor theatre really is AND how wonderful it is that outdoor performances are located in so many communities around the world.  For centuries, most theatre was performed in the open air, and plays come alive in a special way outdoors. Continue reading

etiquette

Theatre Etiquette 101

Playbill

When I first started coming to New York as a little girl, going to the theatre was truly an event. My mom, who was not one to dress up, would always put on a nice outfit and help me get ready. We would put on our Sunday best and walk to the theatre in the hopes of finding a bit of escape or, perhaps, a chance to reflect on something more difficult. Going to the theatre was different from going to the movies or going out to dinner. What truly made it different, aside from the form of entertainment presented, was the fact that it felt like something “grown ups” did. Men and women took the time to appreciate the art form and, most importantly, they showed it the respect it deserved. That means they showed up on time. They honored the beauty of the theatre by matching the lovely aesthetic with their own adornment. Most importantly, they left their work and lives behind them and focused on the show.

There were no sippy cups for wine. There were no cell phones. It was simply a chance for people to sit back, relax, and be entertained, communally.

Look, I get it. The times have changed. When I was going to the theatre as a kid in the early nineties it was VERY different from when my parents were going as children in the late fifties. The one commonality is the fact that cell phones were not really something people had to worry about going off in the middle of a show. I remember the first time I ever heard a cell phone go off in the theatre it was during a performance of Dance of the Vampires in 2002. The woman next to me got a phone call, answered it, and said very loudly “Oh yes, I’m seeing a show right now. Michael Crawford is singing very loudly…I can’t hear you!!!” That was when I knew we were in for some changes in regards to theatre etiquette! I guess it could always be worse.

Recently an audience member at Hand to God on Broadway decided that walking onto the stage and plugging his phone into an outlet that was A PART OF THE SET was appropriate. Let’s just say this: it most certainly was not.

For many of you, life without cellphones is something you cannot even imagine. Nor can you imagine a world where you felt the need to dress up for the theatre. And look, I am not an elitist. I fully believe that it is important for people to wear what makes them feel most uniquely themselves. However, I have put together a list of my etiquette suggestions for the modern theatergoer — in hopes that we can remember that we are all in this together!

  • Wear clothing in which you would be proud to be photographed. It will make going to the theatre feel like an event. That means no ratty shorts, no flip-flops and nothing you wouldn’t want a date to see you in! And bonus — you never know who you are going to run into! You might want to grab a photo with a handsome actor at the stage door!

 

Kate Lumpkin on Opening Night
Kate Lumpkin on Opening Night
Kate Lumpkin on a typical (non-opening) night out at the theatre
Kate Lumpkin on a typical (non-opening) night out at the theatre

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • If you must have snacks in the theatre, do not eat them loudly during the show. The person sitting next to you will give you side eye if you unwrap you Snickers bar during the opening number.
  • Many theatres not only allow beverages now, they also provide them. If you plan on drinking during the show be subtle about it. Also, know your limits if you are drinking an alcoholic beverage. You can be (should be) kicked out of the theatre if you get too rowdy. 
  • Turn your cellphone off. Just turn it off. Don’t put it on silent. Don’t check it during the slower numbers. Don’t take pictures. Don’t record the show on your voice notes. JUST TURN IT OFF. You paid a large amount of money to be here (though, if you want to pay a little less, our insider ticket discount page might help!) The person next to you paid a large amount of money for theirs, too — they do not want to watch your face light up every time you receive a text message or miss a call. If you know that you can’t go for three hours without your cell phone — don’t go to the theatre.
  • Show up on time. Check your tickets several times and know when the show begins. Not all shows start at 8:00 PM anymore. Some start at 7:00 PM or 7:30 PM. Often, performances start at different times on different days of the week. There is nothing worse than missing the first hour of a show because you failed to look at your tickets! I always like to be there thirty minutes early. That way I can settle into my seat, go to the bathroom if I need to, and read through my Playbill! I love reading bios and knowing more about the actors I am going to see! 
  • Be respectful. Everyone has different opinions when viewing theatre. Some people might highly enjoy a show while others are bored out of their minds. If you find that you are not enjoying yourself, be respectful of those around you who are. There is no need to talk about your dislike. Simply wait until intermission or the end of the show and then leave, quietly. You never know who you are sitting next to. It might be the mother of the lead actress! It might be a producer or director associated with the production who you might be auditioning for in a couple of weeks. Because of this, I follow the “TWO BLOCK RULE.” I will not discuss a show until I am at least two full blocks away from the theatre. It protects me from putting my foot in my mouth in front of the creative team or someone’s loved ones.

If we all followed these rules I think the theatre would be a little more enjoyable for everyone. What have I missed? Do you all have any rules that make your theatre going experience easier and a bit kinder to everyone else? Leave a comment below and let me know!

News, thoughts, opinions and advice for the performing arts community.