"My approach to everything in life is usually to approach it with a sense of humor." — Kathleen Mahoney
EH: Tell me about “Kicking the Clouds Away.”
KM: It has songs of the ’20s and ’30s. We have been looking at a lot of newspaper headlines from those days; they are the same as the headlines today with the banks and unemployment. There are a lot of hopeful songs; there’s a lot of: “Bad times are just around the corner” and “Grey skies will clear up and it will be OK” and “Yes we can” kind of thing. The music is not stuff that has been done a lot. It’s nice: “Little Girl Blue,” “Pennies From Heaven” and “Let’s Have Another Cup of Coffee.” There is some familiar music, but some of it isn’t, especially the 1920s songs. It’s just amazing how the lyrics reflect what’s going on now. It’s truly uncanny.
"You'd be surprised how many good plays get done with a bad director, but never with a bad cast." — Doug Rowe,
EH: So you came to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival as an actor?
DR: Yes, I was with OSF for five seasons. It was marvelous working there because I’d never worked with such an incredible level of actors. The actors that work at OSF are world class actors, really remarkable people, totally dedicated, hard working. It’s quite amazing. I’ve done Broadway, off Broadway, regional theater for years, but never was the caliber of actors as high as it was here. So it was a thrill to be a member of a company that was very distinguished.
I’ve been totally blessed; I’ve always worked either as an actor or as a director. I was the executive director of the Laguna Playhouse for 18 years. I’ve just never had a lull. When the Regional Theater Movement began in the 1960s, it was the rebirth of theater. It just blossomed. Professional actors were working all over. Now every area has at least one regional theater.
"The live voice and the live story is what we need as a society. It gives us our humanity." — Kate Sullivan
EH: You graduated in theater from the University of Hawaii with a BA in theater?
KS: Yes. I received some nice training and I always wanted to take part in the building of a small theater. That happened here.
EH: What are your favorite roles; what would you like to create here?
KS: Any good part in a great play is a dream, because you are etching out that role forever. The author has given you so much to work with. You can play it a thousand times and you are still deepening the performance. I’m open to all roles and plays. Shakespeare, Williams, new plays. I get really excited, you know, working on an original piece. I love being part of that playwright, actor, director, collaboration. I would love this theater to grow so that it can be a place where actors, directors and playwrights can continue to create together.
"The minute you feel cozy and secure, you get complacent, you stop doing your work, and they'll start to see habits or mannerisms." — Michael Hume
EH: I saw you in “Clay Cart.” You look nothing like you looked then.
MH: I had a shaved head and I had a little thingy up there.
EH: That’s why I didn’t recognize you. Do you consider yourself a director or an actor?
MH: I’m an actor who directs every now and then. There was a period back in New York where directing gigs came along fast and furiously, so I didn’t act for about two years. I would like to say that all of those directing jobs made me rich, but they didn’t, not in this business. Nobody gets wealthy in the theater. And then, going back to acting: I could feel the scales of rust falling off. But ultimately it’s like getting back on a bicycle. A couple of weeks in the rehearsal hall and you’re fine again.
"When the actors do a good job, they put pressure on me to equal them, and I put pressure on them to equal my work. That's what makes it fun." — Mike Halderman
EH: How did you become a technical director? Isn’t your degree in music?
MH: I have a teaching credential in music from Sacramento State University. I taught for a while and then I got involved in community theater.
EH: So then you went to SOU to the undergraduate program?
MH: Yes, in 1990. My wife was a teacher and I had kids in high school. I went to Southern Oregon University (SOC at the time) to be an actor. I was doing some technical theater classes, and I said, “I’m really good at this.” I decided that I could graduate in two years because I already had a degree, and I didn’t have to do any of the undergraduate pre-requisites. I took lighting, sound, and scene design, theater business management, costuming, makeup — I did a painting internship at OSF one semester. I graduated with a BFA in scene design.
"Every actor wants to be as authentic as possible." — Ian Swift
EH: Acting can be dangerous?
IS: Physical things happen to you that can be quite painful. I’ve had two instances, and I hope they were my last. They were both Shakespeare plays.
I broke my nose (of course inadvertently) on stage. That was during a very volatile and vigorous, production of “Julius Caesar.” I was Julius Caesar. In my assassination scene all the actors came up, simulated daggers and very slowly thrust their fists into me. Then, “Et tu Brute? Then fall, Caesar!” And I would fall. It was tricky to die on stage. I always tried different ways in rehearsal, and I finally pretty much had it down. But the other thing I was consumed with was blood being authentic. Every actor wants to be as authentic as possible. I tried different things, a bloody rag, blood pellets, nothing really worked. I gave up.
"There is no safety net and you are out there on the wire." - Ian Swift
Evalyn Hansen: What is it that is unique about theater?
Ian Swift: I think it’s something you don’t do by yourself; it’s something that you have to involve others in. Even if you are doing a one-man show, you still have a producer, a light crew, sound, whatever. It’s a team effort. It’s unique in that respect. It is a team sport. With painting, composing, writing — it’s a solo thing.
What goes into theater is extraordinary. You come together to do a play, and it’s like a bunch of folks put on an elevator. And the elevator gets stuck. And you are with these human beings for a very intense period of time, for five or six weeks of rehearsal. You see them almost on a daily basis. Theater also calls for putting yourself in a vulnerable position. Otherwise I don’t think it makes for a good actor.