Backstage: ‘I love a great story told honestly’

Vilma Silva has portrayed such iconic characters as Portia in “The Merchant of Venice,” Julius Caesar in “Julius Caesar,” and Katherina in “The Taming of the Shrew” during her 23 seasons at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

After graduating from Santa Clara University, Silva performed with El Teatro Campesino and the American Conservatory Theatre before coming to Ashland for her first OSF role in “Blood Wedding.” This season, she is Armida in “Mojada” and Mistress Page in “The Merry Wives of Windsor.” We got together at Bloomsbury Coffee House in Ashland.

EH: How do you create such real people on stage?

VS: I always start with what’s on the page. Then, it’s looking at the people who you’re going to be saying these things to. There are going to be clues — in how to make them see things your way — to make them do what you want them to do. That’s going to come from the other actors. And certainly, there are things in one’s life that you can draw upon. Continue reading Backstage: ‘I love a great story told honestly’

A horror puppet musical for adults

Puppeteers for Fears are currently touring their latest extravaganza, “The Trilogy of Terror” written by Artistic Director Josh Gross. I saw a technical rehearsal of the first play of the Trilogy, “The Mummy’s Purse.” It features a rock band, extraordinary puppets, projections, and profound hilarity. I met with Gross and his puppet designer, Brook Sharp, at Mix.

EH: What was the genesis of the puppet musical?

JG: I got into writing plays, but I’d played music all of my life, and I wondered if I could write a musical. Not everything works as a musical. It has to have certain themes and a certain ridiculousness for people to spontaneously burst into song. Puppets and horror are absurd enough for a musical.

I searched for the least appropriate topic for a musical to make it as ridiculous as possible. I did some on-line polling and somehow settled on serial killers. I decided “Ritual Murder, The Musical” was going to be the topic of this first piece. That went really well.

Puppets can seem bigger than they really are. People accept a certain level of ridiculousness with them. If you have good writing, and you make it fun, you can get away with a lot. Continue reading A horror puppet musical for adults