Monday, June 29, 2009

Making a lot from a little.

This is Daniel, blogging from a little cafe on Telegraph Avenue. Romeo and Juliet ended over a week ago, and since then, we production interns have had plenty of free time to relax away from the Bruns. A project we've been working on together has been the Five-Week Conservatory production. I'm designing the lights, Lyrica is the master electrician, Jonathan is the sound designer/engineer, Edgar is the props master, and Julie and Erik are designing, building, and painting the set.

It's a fun process, despite our limited resources. The theater at the school is beautiful but, ah, a little outdated. With some hard work, improvisation, and a lot of extension cords and gaff tape, Lyrica and I were able to get the lights up and running. It'll be a two-person job to keep all of the dimmers, switches, and levers involved moving during the show, but I'm looking forward to it already.

The house of our theater, at Holy Names High School.

Cal Shakes Master Electrician Heather consulting with us on the lights.

You read it right—the dimmers were installed May 25, 1931. And they still work!

Old-fashioned glass fuses burn out easily but are cheap to replace.

This is Ellie, the Assistant Master Electrician's dog. She's adorable.

Other goings-on have included the San Francisco Gay Pride parade, which was even bigger and crazier than Bay-to-Breakers, and preparation for Private Lives, the next Main Stage show, and regular PIP intern training sessions. See ya next time!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Endings and Beginnings

Dallas again with a much needed update from the intern world!

Today was the fourth day of Cal Shakes Five-Week Conservatory, my latest adventure in my internship. Before I get to that, though, a conclusion to my adventures with Romeo and Juliet. Sunday was the closing performance (I hope everyone had a chance to see the show!), and it was the hardest goodbye I've ever made to a show. The last performance was fantastic, with perfect weather and an even greater audience; I couldn't have asked for a better way to bid adieu to not only such a wonderful production, but also a great cast and crew. Calling California home is still new and strange, but with the families I've made with the fellow interns, the cast and& crew of R and J and everyone in the office at Heinz, the transition has been not only smooth but thoroughly enjoyable. So thanks, everyone, for an amazing first five weeks!

Now back to Conservatory. Five-Week Conservatory is a Cal Shakes camp for the most serious of young actors, where they learn not only acting but also movement, voice, text, stage combat, and improv, plus other master classes. Conservatory culminates in each of the five age groups putting on a one-hour abridged production of a Shakespeare work and I have, you guessed it, Romeo & Juliet with the youngest group, the Merry Kinsmen. These kids have ENERGY! But all that energy becomes enthusiasm and drive when we get into our afternoon rehearsals.

Today the group played silent teams with Heidi in Acting; I can't pretend that I wasn't terribly nervous about 14 eight-year-olds having to be nearly silent for an hour while acting and working as an ensemble, but they proved me wrong. Not only was their work creative and entertaining, but they did it humbly and with respect. They were able to point out how they worked together—even if they didn't get the role they wanted within each scene, they recognized what the ensemble lacked and how they could fill the hole. It was inspiring to see kids prove that a great ensemble is possible at any age.

After that, Stage Combat was a breeze as they reviewed the unarmed techniques they learned early in the week and moved on to using the swords that will be used in the production. Once again, the focus and talent was surprising—I often looked around and realized they were leaps and bounds ahead of me! Auditions rounded out the day and casting decisions were made (my first casting experience, so fun). It really makes me look forward to the next four weeks and the challenges and rewards ahead.

P.S. Don't forget to get your tickets to all five of the Cal Shakes Conservatory performances on Friday July 24 and Saturday July 25! Just click on the "Performance Tickets" link at the top of the Summer Theater Programs page of our website to get yours.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Our lovely trip to the A.C.T. warehouse, and more...

Emily again. This week (the week of June 15th) I mostly worked on props with Edgar and Daniel during the mornings. One day we got to go to the A.C.T. (American Conservatory Theater) Warehouse in San Francisco with Props Manager Caela (who, by the way, we discovered is an expert suburban parker).

The Warehouse was fabulous, huge, and full of wonderful things! I got some fun

They were much happier than they look!

Wow! So big.

This week I also did a lot of data entry. Gotta love them evals!

Dan, Edgar, and I painted some chairs:

And we had a training day in San Francisco. Here's all of us on BART:

Next Up... camp! I can't wait!!

Emily Sobolew

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Ooooh Student Matinees...

I shall miss you so :( I really did enjoy myself today at our last Student Discovery Matinee, although I'd have to say that many of the kids were far less well behaved than the past groups we had and made some pretty obnoxious shout-outs during the show. Worse off, during the last half of the play I felt a small rock just miss my face & heard a rascal mutter "awww, you missed!" Ha ha... I'd like to think it wasn't for me. It was also pretty cold on this 10th day of June! (Not what I'm used to for summer time.) But like I said...I really had myself a good time! Listening to a fellow intern's lovely songs about her soda sales... and I really had a great group AGAIN! Big props to Unity High (pictured with me at right) for being so awesome & well behaved!

The Private Lives of Costumes

Hi, it's me again, Courtney, the Costume Design intern.

As of yesterday, this is where my job kicks into high gear for my department. Yesterday, I met Katherine Roth, the costume designer for Noël Coward's Private Lives, who I will be assisting during the the show's preproduction. With the majority of the Cal Shakes family, I attended the PL Meet-and-Greet, wherein we met the cast and creative team for Private Lives. I also attended the read-through, which was a great way to put faces and voices to the script I read last week.

After that, my job was to call around the Bay Area looking for vintage clothing shops that carry 1930s men's suits and tuxedos. This is a challenging task in itself. If you know a few things about vintage clothing, you'll know that authentic 1930s clothing is becoming increasingly challenging to find in this day in age, due to how old the clothing is and the deterioration of the fabric itself. However, I was fortunate to find a few shops that look very promising in terms of carrying what we are looking for. A few of the shops are new ones I have never heard of, and one is a shop I have actually looked around in for a show I designed in the past.

As far as the women's clothing for the show, it looks like we are building our own clothing from existing items brought in by Katherine. We also might be building a few items from scratch, as well. It's always amazing to see how costumes evolve from a paper or muslin pattern to a three-dimensional costume that looks fabulous.

I met actress Diana LaMar—Private Lives' leading lady—for measurements, and we helped pick some rehearsal shoes for her to practice in.

On the agenda today? Looking at the stock (costumes) of one of our fellow Bay Area theater companies. Hopefully, we will find some great items that will work for our show.

Sunday, June 7, 2009


Oops! Did I fail to introduce myself properly? I wrote the previous blog but I guess I missed that! I'm Emily, a soon-to-be-theater student at San Francisco State University and a lover of acting and theater ever since I learned to walk (if not sooner). I currently live here in the Bay Area, and I'm an Artistic Learning intern!

Emily's First ever and long, blog!

I have to say that my first week at Cal Shakes has been both exciting AND inspiring! Both, you say? Ah but yes, and I'm looking forward to more. Oooof course there are those long office hours labeling, seeing Excel in my sleep... but honestly, I've gotten to hang with some amazing people during those times, AND I actually do enjoy learning how to use these new programs and being a part of the operations of the fabulous theater company they call Cal Shakes. In admin the other day I got to organize the donation tickets that are given out, which was really nice because I called some schools that had requested donations to let them know that we are still planning on sending them out, and they were so excited... made me feel all gooey and warm inside. I would also like to mention that I would have hoped to blog a bit sooner than this, but had been working a pretty heinous work schedule along with my internship. I am still working during this internship, but have switched to night hours (makes a HUGE difference). I thought it'd be too intense to work at the same time, though I have no choice. However, I find that when I am here I'm having a pretty amazing time... and I even get a sec to relax here and there, so I think I'll be able to pull it off.

Now, a special happy color for the special experience that they call the
Student Discovery Matinee. Last Thursday (yes, this is long overdue) I was assigned to Joaquin Moraga (middle schoolers) and in, all honesty, I was a tad worried about it. I didn't have such a great time in junior high and I know kids can be pretty awful to deal with at that age. So I wasn't expecting angels. But I was very pleasantly surprised. They were so cute! They listened to me, I didn't see any dirty looks or eye rolling, and they even had conversations with me! I went around and met each table, asked them about themselves and/or told 'em about me. By the end of the day they yelled "We love you Emily"! Eeeee! I was a bit verclempt. And to get to watch a Romeo and Juliet performance again was so great. I've seen it quite a few times now, but I haven't really got tired if it yet. It inspires me, I think it's a totally amazing representation of the play, and the actors are really talentedIt inspires me and reminds me that this always has been the only thing for me, and I want to be up there on that stage!

Also within this week, I worked at a Tasting Night (ate SOOOO many peaches courtesy of Farm Fresh to you... mmmmmm) and attended an evening performance w/ comp tickets for me and my hubby!

I'm thrilled to have this opportunity and to be a part of Cal Shakes, and so far I love you all. I look forward to the rest of the summer and what there is to come.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Hot Days and Jello (Just Don't Mix)

Dallas here with another update from the intern world! We just completed performance number eleven of Romeo and Juliet and the show just keeps getting better! This past week has been pretty exhausting—two Student Discovery Matinees, one Meet the Artists matinee, one Shindig, two Tasting Nights, a smattering of backstage tours, not to mention Opening Night. It's a testament to the work ethic of this amazing cast and crew that we have even survived, but that's not to say there haven't been plenty of fun times. There have been countless Vespa rides around the Bruns, made-up lyrics to "Shut Up and Drive," mind-numbing games of Sets in the green room, and fight calls. Fight calls are slowed down versions of the fight scenes in the show that take place 45 minutes prior to curtain. With a slower pace comes room for improv and comedy, with versions of the Tybalt/Mercutio fight including Southern, Lisp, and Bored, with Julian (who plays the Prince) sitting in the audience, simultaneously reciting lines and reading The New York Times. It all leads to the seamless and realistic fight the audience then sees, ending, of course, in plenty of fake blood. I have included a photo of Craig Marker (Tybalt) taken especially for this blog just after said fight, and you can thank him for enduring the blood for this special photo shoot. Blood cleanup is messy at best, but things get especially difficult during matinees. After only ten minutes or so on the deck (the stage), which can become hot enough to burn bare skin, the Jello/Kool Aid mixture literally bakes in and becomes a black, sticky mess that resembles tar and is just as tricky to get up. It just goes to show that sometimes hot days and Jello just don't mix.
Craig Marker (Tybalt) bloodied after a run-in with Romeo and a chair
Intern Class 2009 with Daunielle (the internship program coordinator)
Lauren, SM Intern, riding a Vespa used in the show
Alycia, Deck Manager, enjoying an afternoon ride on the Vespa
Caitlin, Lauren, and Private Lives Stage Manager Liz taping the floor in the rehearsal hall

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Romeo and Juliet and Berkeley

Hi all—this is Daniel Chavez, the Lighting Design intern, posting live from the intern house. I'm currently enjoying a night off and reviewing life out here in the Bay Area while I'm at it. I'm from Washington, D.C., and before this, I'd never been further west than Ohio, so it's been interesting adapting to life out here. I'm already in love with Berkeley, and I spend a lot of my free time going on long bike rides around the area, finding cafes, used bookstores, art supply stores, taking yoga classes, and all that.

We don't get into San Francisco much—it's a long train ride, and most things to see or do are worth a full day trip. Our first weekend here, my roommates and I went into the city for Bay to Breakers—which was unforgettable—stopping by Chinatown and riding a trolley on the way home. The fog in and around San Francisco and the hills of Berkeley is absolutely gorgeous, by the way. After that, it was time for orientation, and then we hit the ground running!

Tech week is always intense, and Cal Shakes is no exception. Working in electrics meant working an average of twelve to sixteen hours a day until all of the lights were hung and focused and the cues were built. I was lucky enough to be shadowing the assistant lighting designer during tech, so I got a great firsthand look at the process. The lighting designer, Russell H. Champa, is an incredible guy to work with, along with the assistant lighting designer and the master electrician—my boss, Heather. Still, it was a relief when we survived tech and transitioned into previews. After helping to set up the opening night party, work has consisted of operating the light board four days a week and general intern-y work.

With more free time since then, I've had more time to see the sights, like Muir Woods and the Golden Gate Bridge. Did I mention that I'm in love with this place? I don't have any pictures up from Golden Gate Park or Haight-Ashbury, but trust me, they're great, too. There are still more interns and more company-wide events to come, so I'm sure you'll be seeing more posts soon!

A few quotes from R&J tech:

Dir: We need Friar John's letter!
SM: What would you like?
Dir: Well, I'd like something that's not a piece of paper that says "Friar John's letter" on it in sharpie.

"The director's patting himself on the back. That means you guys did great."

Monday, June 1, 2009

Like Butter

The Intern blog has taken off once again and, as a blogger myself, I decided that today, the holiest of holy days, My Day Off (yes, it's a proper noun) would be the perfect time to hop on the bandwagon. I'm Dallas, Artistic Learning and Stage Management PIP, a kind of hybrid intern that may have just as easily hopped out of our Artistic Administrator's imagination as I did Florida.

I am one of the eight interns living in the intern house (you have read Carrie's entry, right?) and I could be known as much for my habit of singing Sheena Easton's "Morning Train" before work as for my love for baking. More dedicated Cal Shakes patrons could recognize our living room for being oddly reminiscent of last summer's Twelfth Night set, mainly because that's where a lot of the furniture came from. I've started the summer off on the Stage Management side, joining the brilliant team of ladies who make backstage at Romeo & Juliet the seamless and, might I say, highly attractive place that it is. Seriously, these ladies knows what it takes to make a transition run—and I quote R and J director Jonathan Moscone—"like butter".

There's more to it, of course, than moving chairs and locking the wheels on Juliet's bed; there's the side the audience sees yet never sees: the ridiculously clean moat. Yes, folks, this is like a backstage tour but without those pricey tickets. Let's review:

First, there's a stage to sweep. Easy enough, right? Wrong. It's textured and there's those darn stairs, not to mention backstage where actors lurk barefoot (a Stage Manager's nightmare, yet our time to shine). I won't spoil any details of the show for you, but let's just say it wouldn't be a daring Jonathan Moscone show if the actors simply stayed put on the stage. Mopping and vacuuming follow the sweeping, and a few groans follow thereafter. There's chairs to place, towels to hand off, props to set, torches to light, and a whole mess of other little details that go into making a show run night after night "like butter".

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Hello from the costume shop!

Hi, I'm Courtney and I am the Costume Design intern in Cal Shakes' 2009 Professional Immersion Program.

A lot has happened in the first two weeks of starting the program ,and I am finally able to get into the flow of what is going on at Cal Shakes.

As a design intern, I will be doing a lot—going here, there, and everywhere in a couple of weeks' time. I will be shadowing and assisting the Private Lives costume designer in their creative process from concept to reality. I will also be designing the Five-Week Conservatory production, I believe, and that will be loads of fun. I am hoping to update more in the future about all of my experiences, so you can have a better idea of what happens in the costume department.

So far, the ladies in the shop are wonderful and so helpful, allowing myself and Kimberley, the costume shop intern, to become comfortable with where things are. I was also able to attend a tech rehearsal with costumes used for the first time for Romeo and Juliet last Sunday. It was great all this week to see how the shop crew, wardrobe crew, Naomi the shop supervisor, and Raquel, the designer, all work together to solve "blood" challenges with the costumes. It was truly a team effort to make the blood believable, and the shop and crew make it occur effortlessly show after show.

Most recently I helped out with a majority of the other interns for the Opening Night party, which went very well! Lots of cake, champagne, mingling...everyone had a good time during and after the show. As I was passing out champagne, I had many audience members tell me how they loved the show, and offer congratulations to Cal Shakes and their 35th anniversary! Cheers!

I am hoping the week to come has some more great learning here's to a new week!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

First PIP blog of 2009! (Or, blood packs)

...And thus begins all Cal Shakes summer blogging!

I guess I should start with an introduction: I am Carrie, Artistic Learning intern extraordinaire and lover of brightly colored tennis shoes. Two weeks ago, I boarded a plane out of the great city of Baltimore (Go O's!) to the Bay Area where I began what will be my three month stint as an intern at Cal Shakes. I, like seven of the other interns, am living in the intern house, which we have nicknamed Real World: Oakland (except that we are never at home, and we all get along). But this stuff all seems boring compared with the subject I want to discuss today.

Blood packs.

Yup, I said it. Blood packs. Romeo and Juliet is one gory show. I mean, this ancient grudge leads to some seriously bloody mutiny. It is AWESOME. But here's the thing about live theater: Every show is different. Sometimes, Juliet will put that happy dagger in that sheath and... nope, nothing. This may be, in large part, due to the fact that her blood pack somehow landed under Romeo's legs. Or Tybalt will just keep stabbing Mercutio until we can suddenly see a scratch—just a scratch.

Over the course of a tech, blood packs stop flying across the stage, blood finally reaches a realistic thickness, and everything comes together as it always should. Tech leads into previews which finally leads us to one of the most magical times in all of theater, Opening Night.

Tonight that magic begins. The Bruns will be filled and everything will be perfect. Especially, the Opening Night Party music mix. Just wait... it's worth it.

Okay, that's all for now. Go see Romeo and Juliet!!!!!!!!!