Tag Archives: ACT

Diane Nichols

Diane Nichols
Diane Nichols

Diane Nichols plays Sylvia, the hip homemaker turned religious crusader, in “End Days,” Ashland Contemporary Theatre’s up-to-the-minute comedy playing at the Bellview Grange. A veteran of theater, films, voice-overs and commercials, Nichols is also a writer. We met at Noble Coffee Roasting early one afternoon to talk about writing, acting and “End Days,” which I directed.

EH: You’re a writer as well as an actress?

DN: I write mostly comedies. I’ve written a lot of one-acts. Right now, I’m working on three full-length plays at the same time. I’m finishing a novel; and I write poetry all the time.

EH: How does being in theater affect your family life?

DN: We just have a theatrical family. From a very early age, my son would stand up after dinner and start making up songs on the spot. Or, for the entire dinner, we would all be speaking in Irish accents. It’s a very free environment, and the kids are always free to experiment. They always had art materials and puppets out, and we would make up games and screenplays. It’s sort of an ongoing play, so it didn’t seem separate to me.

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David Mannix

David Mannix
David Mannix

David Mannix plays Arthur Stein in Ashland Contemporary Theatre’s production of the comedy “End Days,” which opens Friday, April 29, at the Bellview Grange in Ashland. I had the pleasure of directing the production.

David and I visited one rainy afternoon as the props and set were being loaded into the newly reopened Grange building.

A former stockbroker and lawyer, Mannix is on the board and artistic committee for Barnstormers Theater in Grants Pass.

DM: Grants Pass has a surprisingly strong theater community. Barnstormers is the oldest continually operating community theater in the state of Oregon. It started in 1952. It is community theater. Nobody is making a living out of the theater, except for those doing all those unglamorous things such as bookkeeping. We do have several part-time paid employees or contractors. We don’t pick plays; we look for directors who want to pitch a play that they are in love with and want to do. I think it works pretty well.

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Bob Brazeau

Bob Brazeau
Bob Brazeau

Ashland Contemporary Theatre’s production of “Breaking the Code” featured Bob Brazeau’s stunning portrayal of the brilliant mathematician Alan Turing. Brazeau’s performance revealed qualities of intelligence and wonder that are his very own. Brazeau began acting in 2002 in Ashland. As we met over lunch at Allyson’s Kitchen, he credited his Ashland mentors for his success.

EH: How old were you when you decided to pursue acting?

BB: I guess I was 47. I was in a couple of plays as a child in school, and I loved it. Back in ’01, I began taking lessons from Don Matthews. He taught me a lot. After about a year, I auditioned for Ruth Wire’s “A Modern Woman.” I had a blast. And now in one play after another, I’ve gotten to know a lot of people. Once I took that first role, it got me started, and I kept working at it, and just having a wonderful time.

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Lyda Woods

Lyda Woods
Lyda Woods

Actress/writer Lyda Woods recently directed the remarkable series of theatrical pieces, “Ripe Harvest” performed at the Ashland Senior Center in October. Her Gumshoe Gourmet, an entertainment production company, partners with historical sights to stage murder mysteries. Her next production has the intriguing title of: “A Bed, A Baby, A Door, Detroit, and a Bowel Problem.” I met Woods at the Downtowne Coffee House in Talent,

EH: For you, what is the relationship of family to theater?

LW: I think theater gives me insight into my family, my family dynamics, all that kind of stuff. Theater is a way for me to explore my family, through the pieces I write.  And theater, in a sense, becomes my family. I feel very close to the actors I collaborate with and a number of them have become like family members to me. We understand each other in a way that real family members don’t.

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Ruth Wire

Playwright Ruth Wire is a Member of the Board of the Directors of the Ashland Contemporary Theatre. Wire has written numerous plays and screenplays. Her latest full length play, “A Modern Woman” was produced by Oregon Stage Works. She also leads Haywire Writers’ Workshop in Ashland. We met at the Bellview Grange where she was making preparations for the theater to open the new comedy by David Hill, “Larry’s Best Friend”.

EH: What drives people to do theater?

RW: It’s an enhanced kind of living.  What the playwright has done is to distill experience into a two-hour or fifteen minute glob, so that it’s all very pure, and it’s all very dramatic. Whereas you can go for years and nothing happens to you, then something big happens like somebody dies or they’re divorced or whatever. But in a play, it happens in two hours. And what I like about it is, if it’s a good play, it leaves you wringing wet; your heart’s pounding and you’re with those characters. You cannot leave them, It’s impossible. You’ve gone through an experience and you’ve learned something.

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