If you were lucky enough to see Oregon Stage Works’ Playwrights Unit’s last series of plays, “Seven Deadly Sins”, you saw seasoned Broadway actress, Gloria Rossi-Menedez, give delightful performances in six of them.
Gloria’s new restaurant, Blue – Greek on Granite, has been an overwhelming success. It’s a family enterprise, which she shares with her husband, George, daughter, Thea, soon to be joined by son, Alexi. As we dined on the outdoor patio of Blue, Gloria and I talked about the “Greek mystique”.
When Gloria and I were in our teens, we spent six months studying at the University of California’s Classical Theater campuses in Athens and Delphi, Greece. During our stay, the country was suddenly locked in a military coup, and we learned valuable lessons about politics and the power of theater.
“Love’s Not Time’s Fool” features Jennifer Phillips acting and singing in many of the forty-eight Shakespeare sonnets in music, song, and drama, opening Friday May 14, at Rogue Community College in Medford, directed by Ron Danko and produced by Jon Cole.
After studying at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York, Jennifer came to RCC and performed as Countess Aurelia in the “Madwoman of Chaillot”. Last year she played a delightful Portia in RCC’s “Merchant of Venice”. Jennifer plans study drama at Portland State University next fall. We visited in the drama office of RCC’s “Off the Crate” Warehouse where the production was busily being mounted.
EH: Do you think theater is effective communication?
JP: If people are open-minded, there’s a message pretty much behind everything that’s done. Ron Danko and Jon Cole always have some point that they’re especially trying to get across.
EH: What was their point with the “Merchant of Venice”?
JP: It was a wake-up call to people. “Merchant of Venice” had a lot do with racial tensions in the world and hypocrisy and the way that people present themselves and don’t live up to their own values and morals. Everybody’s got good, and everybody’s got bad. You can’t just stand there and judge people.
EH: Of all the plays that you have done here, what was your best experience?
JP: “Madwoman of Chaillot”; the camaraderie within the cast was beyond compare. There was love among the cast, and the message was love. It was a beautiful experience.
EH: What is it about theater that is so exciting?
JP: There’s a truth of spirit in theater. We live in a world where we walk around with walls up all of the time. We’re afraid of what people will think of us, we’re afraid to be ourselves. We’re afraid to express any aspect of our being, really. We just keep ourselves closed off at all time. It’s a self-defense mechanism, and necessary in the brutal world that we live in. But you get into a theater, and it’s a space of trust. It’s a space where you can let those walls down and express your true being. You can be true to emotions without the repercussions of judgment. It’s a safe place. It’s a haven.
EH: Some people think that acting is dangerous.
JP: You’re vulnerable, it’s true. But if you don’t risk anything, you never grow. If you let yourself go with whatever emotion you need to be feeling or with the purpose you’re trying to express, then the potential is limitless: to the audience, what they can get from it, and to yourself, how you can grow from the experience.
EH: Why did you change your Major from Math to Drama?
JP: I grew up believing that you should follow your dreams. I’m not a materialistic person, but I need to be able to survive. Even if I work at a coffee shop the rest of my life, I still could do what I love. That’s the real happiness in life; so drama has become my intended major.
EH: How does theater affect your family?
JP: I come from a family that is very supportive. I’m a much happier person when I’m involved in something. They see the change in me. It brings such light to my being. They’re my biggest fans.
“LOVE’S NOT TIME’S FOOL” plays Friday – Sunday, May 14 – 16 & 21 – 23, Friday & Saturday at 8 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m. & 7 p.m. $10 for Adults, $5 for students. For tickets and information call 245-7637.