Asia Mark plays the Apprentice Poet in “UniSon,” Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s tribute to the poetry of August Wilson devised by UNIVERSES. While at Western Michigan University, Mark attended Lecoq acting training with the Arts University Bournemouth, England. She also auditioned for UNIVERSES and has been touring with them for the past two years. We met in the Hay-Patton Rehearsal Center on the OSF Campus.
EH: Tell me about UNIVERSES.
AM: UNIVERSES is an interdisciplinary theater company that fuses poetry, music, rhythm and dance; they do a lot of commissioned work. It started off in the NuYorican Poets Café on the Lower East Side of New York City: When you do slam poetry, you only have about three minutes on stage. Four poets combined their poetry, to have more time; they fused their poetry. That’s where the origins of UNIVERSES came from.
EH: What was your process of developing “UniSon”?
AM: It felt like were jumping into a world of poetry — a world of the unknown. It’s heavily written by UNIVERSES, with the support of August Wilson’s poetry. It is a linear play, but there are so many different aspects and poems. None of us knew what the play was, until opening night. We’re still figuring out things about this play, because there is so much to take from it.
Vilma Silva has portrayed such iconic characters as Portia in “The Merchant of Venice,” Julius Caesar in “Julius Caesar,” and Katherina in “The Taming of the Shrew” during her 23 seasons at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.
After graduating from Santa Clara University, Silva performed with El Teatro Campesino and the American Conservatory Theatre before coming to Ashland for her first OSF role in “Blood Wedding.” This season, she is Armida in “Mojada” and Mistress Page in “The Merry Wives of Windsor.” We got together at Bloomsbury Coffee House in Ashland.
EH: How do you create such real people on stage?
VS: I always start with what’s on the page. Then, it’s looking at the people who you’re going to be saying these things to. There are going to be clues — in how to make them see things your way — to make them do what you want them to do. That’s going to come from the other actors. And certainly, there are things in one’s life that you can draw upon. Continue reading Backstage: ‘I love a great story told honestly’
Liisa Ivary is directing David Ives’ version of Georges Feydeau’s “A Flea in Her Ear,” opening Wednesday, May 3, at Ashland High School. There’s a cast of 20 student actors and a good deal of technical support from Ivary’s colleagues at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, including fight director U. Jonathan Toppo.
Ivary spent seven seasons in the Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s acting company. She has also performed in Shakespeare Festivals and regional repertory theaters all over the nation. She recently directed “Annapurna” for Oregon Stage Works. We met one afternoon at Noble Coffee Roasting in Ashland.
LI: This is something I wanted to do, because it’s important for these talented acting students to be mentored by OSF veterans, showing them style — and teaching them precision, timing and how to physically commit to a style that is split-second and dangerous.
It’s a large cast. It’s a lot of language and a lot of fight moves: kicks, punches, chases, slaps, rolls and jumps — every kind of slapstick; but it has to be timed perfectly, with intricate threading of props and costumes, because it’s a play of mistaken identity. It’s setting the style, the world and staying consistent. Continue reading Backstage: Some serious work goes into a farce
EH: Do you have a theory or method of acting?
AE: I had great teachers at Boston University. I had a fantastic physical acting teacher named Elaine Vaan Hogue who changed my view of what acting could be. Everyone has methods that work for them; a lot of times, we just take bits and pieces from here and there.
The Stanislavsky and Meisner techniques were fascinating to me, but they were very intellectual. I don’t think they actually work for me. I had a hard time applying them to my character. Whereas physical acting for me was, “Oh this, I can get.” It was eye-opening for me, that I didn’t have to write down every tactic and all my verbs: which is really cool; but it just doesn’t work for me. I need to have a very strong understanding of the language. Physicality helps me understand the characters, an understanding of who they are in their bodies. Continue reading What actors want: to tell stories
Jamie Ann Romero is playing Viola de Lesseps, the fascinating muse of young Will Shakespeare, in “Shakespeare in Love” opening Saturday, Feb. 25, at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Romero, who played Juliet in “Romeo & Juliet” at the Colorado Shakespeare Festival, is looking forward to playing both Romeo and Juliet in “Shakespeare in Love.” We chatted over lattes at Mix Bakeshop in Ashland.
EH: What is it like to work at OSF?
JR: It’s a great collaborative team process. You’ve got everything that you could possibly need. They have personal trainers; we have the Feldenkrais method to help realign your body; then there are voice and speech coaches and dialect help.
EH: How do you approach a play?
JR: What helps me is building it with fellow actors and the director. Christopher Liam Moore is a brilliant director. He’s really collaborative, he’s willing to hear ideas, and try different things. He has such a great eye. He knows what he wants, but he is willing to try other things too. Continue reading ‘The final character of any play is the audience’
Actor/Writer Cynthia Rogan will perform in Camelot Theatre’s next production, “Calendar Girls,” opening Feb. 8. Based on a true story and popular movie, the play tells about the making of a pin-up calendar by photographing ordinary middle-aged women. Rogan, a former blues singer from Mobile, Alabama, writes, acts, and performs improvisational theater in the Rogue Valley. We met at Starbucks on Bartlett Street in Medford.
EH: Tell me about your experience with improvisational theater.
CR: That is some scary stuff. You have to know when to start on something else. If it is not good, it is horrid. When you are in the moment, you don’t always know if it’s not working.
H: What do you do to prepare?
CR: Practicing with the people you’re working with is all you can really do to prepare for it. And even then, you never know what the audience is going to throw at you. The group you’re playing with has to be your net. If someone starts to fall, you catch them, and you give them something else to look at, to keep the members of the troupe going and to keep the audience interested. Improvisation is exhilarating. Continue reading An artist’s responsibility to say something
Simone Stewart will be playing in “How the Other Half Loves,” Alan Ayckbourn’s classic comedy about marriage and infidelity, which opens Feb. 24, at the Collaborative Theatre Project in Medford. I met Stewart for lunch at the BricktownE Brewery in Medford.
SS: There are so many places to be an actor in the Rogue Valley. The theater community has gotten bigger and stronger; it has grown and blossomed. There is so much going on. It’s funny how you do a lot of Community Theater here.
EH: What’s unique about Community Theater?
SS: You learn from each other. Everyone comes from a different background. You learn what other people do to prepare to go on stage. Actors have such weird superstitions. Some actors bring in a totem for good luck, whether it’s a Buddha statue or a rabbit’s foot. A lot of us say mantras before we go on to get ourselves centered. Continue reading Using acting craft to change people’s lives