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.
Director-actor Ron Danko and musician-music Historian David Gordon have formed The Madrone Theatre Company to produce a new adaptation of the “Spoon River Anthology,” opening Oct. 7 in the Rogue Community College Performance Hall in Medford.
Published in 1915, Edgar Lee Masters “Spoon River Anthology” portrayed small town rural America through poetic portraits of numerous characters who somehow spoke from beyond the grave. Danko pulled 50 out of 240 vignettes and invited David Gordon to weave music into the production. I met Danko and Gordon one afternoon in Rogue Community College’s pristine black-box theater.
EH: How would you describe the “Spoon River Anthology”?
DG: It’s like a haiku or a miniature painting. It somehow condenses life down into its absolute minimal number of words or strokes. These are vignettes about life by people who are done with living. They don’t have to put on pretenses or lie any more. They can be totally honest about their successes and their failures. They admit their failures. To me, the mastery of it is that (sometimes in just a few dozen words) each one creates this little reality that has emotion in it.
Rogue Community College Theater Arts Instructor, Ron Danko, is directing the musical “Working”, which opens May 11, at the newly constructed Rogue Performance Hall on the Medford Campus. Danko has been visiting local construction sites and picking-up palates and spools to create the “no budget” set.
RD: The set’s a little grungy, but that’s what “Working” is. This play fits the times. It’s more apropos right now with what’s happening. It speaks on behalf of the people who work. It’s a diverse cast of thirty-five characters.
EH: What are the qualities that you look for in casting?
RD: Truthfulness, honesty, naturalness. With this show I don’t want them to come across as actors in the show. I want them to tell the story. The stories are all interesting, so you don’t have to embellish them.
Two years ago Francisco Severiano of Mexico was a passenger on an Ashland bus when a young adult woman started kicking his chair, saying she “hates Mexicans” and telling him to “go back to Mexico.” At the time, Francisco did not speak English. He had to endure the humiliation in silence.
The incident became the story of a short play for Literacy Theater titled “The Mean Girl on the Bus,” which has been performed several times for local audiences. Literacy Theater is an interactive theatrical experience created to help communities solve problems surrounding cultural and literacy issues. The skit is serious in its presentation of situations. It always ends abruptly at a point of crisis; the actors then stay in character and answer questions from the audience.
Literacy Theater is sponsored by the Rogue Community College Adult Basic Skills Program and INTERCAMBIO.Oregon, an organization dedicated to supporting intercultural arts. The volunteer actors are community members including students and teachers. I got together with four Literacy Theater actors who are students in English as a Second Language and Adult Basic Skills classes at Rogue Community College. They include: Simone Dias of Brazil, Shu Yang of China, Jesus Castro of Guadalajara, Mexico, and Severiano of Mexico City. We met in an ESL classroom on the Rogue Community College Riverside Campus in Medford.
Gina Scaccia recently produced “Cartoonespeare,” a musical CD and an animated DVD interpreting Shakespeare’s sonnets.
The music is extraordinary; the styles vary from lyrical melodies, to monk-like chants, to country, folk, rap and blues. The musical concepts make Shakespeare’s language accessible to the most modern of audiences.
“Cartoonespeare” originated with “Love’s Not Time’s Fool,” which were wonderfully diverse theatrical interpretations of Shakespeare’s sonnets performed last spring at Rogue Community College, adapted and directed by Ron Danko and produced by John Cole.
Scaccia received her music degree from Southern Oregon University this year. Most recently she composed and performed the music for “Larry’s Best Friend” at Ashland Contemporary Theatre. We visited over tea one afternoon.
“Lately I’ve been very busy,” said Dennis Nicomede who recently delivered stunning performances playing numerous characters in “Love’s Not Time’s Fool” at Rogue Community College. Dennis has just written the narration for “Spotlight on the Mills Brothers” at the Camelot Theatre, and is soon to portray John Smith in “Breaking the Code” at the Ashland Contemporary Theatre. I visited Dennis and his wife, Jeanne, in their charming home in Talent.
EH: Tell me about “Breaking the Code.”
DN: It’s about Alan Turing, the mathematician that broke the German enigma code. That’s a play I’d refer to as a drama, something that has some real emotional value to it.