Ashland playwright David Hill is conducting a workshop with other Ashland writers to develop plays in the vein of “The Twilight Zone.” Participants are developing psychological thrillers to be presented in a dramatic reading by Ashland Contemporary Theatre on Halloween in the Gresham Room of the Ashland library. Hill was a student of Rod Serling, the originator of the iconic television series “The Twilight Zone.” We got together one afternoon at Boulevard Coffee.
EH: Can you tell me about the genesis of “The Twilight Zone”?
DH: Serling started “The Twilight Zone” because he wrote a television play about racial prejudice that generated a lot of controversy. The network executives made him water it down and change it so that the entire point was lost. He figured that the only way he could say what he felt needed to be said was to disguise it as science fiction. That’s how he got the idea for the television series. He wasn’t that interested in science fiction, but he felt if you’ve got spacemen and monsters in a script, the networks were not going to relate it to a political situation, even though it was.
Randall Theatre’s recent production of “Man of La Mancha” featured Pam Ward as Don Quixote’s revered strumpet, Aldonza. Ward makes her living recording audio books for numerous clients, including Ashland’s Blackstone Audio. She soon will be performing in “Black Friday,” opening Nov. 8 at the Randall in Medford. We met at Bloomsbury Coffeehouse in Ashland and discussed the art of acting.
PW: People are fascinating animals. Being an actor, you think about the opportunity to create characters, to explore other life stories, other personalities, other corners and wrinkles in another person’s personality. I get to explore little crevices and nooks and crannies in my own personality that I might not have the nerve to explore in real life.
Every time you work with a new character, you bring pieces of your own personality to that character. That’s inevitable. You have to base a character on someone real, and that’s whom you have to work with. But I also find that I bring something back with me. I find something new about myself every time I create a new character. It can be just some interesting little thing that I didn’t know about myself, or it can actually be life changing.
One of the reasons that I am so passionate about the role of Aldonza is that she genuinely changed my life when I did the first productions of “Man of La Mancha” in my 20s; and she changed my life again this year. She tapped back into a state of mind, a level of passion, that I didn’t expect to experience again.