Peggy Rubin is the director of “Pompadour,” a new play by Molly Best Tinsley now playing with Ashland Contemporary Theatre. The one-woman show stars Jeannine Grizzard, ACT’s artistic director. Peggy and I visited in her lovely Ashland home.
EH: You came here with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival?
PR: Yes, I was an actor here for three summers. In 1957, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival was already a legend for people who love Shakespeare, partly because Angus Bowmer was such a glorious human being. He loved having people around who were equally skilled and some more so, in certain ways.
Ashland playwright Molly B. Tinsley’s “Pompadour” will premier Saturday, Jan. 19, with Ashland Contemporary Theatre. Peggy Rubin directs, and Jeannine Grizzard plays the titled mistress of King Louis XV of France. Molly and I met at Bloomsbury Coffee.
EH: What was the inspiration for “Pompadour”?
MT: There was an exhibit at the Portland Art Museum called “La volupte du gout (taste of the voluptuous): French Painting in the Age of Madame de Pompadour.” I went through it three times. I was fascinated by the overripe, color-saturated, complacently allegorical imagery.
Daureen Collodel, who performed in “Post-Its,” presented during Ashland Contemporary Theatre’s “Once in a Blue Moon” series at Paschal Winery, has acted in film and television for more than a decade. You may have seen her in one of many national television commercials. She earned a degree in Theater Arts/Humanities from Scripts College and is fluent in Spanish. We met for lunch at the Morning Glory Café in Ashland.
EH: Is there a special bond between actors?
DC: As actors we’re pretty vulnerable people. In any production, there’s a certain intimacy that has to happen very swiftly. We can get close very quickly, and then it’s kind of sad when it’s over.
Alonzo Lee Moore is a principal dancer with Dancing People Company and an actor and choreographer with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. You can see him this week and next as Gus, the coat-checker-wannabe-actor in “It’s Only a Play,” a Terrence McNally piece I directed for the Ashland Contemporary Theatre.
Next season, Moore will be dividing his time between Ashland and his hometown in Texas, where he plans to build a community art center. We chatted over Sunday brunch at Larks Home Kitchen Cuisine in downtown Ashland.
AM: I live in a very rich area in Texas, where the culture and the heritage runs deep. The families have been there together since the 1840s. It used to be cornfields, open land and cattle. Now it’s all subdivisions and strip malls. The economy is booming down there. It’s all urban.
Within our community and within our society we’ve advanced as a people. We’ve had the civil rights movement and we’ve had all of these amazing opportunities to grow, succeed and achieve equal rights; but in doing so, I feel that we’ve lost what was driving us to strive for those things.
What’s being lost is all of the values that we grew up with, all the songs, the holidays, and the stories that we used to know. I feel that I need to go back home and preserve some of that. How else would I preserve it? I sing; I’m a dancer and an actor. Why don’t I go back and use the crafts that I have learned and enrich the youth in my community and weave the fabric back again?
Ashland Contemporary Theatre Artistic Director Jeannine Grizzard will perform some hefty roles in upcoming Ashland productions. On Halloween, at the Playwright Actor Atelier, she will read the title role in “Dr. Foster,” a modern adaptation of Christopher Marlowe’s “Doctor Faustus.” In November she will perform in Terrence McNally’s “It’s Only a Play” at ACT. We met for lunch at Sesame next to Lithia Park.
EH: Why did you decide to direct theater?
JG: I wanted to express what really great thinkers were trying to say. I knew I could translate that into rooms and actions and environment. I wanted to manifest great writing, greatly done.
Ashland Contemporary Theatre’s July production, “Local Produce 2,” featured veteran actress Katherine Ross. Ross graduated from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in 1955 and recently earned a master’s in psychology from Southern Oregon University. She currently co-facilitates grief groups at WinterSpring Center in Medford. Katherine freely admits to being an octogenarian. We lunched on the patio at Blue: Greek on Granite in Ashland.
EH: What is it about theater that is so magnetic?
KR: It’s make-believe. People love make-believe. That is why I love Ashland. You can be walking down any street, and get into little playlets with people, just on the spur of the moment. That happens all the time in this town. It’s a great town to be in.
Ashland resident David Hill’s play “Larry’s Best Friend” recently won the national 2011 McLaren Memorial Comedy Play Writing Award. I had the pleasure of directing the play when it premiered with the Ashland Contemporary Theatre in 2010. In his college years, Hill was mentored by screenwriter Rod Serling of “The Twilight Zone.” We chatted at Boulevard Coffee on Siskiyou Boulevard early one afternoon.
EH: What is the dramatic action of “Larry’s Best Friend”?
DH: A man’s whole world view is challenged when his dog turns into a beautiful woman.
EH: “Larry’s Best Friend” had a tinge of the “Twilight Zone”?
DH: It’s finding extraordinary in the ordinary. We all experience a little disconcerting touch of unreality in our reality. Ambrose Bierce did a lot of that. “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” was of that genre. George Bernard Shaw did that, too, unreality mixed in with the ordinary.