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  • Writer's pictureIan Soares

Saturday Nights in the Barn

Read about our longstanding tradition of open performance nights in our Barn and Amphitheater.

Improvisation class perform juggling routine

Berridge has always been a place where students from around the country can come together and create. To truly allow our students to get creative, there can be no rules. Our faculty are passionate about sharing their knowledge and skill with every student. Their goal is to give them the tools and inspiration they need to cultivate their own creativity. While students will have a regular class schedule during weekdays that is similar to most conservatory programs, weekends are for rehearsals, relaxation and self-discovery. One of the long-standing Berridge traditions that will continue this summer is our Saturday night open performance event- an explosion of student and faculty-led creativity.

Many arts programs struggle with creating legitimate performance opportunities that would be available to every student. At Berridge, we believe in showcasing student work at every opportunity. Besides our final showcase that occurs in the final week of our program, each student has the option to perform for their fellow students and faculty every Saturday night. I mentioned before that to foster true creativity, there must be no rules. This philosophy is most apparent at our open performance nights where students are encouraged to showcase a wildly different assortment of pieces. On a typical Saturday, one might have the pleasure of watching a few monologues, a poetry reading, a scene, an improv show or dance piece!

I attended Berridge in 2015, one year before I graduated high school and headed off to a BFA acting program for four years. The weeks spent at Berridge helped me decide whether acting was something I wanted to pursue professionally and to keep a long story short, it was. However, I struggled with my confidence during my first few weeks because I had little acting experience before enrolling in the program. Watching the first few students perform their pieces at our open performance night showed me how fulfilling it is to get up in front of friends and colleagues and show off something you're passionate about.

When enrolling in a Berridge program, students will be asked to select an elective that will supplement their usual schedule of classes. I chose improv, taught by Duane Daniels, because it was something I had little experience in and knew it would combat my fear of performing in front of a new audience. Our improv troupe was scheduled to perform at the second open performance night and while I was nervous, I was certainly excited. We performed a variety of interactive activities, relying heavily on the audience for feedback and encouragement, and finished with an improvised scene that any of the improv members could join at any time. I learned how effective a live audience can be in energizing a performance. Our little barn came alive that night with laughter, shouting and crying and from the haze of the stage lights, our improv troupe took a bow and joined our fellow classmates in the audience. I decided that for the next open performance event, I wanted to do something that was special to me. The first impression I mastered was Nicholas Cage and his "I'm going to steal the declaration of independence," line from National Treasure. Since then I had been picking up impressions of various notable figures and entertaining (and probably annoying) my family members with my attempts. A Saturday performance night was the perfect opportunity to test out my batch of voices. I quickly wrote down all the impressions I could think of on paper slips and placed them in a jar. Saturday came and I found myself standing in front of the entire Berridge family. It was my first solo performance. One by one I asked students in the audience to join me onstage. We'd each pick a slip from the jar and have an "impression competition." From Owen Wilson to Christopher Walken, it was a ton of fun.

Our Improv Troupe following a Saturday Night performance.
Our 2015 Improv Troupe following a Saturday Night performance.

The night is only just beginning after our open performance night ends. The next part of a typical Berridge Saturday involves an all-out dance party. We use our stage lights to throw wild assortments of color around the barn while we play through some of our students favorite songs. In Santa Barbara, we have access to a wonderful amphitheater that serves as our after-hours dance floor. So, even if you're not a dancer, we're pretty sure you could use a little party- bring your energy and join us for a Berridge Saturday night.

Our faculty are always up a performance night challenge too and sometimes we can even convince them to sing us a little tune. Check out a short clip of five of our faculty members in a 2016 performance night!

Applications are now open for all programs. Students will be admitted to Spotlight, Generate, Summer in France, and Creative Semester programs on a rolling basis following completion of all application materials. We hope to welcome you to the Berridge family very soon.

For information on our new scholarships, please click here!


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