Robin Downward, a gifted actor and theatrical entrepreneur, is currently planning SHREIK-TOBERFEST 2010, his big-themed theatrical Halloween event to happen in downtown Medford during late October. Robin’s year-round project is the establishment of the community based Randall Theatre Company, whose mission has expanded to include art therapy programs. When we met at the Higher Education Center at Rogue Community College, Robin gave me an update on SHREIK-TOBERFEST 2010.
RD: It’s sort of a traditional walk-through type haunted house with a lot more theatrics to it and a lot more lighting, sound, and plot-line. It’s this inter-active creepy experience with iconic October characters. The interactive experience expands the boundaries of the theater crowd. The audience is subjected to theater through these events, even though they don’t know it. If I can sneak theater in somehow and entertain people, then my job has been done.
I want theater to appeal to more of the community than to just the small theater crowd that goes to theatrical productions. It needs to reach outside the boundaries of the theater for more people to appreciate the art that goes on. I want to bring theater into people’s lives especially through tying the Randall Theatre Company to SHREIK-TOBERFEST 2010.
EH: Why are some of us so attracted to theater?
RD: It ties us to our childhood. When you were out on the playground, in tree fort, or in a forest with your friends, or even by yourself, you were out there pretending. You could be whoever you wanted to be, you could go and do the things that you wanted to do, and there was that childlike freedom. You were not playing for a crowd, you were just out there pretending. That was a time when you could just create and not have boundaries. It’s a release and it is fun.
When I perform, I want to do it because I enjoy getting into the character, going out on stage, delving into the character, really making it come to life, and have it be entertaining from that standpoint. If that is done well, then of course the audience is going to enjoy it. Actors that concentrate on doing something for an audience are taking themselves out of the character; they’re not into it enough.
Good solid actors that are acting, not from an ego standpoint, but because they truly genuinely love the process and the craft, are doing it because they want to extend that time when you could just create without boundaries. And that is what draws actors to continue doing what they love to do. If you strip everything away, ego, audience, everything, why would you want to do it? Because it’s freeing, it’s ultimately freeing to be somebody else for a time, and to relish that. That is the important part for me.
It goes back to the best times when you were a kid when you were out pretending and exploring and doing all those things. There is a big tie-in with theater because theater people still tend to keep that child like quality, whereas a lot of the people in the business world have left that behind. Theater people tend to be easier to talk to. They tend to find it easier to talk, just like kids.
SHRIEK-TOBERFEST 2010 opens October 19 and runs through October 31 in downtown Medford. If you are interested in volunteering for SHREIK-TOBERFEST 2010, Robin would like assistance in all areas including acting, singing, music, costuming, set creation, and ushering. Search: Eventwerks Oregon and click on volunteer, or telephone Robin: 541-227-4601.