Judith-Marie Bergan: Part Two

Judith-Marie Bergan
Judith-Marie Bergan

Oregon Shakespeare Festival actress Judith-Marie Bergan has brilliantly portrayed numerous iconic characters, including Cleopatra in Shakespeare’s “Anthony and Cleopatra” and Lyubov Ranevskaya in Chekhov’s “The Cherry Orchard.” But the role that has had audiences reeling is her stunning and haunting portrayal of the acerbic, drug-addicted Violet, the destructive matriarch of the overtly dysfunctional Weston family in Tracy Letts’ “August: Osage County.” Bergan and I met over coffee one summer afternoon. This is the first of a two-part interview; the second will publish in this space on Oct. 10.

EH: How did the role of Violet affect you?

JMB: I did warn my husband, “I don’t know what mood I’m going to be in this particular year.” But as it turned out, I didn’t carry it home. I was concerned because you are digging into some really deep, weird, dark, hard places. You conjure up stuff that you usually keep buried in yourself. I guess I must have gotten it out all on stage. When you’re doing a role like that, you think about it all of the time. The challenge of the actor is to go deeper and keep within what is directed.

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Levity Improv Comedy

Levity Improv Comedy delighted a hefty audience last month with its premier production of improvisational theater under the trees at the Grizzly Peak Winery in Ashland. I visited with director Lyda Woods and troupe members Cynthia Rogan, Mig Windows and Jeffrey Hayes, and we reminisced about the exuberant evening.

LW: I really like improv because it teaches me to be a better person. Some of the guidelines are: You’re trying to say “yes” as often as you can. And it’s important to be openhearted, to be kindhearted, to be lighthearted, to be really available and supportive of your teammates, and really in the moment. And those are all things I’d like to be in my life. The other thing is that it encourages me to fail big. When I do improv, I’m always trying to get myself to take the risk, and that means risking failure.

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