Monday, June 21, 2010

Survey Participant Winner Named

Congratulations to Charlene Clark of Orange, a longtime Segerstrom Stage subscriber and the winner of dinner for four at Newport Rib Company. Charlene’s name was chosen at random from among the 1,708 patrons who participated in our end-of-the-year survey. We’d like to say a big “thank-you” to everyone who took the time to complete the survey—we very much value your opinions and plan to incorporate your feedback into our work next season. We look forward to seeing you at South Coast Repertory this fall!

Kids Find Fun and Friends in Summer Acting Workshop

Sydney Campbell (11), Angeliki Harris (8) and Blaze Whiting (9) all faced a few first-day jitters at last year's Summer Acting Workshop at South Coast Repertory.

They didn't really know what they were getting into—after all, it was their parents who had signed them up. But those nerves disappeared once they got into their classes.

Class activities focused on movement, voice and character development but also made time for theatre games that helped stretch kids' imaginations—games with names like Poison Dart Frog and Busy Bee.

Sydney's favorite was Taxi: "There are four chairs. Three people would be in the 'car,' and they'd pick up one hitchhiker who was really weird and out of the ordinary. The other three would have to pick up his awkward traits."

Angeliki's favorite part of the day came early: "Almost every morning all the classes got together. One day we did parts of a play, Hansel and Gretel."

For one hour each day guest lecturers taught the students about theatre crafts beyond acting, including stage combat, playwriting, improvisation, and design.

"That's right," Blaze remembered. "In the play we got to choose lights and costumes. We got to choose different jobs."

By the end of the two-week program, which included a special demonstration for parents, all three kids took away one important lesson.

For Angeliki, it was: "How to work with each other."
For Blaze: "How to plan out things before doing them."
For Sydney: "How to grasp a character and the importance of totally transforming into the person you want to be."

Best of all were the friendships they made. Friendships that even a year later, they still have.

Find more information on the Summer Acting Workshop!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Choosing a Summer Acting Program

The 2009 Summer Players production of The Secret Garden.

Young students who have been bitten by the acting bug and want to put their training to use during the summer have two great choices.

Summer Performance Ensemble (July 6-24) allows students to blossom with their friends and peers in small, intimate classes (grades 4-6, 7-8 and 9-12). According to Theatre Conservatory Director Hisa Takakuwa, “Performance Ensemble is acting-driven and is the perfect choice for students who want to put to use the tools they’ve learned during the school year, but without a long commitment.”

Students learn the rehearsal process and have the joy and reward of bringing a final performance piece to life—but without the pressure of a full production. There is often singing incorporated in their performances, which the young students enjoy, but great pipes are not required!

The classes are held in mid-July for three weeks, mornings only, so there’s plenty of time to have fun acting with friends and still get to the beach.

Summer Players (July 12-August 15) is a five-week program open to dedicated acting students and is open only by audition. While the Players use the same classroom tools as the Performance Ensemble students, their goal is to present a full musical production over the final two weekends, with additional rehearsal time required.

This summer’s play, which Takakuwa will direct, is Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella, their only musical written for television (with a young Julie Andrews playing the lead many years ago) and now adapted for the stage.

“These are our most serious acting students,” she said, “but that doesn’t mean they don’t have fun. Even though Players are students of all ages, there is great camaraderie among them. Some students have been in the group for several seasons, and it’s great to see them on the first day of class, checking out the others who were chosen through audition, and offering congratulations.”

Of course, the best part, according to all the Players, is finally getting onstage and performing for a critical audience—not just friends, but members of the paying public! It’s a little scary, they admit, but ultimately rewarding.

Memories and advice from four SCR grads

Akshay Sharma, Rachel Teague and Ellis Beardley in After Juliet.

This year, SCR’s Conservatory is saying goodbye to four of its longtime students, a group of talented 2010 graduates off to make their way in the world. Ellis Beardsley (Pacific Coast High), Graham Pezzuti (Irvine High), Rachel Teague (Calvary Chapel) and Akshay Sharma (University High) have a combined total of more than 30 years of Conservatory experience, so before they toss their caps in the air, we asked them to share their favorite memories and pass along words of wisdom to the students who will follow them.

How old were you when you started taking classes at SCR?
Ellis: 11.
Graham: 8.
Rachel: About 10.
Akshay: 12.

What is your favorite thing about the program?
Ellis: I love how the program has enabled me to grow as an actor while still transforming me as a person. Between all of the classes and plays I have been involved with at the Conservatory, each one has enabled me to learn skills that I can apply to everyday life.
Graham: I would have to give the title of “favorite thing” to the overall philosophy of SCR: process over product. When I did drama at school or heard other actors talking about their experiences with acting, I began to realize more and more that there are many different way to actually act. SCR’s emphasis on the actual acting process, not just putting on a play, allowed me to really explore acting as an art form, and slowly try to find my place, at least style-wise, in the “universe of acting.”
Rachel: Learning is more important than a good show. Process over product.
Akshay: I was able to connect with other young people from around Orange County over a passion for something that did not involve school. These were young artists that were amazingly talented, and the fact that I got to work with them every week really made me excited.

What’s the most important thing you’ve learned during your time here?
Ellis: I have truly learned the importance of an ensemble. Throughout the seven years, I have grown with many different groups and casts, each one leaving me with new skills and memorable experiences. A cohesive and trusting ensemble enables an actor to take risks and push themselves.
Graham: One seemingly small lesson that has stayed with me to this day was the power of subtlety when acting.
Rachel: Keep the acting for on the stage. People will love you for simply being yourself.
Akshay: Never say no. In life or in the theater, the most crippling thing a person can do is to refuse to try something new. Taking risks leads to discovery, progress and ultimately the birth of a passion.

What advice would you give students just joining the Conservatory?
Ellis: Don't be afraid to take risks. Everyone is nervous at times, so you have to trust the other people around you. By doing so, both you and your classmates will reach their full potential.
Graham: Open up your mind.
Rachel: Be yourself, do your work (it's fun work!), and cherish your time at SCR. There's no other place like it.
Akshay: Enjoy your time in the Conservatory. Discover something about yourself.

What was your favorite role during your time here?
Ellis: I would have to say playing Aphrodite in Metamorphoses. It was so much fun being able to play a character laced with jealousy and anger; it wasn't a character I was able to play too often!
Graham: Probably my role in Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, since I technically had three small roles that added up to one role. The three covered every aspect I could have asked for: the dim-witted comic relief, the big guy who gets to knock someone out, and the mysterious, imposing mini-villain.
Rachel: I think the one I am working on right now, as Rosaline in After Juliet. It is a very challenging role for me, which I love, but also I have found that I can relate to her more than I thought. The sword fighting is also a plus.
Akshay: Tom Gradgrind from Hard Times.

What’s the hardest thing for you about acting?
Ellis: I have always had a hard time erasing my self-consciousness and taking bold risks. It has been a long process over the past seven years, but I know that I have made huge leaps since I started. SCR has shown me that it's OK not to be perfect, as long as you're giving it your all.
Graham: Remembering that there is an audience that has to actually hear what you are saying.
Rachel: Coming up with the specific details about characters, and making sure what my character is feeling is specific as well.
Akshay: Keeping the work very simple. Sometimes it is easy to get caught up in yourself, and push a little too hard. I guess I've learned that acting is not "trying to act" but really "trying to be."

What’s the most rewarding thing?
Ellis: The feeling I get after we've had a good run-through of a show. There's a certain feeling that comes when the cues were tight, emotional connections were being made, and you gave the show 100 percent of your efforts.
Graham: Getting to step into another reality for a little while.
Rachel: I get to experience things that I never would go through in my own life.
Akshay: At the end of rehearsal, I come home and I am mentally and physically exhausted, but at the same time I feel I have actually accomplished something. It feels good to rest after a good day's work.

What are your plans for next year?
Ellis: I will be going to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. I hope to continue working in their theatre program along with my other interests.
Graham: Attend Academy of Arts University in San Francisco to major in motion pictures and television.
Rachel: Just going to OCC.
Akshay: I will be attending Harvard University.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Star Chef: From Surf to Supper

Chef Chris Savage with members of the Cuisine Committee.

Chris Savage begins every morning in the surf off Huntington Beach, riding the waves. Then he’s ready for the very busy day ahead—as Executive Chef at the Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort & Spa. On May 19 he found time his schedule to step out of the kitchen and graciously meet with members of SCR’s 2010 Gala Cuisine Committee.

The subject? A dinner menu for SCR’s Gala Ball, “The Play’s the Thing,” to be held on September 11 at the Hyatt Regency.

Read more