Mark Saunders’ 10-minute play “Sitcom” will be featured in Ashland Contemporary Theatre’s next offering, “Moonlighting 2018: Home for the Holidays.” Saunders is a former cartoonist and English teacher, who then found work in the computer industry and early retirement. Saunders was introduced to playwriting through stand-up comedy. We met at Boulevard Coffee.
EH: How did you get started in stand-up comedy?
MS: I’m so shy. I thought to get over this I can do one of two things — I can either get into Toastmasters, or take up stand-up comedy. I thought: “Well I like humor, plus I don’t like to eat breakfast with strangers.” So I opted for stand up.
Playwright Lynne Kaufman has authored 20 plays since her first play, “Couch,” a romantic comedy about Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung and Jung’s marriage, premiered in 1984 at San Francisco’s Magic Theatre. We visited in College Hall at the University of London.
Ashland Contemporary Theatre’s recent production “Pankhurst: Freedom or Death,” directed by Peggy Rubin, is a theatrical tour de force written and performed by Jeannine Grizzard. Set in England in 1913, the play examines the history and issues involved in the women’s fight for the right to vote, finally granted in 1918. Grizzard had researched a speech by Emmeline Pankhurst (a leader in the suffrage movement). She decided to develop the material while attending a Social Artistry Workshop given by Jean Houston and Peggy Rubin. The challenge was: What project can you come up with to change the world?
EH: How did Emmeline Pankhurst make her mark on history?
JG: She created modern media coverage of activism. Technology had advanced to the point where they could take pictures of a protest and have them published in newspapers the next day. Staging events for the media to cover was her introduction to the twentieth century, which paved the way for Gandhi and Martin Luther King, making big demonstrations and relying specifically on the press. Continue reading Suffragettes pioneered techniques used by Gandhi, King→
Richard Manley’s romantic comedy, “A Question of Words,” which debuted as a reading at the Ashland New Plays Festival in 2013, is now is now fully produced and playing at the Camelot Theatre in Talent until March 1.
After a successful career in marketing and design, Manley embarked on a writing career when he and his wife decided to leave their jobs, sell all of their possessions, and travel. We met at Ashland’s Café 116 on Lithia Way one winter afternoon.
Gwen Overland and Doug Warner wrote and directed the “Old Time Traveling Radio Show,” which continues with the Next Stage Repertory Company Friday and Saturday at the Craterian Theater in Medford.
With a doctorate in theater arts and clinical psychology and a master’s degree in music, Overland teaches psychology at Rogue Community College and works as an expressive voice coach. We visited at Boulevard Coffee in Ashland one afternoon.
Oregon Cabaret Theatre’s stunning production of “The Wizard of Panto-Land” was written, directed and choreographed by Artistic Director Jim Giancarlo. Based on “The Wizard of Oz,” it glitters with sumptuous scenery, dazzling costumes and extraordinary acting talent. Giancarlo and I visited over coffee in the theater’s posh restaurant overlooking the pop-out storybook stage.
EH: How was this theater formed?
JG: The whole thing started on this production of “Grease” at the Britt Festivals years ago. Paul Barnes was the director, I was the choreographer, Craig Hudson was the set designer. We founded this theater the following year. You look back on it, 28 years later, and it seems a little mythic. But at the time, you just put one foot in front of the other, like everything in life. It’s only in retrospect that you see a pattern or understand the journey, like Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz.” That’s a journey.
Ashland playwright David Hill is conducting a workshop with other Ashland writers to develop plays in the vein of “The Twilight Zone.” Participants are developing psychological thrillers to be presented in a dramatic reading by Ashland Contemporary Theatre on Halloween in the Gresham Room of the Ashland library. Hill was a student of Rod Serling, the originator of the iconic television series “The Twilight Zone.” We got together one afternoon at Boulevard Coffee.
EH: Can you tell me about the genesis of “The Twilight Zone”?
DH: Serling started “The Twilight Zone” because he wrote a television play about racial prejudice that generated a lot of controversy. The network executives made him water it down and change it so that the entire point was lost. He figured that the only way he could say what he felt needed to be said was to disguise it as science fiction. That’s how he got the idea for the television series. He wasn’t that interested in science fiction, but he felt if you’ve got spacemen and monsters in a script, the networks were not going to relate it to a political situation, even though it was.