Tag Archives: Director

Ginger Eckert on voice and speech

Ginger Eckert is an assistant professor of theater at Southern Oregon University in the area of performance voice and speech. You may have appreciated her work with Oregon Center for the Arts productions of “Hedda Gabler” and “Angels in America Part Two: Perestroika.”

We met for a conversation in her office on the SOU campus.

EH: What is your approach to coaching voice and speech?

GE: There’s all the speech stuff: The phonetics and making sounds at the right times, in the right ways, in the right rhythms and patterns. Then we are working on being honest and revealing when we speak, so that I can feel you, and I can understand you in a very specific way.

EH: What are the dialects used in “Angels in America?”

GE: There’s Russian, British RP (neutral) accent, Yiddish; Roy Cohn has a Bronx New York, Jewish accent. We call his particular way of speaking an idiolect. In the world of accents, everybody has their own accent or their own way of speaking. Dialect follows a group pattern. The way a particular person speaks is called their idiolect. There’s a huge factor now of actors playing real people. Whether they capture that person’s speech patterns would be inside of that person’s idiolect.

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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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Robinson can’t imagine a life doing anything else

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.

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A new stage for performances

Jim Pagliasotti directs Play4Keeps, Ashland New Plays Festival’s recently launched website featuring audio recordings of new plays. The latest works by promising and prominent playwrights, dramatized by top local actors, are now available by subscription and as free podcasts at: Play4Keeps.org. The website was developed by Project A. I chatted with Pagliasotti one afternoon at Growler Guys in Ashland.

JP: In the time that I have been involved at ANPF, I have been aware of all the challenges playwrights face. It’s incredible what they have to go through. It seems like the aperture is getting smaller and smaller, through which everybody is trying to pass. There are agents, and not many theaters have the curatorial resources to sort through new works. I’ve also seen how hard playwrights have to work to promote themselves, to keep their name and their work out there.

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A deep look at 1980s epidemic

james-edmondsonJE: The scope of the play is huge. I assigned the cast to study subjects such as: Civil Rights; the House Un-American Activities Committee; Roy Cohen; the history of drag, and leather bars in America; the early medical and political response to the epidemic; Rock Hudson; the plagues of the 13th and 17th century. The Angel brought in charts of the structure of heaven. It’s been interesting to research the clothes of the early ’80s, and how strange they were.

The play is interesting because it is so political, so religious, so compassionate and so despicable. The range of experience is great. It’s so enormous in its scope: that you’d have ghosts and fantasies, and historical figures. Kushner was very daring to put all that into the same world.

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Love and gender take center stage in ‘Twelfth Night’

DSCN5508Cil Stengel directs Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night,” opening May 17 in the Rogue Performance Hall at Rogue Community College in Medford.

Stengel has assembled a stellar production team including composer Sue Carney, choreographer Suzanne Seiber, acting coach Eileen DeSandre, and costumes by Emily Ehrlich Inget.

I met with Stengel and her Malvolio, Marshal Gluskin, at Rogue Valley Roasting Company in Ashland.

CS: The resurgence of theater is happening at RCC. We now have a great black box theater. The cast is made of mostly students and about 20 percent community members. Continue reading Love and gender take center stage in ‘Twelfth Night’