Monday, March 24, 2008

On collaboration, incorporation, and change

Stefanie Kalem here, Cal Shakes Publications Manager. First of all, you may have noticed that the name of this blog has changed from the Bullpen Blog to the Cal Shakes Blog. This is because, as the season nears, it's not just the Bullpen* that's full of bull--er, I mean, full of buzz. Almost immediately after our 13th annual gala, we swung full-bore into the next phase of our Steinbeck Project, a two-day research trip to Salinas. Along with playwright Octavio Solis, Cal Shakes Artistic honcho Jon Moscone, Word for Word company members, and sundry Cal Shakes staffers, I rode along to videotape, photograph, and otherwise record this momentous journey to the mysterious Central Valley.

So where's my blog entry, you ask?

We-ell ... about that. I was so busy videotaping and photographing, I didn't really get to take notes. And as much as I'd like to tell you about our visits to The Farm, the Firehouse Recreation Center, Black Bear Diner, Markham Ranch (the gajillion-dollar housing development that now sits on Corral de Tierra, real-life setting for The Pastures of Heaven), and the Steinbeck Center (not to mention quaint downtown Salinas' moving picture house) I've got to teach myself iMovie and FinalCutExpress this week in order to edit the seven-plus hours of video I shot.

It'll be worth the wait, I promise--where else can you see and hear myself, Octavio Solis, Jon Moscone, and Word for Word Artistic Director JoAnne Winter singing along in the car to Billy Bragg? Or video of Word for Word's other Artistic Director, Susan Harloe ... hoeing?

The good news is that you can see lots of photos from the trip on the New Works/New Communities Flickr page (and pics from the first research trip back in February as well).

The even better news is also the reason this is no longer solely the Bullpen's blog**--as the season draws nearer, there are many of Cal Shakes' other voices that cry out to be heard. Our popular Main Stage actors' blogs will return in April, as Pericles begins rehearsal. And, as we're currently right smack in the middle of our second Pastures of Heaven workshop, playwright Octavio Solis and Word for Word charter company member Amy Kossow will be blogging in this space this week, as they tease to life one of the collection's most fascinating tales, that of the filthy, charming, Whitmanesque slacker Junius Maltby.

This is a wild and unscripted process, as two very different Bay Area theater companies and one award-winning playwright grapple with how to take a collection of twelve interwoven, delicate takes on early twentieth-century farm life (told by, as Jon Moscone put it, "an omniscient narrator who is reticent to reveal") and bring it to the stage.

Already discussed, in the first day of the workshop (which featured more Word for Word folks, three Cal Shakes Associate Artists, Moscone, and Solis):

The Bracero Program
Smeltertown, TX
John Steinbeck's schoolteacher mother
Robert Louis Stevenson***
The meaning of the word "monstrous"
Junius Maltby's resemblance to Michael Jackson
Mexican Corridos
Anton Chekhov
Nonallusionistic storytelling****

Stay tuned for Octavio's and Amy's debut blog entries later in the week. And don't worry, I'll still be around, with videos of raffle drawings and poorly placed photos and stuff. But in the meantime ...he-e-eeeere's the Cal Shakes Blog!

* The Bullpen is the combined Marketing and Development departments at our Berkeley administrative office, and it's whence emanated all prior entries of this blog, begun during California Shakespeare Theater's off-season.

** As I imagine you were wondering when, exactly, I would get to the point.

*** Particularly, this passage:
"There is nothing so monstrous but we can believe it of ourselves. About ourselves, about our aspirations and delinquencies, we have dwelt by choice in a delicious vagueness from boyhood up." -- Robert Louis Stevenson, from the collection Virginibus Puerisque and Other Papers

**** Which I first heard as "Nonbeaujonistic storytelling." But it's more like "naked theater." But without the nudity--no allusions, you dig?

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