In August, Jessa Berkner’s Oakland Technical High School advanced drama students will travel to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. As American High School Theatre Winners, they will perform Naomi Iizuka’s Hamlet: Blood in the Brain, which was the first development project of Cal Shakes’ New Works/New Communities program. (For more information, visit our news and NW/NC pages.)
Summer’s starting, and OakTechRep is full of exciting news! A few weeks before school ended, we made our fundraising goal for Scotland—suddenly, it’s so much more real to all of us who are going. In addition to this exciting news for all of us, senior Marcus Thompson, who plays H, the Hamlet character in Hamlet: Blood in the Brain, won the Beach Blanket Babylon scholarship—a $10,000 scholarship that is awarded to the best actor, the best singer, and the best dancer graduating from a Bay Area high school each year. Congratulations, Marcus!
For all of us, what we have now to do is rehearse—which is going to be a journey unto itself. We have a busy summer schedule, rehearsing at school, in parks, on the steps. If you’re around, maybe you’ll catch us at a rehearsal somewhere. The place you can for sure catch us is at Cal Shakes on July 26, when we have our last US show before heading over the ocean to Edinburgh.
We’re all really excited for everything that’s coming up. Since not everyone in the original OakTechRep cast of the show could make it to Scotland, we have to change roles and reblock for the smaller space that we’ll have in Scotland. Nearly everyone has changed lines and two of us have completely changed roles, which means new lines for most of us and new blocking for everyone. It’s going to be hard – this is all of our first time really reblocking a show that we’ve already done a bunch – but it’s going to be amazing in Scotland, so it’ll be worth it. We’re also really excited for the Cal Shakes show; it means a lot to us (thank you so much, Cal Shakes!) and it’s our last chance to show everyone on this side of the world all our hard work.
Because we essentially have another show to learn, we have a lot of rehearsal to go through. Even with all the craziness, though, it’s going to be an amazing summer for all of us. We all know we’re incredibly lucky to have this chance—and, sure, maybe we’ll have to cancel a day at the beach—but it’s more than worth it. I can’t think of anyone or anything I’d rather spend time on than this.