AWARD WINNING DIRECTOR TO RUN NORTH SHORE SUMMER THEATER WORKSHOP
A CONVERSATION WITH TERRY BERLINER
April 11, 2015 -- After more than a decade long intermission, the North Shore Summer Theater Workshop will return for a second act this June, and it will have a Broadway marquee name serving as its artistic director. Terry Berliner, whose more than two decades in professional theater as a director, choreographer, writer, and artistic director include work on the Broadway productions of The Lion King, The Tale of the Allergist’s wife, The Sound of Music and The Red Shoes, has been recruited by Arts Angels, the North Shore arts booster organization, to oversee the program that is open to current middle school and high school students.
“We are so pleased to have Terry working with us to revive this beloved North Shore tradition,” said Julia Brennan, who as an Arts Angels board member has worked to bring back the workshop that had been cut after a 42 year run as a result of a budget defeat back in 2003. “Our students and alumni interns will benefit enormously from spending their summer under her direction and the community will enjoy two weekends of top-notch live theater.”
During a visit to North Shore High School last week, Ms. Berliner, along with Ms. Brennan, sat down with Northwordnews for a few minutes to talk a bit about the importance of theater education, and in particular their thoughts about the North Shore Summer Theater Workshop.
Ms. Berliner is no stranger to working with middle and high school students, having freelanced for years as an artistic director for various educational programs, including LeAp Onstage, a playwriting program for public middle and high school students in New York City. She is now bringing that experience as both a theater professional and a professional educator to the North Shore Summer Theater Workshop.
“It’s the first year of a very exciting program,” Ms. Berliner said. “It’s very exciting to be a part of re-imagining and re-inventing a program . . . There are no rules or constraints in what we can do.”
“This is going to be very liberating, artistically,” added Ms. Brennan, “with students very much involved in all aspects of the production.” The program, she explained, is being run independent of the District, with a licensing agreement to use district facilities.
The summer workshop, the two explained, is intended to offer students the whole theater experience, emphasizing the creative process on and off stage, from beginning to end. Students will be taken through the writing process as they develop their own plays; the process of set design as they create for an entire production the lighting, sound, and set props; the art of directing; and, of course, acting and performance.
Ms. Brennan explained that there will be two “performance weekends” over the course of the summer. The first will feature a collection of short dramatic and/or musical works directed by students under Ms. Berliner’s guidance. And on the second, students will stage a full scale musical directed by Ms. Berliner. Students will have responsibilities in both productions and may choose to work on-stage and/or behind the scenes or play in the pit orchestra.
In addition to Ms. Berliner, Ms. Brennan explained that the program would be bringing in people with a great deal of theater experience as instructors - “incredibly talented people who will serve as master teachers.” They will include theater professionals, performing arts educators and college-age interns with preference given to North Shore performing arts alumni.
Asked what she believed was the value of Theater Arts education in general for young people, Ms. Berliner responded quickly and very thoughtfully, asserting that the theater experience, as a whole, both as a summer program, and throughout a child’s schooling, shapes one for life, even if they do not pursue a career in theater.
“I can’t imagine a school without it [a theater program],” she said. “It gives people a place to express themselves and to be themselves. It can be such a turning point for people to find their voice. . . . It gives people the tools to find their bliss and to become the best person they can be.”
“In enables students to consider the questions - Who am I? What do I have to say . . . What’s my contribution. .. . how do I help make this a better place?” she continued.
Ms. Berliner also emphasized the team building benefits. “You’re a part a family, it teaches you to work collaboratively. “
“Students will remember this as one of their most important experiences in high school,” she said.
Ms. Brennan added that at the 50th anniversary alumni Gala last year, that raised more than $45,000 for the Summer Workshop, and that had been attended by alumni Michael Mckean (’65) of Lavern and Shirley and Spinal Tap fame, as well as Kate McKinnon (’02), a member of the cast of Saturday Night Live, many had said that being a part of Viking Masquers was “one of the best experiences of their lives.”
“Any artistic endeavor is an endeavor worth taking. Anyone who participates will always learn it’s always better to put yourself out there,” Ms. Berliner continued. “People feel proud. There aren’t a lot of opportunities when you can be truly proud of what you do. Students will say to themselves, 'I am so proud of what I did this summer; what I learned; what I made; the people I got to know.' . . . I think pride is underrated – it lifts your heart; it lifts your spirit. Theater itself lifts the human spirit.”
Meet Ms. Berliner on April 15 at 7:30 pm at the North Shore High School Theater.
In addition to her Broadway credits, Ms. Berliner has directed at regional theatres and universities across the country, and written for American Theatre magazine, among many others. Her critically acclaimed, sold-out production of Kirsten Guenther and Tony Asaro’s new musical, The Cable Car Nymphomaniac, will be transferred for an extended run at the Eureka Theatre in San Francisco, California, starting in May of 2015. She is currently developing new work with Kleban prize and Jonathan Larson award-winning writer Michelle Marie Elliott, Lynnette Barkley and Jazz songwriter Tony DeSare, and the awardwinning composer Bobby Cronin with whom she wrote, Alone in the U.S. (2014 Outstanding Program of the Year Award at Marymount Manhattan College and making it’s U.K. debut this spring). She is an artistic director for LeAp Onstage (a playwriting program for public middle and high school students in NYC), a member of the CAP21 Resource Board of Directors, and has served as a member of Off Broadway’s Lucille Lortel nominating committee. She is a member of the Dramatists Guild of America and the Stage Directors & Choreographers Society.
For More information about the Summer Theater Workshop see information to the right or click here to link to the North Shore Summer Theater Workshop website.
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