Saturday, May 2, 2015

Playing John Proctor

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I am Gerry Gimenez and I play John Proctor in The Crucible. This experience has brought me a new appreciation for the performing arts and what being an actor means, to a completley new level. I have experienced a wide range of emotions through living, and working with this very talented cast. I'm coming to understand the simplest meaning behind what theater is, and what it can do for people who love and have a passion for it. Berkshire Theater is open for any type of person, just as long as you want to build something truly memorable. My passion for working with dark material has made me extremely curious to discover the depth and intensity of this play.

In Act 3, my character John Proctor experiences a wild mixture of emotional stages. It has been a adventure for me to understand and manage these different layers of emotion. A very specific challenge that I have while playing Proctor is his contrasting body language to my own. One of the character exercises we did in rehersal helped me to find a center of gravity in my body. I began to see how to control and administer my own physicality through that center. This was an enlightening experience that helped me channel my energy into John Proctor’s body. All of these concepts and ideas from The Crucible generate a creative outlet that is highly applicable to every aspect of life.

Reflecting now as a senior, with three weeks left at Berkshire, I am coming to understand and appreciate the significance of learning from this present experience and applying it to my future. It's clear, that what I am learning from Berkshire Theater, will never be forgotten.

- Gerry Gimenez

Friday, April 24, 2015

Berkshire Theater goes to Salem!

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7:00 am - Cast Breakfast and Getting on the Bus
We started our day by eating breakfast as a group before we headed to Salem, MA. Everyone was very excited to learn new things about the town and the origins of this play. We hoped to get a better perspective on how people lived in the 1600’s. It was a beautiful day, 50 degrees and not one cloud in the sky, a perfect day for traveling. We left Berkshire at 7:30 to enjoy a three hour bus ride with the cast. A couple days before, everyone was assigned to research about the play to find:
-Three interesting facts about our character
-Three facts about Salem itself and the time period
-Five questions you may have through your research
         -One theory of what could explain the witch trials in Salem
I learned through my research that my character, Ruth Putnam, was actually named Ann Putnam Jr. after her mother. Arthur Miller changed her name in the play to avoid confusion with her mother. We shared our research with each other on the bus ride. I think we all had a better idea of our characters after knowing how they interacted and lived in real life.

10:00 am- Arriving in Salem
The cast arrived to Salem and headed straight to the Salem Witch Museum. When we got there, we experienced a mannequin narrative of the witch trials where our characters were identified in context . I learned that Ann Putnam lived very traditionally-no holidays, no playing, basically no fun. Tituba, a slave from Barbados, told Ann and a few other girls, like Betty Parris, made-up tales. This started to make the girls act strangely, which made people believe their behavior delivered from satanic spirits.  Eventually these girls were questioned and the trials began. Giles Corey, John Proctor, and Elizabeth Proctor were among the 19 that were accused and killed during the trials, most of them hanged. It was interesting to see our characters in The Crucible come to life. We then were guided through a timeline on different types of faiths involving witchcraft like Wicca and Pagan women.

12:00 pm- Lunch and the Witch Dungeon
We had a quick lunch and then went on our way to the “Witch Dungeon.” We saw a reenactment of Mary Warren and Elizabeth Proctor in the court. Many other characters were mentioned as a part of the play. After that, we headed down to a replica of one of the dungeons. We were told that the actual dungeon was destroyed in the 1950’s when the building it was located in was rebuilt. The dungeon was poorly lit and very cold, similar to how it would have been in the 1600’s.

2:00 pm- The Graveyard and Memorial
We entered the graveyard and got to see the tomb of John Hawthorne. There were many other people buried in this family, grouped with their family members and loved ones. Some were captains on The Mayflower. All of the stones ranged from the early 1600’s to early 1900’s. In a separate section of the graveyard, there was a memorial for all the people who were accused of witchcraft, which included Rebecca Nurse, John Proctor, Giles Corey, and Martha Corey.

3:30 pm- Looking at the Documents
We then drove to a research library where we were able to look and touch the real documents our characters were involved in from the 1600’s. It was a surreal experience to be able to hold something so old that was so important to these people. The writing was different than how we write today as it was much neater and they used different symbols to express certain things. Some of the documents included Samuel Parris’ deposition, Mary Warren’s deposition, and documents written by John Hawthorne.

In all, It was a fun and educational day to be able to get a better idea of what life was like for our characters and everyone enjoyed the company of each other and the experience we had while in Salem.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Real Talk with Jeff

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Howdy everyone! Welcome to another season of Berkshire Theater! They say that "April showers bring May flowers," this phrase applies perfectly to what's happening in Allen right now. We are currently in our first week of "The Crucible." So far, everyone has learned their lines, giving us the opportunity to explore our characters in more depth within the scene. Since, we "reap what we sow," we have to make sure that we have a solid foundation before moving forward and with all this hard work I feel very good about where we are as a cast.

Although the show is six weeks away, it is our job to make the most of this month and prepare ourselves for the flowers of May! Before we know it, we will be reenacting the Salem Witch Trials. Until next time!

-Jeff Erazo

Thursday, March 5, 2015

And the spring play is....

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Welcome to a new season of Berkshire Theater! We are proud to announce our spring play—The Crucible by Arthur Miller.

The Crucible is a fictionalized account of the Salem Witch Trials that took place in Salem, Massachusetts in 1692. The action begins in the home of Reverend Parris, whose daughter Betty lies unconscious and appears very ill. Around midnight the night before, Parris had discovered Betty, his niece Abigail, and Tituba, his slave, dancing in the woods causing Betty to become sick. The local physician is unable to determine the cause of Betty's illness. There is talk in the village of "unnatural causes."

Reverend Hale arrives from another town to investigate the strange events in Salem. The people of Salem have summoned him as an expert in witchcraft to determine if witchcraft is behind the children's illnesses. Abigail, the ringleader of the girls, warns her friend Mercy Lewis and the Proctors' servant Mary Warren, not to reveal that they were all casting spells in the woods. But once the Massachusetts government gets involved, the girls begin to wildly accuse the others of being witches, leading to mass hysteria in the town of Salem.

This season of Berkshire Theater, we will be performing the third act of The Crucible, which takes place in court. In this scene, all of the convicted woman, as well as their husbands and citizens of Salem desperately try to debunk rumors these of witchcraft. Most of these false accusations stem from personal grievances among the residents of Salem. Stay tuned and be sure to come out May 8th and 9th to see what the verdict is!

So don’t forget to keep checking the blog for updates on The Crucible. We look forward to seeing you in the spring!

-Jeff Erazo

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Opening Night!

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Opening Night was a complete and TOTAL success! Although we had run the show the night before, it was a much different vibe performing it in front of a real audience. We were interested to see what jokes would get laughs and how the audience would react to the emotional highs and lows of the song! As we completed our long warm up (includes visualizes ourselves having an amazing run and trying to gain as much focused energy as possible), we could all feel the insane amount of excitement and nervousness in the room. We were all so excited to offer Berkshire's community a gift that we had worked so hard on and put so much effort into during the winter. This was the second night we were able to dress in full costume, so a few hours before the time of the show, we came to warmup, do hair and makeup, and eat together as a cast. The pre show is definitely incredibly important and has a huge impact on how well the actual show will play out! After the final bow was taken, we all ran backstage into the green room to celebrate our incredible success. It felt amazing to have completed a full show without stopping once, but we knew we weren't finished yet! We had two more shows to look forward to on the horizon.

-Liza Jane Branch

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Tech Rehearsals, It’s HARDCORE!

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          The cast and crew of Grease had a busy and productive tech rehearsal on St. Valentine’s weekend; with all the props and lights coming together, we can all distinctively and determinedly see a uniquely awesome production of Grease reaching its peak, though through the desultory snowstorms and the wicked cold! Well, this is why we need Grease, as Mr. Howard says, “Let’s give everybody a gift in the middle of February!” Tech rehearsal is a 10-hour rehearsal split into 2 days, focused on light cues, microphones, and props. We are starting to move the band onto the platform on stage (yes, we are having the band on stage!) and getting used to some of the costumes. Grease requires a series of extremely complicated light cues in each scene, partially because of the complex blocking that comes with the large cast (let’s thank everyone for this.) One highlight of the show is that all 22 cast members are equipped with their individual microphones, and our sound designer, Graham, is working hard and doing a great job in getting Grease all mic-ed up and pumped up!
            Monday is Theater Dark, which means that everyone gets a day to rest and catch up on homework before we jump into dress rehearsals and the show nights. Let’s get ready for Grease and celebrate Berkshire Theater as the Chinese New Year rolls around!
            Remember: Thursday, 2/19/15 (Chinese New Year), Friday, 2/20/15, and Saturday, 2/21/15, 7:30 pm, See you in Allen Theater!

- Maggie Zhu

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Grease Load In!

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Things were looking busy in Allen Theater last night. With less than a week before the show opens, we unloaded all of the props and set pieces on stage. This is my favorite part of this experience-the show is finally coming together!

-Jeff Erazo

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Snow Day!

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After a great week of rehearsing the cast and crew of Grease took off on Berkshire’s winter weekend. Everyone went home for the weekend resting up and preparing for the rest of the current Berkshire quarter, and it seems like too long before we get back into the theater. With the snow day it’s even longer, everyone got to rest up another day as Berkshire’s schedule got delayed one day further.
However, that’s not how we in Berkshire Theater spend our vacations. Amidst all the fun and resting over the weekend, everyone in the cast despite leaving the theater did not leave the play. Instead, the cast members spent time on their vacations working through the play. With tech week coming up, and the show barely more than a week away, the cast members of Grease have been working hard on perfecting their parts.
Between learning songs, dancing, lines, and blocking, the cast has a fair amount to know, and the time we spend on the play on our own time directly improves the play as a whole. We also plan to meet at the evening of the Tuesday of our return to start running through all the material we have so far.
So here’s to a successful final rehearsal process and tech week, just checking in to remind you that the work going on in the theater department, while not always happening in the theater, is always going on.

-Alexander Dornemann

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Winter Break

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Greetings from Long Winter Break! Starting on February 5th, Berkshire let students loose for a few days off from the hustle and bustle of the winter days at school. During our last rehearsal during break, we were incredibly successful in getting some major work done in regards to blocking (finding out where everyone should stand and move in a scene) and dancing! We had a meeting at the end of rehearsal to discuss how important it is that we do our best to practice our lines, dancing, and blocking throughout the weekend while still sleeping and catching up on rest. When we come back to school, we only have a few days before Tech Rehearsals (when we figure out all of the lighting and scene changes!), so it's imperative that we keep Grease running through our heads as the weekend goes on. In addition to the original four days, we also received news of a snow day today for Tuesday! Classes will resume on Wednesday instead. We all can't wait to be back in action to finish this last string of rehearsals that lead up to opening night! 

- Liza Jane 

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Getting closer, and closer... We Are Almost There!!!

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Today is another snowy day in the Berkshires, just after the super snowstorm Juno that confused the rehearsal schedule for a few days... It's the last week before the winter weekend, and we've been revisiting and refining many scenes, and we've come to a close to learning all the dance moves in Grease!!! Everyone's been working super hard, and we are all seeing Grease HAPPENING more and more every day! We are paying close attention to all the details as we are blocking scenes and dances which involve the full cast. Although we sometimes can meet an "actors block," we would always rely on each other, and say lots and lots of "Thank you's!"

Wait for the big surprises from the cast and crew of Grease, warmly in this wicked cold winter!

In the picture: the end of the song "Grease Lightnin'!"

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Real Talk with Jeff

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Hey everyone! Welcome to another Real Talk with me this week. With about two weeks left until opening night, the atmosphere in Allen seems to be changing. Soon, the set will be finished, all dance numbers will be choreographed, and the blocking of each scene will be finished. Finally, it's all coming together!

Fortunately, we'll have a short break at the end of this week that will allow all of us to rest up and get ready for Tech Week. I'm really looking forward to the longer rehearsals. And before you know it, Opening Night will be here. Join us on February 19, 20, and 21 at 7:30 pm!

Until next time!

Monday, February 2, 2015

Closer each Day

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Recently, Grease has become more alive onstage. As we approach opening night, it has become more apparent that the show is real and that soon, there will be people sitting in the audience watching what we have been working on for the last 3 months. In rehearsal on Friday we blocked the final scene before "You're the One That I Want". Finally while rehearsing the blocking for the last scene, the characters just came alive. Not only did it feel like everyone had found out how to play their character, but the interactions and relationships became real. From now on it is anticipated that the same energy and understanding will be invested into each rehearsal and that is what will make this production of Grease amazing! 

-Tucker Donelan

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Pairing it all Together

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During the first few weeks of rehearsal, we concentrated a lot on the ensemble music. We spent hours in the Music Center working on each of our parts for different songs. We have also been spending a lot of time learning and perfecting our dance routines for various songs. Finally, we concentrated a lot on character, and how one portrays their role.
As we continue into the rehearsal process, we change up the schedule a bit, we start practicing more and more blocking, and solos and duets take time in the evenings to work on their singing parts.
Where everything becomes much more challenging is when everything needs to be put together. Being able to dance “We Go Together” is one thing, but being able to do so while singing the correct part and still playing your character is significantly more challenging. For this reason we make sure that we have everything we’ve previously done mastered. This allows Mr. Howard to concentrate on making us portray our characters rather than simply being able to execute the dancing and singing.

-Alexander Dornemann

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Second Tech Day!

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Today, we had our second Tech Day for Grease. So exciting! As Maggie mentioned earlier in her post on the first Tech Day, these days are good opportunities for cast members to come together in their Tech Crews to get stuff done. The whole cast is divided into Biographies, Blog, Publicity, Costumes, Headshots, and Set crews who each have their own agendas throughout the season. Not to mention our awesome stage managers and directors! They word incredibly hard on Tech Days as well. Today, the blog crew worked on straightening out the layout and working on our posts. The set crew is hard at work (as you can see in the video) helping create Rydell High School and other spots where scenes take place in the Musical. It's so fun to see it all come together on the stage and makes me excited to continue to use the cool platforms and ledges. It feels a bit like a jungle gym! The publicity crew is working on creating some fun surprises for you all... so keep an eye out as we get closer to opening night. Stay tuned to see what happens on the last Tech Day next week! Great things are happening here in Allen Theater. 

Liza Jane