Company Profiles: Natalie Berk

This is the seventh in a series of posts profiling our company members — get to know the Synetic family of actors. I sent a few questions out to some company members, and their responses, as well as some info on the actor, can be found in this series. Enjoy!

Natalie Berk has been an actress with Synetic since the Spring of 2008, when she joined the ensemble of Carmen. Since then, she has appeared in Dante as Beatrice, A Midsummer Night’s Dream as a Fairy, and most recently in Dracula as Mina.

Natalie Berk

1. Where are you from? What is your training?

I was born right here in DC at Georgetown Hospital and have grown up in Northern, VA. I guess you could call me a native Virginian! I started my dance training at a young age at a little studio in Vienna, VA called Cuppetts Performing Arts. I danced there for a little over six years and then moved onto a year at The Washington Ballet. I don’t really consider myself a dancer, but I have definitely taken enough lessons to grasp the foundations of what it takes to create the illusion of being a dancer!

In the second grade I was casted as the lead role of my elementary schools “Mini Musical” production of The Ugly Duckling. This is where I learned my of passion for acting and singing. My parents could both see I had a blooming admiration for theater, but they felt it best to wait until I was old enough to make my own decision on pursuing it as my “craft.” I began my professional training with Imagination Stage as part of their two year conservatory. There, I began to grasp the logistics of building an ensemble. The following summer I took part in Studio Theater’s Young Actors program. This was the same year I saw my first Synetic production and fell in love with the style. I felt it was time to start taking my dreams more seriously so I began private lessons with Lilia Slavova, one of the founding members of Classika. The summer into my sophomore year of high school I assisted classes with Dan Istrate (aka: Dracula II.) That year I auditioned for Synetic in the Spring and was immediately thrown into the professional world of theater! I have been training with Synetic since 2008. One summer ago I trained for an entire month in New York City with The Atlantic Theater Company and have sporadically taken voice lessons with multiple vocal coaches. Throughout all of my middle school and high school career I have somehow balanced school plays, professional auditions, and shows with Synetic. I have even been in production with Synetic while rehearsing/performing school shows on the side! At this point in time, while in rehearsal for Antony and Cleopatra I am taking private lessons at The Shakespeare Theatre in preparation for my college auditions. I have high aspirations of going to Juilliard! What young actor does not?

2. What was it like to start working with Synetic? How was it different from your other experiences?

I remember my first training experience with Synetic. The company basically trains in a hidden, underground warehouse which has been named “The Factory.” I’m not exactly sure where this name comes from, but no name could be more apropos. I felt like I was walking into a scene from David Bowie’s Labyrinth the first time I entered the “Factory” doors. Old props sitting on shelves, broken mirrors tilted up against the walls, oil paint from past sets still glooming the air, and the booming of Koki’s (resident composer) erotic music. It was authentic. It was magical. It was totally and completely intimidating. I couldn’t believe what I was getting myself into… and I mean that in more than a good way. I remember watching “Contact Improv” and being so glued to the lucidity of the actor’s bodies. And when it was my turn? It was so out of body, yet the closest I’ve ever felt to myself. That’s what is so special about this company- the trust you have in the people you’re working with. You give yourself over to one another, not always through speech, but continually body and mind.

3. Do you have a favorite Synetic role?

My favorite Synetic role has been Mina Harker in the most recent remount of Dracula. It was a special show to be part of because the original production of Dracula was the first Synetic show I had ever seen. Looking back, a little over four years ago I never would have imagined I would be part of something so sexy and mind-jolting. I loved that Paata gave me a chance to work with a multi-dimensional character that goes on an emotional journey. The character was a huge challenge and I only hope I will be lucky enough to be challenged with roles like this in the future.

As Mina with Dan Istrate in "Dracula" (photo credit Graeme B. Shaw)

As Mina with Dan Istrate in "Dracula" (photo credit Graeme B. Shaw)

4. Favorite show?

Carmen always sticks out when asked what my favorite show has been. I loved the Spanish music and dance, the risque costumes, the cast, everything! I also loved the process of putting Dante together, as well as performing it. The cast took a large part in the creative process so the show really ended up feeling like a large collaboration. I also loved Dracula! Ugh, What kind of question is this?! All the shows I’ve been in with Synetic are my favorite!

5. Any crazy stories from rehearsals, performance, etc.?

I’m not really sure why, but Chris Galindo has always ended up being in charge of the crosses in our shows. In Dante he was the Pope… (think about it…) In Midsummer he tells Hermia to choose between the cross and the rose, and then again in Dracula, he gives Jonathan Harker the crucifix and tells him: “The dead travel fast…” So, let’s call Mr. Galindo the barer of the cross!

While we were in production for Midsummer and rehearsal for Dracula, Ana (Paata & Irina Tsikurishvili’s 8-year-old daughter) had been following me around with a tiny, bright pink, plastic cross. I played around with her and pretended every time I saw the cross, it burnt my eyes- like I was a vampire, Haha…

It was an evening performance of Midsummer and one of our cast-mates had gotten sick during the show! Chris, being the Jesus-like kinda guy he is, helped her and made sure she was ready to go on stage because they needed to enter together. In a mad panic, Chris didn’t have enough time to grab the little wooden cross to put in his pocket, so out of good actor’s impulse he decided he would pantomime the cross. I mean, it works, he IS working with Synetic.

The scene was quiet and tense, as usual, because it was an intimate moment between Irina (Koval) and Chris- that was until it was time he pulled the pantomime cross out. Somehow, the little, pink crucifix had found its way into Galindo’s pocket! For Chris, Ana’s little toy crucifix had saved the day. But for the rest of us, we could NOT keep our cool- I hope the audience didn’t noticed the muffled laughter…


~ by synetictheater on December 4, 2009.

One Response to “Company Profiles: Natalie Berk”

  1. I think you are fantastic. And I’m so proud of you. You rock — beeeaaaatch!!!

    Love you more than you know — Daddio — and I had a GREAT time with you this weekend.

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