Throughout Oregon Shakespeare’s 2010 Season, actress Lisa McCormick captivated audiences as the loveable Amalia Balash in the musical, “She Love’s Me”. Before Lisa left to pursue her career in New York she took some time to meet with me at Allyson’s Kitchen with her uncle and mentor, Robert McCormick.
EH: What attracts you to a life in the theater?
LM: From a young age, what drew me to theater were the people, the home that I found among a group of people who were similarly minded, artistically minded. But, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve found that what has been carrying me through is having a perspective that I wanted to share, having a story that demands to be told. And it’s a different story every time. I think that there’s a line through all of these things. I enjoy women who have a great deal of vulnerability, and in that great strength, who are not afraid to be afraid and move forward. The deeper my life experience has become, the more I have traveled, the more I’ve loved and lost, the deeper my experience becomes not only of my life, but also my art. That journey is deepening and continuing to deepen. It’s almost like a Chinese finger trap; the further my finger goes in the harder it is to get out. I’m just stuck, and I’m falling more and more in love with it every day.
Two years ago Francisco Severiano of Mexico was a passenger on an Ashland bus when a young adult woman started kicking his chair, saying she “hates Mexicans” and telling him to “go back to Mexico.” At the time, Francisco did not speak English. He had to endure the humiliation in silence.
The incident became the story of a short play for Literacy Theater titled “The Mean Girl on the Bus,” which has been performed several times for local audiences. Literacy Theater is an interactive theatrical experience created to help communities solve problems surrounding cultural and literacy issues. The skit is serious in its presentation of situations. It always ends abruptly at a point of crisis; the actors then stay in character and answer questions from the audience.
Literacy Theater is sponsored by the Rogue Community College Adult Basic Skills Program and INTERCAMBIO.Oregon, an organization dedicated to supporting intercultural arts. The volunteer actors are community members including students and teachers. I got together with four Literacy Theater actors who are students in English as a Second Language and Adult Basic Skills classes at Rogue Community College. They include: Simone Dias of Brazil, Shu Yang of China, Jesus Castro of Guadalajara, Mexico, and Severiano of Mexico City. We met in an ESL classroom on the Rogue Community College Riverside Campus in Medford.