Beginning Again: The Love Balm Institute

By Triangle Lab Artist-Investigator in Residence Arielle Julia Brown

The Love Balm Project is a theater of testimony workshop series and performance based on the testimonies of mothers who have lost children to violence. The Love Balm Project currently collaborates with six mothers throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. Last summer, with support from the Triangle Lab, we hosted site specific performances in the spaces where the young men—sons of the mothers—had been murdered. These performances took place on street corners, in front of homes, at a BART station, in front of a church, on the porch of a mothers’ home and on a MUNI train platform. These performances met the communities in the spaces that haunt them and the spaces we learn to forget. Naturally, it was in these spaces that more mothers and community members began to inquire about getting involved in this work. Mothers approached me after performances, family members took my contact information to give to other mothers they knew.

This leads me to the beginning of my current investigation with The Triangle Lab. How is it that a grassroots arts collective recreates itself? How do we move in full awareness of our limited capacity as facilitators and yet be open and permeable for new knowledges, new community members, new stakeholders? What does it look like structurally to have an open space for all mothers to find and make space in their neighborhoods to tell and witness their stories? I am in deep search of what these answers could look like for the Love Balm Project. The only place I knew to begin is with the Love Balm workshop series. The workshop series features 4 workshops for mothers and community artists to gather together and perform, witness and creatively write their testimony. So I began to imagine in the middle of last year’s site specific investigation, what would it look like to have an institute to train other artists, mothers and cultural workers in how to facilitate a Love Balm Workshop series or group. In the Love Balm Institute we collectively questioned this work, reviewed and adapted the curriculum, witnessed mothers’ testimonies, explored applied theatre methods including original games, playback theatre, drama therapy and theatre of the oppressed and finally strategized about workshopn structures and funding models. The Love Balm Institute was supported by The Triangle Lab, Eastside Arts Alliance and The Akonadi Foundation. The institute took place from May 23rd–25th in Oakland.

Several amazing cultural workers attended the institute. The cultural workers live and work with communities throughout the state of California. Please see their bios below to see what kind of work they are doing in communities already. Each of them have studied and taken their training from the institute to start planning love balm workshops and community circles for the communities they work and live in. The cultural workers will facilitate the Love Balm workshop series with mothers, LGBTQ youth, young men and women of color who have both perpetrated and survived acts of violence. Check out their projects below alongside their bios. I will continue to post updates as their projects progress.

 

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Who’s Your Twin?

When Shakespeare penned The Comedy of Errors—one of his shortest, most slapstick plays—the idea of twins (a central theme of the play) fascinated the Elizabethans. Though they didn’t understand the genetics of multiple births—the difference between fraternal and identical twins, for instance—they had many beliefs about twins: that they signified an especially fertile mother, and that the comradely twins would hold hands in the womb, for instance. (Interestingly, Shakespeare’s wife birthed twins—Hamnet and Judith—in 1585, seven years before the publication of The Comedy of Errors.)

Twins fascinate us today just as much as they did in Shakespeare’s time.  When we read stories about long-lost twins finding each other again at age 78, it makes front-page news for the BBC. Twins tell us about ourselves, our genetics and culture and how each makes us similar and/or different.

Even if you don’t have a biological twin, we all joke about having “twins” in a metaphorical sense. Sometimes we spot a celebrity, friend, or a random person on the street who reminds us of someone; my elementary school even had “twin day”—where (non-twin) students would coordinate outfits and mannerisms.

For our Comedy of Errors program, we’re asking our patrons and fans to send in pictures of themselves and their twin–whether real, celebrity, or stranger. Who do you look or act like? Who look or acts like you? Further your fame by sending in a picture of you and your twin (real or imagined)—the best ones will appear in our program.

Email your twin pictures to our publications manager and get a chance to be in the Comedy of Errors program!

Learn more about The Comedy of Errors or buy your tickets by clicking here.

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A Raisin in the Sun and Dreams Deferred

By Shi Yi

Harlem

What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore–
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over–
like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

-Langston Hughes

A Raisin in the Sun is about the dream of the Youngers, a black family living in South Side Chicago in the 1950s. Like any family, the Youngers’ dream is a stitched-together mosaic; as they impatiently wait for the arrival of an insurance check for ten thousand dollars, each member of the Younger clan has a slightly different dream for the money. Yet when the check actually arrives, their dreams collide. Even as the dream of each relation moves closer to reality, the family fragments. The struggle between material desires and family ideals escalates into a heavy and bittersweet drama.

Racial Segregation in Chicago in 2000

Half a century after the debut of A Raisin in the Sun, Chicago remains a segregated city; this block map is based on US Census data from 2000.

A Raisin in the Sun is about a family’s aspiration to a better life. But this is not just a story of the American Dream. This is a story of an African American Dream. This is not a story that transcends category, but a story that unfortunately transcends time. From slavery to restrictive covenants to gentrification, the form of racial inequity has changed, but its essence perpetuates in our society. A Raisin in the Sun may have been written in the 1950s, but the struggles of the Younger family can be found in neighborhoods around this theater and near where we live. Perhaps, the dreams of those families who may never make it to Cal Shakes in their life are not too different from the dream of the Youngers. I wonder what happens to their dreams deferred.

Do [they] dry up
like a raisin in the sun?

 

 

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Talking About Love

Marketing intern Natalie Sanchez reports back from rehearsals for Twelfth Night.

Love is a complicated thing: how our bodies and minds process it, how we become brave enough to begin to verbalize it, how we share it with the world, how we fight for it. But have you ever fallen in love with someone who only saw you as a friend? And—to make things worse—that friend trusted you so much that they would confess to you their love for another person? They might even be so desperate as to ask you to help them convince their beloved to be with them.

Rami Margron as Orsino, Cindy Im as Viola/Cesario, and Maria Candelaria as Olivia in Cal Shakes and Intersection for the Arts’ coproduction of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, directed by Michelle Hensley; photo by Kevin Berne.

Rami Margron as Orsino, Cindy Im as Viola/Cesario, and Maria Candelaria as Olivia; photo by Kevin Berne.

Rehearsals for Cal Shakes and Intersection for the Arts’ coproduction of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night (performing at Intersection February 2—March 2) are happening right now, and many of these questions arise as the actors begin to embody the characters. What could be going on in the head of Viola (Cindy Im) when she is asked by her own beloved, Duke Orsino (Rami Margron), to chase after his love, Olivia (Maria Candelaria)? Why does she agree? And how can these feelings become manifested in one scene, as full of emotions as the first encounter of two women who have such different intentions? I got to watch members of the ensemble work through some of these challenges when I sat in on rehearsals for Act I, scene 5 late last week.

Viola is persistent when passing as Cesario, promising to sleep outside until Lady Olivia lets him in, which she ultimately does, slowly and unintentionally inviting him to her life. “Bring me my veil,” she says to her gentlewoman, having her stand next to her, showing that her guard is up. But she eventually removes the veil, and the unveiling carries meaning to both characters: For Olivia, this is a moment of letting Viola/Cesario in, although, when she shows herself, she turns her face with her hand, asking, with a stern look, “Is it not well done?” For Viola, this is the first time that she gets to look at the face of her rival; in rehearsing this moment, director Michelle Hensley asks Cindy (who plays Viola) to be honest and really say that she is beautiful.

The director states that, among the many feelings that could be going on in her head, Viola might be curious to know why Olivia does not love the Duke.

“For Orsino loves you with adorations, fertile tears, / With groans that thunder love, with sighs of fire” says Viola. “Where does that come from?” asks the director. Possibly from the Duke, Cindy responds. Or it could be talking more about the feelings she has for the Duke. Curious to know more, Maria Candelaria (playing Olivia) makes the character choice to sit on a nearby stool as she backs up: With her body language, she says “it isn’t easy to reject you.”

When the director stops the scene to ask how they are feeling, Cindy shares her thoughts about the moment: “As a man, Viola gets to speak more candidly that she would as a woman.” Meanwhile, Olivia is enchanted, noticing the vulnerability in the way Viola speaks to her of Orsino’s love for her. Maria says, “Even when she is mad at me it is beautiful.” Michelle questions her further: “Why do you tip him?” Maria answers: “It’s courtesy.” As she thinks about it a little more, she says, “She is also trying to keep it together and process what she is feeling. Maybe she is trying to reinstate the social norms.” “But she keeps talking,” Michelle counters. If Olivia wanted Viola/Cesario to leave, she would have let him leave. After Viola leaves, when Olivia talks about what she is feeling, the director says, “Talk to them (the audience). They are here to process this with you.”

Who are you rooting for in this love triangle? Come prepared to help these characters unravel their emotions next month! Information on the cast, the production, and how to buy tickets—all costing $20—can be found here.

 

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Ask Philippa: 2014 Pre-season Edition

Philippa Kelly, resident dramaturg for Cal Shakes, invites your questions about our 2014 season, which begins May 21. Subscriptions on sale now.

Headshot of Philippa Kelly

Resident Dramaturg Philippa Kelly. Photo by Richard Friedman.

2014 brings a very exciting season for many reasons—not the least of which is that it’s Cal Shakes’ 40th anniversary.

First up is Lorraine Hansberry’s iconic A Raisin in the Sun, directed by Patricia McGregor, who first joined us at the Bruns last in 2012 with her magnificent Spunk. A Raisin in the Sun offers a stunning portrait of a black family’s experience in racially divided Chicago, injecting domestic and racial tension into 1950s self-portraits of the post-war American Dream. Raisin made Hansberry the youngest playwright, the fifth woman, and the only black writer ever to win the New York Critics’ Circle award. (The play also inspired the Pulitzer Prize-winning Clybourne Park, written 60 years later and directed by our own Jonathan Moscone in an award-winning production at A.C.T. in 2011). Next is Shakespeare’s early play The Comedy of Errors, directed by Aaron Posner, a comic take on mistaken identity that offers a brilliant look at the dark side of Shakespeare as well as the light—loss, isolation, family reunion, and redemption. Third in our season director Moscone brings us Pygmalion, often seen as George Bernard Shaw’s most enduringly important play, a savagely ironic critique of the British class system. (This play, too, made such a social impact that it gave birth, 44 years later, to another masterpiece, the musical My Fair Lady.) Lastly is A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the Shakespeare play most often described as “perfect” in its exploration of love that opens out, concertina-like, from an early threat of punishment and even death. Buoyed by perhaps the most beautifully poetic language of Shakespeare’s entire career, director Shana Cooper will take us into the “green world” of the forest—will the lovers emerge from the forest different, or more truly themselves?

Look out, too, for my free, off-season session, Reprises and Rehearsals, a look at how the plays of the 2013 and 2014 seasons connect to different works and themes in their authors’ lives. Date TBD. In the meantime, post any question or observation you like right now (and into the early spring) and I will post an answer as quickly as possible—often within 24 hours.

Dr Philippa Kelly, Resident Dramaturg for the California Shakespeare Theater, is also a professor and author. Her 2010 book, The King and I, a meditation on Australian culture through the lens of King Lear, garnered international praise in its very personal examination of themes of abandonment, loss, and humor).

You can email Philippa at pkelly@calshakes.org, or post below to ask her a question.

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Three ways to participate in #GivingTuesday

We have a day for giving thanks. We have two for getting deals. This year we are joining with nonprofits around the world to help create #GivingTuesday: A new day for giving back. On Tuesday December 3, 2013, global charities, families, businesses, community centers, students and more will come together to create #GivingTuesday.

#GivingTuesday It’s a simple idea. Just find a way for your family, your community, your company or your organization to come together to give back. Then tell everyone you can about how you are giving. Be a part of a national celebration of our great tradition of generosity.

On December 3, you can give to Cal Shakes in more ways than one.

  1. CLICK TO GIVE NOWMoney – Make a difference by making a donation. We can’t do what we do without you. Read a letter from a grateful teacher here; view photos of this year’s arts, education, and community efforts here.
  2. Volunteer Sign up to give your time and energy, and get inside the workings of a nonprofit theater (we’re lots of fun to work with).
  3. In-kind – We need stuff! Check out our wish list below—you may find stuff to give that reduces our costs, freeing up resources for our arts and education programming. If you wish to donate something on our wish list, please contact Annual Fund Manager Ian Larue at 510.899.4907 or ilarue@calshakes.org.

Give once, twice, or three times. Whatever you contribute now will make more theater possible for more people in the Bay Area—including you. And be sure to tweet or post about it when you to, with the hash tag #GivingTuesday. Thank you!

ITEM NEEDED AMOUNT NOTES
Multi-purpose hand truck 1 five-in-one, industrial strength
Folding tables 6  six feet long, lightweight, and sturdy
Paper cutter 1
Cases of water 10 low- or no-sodium
Cases of nonalcoholic beverages 5 sparkling cider
Table linens 4 to fit six-, eight- or ten-foot tables
Button making supplies 1.5” button-maker supplies: pinbacks, shells, and mylar
Fabric softeners 5 large boxes Bounce brand preferred
Benadryl 5 boxes
Music player 1 Bluetooth-enabled, or the kind to plug your device into
Dishwasher 1
Sodastream or other sparkling water maker 1
Framing services 16 11″x 17″
Green Fleece Blankets 50 50″x60″ dark green fleece
Home Depot gift cards any any denomination
Reams of white copy paper any 8.5″x 11″ plain paper; recycled strongly preferred
First-class postage stamps any Forever stamps are best, please
Beads and buttons any For the costume shop
Office Max and Office Depot gift cards any any denomination; office supplies
Berkeley Bowl gift cards any denomination; food and drink for events
Visa gift cards
MasterCard gift cards
American Express gift cards
Discover gift cards
Disinfecting wipes 3 Clorox or any brand for cleaning desktops and telephones, etc.
Handheld video camera 1 Full-featured camcorder preferred; needs to have optical zoom, image stabilization, and firewire cable
Three-ring binders, one-inch 90 black or white; for rehearsal scripts
Three-ring binders, three-inch 10 D-ring, any color
Sunscreen 20 SPF 30 or higher, expiration no earlier than November 2014
Bug spray 15 Expiration no earlier than November 2014
Case of Ricola throat drops 4 Any flavor
Case of hot chocolate 6
Gatorade powder 12 Lemon-lime, big powder canisters preferred
Airjet hand dryer for bathrooms 2
Desk lamps 4 or 5
Picnic tables 6+
Clown noses 50+
Rubber bands 2 boxes
iPod speakers 2 speakers that attached directly to an iPhone or iPod
Noise makers 5 snare drum, maracas, xylephone
Balls 8 From tennis balls to soccer balls, anything will do.
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“This was the best field trip I’ve ever been on in my life. …We made Hermione come back to life.”

Actor Christopher Michael Rivera works the audience at a Student Discovery Matinee of A WINTER'S TALE;.

Actor Christopher Michael Rivera works the audience at a Student Discovery Matinee of A WINTER'S TALE;.

From: Ms. Maiuri

Sent: Thursday, October 03, 2013 8:11 PM

To: Clive Worsley

Subject: Thank you so much for everything (could you pass this on?)

Dear Director and Cast of A Winter’s Tale and the Cal Shakes Artistic Learning Team:

I got an email from a student after returning from Cal Shakes’ student matinee performance of A Winter’s Tale: “Dear Ms. Maiuri, This was the best field trip I’ve ever been on in my life.  Also, I’ve discovered that Grace and I have magical powers.  We made Hermione come back to life.  Love, Lisa”

I struggled for years as a teacher in Oakland before I realized that if you’re really honest with students and bring what you love right up to them and put it in their hands, they’ll love it right along with you. I don’t know if it’s the content or the honesty, but it works.

So we study Shakespeare because I love it—the rhythm and the description and the challenge of hearing a play that might be a struggle to understand. I love the slow reveal of the language and the experience of “settling in” when you suddenly realize every word is making sense. I pour my heart into bringing that to my students.

A student asks a question of the cast after a performance of A WINTER'S TALE.

A student asks a question of the cast after a performance of A WINTER'S TALE.

But after I drill and they sweat and we giggle over the plots, we come to Cal Shakes and they’re just mesmerized.  I look over and see kids light up at certain speeches—”It’s too hot, too hot!”—or realize when bits have been skipped or altered, or get quiet and rapt at a moving moment, and I can feel my heart swell and my throat catch.

And then, at the end, to have the actors all come out in hoodies and college t-shirts and sit on the edge of the stage and use real names and talk like real people is the real crux for me.  I can make my students memorize and understand Shakespeare but these artists showed them that it’s okay to stand up and perform in front of others, to cry and feel on stage, to balance football and literature (or even give football up, god forbid), and wear mascara with pride.  Thanks for that. And thanks to the fun and relatable directing and acting choices, they got a Paulina that sounds like their mom’s tough best friend, a steely speech from a jailed mother, a Polixenes that echoes the best and worst of their fathers, and a Leontes who descends into a powerful, believable frenzy that’s surprisingly similar to the throes of middle-school jealousy and spite.

I feel like I’m always making excuses not to write thank-you notes. But Cal Shakes is really special for us, and I thank you all for moving me today.

With gratitude,

Jana Maiuri
(Teacher, Edna Brewer Middle School)

See more highlights of her students’ experience with these photos from Cal Shakes’s 2013 Student Discovery Matinees.

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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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Associate Artist Roundup: Scrooge, the Circus, and a Baby

It’s time for our annual shout-out to the theatrical antics our talented Associate Artist company is up to during the winter months.

Dan Hiatt as Jacob Marley

Scrooge (Richard Farrell) is visited by the ghost of Jacob Marley (Dan Hiatt) in San Jose Rep's A CHRISTMAS CAROL; photo by Kevin Berne.

L. Peter Callender is in the midst of directing Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, which opens January 26 at his African-American Shakespeare Company. Then, in February, he will be headed to Virginia Stage Company to play Simon in The Whipping Man, directed by Marin Theatre Company’s Jasson Minadakis.

Ron Campbell is still playing the King of the Clowns in Cirque du Soleil’s Kooza; the show will be performed January and February at the Royal Albert Hall in London before heading to Madrid, Bilbao, Moscow, and Paris. Back here at home, he’ll be doing readings of Yorick’s Last Laugh, a one-man-show written for him by Mark Leiren-Young.

Nancy Carlin just directed Honk!, Shakespeare Santa Cruz’s holiday show. She’ll be teaching acting at UC Santa Cruz this winter, and will appear, alongside fellow Associate Artist Danny Scheie, in their groundbreaking production of Peer Gynt, as part of their Guest Artist program.

James Carpenter is, of course, in his seventh year as Scrooge in A.C.T.’S A Christmas Carol, directed by fellow Associate Artist Domenique Lozano and featuring its usual slew of Cal Shakes and Bay Area favorites; Carol runs through December 24. Carpenter will play Pozzo in Waiting for Godot at Marin Theatre Company, and then on to as-yet-to-be-determined roles in Berkeley Rep’s Pericles.

Dan Hiatt is currently playing Jacob Marley and others in San Jose Rep’s A Christmas Carol, adapted and directed by Rick Lombardo, running through December 23. In January he starts rehearsals for Old Wicked Songs at Center Rep in Walnut Creek, directed by Jessica Heidt; it opens in February. From there, Hiatt goes straight into rehearsals for Max Frisch’s The Arsonists at the Aurora, directed by Mark Jackson.

Taming of the Shrew at OSF

Nell Geisslinger as Kate in OSF's THE TAMING OF THE SHREW, with costumes designed by Meg Neville.

Jennifer King will direct The Bandaged Place for Aurora Theatre’s Global Age Project in February; from there she’ll direct The Sound Of Music for Napa Valley Conservatory Theater.  She continues to head the Theater Program at Napa Valley College, where she founded Shakespeare Napa Valley.

Joan Mankin has been keeping busy teaching physical comedy at A.C.T. Studio; she’s now directing Crackpot Crones for Stage Werx Theatre, running December 15–30.

Meg Neville will design costumes for a rockabilly-inspired The Taming of the Shrew at Oregon Shakespeare Festival, directed by David Ivers, opening in February; Pericles at Berkeley Rep, directed by Mark Wing Davey, opening in April; Krispy Kritters at Cutting Ball, directed by Rob Melrose, opening in May; and our own Lady Windermere’s Fan, directed by Christopher Liam Moore, opening in August.

Danny Scheie will be appearing in Troublemaker at Berkeley Rep, written by Dan le Franc and directed by Lila Neugebauer; it opens in January.  As mentioned above, he’ll be playing Peer Gynt (the elder) in UCSC’s multidisciplinary production, directed by Kimberly Jannarone. He is also directing a touring production of Henry V for Shakespeare Santa Cruz, and then directing playwright and actor Colman Domingo’s new play Wild with Happy at TheatreWorks for a June run; it is fresh from a run at the Public in New York (and Cal Shakes alumnus Domingo can be seen onscreen in the first scene of Lincoln).

And finally, Susannah Schulman has, as she puts it, “only one event to report for the upcoming few months, and that is that I’m gonna have a baby! A boy, due January 8. The proud father is another Cal Shakes alum, my husband Reg Rogers.”

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Jumping Into the Fire: An Understudy’s Tale

During the extension week of Liesl Tommy’s Hamlet this month, actor Nicholas Pelczar fell ill the morning of the Student Discovery Matinee, and his understudy, Philip Goleman, went on for him.

This is his story.

Everyone said, “Not what you expected when you woke up this morning, huh?” And it was not: It was a whirlwind from the moment (Stage Manager) Laxmi (Kumran) called me to the minute I got back on BART to head back to work after the show.

I must have looked like a deer in the headlights as I was whisked from the green room to the stage for fight call to rework the play’s final fight; to the dressing room to get the down-low on the costumes; to the moment when I finally stepped on stage. Thankfully, I was surrounded by a wonderful, supportive group of actors, stage management, and backstage crew to get me properly through the show.

It’s a show that, from the audience’s perspective, did not seem like three hours—and it seemed a lot shorter from my perspective that day. For me, my favorite moment was coming down through the audience as Laertes, gun in hand, yelling at the King, with the kids in the audience turning to see me and exclaiming “whoa!” as I went down the steps toward the stage. That made the day for me, being there to make sure that they got to see this show and get exposure to Shakespeare.

Going on is not something you expect to happen, especially in the extension week, but you keep alive the idea and the willingness to jump into the fire on a moment’s notice. With a phenomenal show and superb cast and production crew, you know you’re not jumping in alone, and it’s something I would willing jump into again and again.

Pictured above: Goleman with actors LeRoy McClain (Hamlet) and Zainab Jah (Ophelia) after his performance; photo by Jay Yamada.

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