Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Intern Eden Meets the Muralists

My name is Eden Neuendorf; I’m an artistic department intern at Cal Shakes. I attended the Meet the Muralists event on Saturday, June 26, after the 2pm matinee of John Steinbeck's The Pastures of Heaven.

It was a very hot day, but quite a few patrons stuck it out to listen to Salinas' José Ortiz (pictured below right in a photograph by Jay Yamada) and six of young muralists of Hijos del Sol describe the Pastures mural in the plaza, titled Las Pasturas del Cielo. People were very attentive while José spoke about the mural and his process, even applauding after the answer to a question from the audience. Many patrons stayed after the talk had ended just to ask more questions and to personally thank José and the boys. Patrons seemed very grateful of and amazed by the work.

What most interested me was to hear about the strong connection José and his students felt after reading Pastures of Heaven, and about how they felt a mural was the best way to present that connection to the stories. José gave a brief description of each story depicted in the mural, and also gave the illustrators a chance to say what part of the mural they had worked on. José said they all fought over the painting of Tularecito, because as painters they all connected closely with that story. It was also one of their favorite parts of the play. It was so amazing to hear how much these young artists connected to the story.

During the talk I was struck by the depiction of the sunset at the very far right side of the mural (photographed below by Paul Doyle). I’ve seen the mural so many times, but for some reason this was the first time I really saw the sunset. But Saturday afternoon, the picture and José’s description of the artist's intent really spoke to me. The sunset was painted with different shades of grays, which aren’t the colors you typically think of when you think about a sunset. They were trying to depict the Salinas sunset, ending the mural's story with lots of grays and just a glimmer of color and hope. This is how they interpreted the end of Pastures of Heaven. It’s beautiful; I’m thankful I was finally able to see it and to fully appreciate it.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Parting is such sweet sorrow.

The week is drawing to a close and I feel like a senior in high school all over again. I have been bitten by the summer bug, and concentration seems ever-elusive. Yet at the same time I am loath to think about the fact that I am now entering my last week as an intern with Cal Shakes. Sadly enough this will be my first and last blog. I am an oddity when it comes to the Professional Immersion Program (PIP) as I did my internship from the beginning of January through this last week in June. Being here on the front side of the season did have its advantage, as I was able to see all the upheaval that goes into the preparation for an excellent summer. It was fascinating to be around the office when there were maybe 25 people total, in comparison to now, when the building is constantly buzzing with scenic construction, office work, and actors coming and going from rehearsal. It is an exciting environment and even more exciting is the fact that I got to see the transformation and be a part of it.

This week has been as busy as ever, as rehearsals for Mrs. Warren’s Profession are in full swing and Pastures of Heaven is about to enter its final week. Being an artistic intern provides the opportunity to dabble in a little bit of everything. From moving furniture and scrubbing floors in order to prepare the new green room, to scheduling, making phone calls, and doing errands, helping manage the company, and making sure all the artists are taken care of, there is never a dull moment in the artistic office! Needless to say I had no idea what I was actually getting into when I signed on as an artistic intern, but I loved every bit of it (even exhausting tech days where all I wanted to go do was go home and sleep). I have to say that after spending four hours one day spreading woo dchips over the groves I have a new appreciation for them!

I got to see Pastures of Heaven in its entirety for the first time at the Student Discovery Matinee last week, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The cast works so wonderfully as an ensemble and create such great interweaving stories that it is fun and exciting to watch; I would thoroughly recommend it to everyone. Besides, who wouldn’t enjoy coming out on a beautiful night to have a picnic and then watch a play that takes place not too far from here, against the beautiful backdrop of the Orinda hills. Working with Cal Shakes really has been the most amazing experience and I will miss all the fantastic and superb people that work here!

Therefore, I say not goodbye, but until we meet again!

—Brianna Hill