Auggie Spotlight: Tony Award-winning theater instructor

Gabriel Benson, Copy Editor

When one thinks of a college theater professor, there may be a certain archetype that comes to mind: they may be zany, wearing brightly colored clothing and often could be boisterous. Berlovitz defies these stereotypes with a soft manner and a calmer color scheme. What the average student may not know, however, is that Berlovitz founded the Theatre de la Jeune Lune (which translates as “Theater of the New Moon”). Berlovitz, after studying at L’École Internationale de Théâtre Jacques Lecoq in Paris, France, founded the theater five years later in 1978.

While the Jeune Lune was founded in Paris, it eventually found its home in Minneapolis by 1985. Berlovitz, as one of five co-artistic directors, also implemented lessons from the National Circus School in Paris France, into the way her shows ran.

For years, Jeune Lune ran successfully in Minneapolis, and in 2005, it received one of the highest accolades possible in theater: the Tony. At the ceremony, among today’s theatrical classics such as “Doubt” and “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” Jeune Lune won the Regional Theater Tony. As actress Kate Burton said in her presentation of the award, this category of Tony goes to “an outstanding regional theater that has displayed a continuous level of artistic achievement that contributes to the growth of theater nationally.” Burton also highlights Jeune Lune’s “strong physicality and a sensitivity to the space in which each piece is performed.” Berlovitz stood on the stage of Radio City Music Hall on national television to accept the award, and one year later, in 2006, she would act in her final productions at Jeune Lune in “Tartuffe” and “Figaro.”

When asked what this experience was like, Berlovitz responded, “It was an honor … But it was also very fun to be on the stage of Radio City Music Hall, going to a big party and yes, walking a red carpet. It was all surreal. I could not stop laughing.”

Berlovitz, along with other founding members of Jeune Lune, stepped down from her role as artistic director at the theater, and by 2008, she was back in Paris assisting “master clown” Philippe Gaulier at the school he founded. On July 31, 2008, Jeune Lune shut down. Berlovitz continued to teach, act and direct around the country, and, in 2007, directed her first show at Augsburg (then) College: “Twelfth Night” by William Shakespeare.

Since, Berlovitz has continued to inspire the same ideals she did in Paris and at Jeune Lune both in the classroom and on the stage. It’s incredibly fortunate to have her as a professor, but even a passing conversation with her is a pleasure.

“I have been teaching my whole theatre career,” says Berlovitz. “I am interested in passing on what I have learned from others and from practicing my craft. Somewhat in the tradition of Commedia de l’arte troupes where the older actors would train the younger actors. Perhaps someone would like to learn what I have learned.”

This spring, she will direct the world premiere of a new play called “Sisters of Peace” at the History Theatre in St. Paul. This semester, Berlovitz continues her prolific career as she directs Augsburg’s fall show “The Arsonists,” a show about trust, power and fire.

When you go see the show, (and I say “when” and not “if”), you may want to keep in mind where Berlovitz has been and how this impacts the show. You may be surprised that this theater instructor may know more than meets the eye.

This article first appeared in the Friday, September 28 edition of The Echo.