Oregon Stage Works re-launches

Peter Alzado and Jessica Sage, as co-producing artistic directors, are re-launching Oregon Stage Works as the lead — and only — actors in a production of “Annapurna.” Directed by Liisa Ivary, the play opens Friday, Oct. 28, at Temple Emek Shalom in Ashland.

Oregon Stage Works, with Alzado as its artistic director, closed its doors in 2010 after six seasons in its charming black box theater on A Street in Ashland. Sometimes thought of as an off-Broadway theater, it produced plays ranging from Samuel Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot” to Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” and “The Great American Trailer Park Musical.”

While relying mainly on volunteer actors and crew, the theater focused on developing the actors and the text to stage creative and challenging theatrical works while providing the community with affordable high quality theater.

Alzado recently directed and performed in the highly acclaimed production of “Red” at Ashland Contemporary Theatre. Last spring, Sage directed Ashland High School’s winning production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

We met at the Rogue Valley Roasting Company Coffee House in Ashland.

EH: Tell me about “Annapurna.”

PA: It’s a sweet little play. When you work on it, you get a perspective of the depth of the writing and the skill and craftsmanship that went into it. And you hope that you can meet that craftsmanship with your work as an actor. The play has a sharp wit and a sense of poetry. It’s funny, and it’s about everlasting love and forgiveness and care. It’s beautiful for that, and it’s not sentimental.

JS: In the Himalayas, there’s a mountain, Annapurna. There’s a piece about that in our play, and that’s the correlation. It’s this image of going uphill and then up this gigantic mountain. For mountain climbers that are in that psyche, after a certain point, there’s no going back. That’s what happens with these two characters, Ulysses and Emma. They were married; they hadn’t seen each other for 20 years; she comes back to be with him, and there’s only forward for them. There’s a lot of reflection, but it’s like they’re going up this mountain together.

PA: And their son is searching for his father.

JS: Peter and I are artistic sorts; and we’re also trying to get this theater company off the ground. And we have to wear our producers’ hats as we’re acting. It’s very left-brain/right-brain, which is very exciting. It’s very stimulating. We know we’re going to give people a phenomenal show. It’s just a question of filling in the seats. There has to be an education.

EH: You have some significant contributions from individual members of the local community?

PA: There are a lot of people who seem to miss the work we did at Oregon Stage Works. It’s really appreciated that people have responded to it. There was something that was created with Oregon Stage Works: We had great volunteers, a great board, just a great community of people around the theater, including the audience members. There’s significant talent here.

You know, you do the best you can, and let the chips fall where they may. So that’s what we’re going to do.

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