IS: It’s so true, with acting; it doesn’t matter whether you are an extrovert or an introvert. Even if you are an introvert you can be a very good actor, because you can hide behind that character. I was an introvert most of my high school and college life as I recall, very quiet and kept to myself, but when I was on the stage I felt that I came alive, and I think that is true for a lot of actors.
EH: What is it that is unique about theater?
IS: I think it’s something you don’t do by yourself; it’s something that you have to involve others in. Even if you are doing a one man show, you still have a producer, a light crew, sound, whatever. It’s a team effort. It’s unique in that respect. It is a team sport. With painting, composing, writing, it’s a solo thing.
Bob Jackson Miner plays Avram Cohen in “RAGS” now playing at the Camelot Theatre in Talent. Perhaps you saw his remarkable performances in “1776”, “Shenandoah”, and/or “Gigi”? A native of El Paso, Texas, Bob studied Music and Theater at the University of Texas while performing progressive country music in nightclubs. He came to Ashland to perform with the Oregon Cabaret Theatre and stayed. One morning, at his spacious music/video studio in Ashland, we talked about the actor, the audience, and the wonderful ride of theater.
BJM: From the moment we start, the audience is absolutely actively part of the artistic experience in theater. It is a relationship established between the artists on stage and the viewers in the audience. Their emotional input is actually the wave we ride. We can stir up the emotional wave, and we can ride it; but we do not own it. The audience owns it every bit as much as we do. Once they’re in, they’re like a cast member in the sense of what we co-create. It’s different every night because every audience is different.
You may have seen Don Matthews as Lancelot in “Camelot” or as Don Quixote in “Man of La Mancha” at the Camelot Theatre. You may have heard him on the radio; he’s the Classical Music Director at JPR. Don sings with the Siskiyou Singers, the Reparatory Singers, and the Rogue Opera. He teaches in the Music Department Southern Oregon University. Over opulent omelets at the Morning Glory café in Ashland, Don and I talked about how performing can be both terrifying and liberating.
DM: There’s nothing more personal than singing or acting. You are your instrument, you’re up there. There’s no place to go. You can’t hide. As a singer, when you’re standing there singing a recital or a concert, it’s just you. You’re a little more exposed because you don’t have a character to play. When you’re playing a character, you can let yourself be in that character. It’s still you, but you don’t actually own it in the same way. You get to be somebody else. You can be all these things that you can’t be offstage. It goes back to your ability to allow yourself to feel and experience things which would just not be acceptable in our society.