Greetings repitilian gameboys and gamegirls, we at Berkeley Rep are in the midst of a time warp, and we're taking you with us in honor of tonight's world premiere of Troublemaker, The Freakin Kick-A Adventures of Bradley Boatright.
The year is ninghteen-mighty-four, the place is working-class Rhode Island, and the clothes -- wait just a gosh-darn minute, hold the cat phone, the intel has just dropped via solaroids of our last opening night, and let me tell you, those kicks with that hat ain't gonna do us any good unless you're goin' on the lam.
So gamers, scrap plans a-z on your opening-night duds, and dress as fly as our tween hero Bradley Kick-A Boatright himself with these fashion tips:
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!
Two men (other than Justin Beiber) pull at my heart strings: Jackson Pollock and Dexter Morgan. Once I got kicked out of the MoMA for standing too close to the Pollock they had on display, and I’ve seen every episode of the first two seasons (my fave) of Dexter five times. It wasn’t until our production of Red got underway that I realized just why Jackson and Dexter were the men of my dreams: splatter. Whether it is blood or paint or paint that looks like blood, I love me some splatter, making the Red costumage my favorite of the season.
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.
One of the loveliest aspects of our Harrison Street campus is the ability to comingle with other departments without straying too far from your own. This morning, for instance, I was chatting with Kitty Muntzel, our fabulous draper, about an upcoming program article and getting some insights from her. On my way out of the costume shop, tailor Kathy Kellner Griffith called me over to a different table. "And take this with you," she said.
I have to admit I was amused and, after a bit more thinking, curious. Where does one acquire such a treasure? (In case the picture doesn't do it justice, it's a very detailed diorama of a house in the Philippines.)
I asked where it came from, and the ladies who usually know it all -- they've been here a combined total of 47 years -- had met their match. They were stumped! "No idea," Kathy told me. As far as they know, it just appeared in the shop. They asked me to bring it upstairs so that everyone could see it and take their guess about its origin. Any ideas?
The mystery's afoot!
Dressers think a lot of stupid things are funny. Like the way a single hanger can travel from location to location throughout the show. Or naming ensemble characters with ridiculous names. (In Ghost Light, Peter Macon’s character in the film sequence is named Baboo, and Danforth Comin’s “Man 1” has become Keith-Bobby. Hell, we even think it's funny when George Moscone’s shirt magnetizes itself to the refrigerator backstage.)
One of our favorite things to bide our time thinking about is the realism of quick changes. Last season, fellow dresser Alex Zeek and I spent much of our time obsessing over the fact that, in Three Sisters, Natasha had a quick change that occurred in real time of the play, so there should not have been two dressers changing her — in the reality of their Chekovian world, poor Natasha would have had only the help of one little woman, Anfisa, and I’m guessing it wouldn’t all go down in a minute and a half.
But that, my friends, is the reality and magic, of living breathing theatre, which takes me to the root of our story, the rise in our action, and the quick change that rocks the world. Yes, folks, you guessed right: I am talking about the transformation of Mr. Bill Geisslinger from seedy prison guard to the honorable Mayor Moscone.
Quick changes such as this are choreographed with the grace and beauty of Olympic-level synchronized swimming. Alex and I arrive in the stage right quick-change room about six minutes before the Prison Guard exits his last scene. We prep the room: chair in the center, pants pooled on the floor, shoes out of the way, pre-tied necktie on my arm, and magnetic shirt in my hands — all awaiting the arrival of Bill and his arms.
After the gunshots and dreamworld transition music, the auditions begin with Reggie van Huuson. Our cue “It’s Van HOOOOOOOsen” is the moment Bill arrives, sliding his arms into his shirt like a snake darting at the neck of a small child. Standing behind him, I slide the tie over his head while the shirt magnetizes itself closed. Alex unzips his gnarly boots while Bill drops his pants and sits in the chair. Alex then puts his legs through the pant legs, and slides on his shoes, while Bill and I apply the Moscone wig to his head. I glue down the sideburns and hold them as Bill stands up, buckles his pants and belt, and turns toward the mirror. I continue to apply pressure while Alex helps him into his glasses and wedding band. I clip the toupee clips that hold the back of the wig to his own hair as Bill perfects the infamous Moscone curl at his forhead. Alex runs to page the curtain for his entrance, while I help Bill into his suit coat. And by the time the Puppeteers and Ghost puppet are done with their audition piece, Bill has left my sight, like a ghost, vanishing into the depths of backstage blackness.
I am left to clean up my brush and adhesive, and scram so that Barbara Blair can change Louise into her last show look.
I grab my wig block and walk the stairs back to the wig room, knowing that I will do nearly the same thing again tomorrow, in a job that is monotonous, but never mundane.
Sarita Ocon, the Moscone wig, and I wait in the green room for our next cues in act two.
Berkeley Rep's shops are filled with pretty awesome, talented artisans who are always curious and ready to learn new things (and build some awesome things too). That tradition continued last Friday when the costume shop hosted an in-house fabric origami workshop taught by the amazing artist Chris Palmer, author of Shadowfolds. He taught members of the costume, prop, and scenic shops his method of folding fabric to make three-dimensional geometric designs.
Kitty Muntzel, the costume shop's draper, instigated this post -- and pointed me to a terrific blog post by our Scenic Charge Artist Lisa Lazar, who allowed me to repost it (with some slight changes) here.
I could a tale unfold...
On Friday I had the great fortune to participate in a workshop with artist Chris Palmer.
At the opening night reception for Ghost Light, actor Bill Geisslinger and I encountered two things: tiny cups of wine and audience disbelief. It went a little something like this:
Kyle from Marketing: Congrats!
Me (sipping tiny wine cup): Thanks Kyle, it’s so nice to finally be open!
Kyle: So I have to know, in real life, Bill Geisslinger has very light gray hair, but as the prison guard it's black…
Me: (Sip second tiny cup of wine in preparation for the following:)
Well Kyle, and other curious Berkeley Rep patrons, I am so glad I am here to demystify the quizzical hair situation of my good friend Billy G. (That is the rap name I bequeathed him, but don’t tell, he doesn’t know yet.)
I’ve always enjoyed The Proclaimers "I’m Gonna Be" (aka "500 Miles") from the Benny & Joon soundtrack, but I’ve never really considered the commitment required to walk 500 miles just to be with someone. That is, until now.
On December 31, we had our first day of tech rehearsal for Ghost Light, and through a moment of divine inspiration, I threw on a pedometer just to see how many miles I would walk that day for director Jon Moscone. In less than eight hours, I logged 8.5 miles while finishing the shopping for the show — laundry detergent, magnets for the magical George Moscone quick change, and a trendy wallet for the character Jon. Eight and a half miles for one day seemed a little high, so on Sunday I tried again.
I realize most people have no clue what the fancy-shmancy term “tech rehearsal” means. So imagine this: you are locked in the theatre for 10 out of 12 hours, going from light cue to light cue, sound cue to sound cue, taking an hour to work though a 45-second transition, and crying when the corn-based snacks that production management provides run out. That, in a nutshell, is tech.
But, back to the mileage at hand. Sunday marked another 8.5 miles. At this point, my competitive instincts kicked in and I actually wanted to beat the previous days’ records. On day three, people began to ask how many miles I had logged. On day four, I lost my pedometer*, but not before I noted that I had logged 42 miles.
FORTY TWO FREAKIN’ MILES. And, that was only in four days of tech.
So, I suppose the point to my story is this: every day a group of folks dress up in black and walk well before the audience arrives. They set the ghostlight. They check the sound levels and video feeds. They preset the clothes and restyle the wigs. Together they walk 500 miles for Jon, and George, and most importantly, you.
So, next time you rewatch Benny & Joon, and "I’m Gonna Be" plays, enjoy the fact that a whole group of folks walked 500 miles, just for you.
*Today, I found my pedometer under my desk at Harrison St. I don’t think I need it anymore.
Some offices do “casual Friday.” Clearly, Berkeley Rep is too unique to partake in such a trite ritual. What do we do instead? Fancy you should ask! Every Friday morning no matter which campus our ducklings find themselves on, we all have one thing in common: temporary tattoos.
Like all good ideas, it began in the costume shop. On a weekly trip to the local Target for Popov, Oxyclean, and environmentally friendly detergent, we trolled the ever-popular dollar section. That day there was something magical in the air, because those bins were stocked to the brim with temporary tattoos depicting hipster animals — octopus DJ! Raccoon bandits! Boston Terriers in cute baseball caps! Clearly, for a dollar I needed to buy three packs and find their purpose later.