Orion Bradshaw

Orion Bradshaw
Orion Bradshaw

“I’m a local and proud of it,” Orion Bradshaw said as he sipped his powerhouse smoothie on the porch of Rogue Valley Roasting Company. A graduate of Ashland High School and a graduate of Southern Oregon University, class of 20O7, Bradshaw, with his bachelor’s of fine arts degree in theatre arts, “did an internship right out of school” at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Since then he has been continuously employed.

EH: What does an OSF intern do?

OB: An internship is essentially an unpaid position. It’s a learning experience; you get academic credits through the school. You experience the rehearsal process and then you are in a show or two. It opens your eyes to the repertory theater experience.

The interns take on one or two understudy roles, attend performances,and take notes (so that they learn how to effectively shadow someone else). It’s really important to be keyed-in and keep up with your work, because there is such a great domino effect. When one person goes out, there is a potential for five actors to be switched around.

EH: You’re going to be an OSF intern again this year?

OB: No, I was an intern two seasons ago. This year, I was a local hire understudy actor. Next season I am going to be in “Pride and Prejudice” as a non-equity actor and have some understudy roles in addition. I’m very excited.

EH: What’s the difference between a bachelor of arts and a bachelor of fine arts?

OB: The BA is a more general degree. A BFA is more focused. It means that you focused on one thing and you excelled in it and that’s what you represent. So what I bring to the table is a BFA in acting, but I’m also very interesting in teaching.

Next season I have a contract at OSF and I will be participating in the education program where visiting school groups participate in prologue-type workshops, where they learn about the play and do activities. I’ll start training for that when I go back in January.

EH: You’re also bartending?

OB: In order to obtain a full-time income level, I also bartended at the festival. This season I was a bartender and an understudy actor. Next season I’ll actually be a full-time actor. I love OSF. It has been the theater I have looked up to since I realized that this may be something I want to do.

I loved going to see plays and feeling that the actors and productions were larger than life and magical and there was nothing that could touch them. Now, being older and more experienced, knowing that, yes, the shows (and the people that are put out there) are beautiful and it is beautiful stuff, but it’s created by human beings that are flawed. Backstage they have fears and doubts and frustrations. But out on the stage, there is no time for that to even be remotely in your head. That’s something that I have always treasured and appreciated about the rehearsal and performance experience. You leave your problems at the door.

When I leave the theater, the problems come back and I deal with them, but I am more relaxed — I’ve had some time away. Or, I have left many rehearsals and performances feeling totally pacified about what is going on in my life. It really helps to put things in perspective as a human being. It teaches us something.

“Pride and Prejudice” opens at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival on Feb. 27. For tickets and information, call 482-4331.

Evalyn Hansen is a resident of Ashland. She has a bachelor's degree in dramatic arts from the University of California, Berkeley, and a master's degree from San Francisco State University. She trained as an actor at the American Conservatory Theatre, and is a founding member of San Francisco's Magic Theatre. Contact her at evalyn_robinson@yahoo.com.

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