Tag Archives: Director

‘If you can touch people’s souls … then you’re doing something’

Actor/director Peter Alzado plays Joe Keller in Arthur Miller’s “All My Sons” now playing at the Camelot Theatre in Talent. A veteran actor of Broadway, television and film, Alzado spent five years as artistic director of the Actors’ Theatre (now the Camelot Theatre) before founding Oregon Stage Works, where he served as artistic director for 10 years. We met at Pony Espresso one sunny afternoon.

EH: Why is “All My Sons” pertinent today?

PA: It’s about responsibility to the greater good. Just being responsible to yourself and to your family doesn’t cut it. Individually, we have a responsibility to the world. If we disregard that responsibility, then it wreaks havoc. You’re creating a world of divisiveness, hatred and anger. And it’s a world that doesn’t have basic equality to it. Eventually it wreaks havoc on the people you’re trying most to protect, which is your family and people you love.

EH: How do you develop a play?

PA: To my mind, it’s all about words and action. There are themes: One has to be aware of what those themes are, and how to interpret those themes, so that they are accessible to everybody. What often happens now is, directors are layering things on top of the script that have absolutely nothing to do with the script whatsoever. It’s just coming out of what they think could be creative, but it doesn’t take into consideration the writing. People recognize subliminally (and sometimes consciously) that they are not being told the truth. That “truth” is found in the writing, and if you start layering things on top of the text, people stand up, applaud, say that it’s great, and it meant nothing. It’s an intellectual pretense. That’s not the effect that you want to have in the theater or in any of the arts. Continue reading ‘If you can touch people’s souls … then you’re doing something’

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Backstage: Some serious work goes into a farce

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

Jeremy Johnson: Embracing the new and old

Jeremy Johnson has been with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival for eight seasons. He was a superb Sky Masterson in OSF’s 2015 production of “Guys and Dolls.” This season he will be portraying Doctor Caius in “The Merry Wives of Windsor,” and M. D’Arque in Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast.” This is the second of a two-part interview. The first was published on March 6.

EH: Is there a common quality that all actors share?

JJ: The vast majority of actors I have met have been very warm: outgoing, even if a little shy. There’s that stereotype that actors need a lot of approval, and I’m sure that’s true sometimes. But actors have also been, in my experience, unbelievably generous and open-hearted.

EH: Do you have a theory of acting or method?

JJ: I went to Northwestern University. I studied with David Downs. He would focus on: How can you be clear and understood and believed on stage from a purely technical point of view? How do you build a character physically? If you start with a role, and you say, “Who is this person?” How do you go about creating that character in a meaningful believable way?

Continue reading Jeremy Johnson: Embracing the new and old

OSF actor directs ‘Sweeney Todd’ at AHS

Actor Jeremy Johnson of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival directed Steven Sondheim’s “Sweeney Todd,” now playing at Ashland High School. With a talented cast of 22, a full orchestra, and a towering revolving set, the production is a fantastic musical delight.

For decades the Oregon Shakespeare Festival has contributed to Ashland High School productions, with company members making time to direct, design and choreograph shows

Johnson discovered acting at age 10 and decided to become a professional actor early on. He majored in theater at Northwestern University and acted in New York and Los Angeles before coming to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival 10 years ago. Johnson played Sky Masterson in OSF’s production of “Guys and Dolls” in 2015. We met near the fireplace at Mix. This is the first part of a two-part interview. The second will be published on March 20.

EH: Tell me about “Sweeney Todd.”

JJ: It is a classic of musical theater, a 1979 Tony Award Winner with eight Tony Awards. It is a masterwork of construction and composition. And it is endlessly satisfying in its complexity: In the questions that it raises, and how it seeks to answer them. It is also just a lot of fun. Continue reading OSF actor directs ‘Sweeney Todd’ at AHS

A glove-maker’s son’s words reveal worlds

Scott Kaiser’s new play, “Shakespeare’s Other Women,” will be presented Feb. 16 to 19 at Southern Oregon University. We met in his office on the Oregon Shakespeare Festival campus, where he is director of company development. This is the second of a two-part column. The first was published on Dec. 26.

EH: You’ve written several books?

SK: Most of my writing has been deeply inspired by Shakespeare.

EH: Why do you find the study of Shakespeare so compelling?

SK: He understood human existence better than any other writer. As you move through stages of life, different characters, plays, scenes, situations and moral conundrums start to read differently. “Romeo and Juliet” is a great example of this. When you’re a teenager, you totally understand Juliet: the passion, the love. But as you get older, you start to look at the parents and what they’re going through; the death of children; hatred towards a rival faction; a prince that is trying to make peace and simply can’t do it. Continue reading A glove-maker’s son’s words reveal worlds

Getting to know ‘Shakespeare’s Other Women’

Author/Director Scott Kaiser has written a new play, “Shakespeare’s Other Women,” to be presented Feb. 16–19 at Southern Oregon University. Kaiser, who first came to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival as an actor in 1985, is now OSF’s Director of Company Development. We met in his office at the new Hay-Patton Rehearsal Center on the OSF Campus. This is the first part of a two-part column. The second will be published on Monday, Jan. 9.

EH: How did this project come about?

SK: I do a lot of auditioning and teaching. For women, there are few Shakespeare monologues. Young women in particular are often forced to use the same monologue over and over. Most of the monologues do not represent the full range of the female experience. I started to write speeches to try to expand the canon of material for women to use. It’s meant to be a new collection of monologues for women. I’m writing them in verse, the way that Shakespeare would have written them.

These are characters mentioned by Shakespeare (but who don’t appear), historical characters and mythological characters that are invoked. I have drawn from the canon, characters that you are curious about and given those women a chance to have a full appearance. Continue reading Getting to know ‘Shakespeare’s Other Women’

Collaborative Theatre Project aptly named

Not to be missed this Christmas season is the Collaborative Theatre Project’s “The Snow Queen.” The music, staging, acting, and costumes are superb. Under Susan Aversa-Orrego’s direction, talented actors and musicians have come together to create this magnificent piece.

Director Obed Medina is a founding member of the project. We met in their new theater in the Medford Center, which includes Tinseltown.

Developers are revamping the whole complex and are trying to make it into an entertainment/arts destination, to bring in more restaurants and breweries. Once they get those in, it will become a nice little hub of entertainment.

EH: How did you get interested in theater?

OM: When I was 9 or 10, I saw a play at a community theater that really moved me. Then, I wanted to be a writer, but when I went to college, I got involved in theater. Theater did that same thing for me: You can do almost what a book or an essay can do, but in a compact and more powerful way. It’s got more impact because you’re watching the actor on stage. It’s not a movie, where you can just sit and think about what you’re hearing or seeing, you’re actually interacting with that actor. There is a connection with the actor and the audience, and every performance is different. Continue reading Collaborative Theatre Project aptly named