Category Archives: Column

Ashland is THE place for theater

It’s Saturday morning. The phone isn’t ringing. Why not? I have left messages for several local theater directors. They haven’t returned my calls! Oh well! It’s early. I understand these late-night theatrical types.

Meanwhile, in rumpled pajamas and feeling like day-old roadkill, I am desperate to produce a weekly theater column! PANIC ATTACK! HELP! What to do?

INTERVIEWS! Yes! Find out what makes theater people, a theater town, a theatrical community, TICK!

Ashland is MECCA for theater. Each year tons of cultured, well-educated pilgrims trek into town for a marathon of plays, while countless creative people design, construct and perform for those steadfast tourists. No doubt these theater folk have amazing tales to tell. I’ll seek them out.

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Experience It

Let me tell you about my “non-traditional” theater student experience at Southern Oregon University. I originally visited the campus while ushering my son, Cole Robinson, around to various college campuses as he was getting ready to graduate from Newport High School on the Oregon Coast. He chose University of Oregon, and for myself, I chose SOU. I applied for post baccalaureate status and moved to Ashland.

Wandering into a drama in Western culture class one sunny day, I met the professors, picked up the books, went home and read the first plays assigned, Aeschylus’ “Prometheus Bound” and then “The Oresteia.” When I put down the plays, I was smitten. It’s been a peek-a-boo romance with academic theater ever since. It would have been total engagement, except for the usual problem of making a living.

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Magic Theatre

It was just an ordinary university theater directing workshop, a class project at UC Berkeley, a one-act play, Ionesco’s “The Lesson.” John Lion, a young, bold, brilliant director, invited the manager of a local bar, The Steppenwolf, to see the show.

The Steppenwolf was a storefront watering hole in a rather dodgy neighborhood composed of boarded-up storefronts, empty lots, pawnshops and liquor stores. The Steppenwolf bar seemed to have two personalities, like Hesse’s book, half man and half wolf.

Some nights the place was inhabited by folks dancing on tables to deafening rock ‘n’ roll; on other nights patrons played chess to Vivaldi and Bach. There seemed to be no in-between. The agreement was made. We would perform on weekends.

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