After eight seasons with the Camelot Theatre, Artistic Director Roy Von Rains feels very lucky that he’s been able to work with some of conference room to reflect on the unique experiences intrinsic to “community theater” and its impact on society.
RVR: As humans, we are storytellers. People have said that the oldest profession is prostitution. I absolutely disagree. I think storytelling is the oldest profession. It’s been around since painting on cave walls, and it will probably continue to permeate society as we travel through the stars. It’s such an important part of who we are. Continue reading Backstage: Oldest profession? It’s storytelling→
Robin Downward, artistic director of the Randall Theatre, will be singing and dancing the role of Don Lockwood (Gene Kelly’s iconic role) in “Singing in the Rain,” directed by Livia Ginese, at the Randall Theatre’s Jacksonville location. Now going into its eighth season, with two theatrical venues, the Randall Theatre depends on ticket sales for 95 percent of its revenue. I met with Downward at Mellelo Coffee Roasters in Medford.
Peter Alzado and Jessica Sage, as co-producing artistic directors, are re-launching Oregon Stage Works as the lead — and only — actors in a production of “Annapurna.” Directed by Liisa Ivary, the play opens Friday, Oct. 28, at Temple Emek Shalom in Ashland.
Oregon Stage Works, with Alzado as its artistic director, closed its doors in 2010 after six seasons in its charming black box theater on A Street in Ashland. Sometimes thought of as an off-Broadway theater, it produced plays ranging from Samuel Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot” to Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” and “The Great American Trailer Park Musical.”
While relying mainly on volunteer actors and crew, the theater focused on developing the actors and the text to stage creative and challenging theatrical works while providing the community with affordable high quality theater.
Alzado recently directed and performed in the highly acclaimed production of “Red” at Ashland Contemporary Theatre. Last spring, Sage directed Ashland High School’s winning production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”
Before becoming Artistic Director of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Bill Rauch was the Artistic Director of Cornerstone Theater Company. Cornerstone is a multi-ethnic theater ensemble, based in Los Angeles, which produces new plays nationwide.
BR: We started Cornerstone because we heard that only 2 percent of the American people went to professional theater on a regular basis. We thought, “Even if we’re lucky enough to be successful in the professional theater, we’ll have only performed for 2 percent of our fellow citizens. That’s not good enough.”
We went to isolated rural communities and put on plays with the people who live there, because we could learn more about what interested people, and re-invent theater from the ground up. We would move to very small towns, anywhere from 200 to 2,000 people — Towns that would make Ashland look like a giant metropolis.
Bill Rauch, Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s artistic director, acted and directed theater throughout his childhood and academic career. Rauch became an Artistic Director of Cornerstone Theater Company in his early 20s, which he guided for 20 years, while also directing for theaters including South Coast Repertory, Yale Repertory Theatre and OSF, before becoming OSF’s Artistic Director in 2007. This is the first of a two-part column.
BR: Libby Appel, my predecessor, was really generous with me. For five years in a row, she invited me in to work in all three theaters, to do all different kinds of work, so when I applied for the job, I knew the organization, the town and the audience, and was able to speak about them with some passion.
EH: Any surprises when you got here?
BR: I was surprised how supportive the audience was. For instance, I felt that OSF’s incredible company of actors could put their own stamp on musicals, from the wonderful way that they interpret stories. When we did “The Music Man” in 2009, we thought, “This is a Shakespeare-loving audience, and they may turn up their noses at a classic American musical.” The fact that all the musicals we’ve done have been so embraced by the audience was delightful. Continue reading First thing: Take care of the audience→
Livia Genise, former artistic director of Talent’s Camelot Theatre Company, is now directing the musical “Chess” for Ashland Contemporary Theatre. It opens in September.
Genise, a veteran actor of Broadway, off-Broadway, regional theater and Hollywood, first came to Ashland in the 1980s. She raised her children and earned a degree in music from Southern Oregon University before she took on the directorship of Camelot Theatre.
During her 10-year tenure at Camelot, Genise fostered the enormous growth of the organization and mentored a generation of young theater artists.
Valerie Rachelle is now in her second year as artistic director of the Oregon Cabaret Theatre. Her husband, Rick Robinson, the managing director of OCT, is also a playwright and film director. Rachelle, who received her MA in directing from the University of California at Irvine, also enjoys a successful freelance career as a director and choreographer. Rachelle and Robinson bought OCT in 2014. One afternoon, I met Rachelle in the Cabaret Theatre.
EH: How did you get involved in theater?
VR: I started dancing when I was 3, and singing soon after that. My very first professional production was when I was 7. I was in “Annie” with a theater company at the Hult Center in Eugene. I was with the Eugene Ballet. I was a ballerina and a singer. My parents were professional magicians.