Actress Helena de Crespo, last summer’s sensation in Oregon Stage Works’ “Shirley Valentine”, is spearheading a new project in the Rogue Valley. It’s called Intercambio, a multi-cultural theater project to integrate the arts and bring artists and audiences together, bridging the gap of ethnicity.
Fluent in Spanish and English, Helena has established theaters in Colombia, Costa Rica, and in the United States. Helena and I lunched at Pangea as she described her upcoming talent Showcase and the premier of a new play.
HDC: With the formation of this new organization, Intercambio, in the Rogue Valley, it seemed the best way to show the cultures to each other was to get them together, have a Showcase, and leave it up to them. And it’ll happen. It’ll be really exciting. There will be something from every age group, every ethnicity group, and everyone is welcome. We want to hear from everybody who thinks they can sing, dance, play a musical instrument, read a poem, do a scene from a play, anything that’s in the performing arts.
Katie Falk, plays Belle and the covetous Laundress in “A Christmas Carol” now at Oregon Stage Works. She began her acting career as a child under the direction of her mother, Dianne Warner. Since then, Katie has grown into an accomplished actress, singer, and vocal coach. She’s played numerous roles at Camelot Theatre, including Lily in “Carnival”. We got together one sunny afternoon at Starbucks next to Southern Oregon University.
EH: Have you thought of doing opera?
KF: I did for many years. But I wanted to move, and I wanted to be expressive. In opera you get to be incredibly expressive, but it’s literally almost entirely from your voice, like a violin. There expression doesn’t come from body movement, and that was something I wanted to do. It’s just a different kind of art. So, I decided I wanted to do musical theater.
In “Glengarry Glen Ross,” now playing at Oregon Stage Works, Joe Charter plays James Lingk, the sensitive victim of a fly-by-night real estate scheme. Joe has been acting in Community Theater since 2004, when he played in “Inherit the Wind” at the Camelot Theater. Joe is a lawyer and a part-time judge for Jackson County. We got together at Noble Coffee one sunny Saturday morning.
EH: How is it that you became interested in Community Theater?
JC: It’s something I took up. It sort of grew out of being very left brain/lawyerly. My oldest daughter said, “Dad, you need something creative to do, you have such a brainiac job.” I always thought that performing in a trial in court was like helping to write a script and be in a play.
There are a couple of superstar stage managers, Karen Kuran and Kristen Mun, running Oregon Stage Works’ production of “Glengarry Glen Ross.” For those of you unfamiliar with the field, a stage manager is the pivotal person of a theatrical production, the coordinator of all of the elements and the liaison between the director, cast and crew of a play. She is also in charge of running the show after the play has opened.
Both Karen and Kristen came to Ashland while looking at prospective colleges and fell in love with Southern Oregon University. Both have been theater arts majors at SOU with an emphasis in stage management. We chatted over lunch at the House of Thai.
Anyone who has seen David Dials as the tragic/comic Shelley Levene in “Glengarry Glen Ross” (now at Oregon Stage Works) can see that David is an accomplished actor. But David fell in love with education early on. As we lunched at Geppetto’s, he told me how he combined a life of theater and teaching.
DD: I got my BA in theater with an emphasis in children’s theater, and then I got my teaching credential. I had a wonderful teaching career for 30 years. Just for fun, just recreationally, like you would play recreational softball, I’ve been in plays all the time, except for a period of time when my kids were at an age where I wanted to be at home with them.
Bill Langan is the director of David Mamet’s Pulitzer Prize-winning “Glengarry Glen Ross,” which opens Friday night at Oregon Stage Works. I have had the privilege of sitting in on rehearsals. The play is impeccably directed. Bill received his master’s degree from Yale School of Drama and has been acting professionally for 20 years, including six years in the acting company of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. We lunched on the terrace at Martino’s and discussed acting, art and politics.
BL: I couldn’t be more delighted by the quality of my actors. I love my guys. I’m so impressed. Now I can see from this “side of the table” the real meaning of the phrase, “directing is 80 or 90 percent casting,” depending on who you talk to and somewhat depending on the show. But this play is all about the actors; it’s all about the language, which I love.
Helena de Crespo’s “Shirley Valentine” has found overwhelming success at Oregon Stage Works. However, Helena is more than an actress. Fluent in Spanish and English, she has established theaters in Colombia, Costa Rica and in the United States. She currently is building a theater in Cambodia and organizing a multicultural theatrical experience here in the Rogue Valley. She regularly acts and directs in Portland.
As we dined on Callahan’s garden deck, Helena told me how she happened upon her remarkable career as an international theater director.
EH: You seem to be a person who has had a mission.
HdC: It turned into that, and I don’t know that that was conscious on my part. I was teaching at the University and the National Drama School in Bogota, Colombia. One day this guy came to me from Peace Corps.