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A Performance of Firsts

Stage Two starts off the year with an all-female crew.

Emma Edmund, Web Editor

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This year, the Advanced Theatre Ensemble decided to try something different — dividing the cast into two, with one half working on the Main Stage Production that begins shows on October 20, and the other half preparing a Stage Two Production. The first Stage Two Production had cast members choose scenes from various plays and tie them to the theme of struggles women face in modern society. This production was the first all-female Berkeley theatre production, and the students let their talent shine.

 

Jennifer Luo
MAIN STAGE SUPPORTERS: Hayley Divers ’17 and Justin Kuhn ’18 (from left), members of the Main Stage production, support their fellow Advanced Theater and Ensemble members in the Stage Two production by selling snacks and refreshments outside of the play.

 

The performances took place Oct. 7 in the Flex, a theater space just adjacent to the main stage. In a black-box theater setting, the female students made it clear that this wasn’t a full show. The show lasted only about 40 minutes and was composed of a series of scenes loosely connected by the central theme of women’s struggles in modern society. The students, who chose the scenes they wanted to feature, self-casted the roles and put the entire compilation together, pulled scenes from plays such as Be Aggressive and It’s Not You. The students were able to mix monologues with scenes that involved 3 to 4 people, playing with the contrast between long and short scenes as well as humor and seriousness.

 

Jennifer Luo
ALL SMILES: Alexa Rudolph ’17, Nathalie Adams ’18 and Summer Henderson ’18 (from left), three members of Stage Two, are all smiles moments before performing their scenes. Stage Two boasted a casual atmosphere, with cast members interacting with the audience and even holding some scenes in the audience.

 

Some of the most memorable moments of the show included the scene from Something Fine, where truck driver Bess Rector, played by Mira Rajani ‘17, tries make it home for her daughter’s birthday. Throughout the scene, the audience sees Rector on the phone, trying to communicate with her daughter and the estranged father. The students brought together elements of humor to the scene by allowing the inanimate objects on Rector’s dashboard — a hula dancer played by Bella Diaco ‘18 and the Virgin Mary played by Addison Aloian ‘18 — come alive as they struggled with their own problems. When Virgin Mary complains about not being able to grant any miracles, Rector receives a phone call saying that her daughter appreciates her, even though Rector is not there most of the time.

 

Jennifer Luo
CASUAL BUT COOL: Bella Diaco ’17, Nathalie Adams ’18 and Summer Henderson ’18 (from left) keep Stage Two casual as they interact with the audience moments before the play begins.

 

All of the girls played different characters in each of the scenes, except for Summer Henderson ‘18, who played a recurring character from Stop Kiss, a play used in three scenes of their production. Henderson plays Callie, a woman caught up in a hate crime with her girlfriend, Sarah. Here, the audience got a real glimpse into the hurt caused by hate crimes through the artful weaving of scenes from Stop Kiss throughout the show.

 

The students were responsible for every other aspect of the show. “We put together a rough outline of a script and proposed it to Mr. Marshall, who worked tirelessly with us in order to manicure last minute directorial things,” says Alexa Rudolph ‘17. “However, we were the ones who chose the scenes, the lighting, and most of the blocking was also self-directed.” The girls also critiqued each other’s work, and Rudolph says “the group of girls I worked with are all so talented and respond so effectively to constructive criticism that it was an absolute pleasure and honor to work with them on this production.”

 

Jennifer Luo
HANDS OFF: Mr. Marshall, director of the Advanced Theatre Ensemble, runs the lights and helps students develop their scenes, leaving the rest of the production up to the students themselves in the first all-female and self-produced Berkeley theatre production.

The audience loved the show. “It was short, funny, thought provoking, and simply excellent. It was not unlike a roller coaster with many ups and downs and over before you knew it,” says Van Pittman ‘17. If you’re upset that you missed this Stage Two, don’t worry! There will be another production before the Winter Main Stage Production.

 

STAGE THREE OF STAGE TWO: The cast of Stage Two ends the production with a live audience Q&A session, speaking about the technicalities in producing the play, their thoughts about the scenes, and their favorite moments in the production.

Jennifer Luo
STAGE THREE OF STAGE TWO: The cast of Stage Two ends the production with a live audience Q&A session, speaking about the technicalities in producing the play, their thoughts about the scenes, and their favorite moments in the production.

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