Berkeley Rep Blog

Category archive: Backstage buzz

Chinglish in Hong Kong, Part I: The Arrival

posted by Kyle Sircus on Thu, Feb 28, 2013
in Backstage buzz , Our shows , Shows on tour

The cast of Chinglish has arrived safe and sound in Hong Kong. Want to follow them on their trip? We've got you covered. Thanks to the candor and wit of Alex Moggridge (who plays Daniel in the show), everyone can follow this awesome cast as they prepare to perform at the Hong Kong Arts Festival. In this installment, Alex chats with his fellow cast members about how they think the show will be received by Hong Kong audiences -- inlcuding some thoughtful musings on subtitles, conjugations, and costume changes. 

 

Be sure to check back on our website for more updates from Alex and the rest of the Chinglish cast throughout their stay. 

 

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Chinglish's set changes

posted by Karen McKevitt on Thu, Sep 27, 2012
in Backstage buzz , Our shows , Scene shop

Audiences are just loving David Henry Hwang’s Chinglish, but they’re almost buzzing as much about the set. And with good reason! The set changes feature two turntables, automated armchairs, moving walls, flying screens and curtains, even actors crossing the stage as the set moves -- all to the energetic beats of c-pop.

Check out the scene changes in this video! It was shot with three cameras, including a handheld one backstage and one mounted on our catwalk for the overhead shots. Of course, some of this wasn’t filmed during a performance – otherwise all the backstage shots would be totally dark.

Chinglish (The Set Changes) from Berkeley Repertory Theatre on Vimeo.

While Chinglish’s set looks fully automated, what really happens literally behind the scenes is a complex dance between computers, stagehands, scene pieces, wardrobe, and even the actors.

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Strippers on a train: The reality of Chinglish costume changes

posted by Amy Bobeda on Thu, Aug 30, 2012
in Backstage buzz , Our shows

Every Bay Area dweller has had an unsavory BART experience. So imagine, if you will, riding BART in complete darkness as you attempt to change your entire ensemble in under 50 seconds. That, my dear Berkeley Rep lovin' readers, is exactly what life is like for the cast of Chinglish.

For those who don't know, the show is set on two rotating turntables, and the platforms spin during the transitions in and out of each scene. For actors to exit and enter the stage, they hop from platform to platform to the beat of Chinese techno pop. 

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Chinglish begins rehearsals

posted by Karen McKevitt on Thu, Aug 9, 2012
in Backstage buzz , Our shows

Life is imitating art when it comes to David Henry Hwang's Chinglish (which begins performances at Berkeley Rep in about two weeks!). In the play, an American businessman goes to China to score a business deal for his firm, only to collide with a Communist minister and a sexy bureaucrat.

Hmm, sounds a little bit like the current scandel involving former Chongqing party secretary Bo Xilai and his wife Gu Kailai, who's now being tried for allegedly murdering British businessman Neil Heywood. Though the American businessman in David Henry Hwang's play doesn't meet exactly the same fate, the playwright had been told early on that some of the scenarios in his play wouldn't actually happen in China. But it seems they do happen, in this case with tragic results.

As the murder case was unfolding, Chinglish began rehearsals at our Harriosn Street campus in West Berkeley. Here's a glimpse of them:

 

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 Playwright David Henry Hwang with director Leigh Silverman.

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 From left: actors Brian Nishii and Alex Moggridge with David Henry Hwang and Leigh Silverman.

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In the foreground: Brian Nishii and Alex Moggridge.

All photos by Cheshire Isaacs.

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Emily's Emotional Creature blog: Inspiring empowered girls

posted by Karen McKevitt on Sat, Jun 2, 2012
in Backstage buzz , Our shows

The cast of Emotional Creature is blogging about their experience preparing for the world premiere of Eve Ensler's new play here at Berkeley Rep -- we knew these gals would embrace social media! These will be co-posted by Berkeley Rep and V-Girls.  

Here's a post by ensemble member Emily S. Grosland:

Eve asked each of us to bring in a story about an incredible girl who is an inspiration for us. We are going to collect stories about the incredible women who have changed history, overcome adversity, or simply loved and supported us. This incredible community of emotional creatures will serve to inspire us every night on stage and hopefully we will be able to harness their strength and share it with all the young girls in the audience.

My story for today was about two incredible young women that I do not know personally, but their story inspired me greatly. Elizabeth Van Meter is a young actress in NYC (Her similarity to me and my fellow actors in this show is why I find her story so inspiring). Thao is a young woman in Vietnam who was born with severe life threatening birth defects as a result of Agent Orange. Despite the obstacles that life has given her, she has maintained an incredible joy about her. Elizabeth decided to fulfill Thao’s greatest wish (the build a library for her village) even though she did not have a large amount of money or resources for herself. In fact, I believe she was unemployed at the time. But in doing so, she found her own great joy for life.

There is a Vietnamese saying that goes, “The good leaves shall cover the torn ones, and the torn leaves shall cover the shreaded leaves.” For Elizabeth and Thao this means that those of us who are lucky enough to live safe, comfortable lives have a responsibility to help those who have it a little rougher than us. And those who have it a little rough are then responsible to help out those who have it worse than them.

You can learn about the whole story and watch a short documentary about these two wonderful women at:

http://www.thepurposeprojectfilm.com/home

Check it out…it’s truly inspiring!

Love,
Emily

Emilysgrosland

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Molly's Emotional Creature blog: I dance to be here!

posted by Karen McKevitt on Fri, Jun 1, 2012
in Backstage buzz , Our shows

The cast of Emotional Creature is blogging about their experience preparing for the world premiere of Eve Ensler's new play here at Berkeley Rep -- we knew these gals would embrace social media! These will be co-posted by Berkeley Rep and V-Girls.  

Here's a post by ensemble member Molly Carden:

Luam the fabulous choreographer is finally here! We started the morning off going over our group songs and some dances and then Luam arrived (we all applauded and hugged her) and jumped right in, fine-tuning and spicing up the basic structure we already have in place thanks to Jo, our amazing director. Luam encouraged us all to take our movement to the next level. Because I’m not a dancer, I was nervous and probably a bit tentative at the beginning of the day, but by the end of it the energy in the room was infectious and I’m psyched to jump in tomorrow and see what more is in store. I feel like our group energy is really starting to grow. We ended the day singing through “Emotional Creature” (the song that ends the show) and even though we were all a little shaky with some of the words because we just learned it, I felt an incredible sense of gratitude to be standing up there with these 5 amazing women singing this beautiful song written by the extraordinary Eve Ensler. Eve was there all day today. It’s always such a privilege to have her in that room. Tomorrow we’re going to start a ritual of sharing the stories of women who inspire us or who we want to inspire. I think that’s a great idea. Gratitude. I feel so full of it right now. Eve says that true joy comes from gratitude. I think she is right. I’d say week two is off to a good start.

–Molly

Molly carden

 

 

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Joaquina's Emotional Creature blog: First week of rehearsal completed!

posted by Karen McKevitt on Thu, May 31, 2012
in Backstage buzz , Our shows

The cast of Emotional Creature is blogging about their experience preparing for the world premiere of Eve Ensler's new play here at Berkeley Rep -- we knew these gals would embrace social media! These will be co-posted by Berkeley Rep and V-Girls.  

Here's a post by ensemble member Joaquina Kalukango:

First official week of rehearsal completed! We started the day off with dialects, and realized we know a lot more than we give ourselves credit for. Thank God for our dialect coach Lynne who has an incredible ear and wonderful spirit! There are so many rhythms and beats in our heads, I can’t wait to see how it all comes together. We also celebrated Eve’s second birthday with a chocolate covered fruit arrangement.

Quote of the day:” I dance biology” (Atlanta accent)

–Joaquina

Joaquina Kalukango HS 1

Eve's birthday bouquet:

Photo

 

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Olivia's Emotional Creature blog: Dance, dialects, and altars

posted by Karen McKevitt on Wed, May 30, 2012
in Backstage buzz , Our shows

The cast of Emotional Creature is blogging about their experience preparing for the world premiere of Eve Ensler's new play here at Berkeley Rep -- we knew these gals would embrace social media! These will be co-posted by Berkeley Rep and V-Girls.  

Here's a post by ensemble member Olivia Oguma:

Hello Emotional Creatures!! Today was a stomp-tastic day!! We learned a few of the dances that involved very structured clapping and stomping combinations in preparation for our choreographer Luam who is coming Tuesday morning to work with us and fine tune all our moves! We watched some videos of the stomp dances from the workshop production of Emotional Creature and then Charl, our musical director, and Jo, our director, helped us get them down. When she arrives she will fine tune the dances. We have watched some videos of her choreography and she is amazing! We also got the chance to work individually with our spectacular dialect coach Lynne who is helping us with all the dialects we have in the show. Some of the dialects we are doing range from Congolese to British to Chinese to Bulgarian. We have a lot on our plate, but Lynne makes it simple and gives us helpful hints and tricks that make it easy for us! I cant believe we have only been in rehearsal for 10 days-- We have become such a tight knit group of Emo-Creatures! The energy in the room is infectious and amazing –- can’t wait for all the V-GIRLS out there to see this awesome show!

Love, Olivia

Oguma_Olivia_01_ret

P.S. We also were encouraged by Eve to make an altar in our rehearsal room ! Here is our awesome altar …everyone brought something special to us..I brought a small doll, Emily made paper cranes, Eve put some flowers she got for her birthday on the altar as well. It’s so beautiful!

2012-05-27 18.38.50

 

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Sade's Emotional Creature blog: Every day is a chance to listen and learn

posted by Karen McKevitt on Mon, May 28, 2012
in Backstage buzz , Our shows

The cast of Emotional Creature is blogging about their experience preparing for the world premiere of Eve Ensler's new play here at Berkeley Rep -- we knew these gals would embrace social media! These will be co-posted by Berkeley Rep and V-Girls.  

Here's the very first post by ensemble member Sade Namei:

Today, we started our music rehearsals with with Charl (pronounced, Shawl). Singing, dancing, clapping–no child play, I assure you…Ok, maybe a little. And we’ve learned that it’s hard to talk and walk at the same time!!! Anybody? Ok… just me. Thank God for humor! Lesson learned: Have a sense of humor and you can get through anything…Anybody? Just me? Ok. Everyday, we learn something wonderful from each other. Every day is a chance to listen, learn, pause, check-in and keep learning. It’s pretty incredible being here. The challenge is enormous but the stakes to not overcome them are even higher… 

Hope to see you soon. off to memorization. Keep reading. 

–Sade

 

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Moliere and the Mafia — Yale grad students design "Doctor"

posted by Amy Bobeda on Thu, Feb 23, 2012
in Backstage buzz , Costume shop , Our shows

Our studious audience members likely got their postgraduate degrees in "normal" subjects — psychology, anthropology, any-other-ology, so it is only natural that many who work with Berkeley Rep got theirs in theatre. This season, we are fortunate that our Doctor in Spite of Himself coproduction with Yale Repertory Theatre has not only brought us 90 minutes of slapstick comedy, but also a handful of talented student designers. For this piece, I concentrated on two disciplines (my favorites), sound and costumes, sitting down with both Ken Goodwin and Kristin Fiebig to hear a little bit about the paths that lead them to the prestigious Yale School of Drama program, what they see in their futures, and why they’ve loved studying theatre.

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