The story behind ‘Queen of Hearts: Audrey Flack’

Filmmakers Deborah Shaffer and Rachel Reichman have produced a masterful documentary, “Queen of Hearts: Audrey Flack,” to be screened at the AIFF2020 Virtual Film Festival.

Beginning May 22, we can see the AIFF films over a period of three weeks in the comfort of our homes. “Queen of Hearts: Audrey Flack” will be streamed all day Wednesday, June 3.

Audrey Flack, now in her 80s, is an American artist whose works include abstract expressionism, new realism, photorealism, sculpture and drawing.

Both Shaffer and Reichman have had successful careers in the film industry. Shaffer, whose work reflects social and political activism, won an Oscar for her documentary “Witness to War: Dr. Charlie Clements.”

Reichman’s recent films include “Hitchcock/Truffaut” and “ISIS and the Internet.” We met via Zoom.

EH: Why a documentary about Audrey Flack?

RR: She’s really an engaging person, you are intoxicated by her. She’s a great storyteller. Her work is really bright and symbolic; it’s intense graphically; it’s accessible. You can fall in love with it without having to know a great deal about art, because there is just so much readily there for you to embrace. I had really strong feelings about the art history aspect of it and the art context of it. But there’s a lot of meat there in terms of the period, the post-War era. Continue reading The story behind ‘Queen of Hearts: Audrey Flack’

Pandemic births Rogue Valley Plague Theatre Company

Collaborative Theatre Project Director Susan Aversa-Orrego has teamed up with Shakespeare scholar Geoff Ridden to form the Rogue Valley Plague Theatre Company.

At 8 p.m., Monday through Friday, members of the company read and post Shakespeare sonnets on Facebook. About 500 people have joined the group worldwide. About 25 people have performed sonnets, which have been read in order. Sonnet 1 was posted March 30. I visited with Aversa-Orrego and Ridden by telephone.

EH: What’s the inspiration for this theater company?

GR: We’re all locked away, not able to do theater. Obviously, we wanted to keep active, doing something, having a project. We thought it would be a neat idea to do one sonnet every day at 8 o’clock, and to go live on Facebook. You either read the sonnet, or have somebody else read it, while you read along quietly at home. Continue reading Pandemic births Rogue Valley Plague Theatre Company

Kyle Haden of Ashland New Plays Festival

For over a quarter century, The Ashland New Plays Festival has presented the work of exceptional playwrights in a fall festival of dramatic readings of new plays.

Now there is Play4Keeps, a free podcast of recorded plays that can be accessed on computers and iPhones.

Over 30 plays have been recorded. Recordings are done in Ashland using local actors, many from the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. The recordings are expertly produced and narrated by Jim Pagliosotti.

I spoke with Kyle Haden, artistic director of the Ashland New Plays Festival, by telephone.

KH: We started Play4Keeps a year and a half ago to take the next step in what ANPF does: promote playwrights to get their work out there and to reach a broader audience. There are a lot of people outside of this area interested in what we are doing. This is a way to spread that reach. Continue reading Kyle Haden of Ashland New Plays Festival

Pat O’Scannell on the allure of early music


Pat O'Scannell (2)

Pat O’Scannell is now in her fourth year as director of Musica Matrix, a nonprofit music organization promoting early music in the Rogue Valley.

O’Scannell spent 27 years at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival as a singer and multi-instrumentalist, then as music director with her ensemble, The Terra Nova Consort, in residence.

I have had the pleasure of listening to two of The Terra Nova Consort’s superb CDs: “Renaissance en Provence” and “¡Baylado! Music of Renaissance Spain.” I recently chatted with O’Scannell about her love of early music.

PO: This music is incredibly beautiful. I believe that a lot of people haven’t heard early music, or they haven’t heard the type of early music that would appeal to them. We are talking about 600 years of music, going back to the Middle Ages. It rivals any music that was written from the time of J.S. Bach on.

When I think back on my classical training, I’ve loved about 75% of it. There was about 25% that was a bit too bombastic for my taste. My personal taste was toward Chopin rather than Rachmaninoff. I like the delicacy and intricacy of something, where I can hear the individual lines as opposed to something that is very heavy handed. Continue reading Pat O’Scannell on the allure of early music

Music elevates the power of silent film

donald sosinViolinist Alicia Svigals and pianist/composer Donald Sosin were scheduled to accompany “The Ancient Law” at the Ashland Independent Film Festival. The 1923 German silent film is based on a true story, in which the son of an orthodox rabbi breaks with tradition and becomes an actor.

With luscious production values and great acting, “The Ancient Law” relates the experience of great theater (Shakespeare) to religious devotion. We chatted one morning about live music and silent film.

DS: It’s an amazing story that people go nuts over, in a way that I’ve not seen before. I’ve played for about 4,000 films. This film produces a reaction that’s over the top.

EH: How does music relate to the structure of storytelling in film?

DS: In classical and pop music, there are different musical forms that are at the composer’s disposal. When you’re working with a film, everything has to be based on what’s going on emotionally and pictorially. Continue reading Music elevates the power of silent film

Damien Genardi on finding your resonance

DSC_1105 (5)Opera singer Damien Genardi recently opened The Resonant You Studio on North Main Street in Ashland.

Genardi, who sang with the Portland Opera for a decade and taught voice for 15 years, is also a photographer and cinematographer. His philosophy is, “The world is on fire. Art is the answer.”

We met at his vocal and spiritual healing studio, complete with digital healing pools, magnetic treatment mats and Tibetan singing bowls.

 

DG: I love to sing everything, jazz and everything.

EH: How were you first introduced to music?

DG: When I was 1 year old, my mom and dad gave me a record player and all my own music. I listened all day long to jazz, Billie Holliday, Aretha Franklin, Sarah Vaughn, a lot of Motown, and kids’ stuff. I loved music. Continue reading Damien Genardi on finding your resonance

Talking Jazz with Thor Polson

Jazz pianist Thor Polson has recently released a new CD, “Thor Polson & Friends, The Portal.” Besides performing, Polson teaches piano and languages: Latin, ancient Greek and German. One afternoon, we met at Bloomsbury Coffee House in Ashland.

EH: Tell me about your performances.

TP: It’s just an expression of pure joy. We play the music that I and other band members love. It’s flipping the joy switch. I count it down, and we’re just off to the races. I suppose I feel responsible for having prepared all that music; but when I’m playing it, I feel that it has gone through me, that I haven’t generated it. To me, musicians are conduits, not vessels: I don’t feel responsible for the music. When people compliment me, I don’t know what to say. I suppose, if I were playing a completely written-out piece of music, OK. But when it gets into improvising, I don’t know what will come out. It will depend on my mood, or my health, or the angle of the sunlight, or moss growing on a tree. Who knows what will happen?

Continue reading Talking Jazz with Thor Polson

Ashland is the place for Theatre