One noon hour some years back, I had the extraordinary luck to wander into Dale Luciano’s drama in Western culture class at Southern Oregon University. The class explored great dramatic literature within its historical context. I was intrigued; I enrolled in the year-long class.
Dale also teaches directing and forms and meanings, a class he describes as an “ongoing experiment” that examines parallels between theater and major art movements in history. His theatre arts classes are challenging. He chooses exciting material and requires his students to process, communicate and create.
I met Dale at the Bloomsbury Coffee House. Dale directed Shakespeare’s “Love’s Labor’s Lost,” now playing at Southern University’s Oregon Center Stage Theater. I have seen the production. It is elegant, exuberant, masterfully directed and thoroughly entertaining. I highly recommend it.
In the “Great American Trailer Park Musical,” formerly produced at Oregon Stage Works, J.R. Storment played Duke, a “marker-sniffing stripper-ex-girlfriend-chasing redneck freak.” His performance was bone-chilling until Duke miraculously transformed into the comfy, cozy and compliant sonny boy that any mother would want.
Currently, J.R. plays a revolutionary in the intense new Palestinian play, “Masked,” one of the four plays in “Things We Do,” now at Oregon Stage Works.
I met J.R. at Bloomsbury coffee house. He is the Web creative director of denizenTV.com and a photographer.
John Cole, director of Lanford Wilson’s “HOT L BALTIMORE,” shared his thoughts on the play during early rehearsals.
JC: A lot of it is boldfaced honest raw humor that’s really funny. “HOT L BALTIMORE” is the HOTEL BALTIMORE neon sign with the “E” burnt out. The play is about a beautiful old hotel now fallen into disrepair and inhabited by street hustlers, prostitutes and senior citizens. These people are living in the margins and have nowhere to go. While trying to get by living in this hotel, they get notice that the wrecking ball is going to tear down the joint.
“HOT L BALTIMORE” is what happens to those marginal people in dire economic straights when our society is bent on creating a shiny new future, and we forget about moving forward with our hearts. It helps us remember those people we walk past on the streets. It helps us remember how valuable they are.
Now playing at Oregon Cabaret Theatre, “The Mystery of Irma Vep” features two outstanding young comedic actors, Douglas Reynolds and Christopher Bange. Both actors are from small towns in the Pacific Northwest; both have bachelor’s degrees in Theater; both have been acting all of their lives, with the occasional waiter or bus-person job when they are not performing.
Christopher primarily does comedic work. He has created several original one- and two-man shows. This summer he will be touring Fringe Festivals in Canada with his solo magic show, “More Bange for Your Buck.”
Douglas, a recent graduate of Southern Oregon University, is also a writer. He worked with Portland Etc. and was an extra in Hollywood before returning to Ashland to play in “The Mystery of Irma Vep.”
We met one Friday afternoon at Martino’s, after a particularly lively Thursday night performance.
If you have seen plays at Rogue Community College’s Riverside Theater, you have seen productions directed by the team of Ron Danko and John Cole — important plays with large casts, high production values and superb direction. Their comedies are especially joyous, with highly imaginative staging and impeccable comic timing. Their next production, “Hot L Baltimore,” runs May 1 to May 17.
Ron Danko has spent his life in theater. He has been an actor, director and educator. He began his career by doing stand-up comedy, touring in two-man comedy teams. After earning an MA from Southern Illinois University he went on to pursue additional postgraduate work in theater at Southern Oregon University and the University of Oregon. He has established a number of large Shakespeare festivals and created theaters and college theater programs in the western United States, including The Western Stage in Salinas, Calif. Ron has been directing plays with John Cole since 2004 at RCC, where he currently teaches Communications.
You may have seen Barbara Rosen in Camelot Theatre’s “1984,” in “Durang, Durang” at the Oregon Stage Works or in “Midsummer Night’s Dream” at the Ashland’s Children’s Theatre. This former professor of English literature and Shakespeare scholar is disarming with her casual manner and keen insight. After retirement, Barbara and her late husband, Bill, moved to Ashland’s Mountain Meadows at the urging of her two daughters, Susan and Judith Rosen.
I met Barbara at Oregon Stage Works, where she is rehearsing for Bertolt Brecht’s “The Jewish Wife,”a part of “Things We Do,” a series of plays, readings and events concerned with the conflict in the Middle East.
I met with Oregon Stage Works Volunteer Coordinator Barbara Horton and Marketing Director DW Wood last week at their A Street office. We talked about the response to theater company’s latest play, “The Nerd,” and I was surprised to learn OSW is searching for people to fill interesting volunteer positions.
EH: How are the audiences for “The Nerd”?
BH: We were so pleasantly surprised this week. They are very, very good.
EH: Why is it, do you think?
BH: It’s a funny play. Doug Rowe has a good reputation for directing good plays. It’s a combination of quite a few things. I think people want a little more laughter in their life.