The student news site of Carlmont High School in Belmont, California.

Scot Scoop News

The student news site of Carlmont High School in Belmont, California.

Scot Scoop News

The student news site of Carlmont High School in Belmont, California.

Scot Scoop News

Staff Profile: Elizabeth Berg shares her love for theater arts

Rachel Alcazar
Elizabeth Berg explains “In the manner of the adverb,” a drama guessing game. Berg helps students to develop theater skills through games and activities.

Elizabeth Berg has been a drama kid since the very beginning. She got her start with theater as an elementary schooler in “Going Buggy” and continued to act throughout elementary, middle, and high school, as well as in the summer throughout her childhood.

Growing up, she participated in programs at the California Theater Center (CTC), which no longer exists. She returned each summer, advancing far enough to join their leadership program, where she became an assistant teacher.

By the time Berg was in college, she was a teacher at the CTC’s summer programs, which ultimately helped her to decide what aspect of theater to pursue.

“I started to get more passionate about theater education in college, and that became the aspect of the arts that was most rewarding for me,” Berg said.

Berg’s students note that her teaching style is unique, and the experience of being in her classes differs from other courses at Carlmont.

“You get to know your classmates a lot better in drama because you’re doing activities where you can interact with each other. The games we play require a lot of teamwork,” said Vivian Harris, a Carlmont freshman currently in Drama 1 and acted in the fall play.

Group activities make up a lot of the drama curriculum, building teamwork and connections between students. Berg is intentional with how she plans her lessons.

“A lot of theater pedagogy is very game based. A woman named Viola Spolin created the idea of theater games, and her work has influenced how I learned how to teach theater. It’s how a lot of drama teachers operate: using games and activities as a way of developing skills,” Berg said.

While theater games may be fun for students, they also have many benefits.

“For one thing, they get students comfortable and willing to be vulnerable, which is so important in a drama class,” Berg said. “Also, they build ensemble and develop a lot of the soft skills that students need to be successful in theater, like risk-taking, quick thinking, group focus, having a mind-body connection, listening, working with others, and being willing to be spontaneous and expressive.”

Pullquote Photo

I think that drama is one of the most ensemble-based art forms that exist. It is so beautiful when students can learn the value of working together to pursue a common goal.

— Elizabeth Berg

These soft skills that students develop in her class are an essential part of the art that Berg is so passionate about.

“My goal is that any student who is interested in continuing is going to get the concrete skills that they need to really be able to be successful and that a student whose theater career will just be one year in a drama class will still get a lot of important skills. I hope I can meet both of these interests,” Berg said.

Berg assigns group projects and games that require students to collaborate and discuss with other classmates and practice empathy.

“Ms. Berg usually doesn’t pair up the same people every time, which makes students open their shells to act and be vulnerable because some are shy to do it. After being in the class for two semesters, a lot of the students are more open to talking and acting with everybody watching,” said Kevin De Souza, a Carlmont junior and drama student.

The benefits of drama class, practiced through games and other activities, affect other aspects of life, not just acting.

“Drama helps with everything from being comfortable with public speaking, which is, I think, one of the skills that a lot of people think about when they think about the benefits of drama outside of the theater, but also with things like collaboration and setting goals and working towards them,” Berg said. “Acting, even being an audience member, is all about putting yourself in someone else’s shoes and seeing how they see the world. It’s all about empathy.”

In addition to her work as a drama and English teacher, Berg has already directed two productions at Carlmont: ‘Scenes from Metamorphoses’ by Mary Zimmerman and ‘Legally Blonde.’

“There’s a lot that happens behind the scenes that I think people don’t really see. From planning out how to block a scene to creating the props and the costumes, there’s a lot of different work that goes into directing,” Berg said.

Berg’s first directing experience was when she was a senior in high school. She directed the “Servant of Two Masters,” a commedia dell’arte play by Carlo Goldoni.

“I immediately knew I loved directing. It was one of the most impactful experiences I had in high school when I didn’t even know what career path I would take yet,” Berg said.

While she did not originally intend to become a theater teacher when she started college, Berg emphasized that all of the classes that she took ended up being valuable to her career and enriched her life experience.

“There can be a lot of anxiety related to pursuing a career in the performing arts because it can be challenging and competitive. It is not traditional in some respects, so the advice that I would give is that you don’t have to know right away what aspect of your art to pursue. It’s okay not to be certain, and it’s okay to explore,” Berg said. “I would encourage anyone to explore different opportunities because anything you do will be valuable to you in some way.”

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About the Contributor
Rachel Alcazar
Rachel Alcazar, Scot Scoop Editor
Rachel Alcazar is a junior (class of 2025) at Carlmont. She is an editor for Scot Scoop and a staff writer for Highlander. She is interested in writing about current events and issues. Outside of school, she enjoys playing badminton and viola. Twitter: @ralcazar_

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The student news site of Carlmont High School in Belmont, California.
Staff Profile: Elizabeth Berg shares her love for theater arts