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In the Next Room (Literally)

posted by Robert Sweibel on Thu, Jan 22, 2009
in Our shows

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I've been working in the theatre for the better part of 20 years, and I've served as Berkeley Rep's marketing & communications director for more than four. I've seen and heard lots of rehearsals -- one of the fringe benefits of a life in the arts. Here at the Berkeley Rep annex a block from the theatre, I have a nice office overlooking the rehearsal hall. There's double-paned glass separating the office from the hall, to minimize the transfer of noise. I've been told it's to protect the staff from loud rehearsals (we were given ear plugs when Passing Strange rehearsals began), yet I'm pretty sure it's to protect the artists from the marketing / pr staff. 'Type A' personalities, almost all. The words sometime fly at high volume. So does rubber broccoli, but that's another blog post.

Anyway, the double-paned glass isn't exactly the dome of silence. We hear things. Bits of rehearsal, practiced over and over and over and over and over, that stick with us. For Argonautika, it was the roll call, rapped, culminated by Hercules inarticulate yelling, that routinely drew my gaze away from the onslaught of email. For Passing Strange, it was the show's fabulous opening riffs that distracted me from phone calls not yet returned. With Joe Turner's Come and Gone, the glorious jooba dance, punctuated by the rhythmic pounding of a bench on the floor, pulled me away from my spreadsheets.

Well, let me tell you something: Never in all my years in the business -- even at Berkeley Rep, where we play to an audience willing to be made uncomfortable, and for whom we regularly oblige -- have I heard anything come out of the rehearsal hall that made me blush. I had to look. 

In the Next Room (or the vibrator play) begins previews Friday, January 30 at 8pm.


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