Event Planning 101: My Internship Crash Course

by Sarah Lamb

Opening night is a big deal for theaters, of course. It’s the first time all the artistry and hard work is shown to the public. (Aside from previews, open rehearsals, and the other promotional events along the way.) Other parts of opening night also include audience enrichment, thanking producers and donors, and the after party. The opening night after party is a tradition among professional theaters, and is a way to celebrate the work and the actors with family, friends, staff, and audience members.

In less than two weeks of working at Cal Shakes, I found myself scurrying around at the Bruns in a quiet attempt to set up the after party for The Comedy of Errors. I’m a Special Events intern from central Wisconsin and go to school at Columbia College Chicago for Arts Management. I arrived in the Bay Area less than two weeks before opening night, and during those weeks I absorbed myself into the planning process. In addition, since this internship is part time, I have the time to explore a beautiful city that I have never visited before.

The first couple days of the internship were exactly what anyone expected: orientation and filling out paperwork, introductions to so many people all you have are a jumble of faces and names as you try to piece them together, pretending you remember all of those names for about a week, and tours and instructions no one actually expects you to remember. But bonus points if you do. For me, I was also trying to remember my way home, what bus to take, and where exactly the grocery store was. I live in the intern apartment with three other girls, so the mad dash to learn the area was added to trying to learn the company.

Before I knew it, I was finding myself settling into the company. I was putting names to faces (finally) and could get myself home and fed without needing to ask for directions. If I’m being honest, I was expecting to have to do traditional internship tasks, like making coffee, fighting with the copier, and all that goes with those clichés. On the contrary, I was sitting in on meetings, giving input, and collaborating to create multiple successful, enriching events.

Opening night was filled with a lot of logistics. I arrived shortly after 4:00 to set up the Producer’s Dinner – one of Cal Shakes’ way of thanking the people who make each production possible, and then constantly doing something else. By the time I finished one task, another was on the list to be completed as soon as possible. It’s fast-paced, sudden, hectic, and exactly what I love.

When you’re planning an event, there’s nothing quite as satisfying as seeing a large amount of people having fun and enjoying the work and thought you put into it, which is precisely what the reaction was to our Carnival of Errors. Between the jugglers, the dress up photo booth, the atmosphere created, and the food, the guests were happy and enjoying themselves.

Between starting a new position, meeting people I’m sure I will continue to be friends and contacts with, exploring a new city, participating in area festivals, and producing a successful event, I have had an amazing first two weeks in the Bay Area.

 

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Making Oscar Proud

Dramaturgy Intern Clio McConnell blogs from inside the Lady Windermere’s Fan rehearsal room.

Before actually landing one’s dream job in the real world, the average college student looks upon that prospect as a sort of utopian ideal: Naturally, one’s dream job involves spending all day doing something one enjoys and is good at. If one is lucky, of course, this utopia will eventually become reality.

By that standard, hanging out at Cal Shakes this summer has been a really lucky break for me. The more time I spend in the rehearsal room for Lady Windermere’s Fan, the harder it is to imagine a better workplace. From the first read-through it has been clear that this early Oscar Wilde play is seriously complex, with a lot of complicated relationships and moral quandaries. But I assumed that director Christopher Liam Moore would have a vision to dive into straightaway—to my untrained mind, that is what a director does. Of course, Chris had a thoroughly better idea about how to approach directing.

Stacy Ross (Mrs. Erlynne), Emily Kitchens (Lady Windermere), and Aldo Billingslea (Lord Windermere) in Cal Shakes’ production of Lady Windermere’s Fan by Oscar Wilde, directed by Christopher Liam Moore; photo by Kevin Berne.

Stacy Ross (Mrs. Erlynne), Emily Kitchens (Lady Windermere), and Aldo Billingslea (Lord Windermere) in Cal Shakes’ production of Lady Windermere’s Fan by Oscar Wilde, directed by Christopher Liam Moore; photo by Kevin Berne.

On the first day of rehearsal he spoke to a huge group of actors, designers, production crew, Cal Shakes staff, and donors, essentially saying to us: “I could tell you what I think this play is about. But instead, I’m going to wait for these actors to teach me what it’s about.” And from then on, the process of Lady Windermere’s Fan has been a great big learning experience—for everyone, I think (directors, actors, stage managers, dramaturg), but especially for me.

Indeed, we have all learned (or been reminded of) a fair amount about Oscar Wilde and his London. We know about the peerage system—a Duke is higher than a Lord, for anyone who was wondering—and about how to properly convey one’s feelings with a certain wave of a fan. We know about 1870s fashion and train schedules and Victorian gentlemen’s clubs. Hopefully all of these fascinating minutiae will afford lessons that the audience can learn from their seats. But I have learned one thing above all that will not (and should not!) manifest in the final production: that this show has had a head-spinning trajectory of evolution.

After the first day of work, I remember chatting with one of the actors and telling her how great her scene had looked (because it really had been lovely). She grimaced, saying, “No, no—let’s just forget about today.” This has been the overwhelming attitude of everyone involved: We can always know more and we can always change things.

So, my utopian ideal of working in the theater is largely based on a dream to work with intelligent people. As far as that wish goes, I think I have fallen in with the right crowd, because the Lady Windermere’s Fan rehearsal room is pervaded by an air of intelligent wit—an air, I think, which Mr. Wilde would have much appreciated.

Lady Windermere’s Fan, directed by Christopher Liam Moore, is on stage at the Bruns Amphitheater in Orinda from August 14 to September 8.

 

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Dispatch #1 from the R&J Rehearsal Hall: Small Miracles of Joy

Hello, this is Peter Selawsky blogging from the Cal Shakes rehearsal hall. I’ve been coming to Cal Shakes productions since I was a child growing up in the East Bay, and I’m very excited for the opportunity to sit in on rehearsals for Romeo and Juliet and write about the process I’m witnessing.

On Tuesday, June 4, at the first-rehearsal Meet-and-Greet for Romeo and Juliet, director Shana Cooper shared her thoughts about her upcoming Cal Shakes production. Cooper envisions a raw Romeo and Juliet that strips away the expectations and preconceptions most of us have built up around one of Shakespeare’s most well-known works, honing in on the extremity of the elemental human passions at the heart of the play—hate and love. In Shakespeare’s Verona, the two passions are equally important, equally powerful, and equally inexplicable: Just as we can never explain the origin of love, we never learn the cause of the famous family feud that drives the play’s tension.

Dan Clegg and Rebekah Brockman as Romeo and Juliet

Dan Clegg and Rebekah Brockman as Romeo and Juliet; photo by Kevin Berne.

Love has the potential to heal the houses’ rancor, and offers an oasis or sanctuary in the very heart of a world of violence. Romeo and Juliet find love in a sea of hate, and it briefly transforms them into their best selves, giving them unexpected strength and courage. The play asks us whether or not true love can overcome a history of hate, sustaining itself against a world of violence where everything seems to conspire to push the characters towards their worst, most primal selves. Some moments in the play, such as Juliet’s willingness to be buried alive in order to remain faithful to her love, inspire great hope in the triumph of love. But in abandoning himself to his rage and killing Tybalt, Romeo perpetuates the cycle of violence that defines the world of Verona, turning a potential comedy irreversibly toward tragedy.

For all the play’s talk of star-crossed lovers and fortune’s fools, Shakespeare suggests that it is not fate, but the very basic human choice of hate over love in a moment of passion that shapes the course of these lives. As such, the production will emphasize the comedy and occasionally surprising tonal shifts of the play’s first half, creating a world where the inescapable brutality of the second half makes love all the more miraculous. Small miracles of joy and humor allow small moments of love, distracting us from the harsher surrounding reality.

With a cast of only seven, the production will be marked by a fluid, guerilla theater-influenced style featuring quick changes of costumes and visible character shifts. This—along with stark, minimal scenery and a setting bound to no particular place or time—places the focus entirely on a small group of actors who will become both chorus and street performers in order to tell a universal story.

Romeo and Juliet begins previews on July 3, opening July 6. Rehearsals are now fully underway, and I will be updating this blog with periodic posts on the production’s ongoing development and rehearsal process. Look for a preview of Romeo and Juliet’s costume and set design up next.

Big thanks go to Jay Yamada for making this blogging fellowship possible.

 

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Getting to Know Brett Jones

Brett in the Cal Shakes rehearsal hall

Brett in the Cal Shakes rehearsal hall; photo by Janet Magleby.

Cal Shakes Marketing & Communications Director Janet Magleby introduces you to one of the minds behind this summer’s Conservatories.

One of two new Summer Shakespeare Conservatory coordinators joining us this summer is Brett Jones.  A recent Theater Performance graduate from the University of Northern Iowa, Brett spent last summer with Cal Shakes as a Teaching Artist Fellow in the Artistic Learning department, working alongside our fabulous teaching artists. He helped teach classes in movement, acting, and Shakespeare history at the Bentley (Lafayette) campus. The summer prior,  Brett was an intern in our Professional Immersion Program. This summer as the Oakland Conservatory Coordinator he’ll be busy making sure every detail of our Holy Names campers’ days run smoothly.

Brett was born in Japan to an Air Force family. When he was 10, his dad retired from the military and the family moved to Iowa. After achieving the highest-ever score on an application exam, Brett’s dad went to work for Rockwell Collins in Cedar Rapids. Brett’s mom works as a student counselor for St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, Texas.

In high school, Brett kept busy performing, taking voice lessons, and collecting shoes—more on that later. Favorite band in high school: Fall Out Boy.

Brett and Cordelia at the 2013 gala

Brett as Galileo (with fellow former intern Corey Miller as Carmen Miranda) at this month's One Great Party gala fundraiser; photo by Jay Yamada.

Brett spent a lot of time during his undergrad acting (six productions in all), working hard as a teacher’s assistant, and spending time with his best friend Bailey. Brett’s first play at the UNI was Marat/Sade wherein he played an inmate at the asylum. “It was a completely different kind of production that I was used to,” he recalls, “and the experience and opened my eyes to all the forms in theater. How movement and what the body can do inspired me and pushed me along in the art. ”After his summer here at Cal Shakes, Brett spent part of his last semester at UNI as a TA for a Creativity and Performance class.

“There isn’t much to do in Iowa,” he says. “That’s why I wanted to move to California.” But he did admit that there are loads of beautiful places to hike in Iowa; he spent a lot of time doing just that in the numerous nature preserves in the state. One time, he remembers, he and his BFF were hiking at Hartman Lake and they saw a couple of frogs hopping about, so they decided to sit down to watch them. There was a big noise and the pair saw ripples on the top of the water; they watched for a few more seconds and—right when the frog leaped up in the air—a giant snapping turtle (he estimates two feet in diameter) popped up and ate the frog in mid-air! Speaking of good eats, Brett’s restaurant of choice in his hometown of Cedar Rapids is Pei’s Chinese, where he loves to nosh on Crab Rangoon. Recipe: a delicious mix of cream cheese, crab and onion deep fried in a wonton dipped in the best sweet and sour sauce ever.

When Brett visits his mother and sister in the great state of Texas, he strolls over to visit the River Walk: He shops, checks out the street musicians, and eats at Taco Cabana.  “I usually buy a dozen homemade tortillas and snack on them all day!” Brett’s sister Julie teaches high school physics and astronomy in Texas, and is married to Army Staff Sergeant Scott.

A few more things about Brett Jones:

  • Favorite role he has played: Charles HP Smith from David Mamet’s November
  • Role he’d love to play: The Phantom in The Phantom of the Opera
  • What movie makes him laugh: Clue
  • Best book ever: To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
  • TV show that he never misses: 30 Rock, but sadly, now, it’s over.
  • Favorite play: Eurydice by Sarah Ruhl
  • One food he could eat for the rest of his days: Sesame Chicken
  • Color that makes him smile: Green (editor’s note: He wore these bright-green Adidas low-tops to our interview.)
  • Band he’s obsessed with right now: Macklemore and Ryan Lewis
  • Things that would surprise people about him: “I like to cook. I like to create my own Iron Chef Challenge by making something with only the ingredients in my fridge on a given day.”
  • Shakespeare character he’s learned the most from: The Tempest’s Prospero. “He is a person that has immense power. When he realizes his powers do to others he gives it up and doesn’t allow it to corrupt him. He realizes that he can walk away from a situation and change myself for the better.”
  • What else Shakespeare has taught him: “He taught me that you can do and be anything. “
  • He’d like to live for a year in: Ireland.  “It’s green, there are countless places to hike, I love the ocean, and the people seem friendly.”
  • Car he’d love to drive to and from Summer Conservatories: A Bentley
  • Website he gets caught up in:stumbleupon.com
  • Smartphone: Android. “I don’t Tweet much or talk on the phone much, but I do text a lot.”
  • Achilles heel: “I love shoes; I have a ton of them. I own 50–60 pairs. Black Aldo dress shoes are my power shoes. Favorite kick-around shoes are my red Aldo zip ups with buckles, zippers, and laces. So, on the first day of Conservatory make sure you check out my shoes, ‘cause I’ll be checking out yours!”
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Death and Revenge in Hamlet

Resident Dramaturg Philippa Kelly on grief and vengeance in Hamlet and beyond.

Painting of Shakespeare's Hamlet and his father's ghost by Henry Fuseli.

Painting of Hamlet and his father’s ghost by Henry Fuseli.

Hamlet returns from Wittenberg to honor his father’s death, and is suddenly confronted with his father’s ghost. Immediately, it seems, he is roused (or provoked) to an act of honorable revenge; and thereafter there transpires all the mix of rage and scrupulousness that drives us inward—along with young Hamlet—to the maddeningly fascinating heart of Shakespeare’s play.

There is, indisputably, this sword of honorable revenge that helps drive us inward with Hamlet; but I would like to call attention also to the meaning of simple grief. Many in the audience know all-too-well what is to suffer the death of a family member—because we are human, and because death is one of those few things (apart from our birth) that remain, quite simply, beyond our direct control. Now think of Hamlet, returning from Wittenberg, with his father long-buried and his mother remarried to his uncle.“Heaven and earth! Must I remember?” Hamlet says. His very second line in the play is, “I am too much in the sun.” Hamlet is, from the very start of the play, cast in a vale of tears, and his new “parents” are determined and resolved to live in the sun. Hamlet tells his mother that he wants to set her up a glass: to see what? To take her out of the sun and into the darkness where he resides?

Hamlet Before King Claudius, Queen Gertrude, and Ophelia by Christian August Printz.

I suggest that Hamlet’s inward spiral begins before he ever meets the ghost. It is the fact of death itself that has sent him scurrying inwards—the fact of death itself that has raised up, for him, his own inward glass. Much has been written about the ghost provoking young Hamlet’s inner struggles of “to do or not to do,” “to be or not to be”—but I wonder whether Shakespeare isn’t alluding to the very fact of death itself—its ineluctability, the fact that we cannot un-make death, the fact that we can never have again that person, nor replay the day he died and do the day differently—that resides at the very root of Hamlet’s inaction. Death was a different commodity in Shakespeare’s time (much more common) and kings and princes were different commodities as well. But, even for a king, even for a prince, there is still the very fact of mortality, what it means and how we can possibly cope with it. Hamlet’s mother, Gertrude, has responded to her husband’s death by doing the first best thing—she papers over the hole that her husband left with a new king and a new husband so that things run along as they always have. This doesn’t mean she does not suffer—it possibly means that she is not prepared, internally, to live with the hole that’s opened up by death if she doesn’t have to. In telling her that he will be her glass, Hamlet is not just saying “Look into yourself and see that you have betrayed the memory of your dead husband by marrying his brother,” but “Look into MYself and see the pain that lives there. I am outraged when I see you pretending that that pain is not there—because I have chosen to live with it.”

I suggest, then, that ideas of loyalty and honorable revenge are—even in Shakespeare’s day—not just codes of internal structuring and mechanics for this, possibly his most famous play. Shakespeare was so devilishly psychologically astute, these codes are something else as well: They are masks for the real, elemental emotions of mortality that strike at the heart of all humans in all times and circumstances.

Liesl Tommy’s production of Hamlet  graces our stage September 19–October 14, 2012.

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Dance Jamming with Traci Bartlow and the Cast of SPUNK

Artistic Intern Andrea Safar gives a report from inside the Spunk rehearsal room.

 

cast of Cal Shakes Spunk with director Patricia McGregor and choreographer Poloma McGregor.

Spunk rehearsals. How to even begin to describe them? They are a vortex of laughter, comfort, and warmth. The ensemble converts the chilly white-walled room into a home and there’s no way you will leave without a smile on your face! 

Luckily, I have been given the task of producing the Friday night dance parties—or Onstage Dance Jams— wherein local choreographer Traci Bartlow, will invite audience members onstage after the 90-minute show to learn a few moves and dance together. The audience will learn moves from the Lindy Hop, jazz dances, and even how to Charleston. Traci was invited to rehearsal to show the cast the same steps so that they can incorporate them in the performance.

They started their dance rehearsal with the same warm-up the cast always uses. We stood in a circle (I was lucky enough to be included) and we clapped and chanted “I am,” “I want,” “I need,” “I feel,” with all of us, one by one, completing the sentences. It was full of joy and L. Peter Callender, who plays Sykes and Slang Talk Man, finished it by saying “I feel … like I need to give everyone a hug!” and we all jumped around embracing and laughing and just being glad to be in the same room with one another.

Traci then turned on some music and had the group follow her dance steps. They barely stumbled, and were almost immediately in sync and having a good time. The jazzy and cool music—similar to the tunes in the show—filled the room and everyone felt the rhythm and flow within them. Even those of us who weren’t dancing were still moving a little in our chairs or tapping our feet. I can already envision the audience members feeling the music move them the same way when watching Tru Peterson, playing Guitar Man, make music on stage.

 

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Music Is Like Breathing: An Interview with SPUNK’s Guitar Man

Anthony “Tru” Peterson as discusses his views on life, music, and the extraordinary Cal Shakes production of Spunk directed by Patricia McGregor. Interview by Marketing Intern Jessica Reinhardt.

Tru

"Guitar Man" Anthony "Tru" Peterson in the rehearsal room for Spunk.

 I was seated in Jonathan Moscone’s office, anxiously waiting for Spunk’s “Guitar Man” Anthony “Tru” Peterson’s first strum on his lap steel guitar. “Music is another language that takes us to a different place,” he said, and then Marketing Director Janet Magleby and I sat in awe as he took  us on a journey home to the south. You could almost hear the laughter of children playing and taste the ice-cold sweet tea at your granddaddy’s house, swaying lazily on a porch swing hand-in-hand with a loved one. It seemed as almost though Tru went into a trance-like state, shutting out every distraction of the modern world, and just played. This guy really pours his heart out into his music; there’s no faking this kind of passion and ability.

The blues is a style of music that explores the not-so-perfect side of life, diving into something deeper and realer. The emotions I felt during this session rejuvenated my spirit…and the interview hadn’t even started yet! “What would you like to ask me?,” Tru began with a smile.

Tru’s kind demeanor and remarkable laugh made me feel like I was just talking music with an old friend. I asked about his “I Dare You to Make Music” concept where children get to explore the natural rhythms in their bodies, and turn feeling into action. Tru explained how he would take sheets of paper, and would tell the kids to do anything they felt to it, then rip it up himself. Music comes from a real and true feeling, he explained, and many of his unique exercises taught young students how to connect to art. “Every child and every story is different, and as much as they gain from you, you learn just as much from them.”

Tru lazily strummed his guitar, adding a mesmerizing background to his tales on music and life. We got to the root of what makes a musician when Tru said, “If the power went out and a DJ’s equipment got turned off, would they be able to pick up an instrument and play?” There are so many forms of music made possible by new technology, and accessible via the internet, making for a large variety of music; but also a large output of junk. It really is important for our generation to be able to weed through that junk, and to realize that we are capable of making music ourselves.

“Music used to be used as a herald for change,” Tru said, a tradition he calls upon with his melodies for the three remarkable short stories by Zora Neale Hurston that make up Spunk. Tru stated that the dark truth behind African-Americans’ journey in America is something that many people are afraid to discuss. If a person of color expresses feelings on that history, they’re sometimes stereotyped as a “ typical angry negro,” he said, or other hurtful assumptions. Spunk breaks those barriers; these stories are a part of our history that everyone needs to learn, regardless of background or color.

Onstage Tru’s music becomes the background of the story, like a soundtrack to a movie taking the audience through the twists and turns of the show. Tru described director Patricia McGregor as being a “rare find of a human being” and the entire cast as having a dedication to their art like he’s never seen. “Why would my character feel this way in this scene?,” actors ask each other at the picnic table during lunch. Tru described tremendous joy to come to work every day and work with the welcoming people of Cal Shakes.

As if picking his brain about music wasn’t enough, I even got to jam with this blues legend, singing my own version of Otis Redding’s “Dock of the Bay.” When I forgot the lyrics to the bridge Tru gladly joined in, making Janet and me glow. And as memorable as that was for me, these rehearsals have been just as much so for Tru. Asked what his most memorable project has been so far, he answered, simply: “I’ll tell you a secret. Spunk”.

Click here to listen to Tru’s original music recorded that day.

Anthony “Tru” Peterson began teaching music at age 14 and became one of the youngest members of the faculty a year after graduation from the Berklee College of Music. He has worked on songs for producer Andre Harrell on Atlantic Records, and director Spike Lee for Columbia records. He has performed and recorded projects with Peter Gabriel, Joan Baez, Janis Ian, and Cassandra Wilson. These alliances took him all over the world, on television, and on various recordings as well as his own debut CD, I’m Not Through Dreaming.

 

 

 

 

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High School Drama… Naughty or Nice?

 

In-School Residency student scene

Students reading scenes from Macbeth at our in-school residency at Dougherty Valley High

Marketing Intern Jessica Reinhardt sits in on her first in-school residency at Dougherty Valley High School’s drama class in San Roman, CA.

 As my second week at Cal Shakes began, I was antsy with anticipation for my first classroom residency visit. Thursday was finally here and, as I gathered my camera and notepad (feeling very official) I tried to imagine the atmosphere of a high school drama class. I automatically thought back to the ever so fond memories of my theater classes and the journey one takes from first warm-up to final performance. Everyone always seems a bit intimidated at first. (Hey, you try to articulate “If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers…” ten times fast without any mistakes!) But as soon as I got to meet these wonderful students at Dougherty Valley High in San Ramon, I knew I was right where I should be.

 Talk about being “in the moment”: They embraced what Artistic Director Trish Tillman had to teach them as soon as we walked in. Trish started with a simple exercise and encouraged students who don’t usually step out of their comfort zones to get in there and “not be afraid of the ball.” It got the whole room to loosen up and begin to get out of our shells—the ones we all sometimes find ourselves hiding in. Being open to new experiences and letting it all go in a positive, healthy way is what makes performing special, and is something that, specifically, can benefit young adults. The class asked a lot of great questions and really embraced the exercises, even as they became more complicated. Trish chose a scene from Macbeth, leading the class through an exercise demonstrating how movement and proximity changed the way the actors felt. Someone yelled out “this feels intense!,” clearly showing the differences in dynamic as one actor moved physically closer to another.

 As these realizations and connections happened before my eyes, I stumbled around trying to get good photos of it all (let’s just say my picture taking skills aren’t exactly … professional). Out of all these moments I attempted to capture, the one that really sticks out were two students in the background looking really involved in the text. It just showed me how much Shakespeare can relate to us regardless of age, education, or status in our society. The kids really got a feel for the text and as Trish said making conceptual connections through the text improves students skills.

There were a lot of amazing, genuine surprises that I was fortunate enough to experience today. And isn’t that what theater is all about?

 To support student achievement and teacher professional development, Cal Shakes Classroom Residencies bring teaching artists into the schools with the aim of developing students’ minds, imaginations, and voices.

 

 

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Meeting and Greeting the Story Inside Us All

Marketing Intern Jessica Reinhardt offers a look into the Spunk meet and greet with Director Patricia McGregor and cast.

“There is no agony like hearing the untold story inside of you.”—Spunk

Spunk Costume Photo

Spunk costume design by Callie Floor.

The rehearsal space at Cal Shakes was abuzz with laughter and smiling, eager faces. I settled into my seat within the sea of interns, all excited to see what a Meet and Greet entails. The story of Spunk unfolded as director Patricia McGregor captivated the room with her moving language and an enthusiasm that everyone could feel. A key theme in Spunk is home, and Patricia began to connect her concept of what it was like to grow up in the South to the show. She explained how her hometown inspired a sense of community by focusing on the meaning of sharing and storytelling.

 She then began to bridge the gap of time by bringing everyone in the room back to the good old days. Her vivid descriptions of drinking ice-cold lemonade on your granddaddy’s porch was accompanied by Anthony Peterson, A.K.A. Tru, (Guitar Man and musical director for Spunk) improvising bluesy rhythms on his lap steel guitar. Everyone was rapt as Tru set the mood of the story, sculpting the emotions of the Deep South right there in front of us. 

 Patricia quoted an old adage: “Being listened to is so close to being loved that most people cannot tell the difference.” There are bumps in the road in every person’s journey and one of the things that get people through is the simple feeling that someone cares; everyone needs to feel appreciated and loved and this is one of the beautiful themes of this show. The audience even gets to feel the love by actively participating and engaging with the actors just before the show begins, at the top of the first act.

 We got to hear from Paloma McGregor, Patricia’s sister and choreographer for Spunk, who gave her perspective on how movement and dance are incorporated in the show: The lively nature and movement mixed with dynamic character roles is definitely something to look forward to. The cast themselves sure had a lot of spunk, the type of actors whose chemistry you could see just as they sat around their table. The cast was sure not afraid to laugh, and this was just part of their magnetism.

 Patricia talked about how it was important for her to honor Zora Neale Hurston’s vision of giving a voice to the voiceless. This theme is something every person can relate to, regardless of skin color or age or any of the other categories designed to divide us. Everyone has their own personal story and should embrace where they have been in order to get to where they are going. I don’t know about you, but I cannot wait to see these characters come to life and “git to the git with some pain n’ some spit n’ some spunk.”  

 Spunkthree tales by Zora Neale Hurston, adapted by George C. Wolfe, music by Chic Street Manplays at the stunning Bruns Amphitheater in Orinda, CA July 4-29, 2012.

 

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How many goodly creatures are there here!

Stage Management PIP Alex Kimmel offers a window into the Tempest rehearsal hall.

interns at Haight-Ashbury

Interns Katie, Jessica, Erin, and Alex at Haight-Ashbury.

I’m Alex and I’ve just completed my first week as an SM intern at Cal Shakes! Three cheers to Erin, Andrea, Katie, Jess, Kendall, and Jessica—all the other interns—for completing their successful first weeks!

And it has been such a fantastic first week. Just yesterday, we stumbled through all of Act I, and it looks fantastic. This comes as no surprise, but I am just overwhelmed by the talent and hard work everyone has thrown into this play. The play goes by quickly and is packed full of beautiful movement pieces, moving language, and lots and lots of charm and wit.

Since internships are about learning I thought I would use this blog to share the lessons I have learned at Cal Shakes so far.

Lesson 1: Cal Shakes folks are friendly folks! Smiling seems to be part of the dress code and everyone is extremely helpful (especially explaining how to properly use “Big Ricoh,” the printer).

Lesson 2: Percolators make weak coffee… I have yet to discover the ideal coffee- to-water ratio in a percolator, and for that I apologize to everyone who drinks the coffee I make. I’m working on it, and it’s getting better (I promise)!

Lesson 3: The nanosecond you take your eyes off the prompter’s script is the nanosecond that someone calls for line.

Lesson 4: Glitter is fun but it’s a bear to pick up. Folding the glitter makes it easier and faster to pick up (thanks, Corrie Bennett!).

Lesson 5: The universe—and Cal Shakes folks—are generous. If you mention that you are looking into buying a bike, someone may give you one for free (thanks again to Corrie!). That being said, the intern house would benefit from a vacuum …

Lesson 6: The songs in the play will get stuck in your head for three days straight. Singing Tina Turner’s “Private Dancer” is an effective if unpleasant way to get the songs of the play out of your head (Thanks Catherine Castellanos!)

Lesson 7: Actors are creative, witty people (see Lesson 6), and if you give them a prop of a roasted rabbit on a spit, they will do creative, witty things with it … primarily when they are on their breaks.

Lesson 8: Scamels are delicious if you know how to cook them correctly.

I hope you have found these lessons as valuable as I have; if there are any that you don’t understand, I hope you take it as incentive to come see The Tempest opening in just two short weeks! It’s going to be a magical show!

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