Friday, April 25, 2008

There's less than a week left to vote us your favorite nonprofit

The Volunteer Center is holding the Volunteer Choice Awards to honor nonprofits. But voting ends May 1, which is next Thursday! So vote for us today ... or tomorrow ... or the day after tomorrow... you get the picture.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Turalecito in the flesh?

Hey thereAmy Kossow of Word for Word here. Earlier this year, The Pastures of Heaven artists workshopped Chapter 4, the story of Tularecito. This was the first story which playwright Octavio Solis wanted to look deeply into, so we all had a chance to do in-depth reading work, outside research, and to break out text selections (more or less in Word for Word fashion) and improvise scene work from that story.

As it happens, my outside research assignment was about the etiology of Tularecito's disability. Taking cues from the textthe early teeth, the over-sized upper body, the delay in language and other signs of developmental disordersmy research led me to Soto Syndrome, an actual, named disorder which included these markers. There is a savant streak, as with autism, which can manifest in children with Soto, and Steinbeck gave Tularecito a savant gift with art-making. He makes amazing, astonishing murals of animals, covering every surface of the school.

To get a sense of what that might be like for him, check out the video below of a young autistic man who shares this particular savant gift. It really blew me away, to see him in action. In the Steinbeck story, Miss Martin, the "mean teacher," tells Tularecito that he has a gift from God, and watching this video, I begin to get a sense of the power of this sort of mind; as limited as it is in many other areas, it is almost as if all its energy is directed to this one area, leaving little left for the more mundane skills we '"typically developing" folks have. The frantic way that Tularecito defends his art from destruction makes him more, not less, human, in my eyes, even though he becomes so violent. Breaks my heart, really.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Pericles Speaks! An interview with Christopher Kelly

(Warning: There is a preponderancea profusion, evenof P's in the prologue to this post.)

Hello out there in readershipland! Stefanie here. I've been so caught up with Pericles program prep that I've barely had time to think about the fact that rehearsals for our first show of the season kick off in just eleven days.

Thankfully, our soon-to-be Pericles (and Pandar) isn't quite so overwhelmed; Christopher Kelly (seen at left) managed to take some time to answer a few questions about his relationship to the play, the production, and the process.

Cal Shakes: Do you have any experience with Pericles? Be honest—had you read it before being cast? Had you even heard of it?

Christopher Kelly: To be honest, I actually found a gnarled copy lying on the dirty floor of some empty rehearsal room a few years ago. Someone had left it—or lost it—so I took it home with me. Although I might have read scenes from it, I had never seen a performance of the play. The book pretty much sat on my bookshelf collecting dust until I heard about this production. Now, of course, I’ve read the play many times.

Cal Shakes: What are you looking forward to most as Pericles rehearsals grow near?

C. Kelly: There will be at least nine of us (eight actors and a director) plus whoever else is in the room. Collaborating with fellow artists can be one of the most rewarding experiences. I’ve only spoken briefly with our director, Joel Sass, but the way he speaks about the production tells me we are in for a ride. It’s eight people playing or representing forty roles. I’m guessing we’ll have to find some transformation. There are going to be really interesting, exciting people bouncing all kinds of things off of each other, problem-solving, working with a wild and moving story. And it’s amazing to think that at the end of four weeks time we will have, hopefully, created and discovered an entire play together. Then we’ll get to share it with an audience.

Cal Shakes: Do you ever get lost in the many sea travels of your character?

C. Kelly: There is a lot written about the whereabouts of Pericles’ travels; the literal destinations and the time it would take to sail from place to place. I’ve seen a map where scholars attempt to figure out the precise locations Shakespeare had in mind when writing Pericles. But the play is also adapted from other sources so that complicates the debate even more. The main debate usually comes after Pericles takes to the sea: Could he/would he have physically traveled from X to Y? From a plot standpoint, the poet Gower helps to guide the audience through the travels to each physical location—but the exact how and when he arrives might be little more ambiguous. But it is, after all, a play—and Shakespeare has been known to stretch time to suit his dramatic purposes.

Cal Shakes: What are your thoughts on the supernatural aspects of Cerimon and Diana and what they bring to the show?

C. Kelly: A belief in magic gives me that feeling of wonder I had as a child. For me, it’s also a desire to be surprised. There’s innocence there. That might be why some people come to the theater in the first place—to experience that “suspension of disbelief” again. It’s also associated with healing. That’s part of our story, too. Now, in terms of miraculous circumstances, or being present for what some might a “miracle,” that seems to be a real test for our minds and spirits. I will defer to our director (Joel Sass) who posed the question to me: Can Pericles accept the grace that is happening to him?

Cal Shakes: How’s your knowledge of Greek mythology and history in general?

C. Kelly: When I was a young boy, I loved hearing the stories of the Greek Gods and mortals—a few have stayed with me through the years. So I relish the chance to re-discover them. Someone recently told me that Pericles is the “Joseph Campbell” of Shakespeare’s plays, if that makes any sense. I think they were referring to the Hero’s Journey and the search for the “self.” Campbell loved mythological archetypes, and the Greeks have created a whole family tree for us. No doubt, we’ll spend some time as a group educating ourselves as to how the power of—or belief in—these Gods affects the action of the play. And learning the history surrounding a play is always a fascinating tool. If you’re lucky, even a small detail can open a window for you about a particular moment.

Cal Shakes: Have you been warned about the Bay Area?

C. Kelly: I am guessing you are talking about the changing weather. (Nope, actually I was talking about the KOOKS. –ed.) Yes, I have been told that the temperature can drop in the evening—even fog will roll in—but those elements might mesh well with this play—and perhaps make for a cozy, intimate audience. From the pictures I’ve seen of the amphitheater, I am coming to a beautiful place, and I sincerely feel honored to come to Cal Shakes and to be part of the community of artists who are creating Pericles.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

You don’t want our interns to sleep on the floor, do you?

Stefanie from Marketing here and, I mean, they’re young and all, but this is a classics theater. And though we may be reimagining said classics, WE CANNOT HAVE OUR INTERNS SITTING ON THE FLOOR IN THE DARK.

Ahem. To put it more succinctly:

The summer is fast approaching and Cal Shakes is in the process of arranging an apartment for seven (count'em, 7!) out-of-town interns this year. Long story short, the apartment is unfurnished and we could use a little help by way of loans or donations of furniture pieces that you would love to be rid of or have stored for you for four months (May 1-August 31).

Wish list:
Twin mattresses and/or bed frames (I would love a bunk bed, day bed w/ or w/out trundle, captains bed-anything compact)
Love seat
Chair (s)
Kitchen equipment (i.e. pots, dishes, pans, etc)
Rectangular table
Bikes – for getting to the office, the apartment is by the Ashby BART
TV stand
DVD player or VCR

Please let us know if you’re able to loan/donate and we will coordinate a day to get it to our West Berkeley office or to the apartment if you can wait for us to pick it up until the 1st of May.

We thank you, the interns thank you, their parents thank you!