Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Strike and Cast Party

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After a great full day of two shows on Saturday, the cast and crew of “Don’t You Forget About Me” piled into a van and headed over to McDonald’s to celebrate.  And we did celebrate- a wedding at McDonalds – yeah that happened- Pratima wore Jojo’s wedding dress and all.

At Berkshire Theater we like to wrap up the experience with a cast party to celebrate and reflect.  This time when the show’s over is always bittersweet for everyone for each show, but especially for the spring.  With so many seniors who have made such a big impact on this program it brings things into perspective.  During "hot seat” we gather together and share wholesomely positive things we learned about each other.  The cast party of course would not have been complete without breaking into a round of our “Don’t You Forget About Me” mash up and singing “La la la la la” over and over.  I don’t think we’ll be able to get that tune out of our heads for a while.

Finally on Tuesday we striked” the stage, taking away all the props and scenery to set up for BIMP (Berkshire Theater Improv) and other upcoming performances.  Strike brings the experience full circle, doing the reverse of a set build.  You could say we got to know the theater on a different level after this strike- that is underneath the stage.  Led by ASM Carrie people soon after followed Carrie into the mysterious fun of underneath the stage.

On another note we’d like to give a special thanks to Hayden’s mom for capturing some great moments on stage.  You can check out her newly launched website to find some of these amazing photos:

Friday, May 9, 2014

Happy Tech Week!

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 Happy Tech Week! This is probably the most exciting week of the spring. After seven weeks of rehearsals, preparations, line runs, and warm-ups, things in Allen Theater are beginning to look exciting. People not involved in theater usually give Tech Week a bad rep, but I just love everything about Tech Week. There is something about the ambiance in Allen that completely changes everything. This shift is what we call “Robo.” It’s a very important element to have when involved in a theater production. 
Robo is the state of readiness, focus, and contained excitement that each one of us carries on stage and off stage. So what exactly do I mean? Unlike sports events in which teammates will cheer for one another during a game, Robo is a form of contained excitement. It is actually counterproductive for actors to cheer and yell for one another backstage; instead, we silently cheer each other on by giving someone a firm pat on the back or a high five. Nothing more. 

The purpose of this is to keep each other focused on the goal and to help keep everyone ready. And it’s really fun. There’s nothing that I love more than going backstage and having everyone focused before they go onstage. It’s relieving. During our Dress Rehearsal, this was definitely something that got all of us through the night. Thanks to Robo, we were able to put on a successful show!

-Jeffrey Erazo 

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Load In

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Load In!
So when exactly does Tech Week Begin? It all begins with Load In. Last Friday the cast of Don’t You Forget About Me came together to finalize the set of the play. When I first found out that this play was going to consist of four different 80s movies—Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, The Breakfast Club, Mystic Pizza,and Say Anything—I had a hard time trying to picture how we were going to build the setEverything suddenly became clear to me; The Mystic Pizza shop, Ferris’s bedroom, the library, Corey's bedroom, and Diane’s living room all seem to coexist together even though they come from different movies. It all feels right.

The Green Room was buzzing with excitement as the costume crew got everyones costumes into place. I could already smell the hairspray and gel. Backstage the props crew set up a props table with all of the show’s props. For the first time in 8 years, I got to see an actual boom box upfront. That just comes to show how obsolete this iconic music player has become. 

The stage managers took charge in steering the ship toward the right direction. Under the watchful eyes of Dom everyone was able to finish their respective tasks. The Green room was spotless, the stage was set, the costumes were in order, and the props were accounted for. Finally, the play had become one.

-Jeffrey Erazo 

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Set Build

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Sneak peek behind the scenes in the shop, where pieces of the set are made.

As the spirited cast and crew of Don't You Forget About Me heads into the final two weeks, work is moving ahead steadily on the set!

There's always time for humor, even between heavy lifting. 

Field trip to pick up mattresses for scenes in Say Anything and Ferris Bueller.

The set is coming together!

Set builds are always one of my favorite experiences to take away from each show. While they are opportunities to bond with the cast and listen to awesome music, we more importantly get to look back at the end of the day and say "we built that." Acting is only a fraction of the Berkshire Theater experience. I have learned so much about everything from lighting the stage, to using power tools, to being a part of a team that is totally committed to one goal. As a senior, this is my seventh production here at Berkshire and I am every bit as excited for this show to go up as I was the first time I stepped on stage. 

- Kennedy Alvarez 

Monday, April 28, 2014

The Theater Warm Up

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After a long school day, how do we transition from an academically-driven day to a theater mindset? With the warm-up, of course! I’m a strong believer in meditation, for it always helps me feel better when I’m stressed or worried. Bad vibes are the last thing that we need for rehearsal.
My favorite part of the warm-up (as I’m sure others can attest to) is the moment we all take to find joy and feel it in our bodies. And I don’t mean general happiness, but rather genuine joy. How many times a day do people actually stop what they are doing and attempt to feel joy? Probably never. As Mr. Howard often says, feeling joy is probably the most important part of the day.
While the warm-up features exercises such as calisthenics, voice warm-ups, and breathing exercises, I always look forward to seeing everyone take a moment to come together to get in the right mindset. Though I still have another year ahead of my Berkshire career, many senior captains will be leaving this May. For the past three performances I’ve been in, we’ve warmed up together. Soon, they will go on to their next endeavors.
I can’t tell you how many times the warm-up has saved me, especially on performance nights. It serves as a reminder that we are all here to do something special and beautiful—something that not everyone gets to do. I know that I can always count on everyone to back me up, and they can count on me as well.
So when you get the chance to meditate, do it. It does not take very long. Whether you may think that you may not need to warm-up to start your daily activities, I guarantee that you will feel better.

-Jeffrey Erazo

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Video Mashup

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-Margaret Butler

Time Travel to the 80s

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Walk into the greenroom and you may feel like you stepped into a time machine into the 80’s!  We’ve got a whole rack of 80’s costumes and there’s more to come!  One of my favorites is this wedding dress- it’s got super puffy sleeves and basically screams 80s.  And we’ll be going all out in hair and makeup too.  The costume crew already has plans for big hair and loud colorful makeup.  Mr. Anselmi (spoiler alert: who will be playing Vernon) even brought in an “I heart the 80’s poster” with 80’s sayings and quotes on it some even quotes from the films we’re doing!  And yes we’re super excited to have Mr. Anselmi and well as other teachers join the cast!  Having Mr. Anselmi in rehearsals has already added so much to our show.  He brings his full commitment whenever he’s playing his character.  Also, the fact that he happens to be a big 80’s fan brings a great vibe.  Oh yeah and Mr. Howard- he’s got that 80’s thing going on too.  Sometimes he’ll tell us stories about his time in high school, mainly that he was like Loyd Dobler in high school.  These stories are very much appreciated.  All in all, it’s super fun to work on these 80’s films and learn about the decade.  Sometimes it makes you want to travel back to 80’s.  “Like totally!”

Alyssa Cass

Monday, April 21, 2014

Theater Knowledge

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Just four weeks ago we sat in a circle on stage and read through our script for the first time. We are now about halfway through the process, which means one thing-- Line Run is only a week away! Line Run can be one of two things: either a celebratory event in which everybody is off-book and ready to dig deeper into the material without a script at hand… or it can be a total disaster. Luckily, after checking in with each cast, everybody seems solid and ready to sit in our circle once again to recite these lines that were once so foreign.
So how do we get off-book? There are loads of tricks for memorizing lines but here are the top three tricks in our group:

Recordings. Make a recording of the entire script, scene by scene, and listen as much as possible. Then, make a second recording, excluding your part, and leave extra space between lines so you have time remember and recite. Listening while working out in the gym, studying in the library, and even playing it bedside while sleeping helps.
Before Bed. This is a huge one. Your brain remembers so much more of what you study when it is the last thing you do before rest. So brush your teeth and recite a scene right before you hop into bed.
Always move. Note that I said before hopping into bed. Never recite lines sitting or lying down. Get up and move around; it helps you to get into character and lessons the urge to slack off. Also, on the note of slacking, never just run lines in your head—it’s basically useless. It is one thing to think you know your lines, and another to actually say them, so shout them out nice and loud!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

First Set Build

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With the show less than a month away, the cast and crew of “Don’t You Forget About Me” got together on Saturday get started on making the set. Dom and Sam, our Tech Director and Assistant Director, drove us to a secluded garage on campus to begin organizing the platforms for our set. Since four 80s films will be part of this play—The Breakfast Club, Say Anything, Mystic Pizza, and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off—our stage will accommodate all four plays by using various platforms of different heights. These platforms will give us better a better performance space on stage while giving each play a defined set to work with.

After moving the heavy platforms (and struggling), we headed back to the theater to clean the stage and organize the props closet. Once we got there, we decided to split into two different groups and make these tasks a competition. Even though the props closet crew had to mop up a puddle due to the leaky ceiling, they managed to come in first. Then the stage managers ended the day by sweeping and mopping the stage. Two more set builds to go!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Spring into the 80's

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This spring Berkshire Theater is doing Don’t You Forget About Me, a play taking popular 80's movies  and bringing them to the stage.  We’re using scenes from The Breakfast Club, Say Anything, Mystic Pizza, and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, all different stories but connect to each other in similar themes about relationships and parents and being a teenager. So far we’ve been working in a rotation system, with different groups switching off in different work spaces from the theatre to the film lab and the green room.  At “show and tell” we come together and share what we have been working on with the cast. 
You might be wondering how do we bring different scenes from films and put it on a stage as a play?  One of the ways we’re doing this is by using platforms.  Each film has its own section off the stage and the middle space is left open for all groups to use. We’ve also been playing around with overlap in different spaces, for instance, in a Ferris Bueller scene the characters eat out at the Mystic Pizza place. Doing scenes from films also challenges us to deliver to the audience in a way that the characters feel real.  A lot of time has been dedicated to character work in order to get the feel for who the characters are. With all the different experimenting and rehearsals, these first few weeks have flown by!
What the cast and crew are saying…
“We’re having a lot of fun putting the pieces of the puzzle together.”
–Katie Soper
“It’s a really cool concept; one play with four different story lines.”  
-Lucia Liencres
“I was skeptical at first for how we could make scenes from films into a play, but to my surprise it’s been working out better than I imagined and in an awesome way.”
-Andrea Cass

Friday, February 14, 2014

Into the Woods has Opened !

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Hello Blog Readers!

I know the pondering- type posts are more of Pratima’s thing but I was inspired after Wednesday night’s dress rehearsal I became inspired, so I decided to give it a shot.
One of my favorite parts of being in this show playing Cinderella’s Stepmother is that I have some time off in the second act that I can spend listening to the show from the wings. From the time that I exit all the way up to the Finale I can be found in a corner offstage left enjoying the last half of the act.  
I love Into the Woods. It’s been one of my favorite musicals since I little and have watched countless productions of the show and I never get tired of it. I find new things to love about it every time I see it.
I might be a little biased, but I think our particular production of the show is special.  The concept we’re using for the show it’s nothing I’ve ever seen before. It not only reinvents the Into the Woods in a unique new way but also completely stays true the heart of the show. 
For your viewing pleasure I thought of two pieces of advice during dress rehearsal that I would give to anyone coming to see the show for the first time.
1)     Pay attention to all the details- 
This production has called on the expertise of many, many talented people in order for the show to look and sound as good as it does and none of it happened by magic. So much hard work goes on before, during, and after the show because everyone cares about the smallest details. I want to encourage you to notice the lights, the band, the set, the sound effects, the makeup and hair, the props, notice everything. Take a bit of time to notice the work that went into show.

2)     Play the game-
This entire show takes place in a child’s imagination. Access your imagination when you come see the show and remember what it was like to read a fairytale for the very first time and see what happens when you come to show. Play along with us.

Well that’s all for now. Thanks for reading my assorted musings.

Until next time!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Tech Week

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This weekend we had tech: the aspect of every show that everyone  loves to hate. I personally love tech. My favorite part of any show is the lighting because of its importance and power. The magic in every  scene is established not only with the actors’ impeccable timing, but  also with the sound cues and ethereal lights, a.k.a. the technical stuff  to accompany the rehearsed emotional stuff. Tech is a great time to  showcase how much of a team we are, since it is our only chance to be able to sit in the audience and watch scenes that we are not in. During  tech rehearsal, we practice our backstage etiquette, which is  comprised of engaged silence, and an all-business tone. We turned the  blue clip lights on backstage and in the green room, signaling “go  time”. During tech, we also start using props for the first time. This is  both aggravating and exciting, because all of the props are incredible  (props to the props crew!) but trying to fit a cow on roller skates  through a closet door has been challenging to say the least. But, tech  allows us to see how much detail and hard work goes into the show  from everyone involved. Tom, who is helping us out with sound, made  sure everyone is equipped with microphones and waist straps to attach the packs. Carrie and Jake are running lights and sounds cues in the  booth, and Anna is our backstage manager. Ms. Connell took copious  notes during tech that she later shared with all of us, while Mr. Howard  was able to take technical notes, and direct the actors onstage. Dom  helped out with difficult scene changes, and Sam and Liz Wheeler were beginning the process of trying on costumes and make up in the green  room. Dr. Wu and Dr. Davis were hard at work in the pit, as we get  ready for the full band to accompany us during tech/dress rehearsal.  Tech rehearsal has put the play into perspective, for we can see  everything coming together. To illustrate my point, Milky White the cow has become my favorite character because of the sound cues – they’re  hilarious. Come see Into the Woods this Thursday, Friday and Saturday  at 7:30!

Pratima's Ponderings

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I take a deep breath and look around. Our usual bright fluorescent lighting for rehearsal warm ups has become the warm and welcoming glow of the warm-up lights. I close my eyes and try to imagine that every pink- and blue-colored beam coming from above is energizing me. I envision how these same lights have energized me for the past three years when I have an epiphany as sudden and frightening as a car accident: this is my last musical at Berkshire. I open my eyes and see my cast mates through blurry, tear-obstructed eyes. I feel my heart tighten and expand, as I become hyper aware of where I am and what I am doing. I listen to my pulse as I focus on my breathing. As I observe my cast mates again, I see them doing the same, and I am reminded of why I will miss Berkshire Theater so much.

There’s something about the work ethic and the type of person that our theater program attracts that allows everyone to be completely genuine and comfortable. We push ourselves to our limits while encouraging others to explore their own personal bounds. We attempt to discover our strengths that champion our shortcomings. But, along the way, we have to be able to access these flaws and acknowledge them probably in a much more graphic way than we have ever had to before.

And it feels amazing.

Every day in the theater, I’m able to reflect on myself and process everything that needs to be scrutinized, react to it and from there heal it. This procedure seems mundane and expected in any team setting, but that’s not always the case. My elaborate process of digesting my experiences in the theater could not be possible without my confidence in my cast mates. My theater experiences have been so successful and fruitful every time because everyone is looking out for each other. We all see each other at our most vulnerable every day, and we still love each other.

I’ve been told that I’m a sensitive person. I choose to ignore those who want to use it as a provocation. High school has taught me that nothing is worth doing if I can’t do it unconditionally. I used to think that high school would have taught me the opposite: If it’s not perfect, don’t do it. Truth be told I used to think that. I used to not only think that but I believed it and lived it. I lived towards the goal of perfection for so long that I forgot to live. I shoved my emotions aside and trusted only the technicalities. I didn’t go on the journey; I zeroed in on the destination.

Through theater, I learned the importance of accepting everything I feel and think. I learned to welcome others help constructively and lovingly by saying “thank you”. I learned how to lead by treating a six-line-role as if it were a sixty-line-role. I learned about the beauty of subtlety and the art of getting there. I learned the real difference between 40% and 95% (Hint: it’s not just 55%). I learned how to balance, and I learned how to challenge. I learned some amazing things about myself that I’ll cherish forever. But most importantly, I learned how to savor moments in my life.

As we get closer to performance preparation like warm-ups become increasingly crucial to Into the Woods’ triumph. Mr. Howard has reminded the cast of how fleeting the next week will seem, and has urged us to become more mindful of everything that we do here. Each show has a unique heartbeat, but in order to hear and feel the pulse of Into the Woods, everyone has to savor each moment (in the woods, haha).

When the long rehearsals get tough and all I want to do is sit in my room and watch Netflix, I remind myself of the incomparable thrill of the performance. I think of those moments standing in a circle onstage with my cast mates, looking out at them in the pools of pink and blue light, wondering how I could be lucky enough to get to bare my soul to these people on a daily basis.

You can mock me for how cheesy all of this may sound. But the joy that Berkshire Theater has given me these past three years is unfathomable. As I have learned it’s better to sound hackneyed and revel in the experience instead of being a casual bystander. Bystanders just look in; They’re sensory-deprived, (to steal a metaphor from Johanna Gleason.)

I just wish that there were a way I could communicate through words how incredible my experiences have been on this show. Sadly, I fear I am ill equipped for the intensity and craftsmanship of vocabulary that this description would require, for remembering this show will be like remembering the sweetest and purest melody ever written you just have to hear it to know.

So, I will choose to bask in the moments and drink up every bit of flavor and magic that they have to offer. It’s almost over and it’s only just begun.

Until next time, this is Pratima, and these have been my Ponderings.  

Weekly Walkthrough: It's time to Load in!

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