Berkeley Rep Blog

June 2012

Handmade bracelets by an Emotional Creature cast member

posted by Karen McKevitt on Thu, Jun 28

Meet Emotional Creature ensemble member Olivia Oguma:

(Photo by

Olivia loves to make bracelets. And we love Olivia's beautiful and versatile bracelets so much that we're selling them in our Roger & Silvija Hoag Theatre Store for a mere $25.

(Photo by Mary Kay Hickox)

Aren't they awesome? It's a good thing Olivia brought her craft supplies with her to Berkeley, because we already sold out of her first batch of braceletes. Don't worry, we have more in stock now. So come by the store before or after the show, try them on, and support our guest actor and artisan!

Comments: 3 | Read comments

Stamping out Chinglish

posted by Mary Kay Hickox on Thu, Jun 28

This week, Cheshire (Berkeley Rep’s art director) and I put up the exterior sign for the first show of our 2012–13 season, David Henry Hwang’s comedy Chinglish. This was a wonderful play to read, and I was very excited to be able to create artwork for this production. Inspired by Chinese woodblock seals, I created a few rough variations on the idea (shown below), and settled with the two stamps in the final version. I separated the flags into two to create flexibility when the artwork has to be used in small formats (such as the ads in the weekly newspapers or web ads) or in larger formats. 


To create the stamps, I made two basic shapes in Adobe Illustrator — the U.S. flag with the Chinese stars, and the Chinese flag with the U.S. stars. At this point they were looking very Saul Bass, and we needed to make it look more stamplike. There are a lot of ways to grunge up an image digitally, but you can always tell when something has been treated with a computer. The best tools for achieving this look? Your hands, printer paper, and an X-acto knife. I printed out a large version of each of the flags, and crumpled them. Then I flattened them out, and then crumbled them again. When the ink on the paper began to loosen up, I began scratching off the toner at certain spots with the knife. This process took a few iterations just to perfect the look.


The crumpled mess of a paper then goes into the scanner and Photoshop. I moved around the scratches and blobs, as it began to look like torn holes in the artwork. The final stop for the flags in the Adobe Creative Suite is with InDesign, where I laid out the images with the show title, information, and other logos onto the poster. Cheshire thought of the tagline. Unless you can read it, I won’t explain what it says — you’ll just have to come by Berkeley Rep in August to find out for yourself! 


Comments: 3 | Read comments

Emotional Creature heads off Broadway

posted by Karen McKevitt on Wed, Jun 27

EC1_lrThe cast of Emotional Creature. Photo by

Emotional Creature is headed off Broadway (after it finishes its run at Berkeley Rep on July 15, that is)!

It'll begin previews at the Romulus Linney Courtyard Theatre on October 26, with an official opening set for November 12.

In the last 25 years, 25 shows developed at Berkeley Rep have moved to New York. In the last six years alone, Berkeley Rep has helped send six shows to Broadway, eight to off Broadway, and one to London, while two turned into films and others toured the nation. Over the years, these plays have earned five Tony Awards, seven Obie Awards, nine Drama Desk Awards, four Lucille Lortel Awards, five Outer Critics Circle Awards, and a Grammy Award. 

Now Emotional Creature is the 26th play to follow that trail from Berkeley to New York. Congratulations to the cast and creative team!


Comments: 0 | Read comments

Sade's Emotional Creature blog: A picture's worth a thousand words

posted by Karen McKevitt on Wed, Jun 27

Taken and posted to V-Girls before last Friday's opening night performance of Emotional Creature:



Turned out boots… Diet coke… Water bottle… A picture is worth a thousand words! Less than 24 hours til opening night…





Comments: 0 | Read comments

We are emotional creatures

posted by School of Theatre on Mon, Jun 25

By Negi Esfandiari,Teen Council member

“I won’t keep you waiting,” I said with a grin, “here she is: Eve Ensler!” She thanked me and gave me a kiss on the cheek and a hug. I was overjoyed -- was this really happening? It blew my mind that I was sitting in the same room as this incredible and inspiring woman listening to her wisdom and connecting with other teens from all over the Bay Area.

"Here she is: Eve Ensler!"

I had the honor of introducing the incredible Eve Ensler for a special Emotional Creature workshop just before our Teen Night. After sharing the genesis of this play, Eve asked us to form groups and create our own emotional creature. The outcomes were surprising. One group created a creature called Septipus, a seven-person wheel formation with each person portraying a different emotion. In contrast, my group had a more abstract creature that was vaguely based on a dragon that roared and also made gorilla sounds. After the exercise, Eve talked a lot about how girls all over the world feel pressured to please.

Eve Ensler asks everyone a simple question. "How are you feeling?"

As we wrapped up, at Eve’s direction we paired with one new person in the room. Together we shared something we did only to please other people and vowed to stop doing that thing. This stranger then became the keeper of our promise to stop the cycle of pleasing. To conclude the workshop, Eve started a fabulous dance party, which resulted in the discovery of many talented on-the-spot choreographers.

When seeing the play, I reflected on the journey Eve had experienced with its development. It reminded me of Eve’s work on the City of Joy in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which is a special facility for survivors of sexual violence. In her own article Women Left for Dead—and the Man Who’s Saving Them, Eve describes how the women of the City of Joy used dance to help with their trauma, and portrays how beautiful it is to watch women who have gone through such atrocities dance up mountains.

Teen Council creates their own "Emotional Creature."

The show closed with a musical rendition of the monologue Emotional Creature, and an awesome bow involving a dance circle. The joyful bow definitely encapsulated that strength of girls and left each of us with a beautiful sentiment to hold in our hearts. I left the theatre feeling the energy of the whole group rising.  It was a feeling of empowerment!

Thank you, Eve.  

Comments: 0 | Read comments

Carry some of our art

posted by Karen McKevitt on Fri, Jun 15

Reuse, recycle, upcycle. If you've been to Berkeley Rep, you've noticed our recycling and compost bins -- and those are only the beginning of our green ways. 

We're even recycling and upcycling our set, costume, and prop pieces. Our fabulous costume shop created these incredibly detailed tote bags out of the leftover canvases from this season's production of Red:



You can see they're super-sturdy, absolutely one-of-a-kind, and now available in our Roger & Silvija Hoag Theatre Store!

(These photos were taken at a staff-only craft fair we held last week.)

The Berkeley Rep staff loved these totes so much that we almost bought them all out before they even made it to the store. But then we thought, we want to share the totes with you. So come visit us soon and check them out!



Comments: 0 | Read comments

Emotional Creature cast shares their fav songs

posted by Karen McKevitt on Wed, Jun 13

We asked the super-fun gals in the Emotional Creature cast to share their favorite songs with us. Their playlists were so cool that we created a playlist of over 90 minutes of awesome on Spotify. From Beyonce to Lana Del Rey and Melissa Etheridge, there's something for everyone. They even threw in a little Green Day.

So, check their tunes out -- and share them too! And, be sure to catch these gals onstage in Emotional Creature. First performance is tomorrow!



Comments: 0 | Read comments

A New York Times piece mirrors Black n Blue Boys

posted by Karen McKevitt on Fri, Jun 8

Dael Orlandersmith's Black n Blue Boys / Broken Men, which plays until June 24, centers on a rarely discussed topic: men and boys who have been abused, often by women. The subject matter is tough, but it's also a moving, poignant, and ultimtely incredibly important show.

The Berkeley Rep staff decided to expand our post-show talkback program especially for Black n Blue Boys. We're now offering talkbacks after every performance, moderated by staff, so audience members can stay and discuss what they've seen.

Today, the New York Times published an opinion piece about abused men that mirrors so much of the themes in Black n Blue Boys. Here are some excerpts:

" spend years putting their emotions in a deep freeze or masking post-traumatic reactions with self-defeating behaviors like compulsive gambling and substance abuse. Eventually, they are forced by internal or external events to find treatment."

"Even in 2012, we are socialized to think that 'real men' should be resilient, and certainly not victims. For a man to acknowledge sexual victimhood, even to himself, is to say he is not really male."

If you've seen Black n Blue Boys -- or even if you haven't -- what are your thoughts? 



Comments: 0 | Read comments

Making graffiti

posted by Karen McKevitt on Wed, Jun 6

By Lisa Lazar, charge scenic artist

Greetings from the Berkeley Rep Scenic Art studio!

Today we answer the question: How might one paint a graffiti-covered corrugated roll-up door for Emotional Creature? How might one paint this on a non-corrugated floor?


The image is drawn on a huge sheet of paper and then transferred to the flooring material. Drawing on the paper allows the artists to work out the drawing without damaging the actual scenery.

Once the image is transferred, the artists start painting.  All the colors are custom-mixed to match the designer’s specifications. In the above photo, Scenic Art Fellow Anya Kazimierski is painting with a color she mixed to match the designer’s scale rendering. You can see a blue crescent on a white board at the top of the photograph. That is what the artists are working to replicate.


Once the graffiti portion of the painting is completed, the next step is to add the illusion of corrugation. Here, Anya is marking the lines that will become the next layer of this painting.


All of the lines are airbrushed on with a spray gun made for painting automobiles. The spray gun gives a smooth, photographic quality to the painting, but because there is the risk of unwanted “over-spray,” this technique requires extensive masking.  


And here you have it! One custom-shaped handpainted graffiti-coved roll-up door…on the floor.



Comments: 1 | Read comments

12 teens, 15 plays, 24 hours…

posted by School of Theatre on Tue, Jun 5

By Hannah Lennett, Education Fellow

This past weekend, the Berkeley Rep School of Theatre hosted a 24-hour play-reading fundraiser extravaganza from noon on June 2 until noon on June 3. In celebration of the School of Theatre’s 10th anniversary, the teens chose to read plays from past Berkeley Rep seasons, including Teen One-Acts Festival winners.


Dramathon attendees read Reckless by Craig Lucas with Bay Area actress, Sarita Ocon.

Throughout the event, the 12 teens were joined by special guests from the Berkeley Rep family. These generous performers include Sarita Ocon (Ghost Light, School of Theatre teaching artist), Ben Freeman (Yellowjackets), Amaya Alonso Halifax (Yellowjackets), Rachel Lee (Teen Council alum) and Rethink, Marilet Martinez (School of Theatre teaching artist), members of the cast of Emotional Creature, Reggie White (School of Theatre teaching artist), Marissa Keltie (Bay Area actress), Beryl Baker (Berkeley Rep development associate), Katie Gucik (Berkeley Rep company management fellow), Anya Kazimierski (Berkeley Rep scenic paint fellow), and Taylor Edelhart (Teen Council alum).


Marilet Martinez, Emotional Creature cast members, and Dramathon teens after their reading.

Participants raised over $1,200 for Teen Council programming. Top fundraisers received Berkeley Rep gift bags, tickets to next year’s Teen Night, gift certificates to local businesses, and free lessons from Berkeley Rep School of Theatre staff.

To read a blow-by-blow account of the event, check out our Storify account of the live-tweeting.  

Also, be sure to check out the blog post written by our visitors from Emotional Creature.

Comments: 0 | Read comments