This past Monday, Berkeley Rep staff, crew, and friends gathered in the rehearsal hall to chow down on a fantastic potluck, dance like crazy people, and generally spread holiday cheer.
Well, yes-–Monday’s the only day the theatre is dark (meaning there are no shows). It’s actually the day off for about half our staff—-specifically, the half that just came off a grueling five-show weekend, and will be back at the Theatre on Tuesday night, running Joe Turner’s Come and Gone and The Arabian Nights. So we couldn’t have the party on any other night—-and we wouldn’t have it any other way.
The high point of the party each year is the centerpiece competition. Each department is responsible for bringing a centerpiece for one of the dining tables, and a panel of anonymous and impartial staff judges (only one of those two adjectives is true) convenes to choose the winner and two runners-up. Competition is fierce and awe-inspiring. I mean, would you want to go up against the costume or prop department? This kind of thing is their livelihood. And don’t get me started on the pyrotechnics that electrics is capable of, or the things that the scenic studios can make with their power tools.
Below is a photo of the costume shop's 2006 prize-winning entry. We made this and other photos of the winners into a set of lovely holiday cards.
This year, the judges clearly had a different idea of holiday cheer in mind. I have to give a shout-out to my department, marketing, which got into the winner's circle for the first time EVER thanks to Elissa Dunn's inspired merging of In the Next Room (or the vibrator play) and The Lieutenant of Inishmore. The School of Theatre pulled a second-place win with their interactive Pictionary tree. And in first place was the development department with their centerpiece, “Have a very Carrie Christmas.”
In the words of one of the judges, “they won because, well, they went THERE.”
Yeah, they did.
One of my favorite things about the holiday party is that it’s entirely self-created. The electrics department brings in the disco ball and hooks up lights, the sound department brings in a sound board and speakers, the board and development department works to get donated gifts for our raffle, and everyone brings food to contribute to the potluck. (And what a spread it is –- Berkeley Rep staff can really--I mean really--cook.) (Has anyone mentioned recently that we love free food?)
And after that? We break it down. We’ve got a few moonlighting DJs on staff, plus the professional talents of our head sound engineer’s husband (their daughter, Anja, is below, boogying down with Gendell Hernandez from the School of Theatre).
Our Monday night dance party is off the hook. And every year, watching the fantastic talents of each department bring it all home, it reminds me-—again-—why I’m so glad to be celebrating the holidays with this group of people.
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