Ashland is THE place for theater

It’s Saturday morning. The phone isn’t ringing. Why not? I have left messages for several local theater directors. They haven’t returned my calls! Oh well! It’s early. I understand these late-night theatrical types.

Meanwhile, in rumpled pajamas and feeling like day-old roadkill, I am desperate to produce a weekly theater column! PANIC ATTACK! HELP! What to do?

INTERVIEWS! Yes! Find out what makes theater people, a theater town, a theatrical community, TICK!

Ashland is MECCA for theater. Each year tons of cultured, well-educated pilgrims trek into town for a marathon of plays, while countless creative people design, construct and perform for those steadfast tourists. No doubt these theater folk have amazing tales to tell. I’ll seek them out.

I’m a theater buff. I am passionate about theater. I see as many plays as I can as often as I can. I go to lectures, previews, prefaces, backstage tours, dramatic readings, dress rehearsals, post matinee discussions, talks in the park and an occasional cast party. If I’m not there, I would like to be. I have my BA in dramatic arts from UC Berkeley, my MA from San Francisco State and I’m currently studying directing at Southern Oregon University. I volunteer for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and recently I understudied a walk-on part in “Trip to Bountiful” at Oregon Stage Works.

If you haven’t thought of participating in theater and happen to be looking for a bottomless time-sink, volunteering in local community theater is a great way to get to know people in a creatively charged yet oddly relaxed atmosphere, where everyone pulls together to pull off theatrical magic.

Those of you who missed “Trip to Bountiful” at OSW, missed out on a breathtaking performance by Rochelle Savitt as Carrie Watts. Night after night, she brought tears to her audiences and received standing ovations. Rochelle is a consummate actress who can turn your heart inside-out with a slight break in her voice.

While I sat backstage in my 1940s Joan Crawford get-up (white gloves, feathered straw hat, seamed stockings, etc.), waiting for my five minute walk-on, Rochelle changed her casual chic duds for a faded calico housedress and sat on the dressing room stairs to prepare for her role.

As cast conversations streamed through current events, politics and pop culture, Rochelle’s well-timed, one-line quips made me aware that this unassuming lady is exceptionally smart and hip. I’m hoping she’ll grant me an interview. For now, I’m waiting for the phone to ring and getting myself together to go out and find some of those fascinating thespians to tell me their stories.

On stage

I recently attend a stunning performance at Ashland’s Unitarian Church. Gypsy Soul performed along with Jeff Golden, who read from his inspired novel, “Unafraid.” The evening was reminiscent of the ’60s. Before we sacrificed more than 58,000 American soldiers in Vietnam, poets, musicians and even clergy performed in churches searching for a greater voice. Since the U.S. media largely ignored the war, it was these small gatherings of music and goodwill that heralded the message of peace and grew into to a significant culture of concerts and demonstrations to finally make a difference. Remember: “MAKE LOVE NOT WAR”?

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