The Freedom Post


Caelen Balquin (Playwright, Acting as “The Very Old Man,” Cinematography, Costumes)

Caelen Balquin is a senior at Yonkers Montessori Academy. His long life dream is to become a director. He loves to make videos, and has such an imagination when it comes to videography. Mr. Balquin wasn’t expecting to become the protagonist of the play, but he was intrigued by having one of the bigger parts. He wasn’t expecting such a task, but he took it. He learned that it takes pride and dignity to become an actor. The directors can have you dress up so silly and wear a lot of make-up, but in the end of the day, that person you saw dressed up with high shorts and a tight shirt, enjoys what he loves to do. CJ has cherished all of the intersessions he has been on. However, CJ cherished this intersession the most. This is Caelen’s last intersession at YMA, and he couldn’t ever have been so happy. He enjoyed what he loved to do. Act, direct, and be around such incredible people. He’s so thankful for the teachers that helped made this play possible.


Elora Brynn Day (Playwright, Singing, Acting as “The Spiderwoman”)

Elora Brynn is a Junior at Yonkers Montessori Academy. When she is not playing tragic, disfigured characters on stage, Elora can be found with headphones in her ears and her nose stuck in a book. She became interested in this intercession because she wanted to do something fun, creative and wild, and that’s exactly what she got. Elora’s main focus was on the music in the production, because that’s what she’s good at. Outside of intercession, Elora is usually singing whatever song she’s listening to, so getting to work on music and write songs was perfect to help her grow creatively. Her focus on this intercession was to put on a great show and to overcome her fear of the spotlight. In order to do this, she was cast as the Spiderwoman, and she learned to work with other people in order to make this happen, which is what putting on a show is all about.



Jonathan Cheru (Acting as “A Siamese Twin,” Video Editing, Cinematography)

Jonathan Cheru is a junior at Yonkers Montessori Academy. This will be the first play and performance he has ever been in. This is also the first time that he has been on intersession with Mr. Friedman and Mr. Berkowitz. Although he did not want a big role in the play, he still took on the part of a field reporter interviewing people in Union Square. Along with this, he also is on the editing team with Mr. Friedman since he has had previous experience with editing and enjoys it very much. One aspect he likes about the play is that if shifts from technology use, such as videos, to live performance. Jonathan and Mr. Friedman took on the challenge of getting the video cues the exact time they are needed backstage during the actual performance of the play. One of the highlights was trouble-shooting how to use both a drone and a green screen. Mr. Friedman and Jonathan download applications and created a green-screen in Mr. Friedman’s room to create fake settings and video effects.


Omaima Pervez (Playwright, Dramaturge, and Stage Manager)

Omaima Pervez is a senior at Yonkers Montessori Academy. When she signed up for Cinema Verite Intersession, her goal was to learn and experience the process of establishing a play. In order to a have better understanding of theatrical performance with video components, the group saw the play “The curious incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” on Sunday April 24, 2016. This play provided them with better understanding of the impact of lights and use of space in making a play more effective. In the following days, they created the set and props through collaboration and through the amount of work accomplished in a week. Additionally, Omaima got the opportunity to learn the format of a script and write a rough draft of a script for their play. She also learned by working with Mrs. Helen, a theater professional to create different effects using variation of lights and ways to enhance the message being conveyed by the actors to the audience by observing the directions given by their director Mr. Berkowitz. This is just a glimpse of her intersession experience as the intersession was not just one week long, the analysis and theoretical process of creating the play started at least three months before the actual intersession week. Therefore, every moment of this intersession was educational for and cherished by Omaima and her intersession group.


Tavian Harris (Playwright, Set Design and Construction, Acting as “The Scientist”)

Tavian Harris is a senior at Yonkers Montessori Academy. Having no experience working in theatre, Tavian came into this intersession looking to learn, and that is exactly what happened. Having both Mr. Friedman and Mr. Berkowitz as teachers for more than two years, Tavian knew that his first intersession with these teachers would be interesting. In the play, Tavian plays the scientist that appears before all of the commotion. Even though Tavian doesn’t have a large part in the play, he contributed to the play tremendously by creating props and doing other behind the scenes activities. Tavian’s favorite part of the whole intersession was seeing how ideas written down by kids turned into this amazing production. Coming into the play, Tavian didn’t know how the students would pull off something so big, but after a tremendous amount of work he learned that with a little help from everyone anything is possible.



Terrell Jenkins (Playwright, Costume Design, and Acting as “Father Gonzaga”)

A first time member of the Cinema Verite Intersession, Terrell Jenkins was very excited to play the role of the town priest, Father Gonzaga. Cinema Verite was always an exciting intersession which mainly focused on using multiple platforms of media in order to create a play that would set the stage for future groups of YMA students to follow. Initially Jenkins got interested in this intersession at the first meeting he attended, when he created the plot twist that changed the direction of this production. Under the direction of Mr. Berkowitz, Jenkins learned a lot of valuable tools to help him with his pronunciation of words, the loudness of his voice, and how to get into character. More importantly, he worked with Destiny Caratini to design costumes with color palettes that complimented Destiny’s make-up design. One day in particular involved traveling throughout New York City thrift and good will stores in order to try on and purchase costumes for the production. From this, he learned how to design, prepare and measure dimensions and costumes.


Phil Ladson (Playwright, Set Design and Construction, Film Crew, Acting as “Vagrant” and “Titan, the Strong Man”)

Phil Ladson is a junior at Yonkers Montessori Academy. This is his first play and performance. It is also his first Intersession with Mr. Friedman and Mr. Berkowitz. He was interested in the acting role of two characters in the play. Phil helped out to record videos with Mr. Friedman and the rest of the crew. Phil has also a little interest in theatre and the acting business, which made him, chose the intersession with Mr. Berkowitz and Mr. Friedman. He is part of the YMA Basketball team for 3 years now and enjoys playing as the team’s captain. During the intersession, Phil helped the video crew by being the clapper, which helps them sink the video and audio together when editing. The fun of the intersession caught him by surprise and he enjoyed it a lot.  The best part he liked about it was going to NYC and recording people for the play as well as getting some city experience.


Nelson Mejia (Playwright, Set Design and Construction, Costumes, Acting as “The Doctor”)

Nelson Mejia, or Nel, is a senior at Yonkers Montessori Academy. In the play, my role is the doctor who takes a feather off of the angel. During intersession, he was becoming an actor, giving people advice or ideas for their roles, and developing or improving old and new relationships with others. His favorite moment during intersession was experiencing the play, “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime” because of how the background changes every time during the play, how the actors acted in the play, and how all the props are set in a specific place. No matter the show, all actors have to be aware of their lines and surroundings and how precise the lights have to be in each part of the play.


Dario Oleaga (Playwright, Film Crew, Acting as “Pelayio”)

Dario Oleaga is a Junior at Yonkers Montessori Academy. This is his first play and performance. It is also his first Intersession with Mr. Friedman and Mr. Berkowitz. He was interested in how a group of students would bring a short story to the stage. After weeks and weeks, the story was sectioned off into scenes with action on the stage and on the video screen. Dario’s role in this production is acting as Pelayio: a manipulative man who went from rags to riches. His favorite moment throughout Intersession was taking advantage of this opportunity to give it a shot on stage. He learned that he is able to adapt to a given situation, improvise when the time is right, and enjoy himself above all.


Kaitlyn O’Shea (Playwright, Costumes, Film Crew, Acting as “Elisenda”)

Kaitlyn O’Shea is a Senior at Yonkers Montessori Academy. When she is not playing Elisenda, a poor villager who gets treated badly by everyone around her, Kaitlyn can be found part taking in after school activities such as YMA’s Drama Club and Guitar Club and working on her Performing Arts. She will be attending Manhattanville College in the Fall of 2016 to receive her B.F.A for Musical Theatre. This was Kaitlyn’s first and final intersession at Yonkers Montessori Academy, but she loved every minute of it. She loved everything, from the writing process to putting it into production mode. She was hands on and grasped every moment of it. She also loved how everyone was able to connect and bond like a family in a way that is hard to put in words, but that a person just feels it and they would 110% understand. Her favorite part of intersession was being able to connect and work together to put everyone’s ideas into account in order to put this show on. This intersession has taught her that it takes a lot of work to put on a production, as well as a lot of people, and with a bonding family you can have a boat load of fun while doing it.


Michael Radko (Playwright, Film Crew, Acting as “CNN News Anchor Stephen Campbell”)

Michael Radko is a sophomore at Yonkers Montessori Academy. When not portraying a newscaster behind the camera, he can be found working with the YMA Art Club. Michael has chosen to go on this intersession because he is very interested in the fields of film and theater, and he wanted to get a first look into the fields through this intersession. He has enjoyed working with the other actors and directors in the pre-production phase in order to help set out a solid outline for the play and helping other members of the production team to solidify ideas for the final production. He has also discovered a newfound interest in acting and preforming on stage with encouragement from the rest of the production team helping him to become more familiar with the filming process and the editing of said film. Michael has had a fantastic time participating in this intersession and looks forward to, possibly, take part in future productions.


Ralph Sanchez (Playwright, Film Crew, Acting as “Major General” and “The Ringmaster”)

In this intersession, we created a script from a short story for a play and created our own production. Each student had an important role in this production that came with responsibilities like acting or even being behind the scenes with the film. Ralph’s role in this production was to be a camera man when students interviewed people in Union Square and to be an actor in the play. He played two parts: the military man and the ring leader of a circus. Even though he only have about 4 lines and wasn’t seen on camera that doesn’t mean he didn’t have to work hard. Everyone on this intersession worked hard together as a family to make this production possible. His favorite part of the intersession would have to be running around Union Square asking people what their beliefs in angels were. He got many interesting answers from intellectual responses to some of the most unexpected responses you could get. All in all, he has learned to come out of his comfort zone a bit with the acting and to really work together as a family to create something big.


Alfred John Tignonsini (Playwright, Sound Designer, Poster Designer, Film Crew, Acting as “Vagrant” and “Portuguese”)

Alfred John Tignonsini is currently a high school senior at Yonkers Montessori Academy who will be pursuing a career in Computer Arts. During the production of “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings” he played both as a town cripple and Portuguese Man on stage. Behind the scenes he was the Sound Designer and I was a part of the Video Crew interviewing people in Union Square. The most exciting part of the Cinema Verite Intersession was watching how the sound came together with the acting. I would perform sound cues during rehearsals, not to mention He was also acting at the same time, which allowed me to multitask. This helped him learn how the acting and technical aspects of the production came together as one. Overall this production was an interesting experience. Not only did he try something new, but also he had an exciting time with everyone in this intersession group.


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