Peter Quince

Peter Quince
Peter Quince

Peter Quince played Roger Sherman in “1776” last summer at the Camelot Theatre. He later played Charlie in David Ives’ “Mere Mortals” at Ashland Contemporary Theatre. Now Quince is launching his own musical comedy, collaborating with composer David Gabriel, called “Divine Lunacy.” Quince and I met at Noble Coffee.

EH: You’re working on a new musical?

PQ: “Divine Lunacy” was done as a sketch comedy review in 2006 with two sold-out performances at the Black Swan Theatre. It was wildly and enthusiastically received. People thought it was both hilarious and thought-provoking. It deals with the whole notion of the line between divine inspiration and out-and-out lunacy. As any artist probably knows, you may cross that line over and over again. If you come back, it’s OK. If you stay across that line, it could be a problem, and you have to be locked-up, or at least helped in some way.

Where is the line? How easy is it to cross? What’s the role of the artist in society? Many prominent artists in the last decade have been praised and lionized. Artists are encouraged to let themselves go over that line. Suddenly they have gone over the line, and they’re really troubled. “Divine Lunacy” talks about all of that in the context of a strong, heartwarming and funny show.

Mental illness has become extraordinarily prevalent. There are some estimates that one out of four people, at some point in their lives, are on psychiatric medication. It’s a huge issue in our society, but it’s not often dealt with openly, and certainly not with comedy and music, which is a gentler way to open people’s hearts and minds, making them feel and think, by making them laugh and care. “Divine Lunacy” shows what it’s like to be in the midst of crises or bouts of incredible creativity.

When is it, the divine spark? And when is it the infernal fire? It starts the same way, and it looks the same. We need that divine spark. We need to make it come to life, but it can consume as well as it can illuminate.

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Jackie Apodaca

Jackie Apodaca
Jackie Apodaca

Actor, director and associate professor Jackie Apodaca directed Jose Rivera’s “Marisol,” which is playing this week at Southern Oregon University’s Center Stage Theatre. The production’s sensational staging, ensemble acting and stage movement blend bizarre and beautiful elements to create a compelling theatrical experience. Jackie and I met over breakfast at Greenleaf Restaurant in Ashland.

EH: What is unique about the theater experience?

JA: It is the live experience of it. Everyone is experiencing the exact same moment and will have the shared experience. There is something exciting about that fleeting and momentary experience. And you experience it as the actor, as the director, as the stage manager, as the run-crew, and as the audience. The experience is so close and intimate between the audience and the performers in that way.

Whereas in film, everyone experienced something, and then someone took it away, changed everything about it, and brought it back and showed you what it was. Film seems more intimate in that you see the actor’s face close up, but it has gone through so many processes before you got to see it. Did you really get to see what they did? Probably not.

I worked with filmmakers when I taught in the Film and Media Department at the University of California, Santa Barbara. I loved that, but film is completely the medium of the director and the editor. We would change the actor’s performance in the editing room. And we would talk about how we could make them seem to be doing different things. There is so much that can be controlled outside of the actor and outside of the moment. In post-production, the moment is gone and completely changed.

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