Tag Archives: artistic director

Randall Theatre to Expand Beyond Theater

Randall Theatre Artistic Director Robin Downward is expanding the theater’s entertainment offerings. While maintaining its community theater, the venue will host a variety of performers, including bands, comedians, drag shows, burlesque shows, murder mystery dinners, singles mixers and an improv troupe.

Downward, a director and performer, will continue to act and direct while hosting a new artistic director for the theater.

I met Downward at Mellelo Coffee Roasters in Medford.

EH: Tell me about the Randall Theatre’s new direction.

RD: It’s different styles of things for different kinds of people. The Randall Theatre building is now the Randall Entertainment and Show Hall. It houses the Theatre Company and Event Works Productions. Most of these new events will be hosted under my Event Works production company.

We are still planning on doing live theater. For the theater demographic, there are lots of choices in the Rogue Valley, but there’s no place for people who want entertainment, especially for people between the ages of 21 and 45. There’s bars, bowling and movies. We are looking at that highway 5 corridor, and of attracting those acts that are driving through. That’s what I’m trying to focus on.

Looking at bands, I’m being very selective. We’re concentrating on more of an eclectic style of band that people haven’t really seen in the area. I love the local stuff, but people can see it in a number of other venues. In the Rogue Valley, other than Grants Pass, there are no live entertainment venues that are like this: with a stage, lights and seating, other than the Craterian, or the Holly (when it opens), but those have 600 to 1,200 seats; this has 99. It’s fun and it’s intimate.

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Camelot Officials Ready for 2020 Season

Camelot Theatre’s Artistic Director, Shawn Ramagos, a former Disney lighting and special effects technician, brings considerable stagecraft expertise to Camelot productions. Executive Director, Dann Hauser, came to Camelot with an extensive marketing background. We met in the theater’s board room to discuss their plans for an eclectic 2020 season.

SR: With this season, I wanted to reach all of the demographics that we have, young and old. I think there’s a little bit of something for everybody.

EH: How does the Camelot experience differ from other Rogue Valley theaters?

SR: We focus on large-scale musicals and musical spotlights.

EH: How has Camelot changed in the past two years?

DH: [Ramagos] has brought a whole new stagecraft to the quality of our shows. Before, our sets used just a small portion of the stage. Shawn goes from edge to edge and beyond that, taking in the whole proscenium, better lighting, better sound.

SR: When we talk quality, we don’t just talk about great acting and great singing. We also look at the technology and the scenery. I created our “Behind the Curtain” series. It’s a YouTube channel that we have. It shows how we do what we do on stage.

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CTP Aims to Alleviate Election-Year Stress

Susan Aversa-Orrego is managing director of Collaborative Theatre Project, now in its third year in the Medford Center. We met at Boulevard Coffee to discuss CTP’s 2020 season.

SA: We wanted to have an interesting, more intriguing, and happier season. It’s an election year, and people are already overly stressed. Why not do something that alleviates stress? We start with Ken Ludwig’s “Sherwood: The Adventures of Robin Hood.” It’s a true swashbuckling epic. It fits into this fun, quirky season that we’re shaping: a combination of new and classic plays.

EH: What effect does live theater have on a community?

SA: I think it starts conversations. It’s a place where people who don’t know each other can experience the same thing at the same moment in time. Then you see the conversations happening in the lobby, strangers starting to talk to strangers. Theater and the arts create a community. Our lives are very bare without them.

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Third takes on many meanings in ‘Third’

Livia Genise and Jeannine Grizzard have banded together to produce “Third,” now playing at Carpenter Hall through Nov. 24.

The play, written by Pulitzer Prize winner Wendy Wasserstein, centers around an accusation of plagiarism by Laurie, an aging female professor, toward Third, a young male college student. She sees him as a stereotype rather than recognizing him as a unique individual.

“Third” is an intricate and intriguing play. It takes place at a small New England college at the beginning of the Iraq war. The conflict centers around two interpretations of “King Lear.” Hers is feminist, and his is Freudian. Those themes resonate throughout the play.

“Third” is skillfully directed by Grizzard, with powerful performances by Genise and a strong supporting cast, including Renee Hewitt, Adam Kilgore, Beth Boulay and Sig Dekany.

I chatted with Genise and Grizzard over lunch at Sesame Asian Kitchen.

EH: What is the main thrust of this play?

JG: The play is about intellectual honesty.

LG: And integrity and rediscovering your integrity, if you’ve lost track of it.

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Discovering the truth can be quite exciting

Rogue Theater Company Artistic Director Jessica Sage is in rehearsal for the company’s next production: Marsha Norman’s “’Night Mother.” The Pulitzer-prize winning play, directed by Caroline Shaffer, opens in Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s Black Swan Theater Nov. 1. Sage plays Mama, and Andrea Hochkeppel plays her daughter, Jessie. We all met one morning at the Rogue Valley Roasting Company.

EH: What attracts you to this play?

JS: There are so few plays for women by women that are this magnificent.

CS: The play is fundamentally about a relationship between a mother and a daughter, and it’s a complicated relationship.

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Talking about the meaning of “Fragments”

Jessica Sage is the artistic director of the new Rogue Theater Company, which will open March 8 with her play “Fragments,” directed by Liisa Ivary, at the Bellview Grange in Ashland.

Sage and Ivary have enjoyed long and successful careers in the theater — acting, directing and teaching.

“Fragments” tells a story about women who are confronting their dictated roles in society. I visited with Sage and Ivary at the Rogue Valley Roasting Company in Ashland.

JS: The plays that interest me most are character- and text-driven. I’m interested in the dynamics of relationships and the way people interact with one another.

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Adult-themed puppet show tackles ‘Robopocalypse’

Josh Gross, artistic director of Puppeteers for Fears, has written a new horror musical comedy, “Robopocalypse: the Musical!” which opens Oct. 20 at Pioneer Hall in Ashland. It features live puppets, a live rock band with synthesizer, puppet rap battles, a light show, and multimedia backgrounds. I met Gross at Case Coffee Roasters on Siskiyou Boulevard in Ashland.

JG: A core part of our mission has always been to create new art and new pieces that come from a local voice. No one will have ever seen a puppet show quite like this one. We want to make theater for people who’ve never been given a reason to like theater. They’ve never seen a show that speaks to them, and they’ve never seen it in a place that they feel comfortable. There’s a whole untapped market out there.

EH: What are you saying with this musical?

JG: We should all be very afraid of artificial intelligence. Technology is now progressing faster than our understanding of its implications: It’s, in many cases, operating outside of a moral framework. It’s barreling along so fast, that we don’t know what we’re doing with it. The core of the musical is just a family drama, and how you cope with loss.

EH: How does this relate to politics?

JG: Our politics are not addressing the real threats that we face. We’re dumping money into military defense, and yet we’re actively at cyber war and little to nothing is being done about it. It’s this slow-moving disaster, where the groundwork is being laid, and no one sees the threat until it’s too late to do anything about it. We have integrated technology into our lives, but we aren’t thinking about, “What happens if it fails?” There are serious consequences that are worth serious consideration and careful policy. But I wouldn’t say that that’s the major emphasis of the musical. Continue reading Adult-themed puppet show tackles ‘Robopocalypse’