After an acting career spanning 30 years at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, playing such roles as Ophelia in “Hamlet,” Hermia in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and Bianca in “Othello,” Shirley Patton finds her acting talents delightfully in demand by Ashland’s alternative theaters. She is currently starring in “Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks” at Camelot Theatre in Talent. I visited with Shirley in her idyllic Ashland hillside home.
EH: How did you get to Ashland to begin with? How did this wonderful life come about?
SP: I was a student at Stanford. I kept hearing how wonderful it was to spend summers in Ashland, because you got to work with the greatest playwright ever in this four-play repertory. By a great fluke, at the last moment, I went on as Viola in “Twelfth Night” at Stanford. Angus Bowmer came down to see it and remembered me fondly from that.
After I graduated, I applied to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. I guess they were looking favorably on my application, but the last part of it got lost in the mail, so I didn’t hear anything from them. I wrote Angus a letter saying how one of my goals was to someday work in his company, and if he would be so kind as to tell me my areas of weakness, I would work on them until someday maybe I would be worthy.