Tech Load-In!!!!

Hi theater-lovers,

Flipping Channels is opening this Friday, and you can find cool posters hanging all around campus! On Sunday, we had our tech load-in, which basically means that we set up a theater in the Berkshire Hall atrium, where we will put on the show.
The cast and crew were split into four crews: one to hang up lights, one to transport platforms for the audience, one to put together costumes, and one to organize the props. After four hours of hard work, we have arranged all the set pieces in the atrium and set up all the lighting systems for the show. The costume racks were all neatly arranged and the props were all in place. 
After a 20-minute-break, we returned to work. We set up platforms and chairs in our newly constructed theater and started aiming the lights. Finally, we finished at 6:00 pm, having started at 11:15 am.
Today was a great work day; we were able to get so much work done and have everything ready for tech week and the show.
Stay on the channel,

Cuddle Puddle!!!!!

Enjoying the sun! This is what we do during rehearsal breaks!
Hey theater-lovers,

We are less than 2 weeks away from the opening of "Flipping Channels!" This past week has been drenched by rain every day, and the cast and crew, being students, went through numerous stressful AP's, the SAT's, etc. However, luckily, we got to have some real fun at rehearsals.

Italian rehearsals does not mean rehearsing with an Italian accent-- it means to speed run the entire show with extremely fast cue pickups in different settings. "The Office" and "Scrubs" had the privilege to have this fun.

"The Office" is a very subtle comedy, maybe the most realistic one out of all four, featuring long awkward pauses and a slow speed. The cast was not sure what to do at first when Mr. Howard said, just run it really fast. One scene later, Mr. Howard suddenly said, "now say all your lines as if you have a crush on the other person." Everyone bursted out in laughter, and everyone was relaxed. Mr. Howard continued to give different "handles" (distinct character traits, as I featured in my last blogpost,) like "now you have a bad Russian accent," "now you're a character in a melodramatic BBC show," "now you're an overblown character from a video game where everything has a sound effect," and "now you're a character from a children's book."

Everyone had so much fun with the different "handles," and we could not help but laughed throughout the whole run. The Italian rehearsal helped us put together the whole picture of the show, and also made us realize how important our "handles" are, in order to help us elaborate more on our characters.

Eat, drink water, and laugh,
As opening night draws closer, the process is beginning to steadily intensify.  Much of the show has been blocked in a basic sense (general ideas and movements etc.). Now our focus has shifted to going over those scenes with a fine-tooth comb, detailing exactly how we want it. A large part of this process is actually rehearsing in the Atrium. Yesterday was our second rehearsal in the space. It was a very helpful opportunity for a couple of reasons. First, the cast of Flipping Channels had the chance to gauge how loud and exaggerated everything must be for a successful performance in the Atrium (very). Second, it gave us a chance to identify logistical issues, especially those involving playing to the most possible audience members. Mr. Howard and Annie could then come in and help correct those issues to allow for the best experience for the entire audience. Only a couple weeks left!


Meet (Some of) the Cast!

Name: Benjamin (Ben, Benji) Wolf 
Grade: 12
Roles: Dwight (The Office) and Ross (Friends)

Name: Charlotte MacKenzie
Grade: 10
Roles: Pam (The Office) and Terry (Friends)

Name: Minh Nyguen
Grade: 12
Roles: Turk (Scrubs) and (Big Bang)

Name: Noah Faison
Roles: Jim (The Office) and Gunther (Friends)

Name: Shannon Lee
Grade: 9
Roles: Stephanie (Friends) and Angela (The Office)
Name: Lucia (actually Hannah)
Grade: 11
Role: Stage manager

Check back later to meet more of the cast as we get closer to opening night! Only two more weeks!!
Hi everyone,

Welcome to May! The show is officially less than three weeks away, and we are cranking away at the script after a successful line run. We have already finished the first or second drafts of blocking on Scrubs and Friends, and one page away from finishing The Office. Recently during rehearsal, Mr. Howard stressed on the idea of "the handle" for the actors to work on their acting. "The handle" refers to a distinct characteristic or trait that the character exhibits, which can be easily picked up like a handle by the audience even if they have never seen the show before. For example, my character in friends, Monica, is a control-freak who gets really hyper an competitive with games. To exhibit my "handle," I will have to exaggerate and broadcast these characteristics of Monica, and coin it down to one phrase like "hyper control-freak" for me to have something to focus my energy on. We will be having more rehearsals in the  Berkshire Hall atrium in the upcoming weeks, and that would be a great chance to put our skills to practice and really feel what it would be like to perform in that space.

Don't switch the channel,

    Wednsday was line-run! For every show, we have a rehearsal where we sit in a circle and speed run the show with no scripts. Today was a success, which is always an important factor in the success of a show.This means that the whole cast is now off book. From here on out we can block and rehearse without holding binders. Scripts are a hassle to hold and prevent us from seeing how a scene is really going to look in the actual show.
The last set-build for Flipping Channels took place on Saturday, and we made some really good progress! Although the sky was sunny, it was a very windy, and we decided to take full advantage of the spring and paint the office tables on the sidewalk. There are two tables that we built out of wood in the previous set-build, and we are painting them the color of natural wood to give them a finished look. The table top would be stained. Painting the tables outside on a windy day meant that the drop cloths were flailing around all the time. After two nice coats that dried very quickly thanks to the weather, we were able to finish the tables for The Office. Another group also built the hospital bed for Scrubs with the help from Dom, our technical director.

We are having a pre-line run tomorrow in the De Windt basement to check on everyone's progress on their lines. The show is a week and half a month away!!!

Drink water, get some sleep, and memorize those lines.

Yours truly,

    Monday was mountain day! After a long day of hiking, eating, sleeping, or whatever else people do on mountain day, many of us came back to Allen Theater for our second set build. We spent much of the time sanding and constructing the tables for our set (sitcoms make use of many tables). While most of us left to eat dinner, a select few stayed to paint. While Tuesday was another, run of the mill basement rehearsal, today will mark our first day rehearsing in the Berkshire Hall Atrium. As the atrium is where we will be performing, this is a great opportunity for us to better understand how the show will be broken down and how we will utilize the set. It also showed us how much we need to project and send our voices across the room. We practiced projection and diction and how to make sure we can be heard. Having audiance in the round presents new oppertunities and with that comes new challenges. But as a team we are workig them out together and learning how to rise up.
What are we up to?
After a couple weeks of rehearsals we figured you would want to know what we have been doing so far. The Atrium will be broken into four quadrants, one for each show. The stage managers have taped out two of these quadrants in our make-shift basement rehearsal space, one in a back room to allow for simultaneous rehearsals. Still on-book, we have been roughly blocking, trading off shows. To maximize efficiency, Mr. Howard and Annie worked over March Break to create the best system to block four TV shows at once. The result: an A cast and a B cast. As previously mentioned, there are four sitcoms involved in the spring play. Everyone in the show is part of two different sitcoms. For this to work, everyone in Scrubs, for example, is also in The Big Bang Theory. Those people are known as the B cast. The A cast is rehearsing their two shows at the same time. Rehearsals generally start off with meeting as a group and getting a briefing from Mr. Howard before starting our warm ups. Then we split off into our A and B casts with Mr. Howard and Annie switching back and forth. Every so often, to help remain as one team, we have show & tell. Essentially we set time aside for the A cast to show the B cast what they have been working on and vice-versa. May is coming up quickly!
Set Build/Tech day
Last Saturday we had our first tech day! Half of us worked with Dom outside to do some spring cleaning at the shed. The other half worked with Annie on organizing the props closet.Halfway through we had bagels as a nice surprise treat after some hard work. After we had enjoyed our snack, all of us headed back outside to help finish what we had started in organizing the shed and had some good assembly lines going on to make quick work! In the end, we had a busy afternoon, but everyone’s participation and high spirits made the afternoon go by in a flash. Check back soon to hear from Riley about what we’ve been up to in rehearsal!


Welcome to the Berkshire Theater blog! This spring, we are working on a show called Flipping Channels, which is a collection of classic American sitcoms featuring Friends, Scrubs, The Office, and The Big Bang Theory.

My name is Maggie Zhu, I will be writing for you throughout the production process. If you happen to recall, I am back to the theater from the winter musical, In the Heights, and ready to write more! I am playing Monica in Friends, and Julia, who is actually a female version of Oscar, in The Office. Flipping Channel is the first straight and the third production overall for me. I am very excited to get started again.  
I’m Anna Flaherty, and I’m also one of the writers for the blog this season! I was on blog crew last spring in The Crucible and I’m so excited to be back. I am playing Phoebe in Friends and Phyllis in The Office.
I’m Riley, this is my fourth show at Berkshire. I am playing Sheldon in Big Bang Theory and Todd in Scrubs.

As Berkshire Dance takes over the theater in the spring season, we have moved to a spacey basement near the student health center to rehearse. It is a new environment for us, but we still try to do everything in the same positive and inclusive way. The show itself will take place in Berkshire Hall atrium in mid-May, and we hope to see many of you there!

Best Regards,
Blog Crew.

Load-In-- It's Crunch Time

Today we finished up the Finale of In the Heights. With opening night exactly one week away, nothing else makes me feel more like the show is really happening! So far we have finished all the major dance numbers and blocking, with only a handful of small scenes left. Rehearsals have been very productive and exhausting at the same time recently. Mr. Howard broke the numbers into sections, for example, Carnaval del Barrio had 16 of them, and progressed through them in order and strung up a complete scene.

From 6 to 8 pm tonight, we started what is called "load-in", which consisted of setting up backstage, props, costumes, hanging up posters, taping chords, safety procedures, etc. One crew arranged the hair products and posters in Daniella's salon, while the other set up the merchandise in the bodega. Some people cleaned up the green room and organized all the costumes. Headshots printed out everyone's portraits that they have taken.

Dom Sayler, our technical director, is the low-key mastermind of the backstage. He directed everyone to do their assigned crew work and made sure everything ran smoothly. Meanwhile, Mr. Howard and the stage managers have been writing light cues for the production relentlessly.

The cast and crew had our first team dinner tonight: it was a quality bonding time for the ensemble to feel more like a close group and be show-ready.

Yours Truly, from on average 6 hours a day of theater,

Dom Sayler

Load-in meeting

Team Dinner

Friday's rehearsal was special-- we did not do any blocking, choreography, or music, but it is probably the most important thing we’ve done, even more important than the musical itself.
With opening night less than three weeks away, we are quite excited and nervous and working really hard! Watching the documentary before rehersal Wednesday on the broadway production of “In the Heights” really got everyone pumped up for some fine theater. We got to see the real actors themselves, the places they came from, and their own life stories.  More important than the musical itself is the people who are a part of it. Today, we gathered around the “neighborhood” in the set and shared our life stories to each other, circling around race, ethnicity and cultural backgrounds. I sat down with Annie, our assistant director in front of the “neighborhood salon” and chatted with her. She told me she grew up in a circus, and lived in both New York City and Southern Connecticut. As for me, my life story is very different from hers because I grew up in China and think myself as a foreigner to the United States. It was interesting to shar about our culture and the differences and similarities to the show. However, both of us connect to “In the Heights” in such a way that we all come together through a great process of a Berkshire Theater production. At the end, we all sat in a circle to share our interesting stories-- important parts that our castmates may not know yet they construct who we are. It may seem like a surprise to some that a bunch of high school kids like us would take such a deeply personal activity seriously, but we not only did it, we also are infinitely grateful for the diversity we have and the impact we will have on the Berkshire community especially through this show.

Yours truly from Rosario's fire-escape,

Inline image 3

¡Hola amigos!

We are less than month away from opening night! Today was a busy but fun rehearsal. We pieced together the music, blocking, and choreography for 96,000, a.k.a. Mr. Howard's favorite number in the show. 96,000 is the centerpiece in the first act: Usnavi from the bodega announces to the neighborhood that someone won a lottery ticket worth 96,000 dollars. The people all started fantasizing what they would do with that much money and started rapping, singing, and dancing in the neighborhood. As much as the music very upbeat, it contains a bittersweet layer of reality's heavy burden mixed with the faraway hopes and dreams. "I find it very hard to get through the song without crying," Someone said during rehearsal. The cast try very hard to portray the situation and feel what the characters and feeling, and put the music and the ideas into their body, in their expressions.

We also started to design hair and makeup for the show today! Liz Wheeler, a local makeup artist who has done many shows with Berkshire Theater, came to help. Each one of the actors were called in to try on foundations and discuss their characters. Annie and Liz made a customized makeup kit for everyone, which consists of foundation, lip colors, blush, a pencil and a sponge. 

Lastly, please take a sneak peak of the video of the first band rehearsal from last week!

Video credit: Rafael Arredondo.

Yours truly,