Friday, September 26, 2008

Just Like Riding A Bike

When we announced our 2009 season you may have noticed that our very own Jon Moscone will be directing Romeo & Juliet. What you may not have realized is that the last time he took on Shakespeare for our stage was back in 2006 when he directed As You Like It.

That's right folks. 2006. How does he feel about his return to the world of iambic pentameter? He's excited. Here at the office we're hearing him float around ideas like looking for young actors to play the title roles. And by young, I really mean age appropriate since Romeo & Juliet were teenagers after all.

Every production goes through a period of transformation while the director and designers research and explore the work. Then you cast the show and when rehearsals begin another series of transformations occur as the actors bring each character to life. So there's no telling what the final outcome will be.

But the man isn't artistic director of a Shakespeare theater for nothing. This should be a fun ride.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Clicking Makes the Net Go Round

Today's post is all about clickability.

Click here for Twelfth Night production photos.

Does video trip your trigger more than still photography? Then check out this sampling of scenes from Twelfth Night.

Also on the multimedia page for Twelfth Night is a highlight reel from the Inside Scoop, a panel discussion that took place in August in Orinda, featuring director Mark Rucker, dramaturg Cathleen Sheehan, and actors Alex Morf (Viola/Sebastian) and Dana Green (Olivia).

LGBT Night is just around the corner. A pre-show cocktail party for the LGBT crowd, included with your ticket price. 30 and under? Tickets to the performance are only $20! Click here to buy your performance ticket and RSVP for the event.

Did you come online to shop? We can help with that too, just click on over to our online auction. More items were just added to the catalog and two more will be added in the next few days. If you missed out on placing a bid on the hot air balloon ride in the spring online auction, never fear. That popular prize package is making an encore. But bidding is only open while Twelfth Night is on stage.

Monday, September 22, 2008

When it Rains, It Pours

When you do theater outside, weather is always an issue. Will there be enough blankets to go around if it's cold? Did the sun make the stage floor too hot for the actors who are supposed to be barefoot? Did the wind blow over the umbrellas in the grove? Are those rain clouds?

For most of the season we are blessed with beautiful weather out at the Bruns Amphitheater. Sometimes the nights get chilly, but our audiences tend to be a hardy group. But the last days of our season overlap with the beginning of the rainy season in this area. And on Friday night, the hardiness of our audiences got its first test.

The rain started while we were setting up for the Shindig. When the rain stopped Susie, our marketing director, ran around the North Star Grove with a big roll of paper towels and dried off picnic tables. Which was great for a while, but then it began to rain again. Not the kind of rain where you see the actual drops, but like a really aggressive mist. Just enough to get everything damp. I personally was standing under a big blue canopy pouring wine for most of the evening, so I stayed dry.

The Shindig seemed to go quite well, despite the moisture in the air. We had a big turnout. So much that we ran out of food and red wine. There was lots of mingling and conversation and participation in the game we'd concocted. A very special version of Mad Libs centered around obscure holidays to fit in with the Twelfth Night theme.

But the aggressiveness of the mist was creating problems on stage. The current floor treatment can get pretty slick from just fog. So Friday night, it was pretty wet. Which means it's a safety hazard for the actors. Which meant that the first 15 minute hold went into effect.

After 15 minutes, the rain was still coming down. The audience was mostly seated but the rumors of a possible cancellation had started to circulate. A second 15 minute hold went into effect while the staff crossed their fingers for the rain to stop and the cast crossed theirs for it to continue so they'd get an unexpected night off.

Actor's Equity, the union to which our actors and stage managers belong, has rules about rain and holding the show. You get three 15 minute holds. After that, if it's still deemed unsafe, you cancel the show. We were down to the wire.

The audience was starting to get restless. Each time a 15 minute hold went into effect, Susie would make her way to the front of the house and announce what was going on. When she announced the third and final hold, a murmur made it's way across the theater. And shortly after, there was a small line of folks loading up on coffee and hot chocolate at the cafe.

By the time the last of the 15 minute holds had expired the rain had finally stopped. The stage floor was mopped up and deemed safe. There were some adjustments made. Danny Scheie did not roller skate as planned. Shoes were switched out as needed. But at 8:30, a full half hour late, the show finally got underway.

The mist came back for while at some point during the show. But our faithful audience stayed with us till the end. Let's just all cross our fingers and hope that this is our rainy day experience this season. M'kay?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Keys to the Kingdom

Hello blog readers. Your usual blogging host, Stefanie, has packed her bags and gone off to Bali for a couple of weeks. She has entrusted me, Beth Sandefur, special events and membership manager, with the care and feeding of this blog while she's gone. I'd like to think that it's because of my superb writing skills but really it's because I'm a girl that likes to tell a story and I have basic working knowledge of HTML. And she left me a very thorough list of instructions (i.e. little to no creative license).

The Cal Shakes bull pen is playing vacation rotation at the moment. We've all been overlapping each other by a day here and there. Robin, the box office manager, spent a few days in New Mexico and will be going back next week. Paul, development coordinator, was in Northern Minnesota. Susie, marketing director, spent some time in France. I have just returned from a trip to Minneapolis.

What's in Minneapolis? I'm so glad you asked. Shawn Hamilton--who played the narrator, Gower, in our production of Pericles earlier this year--is currently holding down a role in a world premiere musical; Little House on the Prairie, at the Guthrie Theater. (Do view the flash site when you click that link, it's quite something.) I am an unapologetic fan of musical theater, even the fluffy stuff, and couldn't resist an offer of comp tickets for a musical that is still in development.

I'll have the blog humming along with links to Twelfth Night reviews and photos, an inside look at how the development swings into the off season, and a preview of one of our upcoming Artistic Learning classes. You know, as soon as I finish wading through all the voice mail and email that stacked up while I was out of the office for a week and a half. Which will go much quicker now that I've shown my vacation photos to everyone in the office. Priorities.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Have you ever taken the back way to the Bruns?

If you've ever skipped the tunnel on your way from Berkeley to our Orinda amphitheater, than you know how twisty-turny the Claremont Avenue route is.

But would you ever skateboard down it??

Adam Kimmel presents: Claremont HD from adam kimmel on Vimeo.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

In case you haven't heard ...

We've announced our 2009 season!*

Romeo and Juliet
By William Shakespeare
Directed by Jonathan Moscone
May 27 – Jun 21

Private Lives
By Noël Coward
Directed by Mark Rucker
Jul 8-Aug 2

Happy Days
By Samuel Beckett
Directed by Jonathan Moscone
Starring Marsha Mason**
Aug 12-Sep 6

A Midsummer Night’s Dream
By William Shakespeare
Directed by Aaron Posner
Sep 16-Oct 11

Read more about the productions on our website.

*But don't forget about Twelfth Night, playing now to close out our 08 season. Check out the new trailer!
**This one's making national news already!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Chad Jones interviews our Viola/Cesario/Sebastian

Confused yet? Chad Jones unravels the double/triple casting of Alex Morf in Twelfth Night (which starts previews in a matter of hours) on his Theater Dogs blog.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Where's J-Mo? Or, What Our Artistic Director's Been Up To.

In between drafting opening letters for the Twelfth Night program, weighing in on gala themes, and deciding our 2009 season (to be announced this Wednesday!) our fearless leader has spent the last month in the savage republic of Boston, directing a new play by Richard Nelson titled, appropriately, How Shakespeare Won the West at the Huntington Theatre. Read more about it in the News on the Rialto blog.

Up next for Mr. Moscone: Sarah Ruhl's Eurydice* at Milwaukee Rep. But he will be here for opening night this weekend, I hear.

*The production of which at Berkeley Rep is one of this blogger's personal all-time favorite Bay Area shows.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Cal Shakes Summer Conservatory Student for President!

In a recent Contra Costa Times article, future presidential candidate Zachary Larkin cited such heroes as Mahatma Gandhi, John F. Kennedy, William Shakespeare, Steven Spielberg, and Barack Obama. And we should we here at Cal Shakes care? Because for the last three summers, Zach has participated in our Summer Theater Programs; maybe we can someday credit our five-week conservatory for the oratorial skills of the leader of the free world!

"The 13-year-old plans to run when he's 37 and insists it's no joke," wrote Elisabeth Nardi in this Tuesday's Times. "This young Democrat has started a blog, has a Web site and even made the theme of his bar mitzvah last Saturday 'Campaign 2032.' He walked in to the strains of 'Hail to the Chief.'"

Read the whole article here. Pictured here: Young Master Larkin as Richard III in a 2007 Summer Theater Program performance. Photo by Jay Yamada.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Better late than never: The TWELFTH NIGHT Meet & Greet podcast

The actors and creative team have cleared out of our West Berkeley rehearsal hall, moving up to the Bruns for the beginning of tech. So, no more Danny Scheie rolling around on roller skates, practicing the trombone.

What am I talking about, you ask? Oh, just you wait and see. For a hint or three, listen to the just-posted podcast of Twelfth Night director (and Cal Shakes Associate Artist) Mark Rucker outline his vision on the first day of rehearsal last month. If video's what you prefer, early next week I'll post a highlight reel from the Inside Scoop, the panel discussion that took place last Monday in Orinda, featuring Rucker, dramaturg Cathleen Sheehan, and actors Alex Morf (Viola/Sebastian) and Dana Green (Olivia).

But in the meantime, enjoy the podcast.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008