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.
Continue reading CTP Aims to Alleviate Election-Year Stress
Actor Marshall Gluskin is preparing for the Southern Oregon Theater Auditions now being held at The Oregon Cabaret Theatre. Gluskin played Malvolio in Cil Stengel’s brilliant production of Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night” at Rogue Community College. He recently toured in Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot.” We visited over tea at the Rogue Valley Roasting Company.
EH: What’s an ideal director?
MG: A good director keeps things on a nice calm level, does not get too personally involved with the work, and carries through the intentions of the author. He has to know the craft and how to treat actors to get the best performances out of them. If everybody treats each other with respect and you have a situation that is relaxed, everybody can be themselves. Then you’re free to be the character. Rehearsals are places where you have to be able to fall on your face, and not worry about being embarrassed or called out for it. You’ve got to have that relaxation, professionalism, knowledge, and experience. It all comes into play.
Continue reading Choosing the right role
Rick Robinson directs “Dancing at Lughnasa,” now playing at the Collaborative Theatre Project in Medford. Robinson is also managing director of the Oregon Cabaret Theatre. We met at Forage Coffee in Medford to talk about Brian Friel’s Tony Award-winning play.
Rick Robinson: This is a memory play along the lines of Tennessee William’s “Glass Menagerie.” It’s a narrator telling about his childhood, and has that dreamlike feel.
The authenticity of the piece is what drew me to it. There is warmth and humor, and there are these wonderful human beings that collide. The characters feel very real. You really love these human beings. It’s lush, it’s real, and it strikes that nerve that informs us of what it is to be human.
Continue reading Robinson can’t imagine a life doing anything else
“The Diary of Anne Frank,” now playing at the Collaborative Theatre Project in Medford, is a powerful production. Last Saturday night’s performance, by a brilliant ensemble cast, left the audience in stunned silence until the characters had left the stage — then they rose to give an enthusiastic standing ovation.
I met with Director Susan Aversa-Orrego; Lisa-Marie Werfel, who plays Anne; and Stage Manager Joshua Martin at Boulevard Coffee in Ashland to discuss the impact of the play and the legacy of the story.
EH: Why is this play exceptionally popular year after year?
LMW: Because, when she’s writing the diary, Anne is between 13 and 15; it’s easily relatable for anyone, especially for young people. Something else that makes this story still relevant is that her words are so filled with hope and resilience. She is in one of the darkest situations imaginable, and she still finds light and happiness in small things that can give us joy through the darkness.
I think she is a good voice for the six million people killed, humanizing that number to make us realize the number of people was not just a number, but real living people. We have to learn from history, and as the present reflects history, it’s really important. Continue reading A one in six million voice
Obed Medina is the director of the absurdist comedy, “Seven Dreams of Falling,” by C. Scott Wilkerson, now playing through September at the Collaborative Theatre Project in Medford. The play is a re-imagining of the Icarus myth. The premise of the play is that Icarus (the young Greek fellow who flew way too close to the sun) is now being forced, by his mythological family, to repeat his humiliation over and over, throughout time.
Icaris and the other characters (Daedalus, Theasus, Ariadne, and the Minotaur) are cursed, trapped into promoting and acting out the catastrophe as a yearly ritual, similar to Christmas. The characters desperately try to exploit the event (each to their own advantage) to imprison each other, and to escape. It’s a powerful play. I met Medina at the Collaborative Theatre to talk about “Seven Dreams of Falling.”
OM: It’s a relatively new play. It premiered in 2013 at the Hollywood Fringe Festival. I visualize a lot of lighting, sound, playing with shadows and light — coordinating together silhouettes. It’s the only way to tell the story and bring it to life, because it’s a Greek myth and has all these fantastical elements.
The text is very heady; it’s a thinking person’s play: there is a lot brewing underneath the text. The sound propels you forward and incites emotion. We have a lot of projections and video that will be used. We try to tell the story and bring it to life with the images: there’s interaction, rather than just dressing the set. We’re taking the conventions of theater and turning them on end.
Continue reading Bringing nightmarish ‘Seven Dreams’ to life
Pam Ward, of Medford’s Collaborative Theatre Project, is directing a series of live radio plays from the ’40s and ’50s called Radio Days. I recently saw “The Canterville Ghost,” an adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s classic tale, which has had many adaptations. This version, by Edwin Blum, took place during World War II, with locations moving from the English countryside, to the interior of an ancient castle, to the British front line in the height of battle with Nazi soldiers.
In varied productions through the years, the Canterville ghost, Sir Simon, has been played by such luminaries as Sir Michael Redgrave and Patrick Stewart. This ghost was performed neatly by Will Churchill with such supernatural effects as sporting a detachable head and swinging from a chandelier.
With a cast of eight, performing multiple characters along with a full array of sound effects, the play was slickly produced and ran just over an hour. Future productions include “Fibber McGee and Molly” and “The Judas Clock.”
I met with the cast after the show. Here are a few comments from: Lauren Taylor, Pam Ward, Archie Koenig, John Richardson and A J Falk. Continue reading Backstage: Medford theater hosts ‘Radio Days’
The Collaborative Theater Project’s current musical, “Bonnie and Clyde” features Sabrina Hebert as Blanche Barrow. Hebert studied music at Southern Oregon University, and discovered her love of musical theater. I met with Hebert and CTP President Susan Aversa-Orrego at Boulevard Coffee in Ashland.
EH: Tell me about “Bonnie and Clyde.”
SA-O: I picked “Bonnie and Clyde” because it’s fun to do a newer show with a wide audience appeal. You want to do something new and exciting, but you also want to attract people to see your work, so that you can build your company.
SH: The play is very glamorous, but it’s pretty edgy. It really makes you weigh in on what’s right and what’s wrong. It takes place during the time of the Dust Bowl, a time when people were desperate.
SA-O: This is the backdrop for this show: a very painful time for most Americans. These actors are the ages that the characters would have been. Bonnie was 24 when she died; Clyde was 26. They actually had them lying in state. About 40,000 people came to see Clyde Barrow, and 50,000 came to see Bonnie Parker. They were like movie stars. The sad part is that they were kids. Continue reading The moral of the Bonnie & Clyde story