• What’s It Like to Win a Raffle Prize? – A “Playing With the Bard” Experience

    by 
    Beth Fhaner
     | Jun 15, 2018
    Raffle_topper

    2017 raffle winners Sam and Tammy Tang (far right) with their guests (from left) Brent and Lori Borden and actors William McGuire and Nick Gabriel, from Shakespeare in Love.

    Raffle_2

    SCR’s annual fundraising Gala kicks off Orange County’s theatre and social seasons in high style. This year’s Gala—with a theme of “Places, Please!”—will take place on Saturday, Sept. 15, at The Westin South Coast Plaza. This unforgettable evening gives theatregoers an opportunity to celebrate the backstage magic and artistic collaborations that make SCR’s productions so exceptional.

    Raffle_1

    Proceeds from the Gala help support the theatre’s onstage artistry and arts education programs, and one way that theatre enthusiasts can help support SCR is by purchasing raffle tickets. As we get ready to announce the glamorous raffle prizes for the 2018 Gala, we recall one of the popular prizes from the 2017 celebration.

    At last year’s Gala, Sam and Tammy Tang won the raffle prize titled “Playing With the Bard”—a distinctive experience that included a private Shakespearean acting lesson at SCR, followed by a sumptuous Elizabethan dinner. Conservatory Director Hisa Takakuwa led a fun workshop that featured one-on-one coaching in a private Shakespearean acting lesson. The Tangs and their guests read from and worked on a couple of scenes from Romeo and Juliet. At the end of their informative and entertaining session, the Tangs read the part of the Montagues (Romeo’s parents) and their guests read the part of the Capulets (Juliet’s parents).

    Following the workshop, the Tangs, along with their guests, enjoyed a lavish feast held onsite at SCR. Two guest artists also joined the Tangs and their friends for dinner—actors from the cast of Shakespeare in Love, Bill McGuire (Fennyman) and Nick Gabriel (Ned Alleyn). The dining hall was festooned with Elizabethan costumes and props and included set pieces from Shakespeare in Love. Some of the beautiful ​touches for the event that helped set the scene were donated by Signature Party Rentals, a longtime supporter of SCR.

    The Elizabethan-inspired menu was conceived and created by Crème de la Crème Gourmet Foods & Catering, another generous SCR supporter. The delicious banquet began with small plates such as marchipanes (marzipan fruits), mini tartlets of egg, artichoke and leeks; and preserved fruits and nuts. These tasty small bites were followed by field green salads and warm, cross-top white rolls (called “manchets” in the Elizabethan era) served in a napkin cloche. The menu featured mouthwatering entrée options like roasted beef filet with Danish bleu crust, shallots and plum steak sauce; in addition to the “Weekly Mandatory Seafood” dish consisting of colossal shrimp-wrapped scallops with beurre blanc. Served family style with roasted red potatoes and charred Brussel sprouts, these savory items were a big hit with the group.

    For a sweet finish to the Elizabethan extravaganza, the Tangs and their guests indulged in a selection of decadent desserts including orange pudding with preserved gooseberries, apple tartlet with ginger and rose-scented short cake with Port blackberry sauce and Chantilly cream. As a one-of-a-kind event, “Playing With the Bard,” was a unique and engaging experience that the Tangs will never forget.

    We’re getting very close to announcing the exciting details of t​he 2018 Gala raffle prizes, so please stay tuned!

    Learn more about the 2018 Gala “Places, Please!”

  • Meet Conservatory Instructor Erin McNally Thielke

    by 
    Danielle Bliss & Beth Fhaner
     | Jun 14, 2018
    ErinMcNally_CroppedHeadshot

    ​Teacher Erin McNally Thielke

    SCR isn’t just a great place to see live theatre; it’s also a great place to learn about different aspects of theatre. On a year-round basis, SCR’s Theatre Conservatory offers acting classes for kids, teens and adults in the safe environment of our Tony Award-winning theatre. Led by experienced professional artists, students engage in lively instruction and deepen their understanding of the craft of acting, all while developing important life skills. Students can select from various classes including Summer Acting Workshop (a two-week theatre camp that's like a sampler of the year-round Conservatory classes), Musical Theatre, Playwriting, Acting for the Camera, Improv and much more. In this ongoing series, we’re introducing some of the instructors. Meet Erin McNally Thielke.

    Who was the teacher that inspired you in your acting studies―and in what way?

    It probably was Amy Luskey Barth, who was my high school theatre teacher. She had very high standards and believed that, although we were young, we were capable of learning at a professional, deep level. And, most importantly, she really ingrained in me the importance of text, character and music analysis, as well as how in musical theatre, acting/storytelling is still the primary focus. These are concepts that I have explored even further in both my professional and educational career.

    What should students expect when they walk into class?

    A fun, safe environment where we can take risks and explore the craft of acting and musical theatre. I truly care about my students not only strengthening their musical theatre skills, but also helping them navigate what it is to be an artist in this industry. We will nurture and expand singing voices, dig deeply into story and music analysis, learn about audition techniques and different styles of musical theatre, and I will (hopefully) inspire them to see past what they “think” they can do and achieve things they didn’t realize they were capable of. 

    What’s your best class memory of an “aha!” moment for a student?

    There have been so many! But I think one of my favorite recent memories was when a student had a vocal breakthrough. She was a good actor who has always been an alto “belter”—loudly singing in her lower chest voice. But I believed that she had the potential to be a beautiful soprano, too. (And it would make her a more versatile musical theatre actor). She doubted me, but I asked her to trust me. She did. I assigned her a high soprano song for the session and gave her a few vocal technique things to work on before her first performance and she worked hard to prepare. I reminded her that the stronger her acting choices are, the stronger her voice will be. When she got up to perform, no one was expecting this glorious soprano voice to come out of her. The class was mouth-open in awe and respect. You could have knocked them over with a feather! When she finished, there was a second of pure silence and then the class erupted in wild applause. (Of course, I cried). I asked her how she felt and she said, “Pretty amazing. I didn’t think I could do that.” I said, as I always do, “If y’all would believe in yourselves half as much as I believe in you, you would be amazed at what you could accomplish.” The most important thing was this: After that moment, the rest of the class embraced the idea that they, too, ​could stretch out of their comfort zones! They understood that when I push them out of their comfort zone, it was because I believe that with some hard work, they can grow. And they saw the proof happen first-hand. It was a really good day and the beginning of a lot of future breakthroughs.

    What do you learn from your students?

    What a great question!!!!! I am constantly learning from my students. I get to see the world through their eyes. I am reminded of how young people are capable of so much more than most adults realize. I am constantly learning more about myself as a teacher, listening to them and discovering different ways to explain things. And I love the creative ideas they bring into class. Collaboration is such a vital part of the process! And I love when students breathe life into a character that allows me to see a familiar song/monologue from a different perspective! I love the way their brains work. They keep me young at heart!

    Are acting classes (improv classes, playwriting, etc.) only for folks interested in acting?

    Oh, no! That’s the beauty about acting classes—they strengthen your human skills! We don’t just cultivate good actors; We strengthen speaking (and singing) voices so you can be better heard and understood. We bolster self-confidence and increase self-worth. We encourage empathy. We remind you of the power of words and actions. We celebrate collaboration, sharing and ensemble work. And every week, we have a heck of a lot of fun. It’s a safe place for a human to explore different parts of themselves, take risks and forge meaningful friendships. Not to mention the fact that through text analysis, they are presented the opportunity to research many different historical periods and people. Acting class makes life more vibrant, meaningful and survivable.

    How would your students describe your teaching style?

    I have been told that I am equal parts sunshine and Mary Poppins. I have a lot of energy. I love my students so much. I want them to know how much I care about them and how much I believe in them. To me, that can make it easier for them to take the big risks necessary for growth. But I also have high standards. I push them. I call them on their bad habits. I am not afraid to be truthful with them and expect them to work hard and with integrity. We laugh a lot. I also demand a lot. But, at the end of the day, I think (and fervently hope) that my students know that everything I do is out of honestly caring about them and a belief in who they are and what they are capable of. I clearly am very passionate about acting and musical theatre!

    Why might acting classes be scary for some folks and how can they overcome that fear?

    As an actor we are literally saying, “Watch me!” That is a very vulnerable thing. Coming to a new acting class also means that you will be putting yourself out there with a bunch of people you don’t know. Again, that is a very vulnerable thing. But the best way to overcome that fear is simple: go take an acting class! The anticipation is always the scariest thing. When you go to acting class, you will see that most people feel just as nervous as you to begin this journey! And that before you know it, there is a sense of family, teamwork and ensemble that you won’t find elsewhere. So, if you are scared…that’s okay! You aren’t alone. Just take the leap and try. You’ll discover you’re stronger than you think! And us teachers are here to help you every step of the way!

    What’s your favorite dessert?

    Oh, man​, that is the hardest question of all! Because, I mean, am I sitting on the couch watching TV? Because then…Haagen Daaz strawberry ice cream, of course. Or am I at a fancy restaurant? Then creme brulé, obviously. Or a bake sale? Homemade Rice Krispy treats, for sure. My Birthday? Coconut cake, please. So…sorry…I think you’ll have to be more specific before I can give a definitive answer. LOL!

    Learn more about year-round acting classes at SCR's Theatre Conservatory.

  • Meet Conservatory Instructor Emily Heebner

    by 
    Danielle Bliss & Beth Fhaner
     | Jun 08, 2018
    EmilyHeebner_Headshot

    ​Emily Heebner

    SCR isn’t just a great place to see live theatre; it’s also a great place to learn about different aspects of theatre. On a year-round basis, SCR’s Theatre Conservatory offers acting classes for kids, teens and adults in the safe environment of our Tony Award-winning theatre. Led by experienced professional artists, students engage in lively instruction and deepen their understanding of the craft of acting, all while developing important life skills. Students can select from various classes including the Summer Acting Workshop (kids and teens), musical theatre, playwriting, acting for the camera, Improv and much more. In this ongoing series, we’re introducing some of the instructors. Meet Emily Heebner.

    Who was the teacher that inspired you in your acting studies—and in what way?
    Robert Schenkkan (Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, actor). I had always acted in plays throughout my school years, but didn't understand acting as anything more than showing off. Then, as a freshman at Cornell University, I took Intro to Acting with Robert Schenkkan—It changed my life. He was an MFA student there at the time and teaching lower-division classes. And I remember seeing him play Quentin in After the Fall and Satine in The Lower Depths. On stage, he was unrecognizable from the slight, modest teacher of our class. In the plays, he was tall, handsome and dangerous. In class, he seemed small, non-descript-looking and encouraging. I remember panicking before the opening of The Real Inspector Hound, in which I was playing Felicity. I was suffering from an acute case of self-consciousness because I really had no control over what I was doing. Sometimes it worked, but often it didn't. He counseled me to forget everyone else and do it for myself. That stuck with me all these years.

    What should students expect when they walk into class?
    I try to help create a safe space for people to be creative and explore the acting process together.

    What’s your best class memory of an “aha!” moment for a student?
    Numerous, but I guess I'm not comfortable singling people out. It happens pretty often.

    What do you learn from your students?
    Humility. How much courage it takes to act—and how much grace it takes to accept and implement notes.

    Are acting classes only for folks interested in acting? What are the other benefits?
    The other benefits to taking classes at SCR include the opportunity to explore creativity with other motivated adults, to explore communication techniques outside one's comfort zone, to stretch imaginatively and cognitively. The classes can help enthusiastic audience members understand and appreciate the work they see on stage and film. They will likely view the acting and writing crafts at a deeper level.

    How would your students describe your teaching style?
    That I do my best to meet individual needs. There are multiple skill levels and varying types of previous experience in every group. Plus, folks sign up for the classes for myriad reasons. So I try my best to meet the varied needs while balancing the class as a whole while trying to stay on schedule. I always wish we had more time. Eight weeks goes by fast. You get to know each other and develop wonderful working relationships within the class. I always want to keep going.

    Why might acting classes be scary for some folks and how can they overcome that fear?
    Like anything, the more you do it, the less scary it becomes. I try to reward myself when I push myself to try something new. Some people sign up with a friend. I think it's wise to let the instructor know you're frightened, but have always wanted to try acting or writing or whatever the class is that you've signed up for. Most of us teach because we love students and want to help. If I know someone's scared, but has always wanted to try an acting class, it helps me remember to say something special to that person at the end of class. Encouragement can go a long way to helping someone overcome fear. Encouragement and practice.

    What’s your favorite dessert?
    Anything, not much of a foodie.

    Learn more about year-round acting classes at SCR's Theatre Conservatory.

  • Meet Conservatory Instructor Diana Burbano

    by 
    Beth Fhaner & Danielle Bliss
     | May 25, 2018
    William Steig

    ​Teacher Diana Burbano

    SCR isn’t just a great place to see live theatre; it’s also a great place to learn about different aspects of theatre. On a year-round basis, SCR’s Theatre Conservatory offers acting classes for kids, teens and adults in the safe environment of our Tony Award-winning theatre. Led by experienced professional artists, students engage in lively instruction and deepen their understanding of the craft of acting, all while developing important life skills. Students can select from various classes including the summer acting workshop, musical theatre, playwriting, acting for the camera, Improv and much more. In this ongoing series, we’re introducing some of the instructors. Meet Diana Burbano.

    During Diana's tenure in the Conservatory, Diana has taught beginning youth and adult acting classes, musical theatre and acting for camera.

    Who was the teacher that inspired you in your acting studies―and in what way?
    I went to the American Academy and studied with Karen Hensel. Her warm teaching style resonated with me as a pretty lost 17-year old. She was kind, firm and pushed me to work hard and be better. I can still hear her whispers in my ear as I did my Joan of Arc monologue and she became the other voices—completely inspiring. It was a beautiful circle to complete when I came to teach for her at the Conservatory, these many years later.

    What should students expect when they walk into class?
    My adult Acting Basics students come in usually nervous and apprehensive. I promise, you will have fun, make good friends and get to be 10 years old again, while learning acting techniques that will serve you in your daily life—or as a professional, if that is what you wish to pursue.

    What’s your best class memory of an “aha!” moment for a student?
    It was Eddie Villa Lobos in a scene from Frankie and Johnny at the Claire de Lune. I saw him “get” it, find the moment and be very truthful. And he has become a professional colleague! He started in my basics class and went on to play my husband in The Long Road Today for SCR!

    What do you learn from your students?
    I am a better actor for teaching them. It forces me to reevaluate my own technique, tricks and fall-back methods. Also, the audience can tell when you are not being honest, in my case the audience is my class. They expect me to tell them the truth, and I can’t fake or hide when I am working with them.

    Are acting classes (improv classes, playwriting, etc.) only for folks interested in acting?
    I have people from all walks of life in my class. We have some pros, but we also have people looking for something fun to do, or who want to learn to improve their speaking skills, or just to meet new people. Ask my students. They all hang out together long after class is over.

    How would your students describe your teaching style?
    Stick on a funny hat and trust to luck. No! I am encouraging and warm, but I do push them out of their comfort zones.

    Why might acting classes be scary for some folks and how can they overcome that fear?
    Don’t be scared! It’s called a “play” for a reason.

    What’s your favorite dessert?
    I don’t eat a lot of sugar, but I wouldn’t push away a Nutella and banana crepe!

    Learn more about year-round acting classes at SCR's Theatre Conservatory.

  • Meet William Steig, Author of "Amos & Boris"

    by 
    SCR Staff
     | May 23, 2018
    William Steig

    ​Author William Steig

    William Steig (1907-2003) was a cartoonist, illustrator and author of award-winning books for children, including Shrek!, on which the DreamWorks movies are based, and Amos & Boris (featured in a stage adaptation as part of SCR's Theatre for Young Audiences series). Steig was born in New York City, where every member of his family was involved in the arts, and so it was no surprise when he decided to become an artist. He attended City College and the National Academy of Design. In 1930, Steig’s work began appearing in The New Yorker, where his drawings have been a popular fixture ever since.

    Steig published his first children’s book, Roland the Minstrel Pit, in 1968. In 1970, he received the Caldecott Medal for Sylvester and the Magic Pebble. In 1971, Amos ​& Boris was published and became a National Book Award Finalist. His books for children also include Dominic; The Real Thief; The Amazing Bone; and Doctor De Soto, A Newbery Honor Book. On the basis of his entire body of work, Steig was selected as the 1982 U.S. candidate for the Hans Christian Andersen Medal for Illustration and subsequently as the 1988 U.S. candidate for writing. Steig also published 13 collections of drawings for adults, beginning with About People in 1939, and including The Lonely Ones; Male/Female; The Agony in The Kindergarten; and Our Miserable Life. He died in Boston at the age of 95.

    Learn more about Steig and his work in the following articles:

    Learn more about Amos & Boris and buy tickets.