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Archive for January, 2014|Monthly archive page

“Why Monster?” from Tom Ridgely

In Directing, Phil Killian Directing Fellowship, Tom Ridgely on January 28, 2014 at 1:42 PM

Tom Ridgely 1.22

We had our first stumble through of The Tempest today. And since Tony had foregone an initial read in favor of diving into table work, it was actually our very first chance to hear the play uninterrupted (more or less) from beginning to end. Of course, as always, you notice different things when you take a step back and view a play as a whole. Different things pop and catch your ear, or your attention. In that spirit I decided to make a word cloud of the entire script (above).

A word cloud, in case you’re not familiar, is a visualization tool (read: toy) that renders any copy you might care to paste as a randomly arranged conglomeration of words rendered in different sizes, colors and fonts. The cool part is the words that occur most often are displayed the largest.

After removing the most common articles, prepositions and pronouns – as well as character names and stage directions, here’s what you get. These are the words the characters speak to each other. Which ones seem to pop?

‘Here’ and ‘sir’ look to be the biggest, which perhaps shouldn’t surprise too much for a play about exile and discovery full of kings and dukes and their vassals and offspring. But the one that really leaps out is ‘monster‘. Could it really be used that much more often than ‘brave’ or ‘strange’, the verbal motifs that assert themselves most insistently upon reading?

But word clouds never lie. ‘Monster’ appears 38 times in the Folio text, versus 14 times for ‘brave’ and 17 times ‘strange’. And of course we know to whom it invariably refers: Prospero’s ‘savage and deformed slave’, Caliban. But Caliban, however monstrously he might be rendered in production, is still a human being. Both Prospero and Miranda – who ought to know – confirm this. Yet, over and over Shakespeare has his characters use this word to subordinate and strip Caliban of that humanity.

Words can do that. They can break down the fundamental ‘we’ and ‘us’ into ‘you’ and ‘them’. We can safely say that Shakespeare was a man who chose his words carefully. So maybe it’s worth stopping to ask, why did he choose that word? Why do we choose the words we use?

-TR

“Keep or Jot” featuring Peter J. Kuo – episode 2

In Assistantship, Directing, Peter Kuo on January 28, 2014 at 10:07 AM

EPISODE 2: This week on Keep or Jot, Peter Kuo shares OSF’s commitment to text-centric theater

A Discovery from Erik LaDue

In Erik LaDue, Fellowship, Richard L. Hay Fellowship, Scenic Design on January 26, 2014 at 10:03 PM

Erik LaDue 12.4

Took some time off of the Richard III model to help with Coconuts.

Having used a laser cutter to pre-cut most of the pieces for our chair and table piece, all that was left was gluing everything together. I was introduced to the ease and velocity of using a combination of Super Glue and Accelerator. I’ve been limiting myself to regular craft-glue in the past, now I’m going through a kind of enlightenment. No more time waiting for things to dry before moving to the next project, instead I’m setting and forgetting as I make brisk laps around my to-do list. While stopping to un-stick some fingers that I glued together, I couldn’t help but think “This is tops!”

Some would say what I was doing with pre-fabricated chair parts is the lazy way out. They would compare our use of a laser cutter to purchasing a model set from a hobby store. I say: the Art is in the final product, not how much “human” contribution there was to the process. If it serves to use computer aided drafting to make multiple copies of a chair design, so be it! Our job is to execute a design, not burn hours on repetitious chairs.

The Richard III design is coming along smoothly. It’s almost done. Rick Anderson has been passing me updated drafting plates in the last week with more details to include in our elaborate stair units. Not yet committed to being glued to the model box of the Elizabethan Theater, the stair units are looking like multi-legged giraffes.

We had to make an emergency call to the scene/paint shops: The director wanted to change a few things about a scenic unit for Coconuts. Hold the phone while we figure this out, guys.

“ETC, Oh My!” from Kate McFarland

In Internship, Kate McFarland, Lighting Design on January 25, 2014 at 8:09 PM

Kate McFarland 1.15

Word of the week: Learning

Working in the lighting department is incredible. I don’t want to overuse that word and make it seem meaningless. It’s only been a week or so and the experience is just that: INCREDIBLE.  I must have had some preconceived notion of what interning at OSF would be like.  If I did I honestly can’t remember what I thought it would be like, because the experience I’m having now is so amazing.

The highlight so far, is participating in ETC training.  This past Thursday and Friday a representative from ETC flew out to walk us through the new software that just got released.  Being able to sit in on this seemingly once in a lifetime training was such a valuable experience. I was able to sit there and take part, take notes, and even ask questions if I wanted. I can think of other experiences I’ve had where being the intern meant you were to sit quietly and watch, NOT ask questions.

We’re approaching the first tech process of the season and this is another experience I very much want to be a part of. The fact that my supervisors are so willing to let me sit in on tech is just another reason why OSF is such a great place to be learning and building my skills.  Having the chance to meet and talk to professional designers is an invaluable opportunity I look forward to taking advantage of as well.

“It’s the Little Things” from Atesede Makonnen

In Atesede Makonnen, Residency, Shakespeare Dramaturgy Residency on January 23, 2014 at 6:49 PM

Atesede Makonnen 1.15

My first blog post is about Ashland. It’s a town quiet in ways I expected but vibrant in ways I didn’t see coming. Walking down the main streets, I’m reminded of small New England villages but a quick glance around offers a glimpse of a quickness that’s purely west coast! Shakespearean puns litter the store signs and when I look up (when there’s no fog creeping around) I see a ring of mountains, lovely and near.  A strange place for a Shakespeare festival and yet a strangely perfect one, especially as it continues to bring new plays to its line up. Its isolation lends itself to intense focus on the plays in production, something I’ve noticed in rehearsal.

One thing I’ve noticed is what has been said about diversity is quite true and in unexpected ways. I’m used to being a minority (I went to school in a small town of New Hampshire) but I was surprised by how lacking in some ways Ashland is in being friendly to POC. Trying to find hair oil of all things really brought that home to me. It reminds me of something said at our diversity mixer – on stage, diversity is coming through loud and clear in a new and exciting way. But in the more mundane aspects of life here, Ashland can be a bit behind, population-wise and in the little things, like catering to POC hair needs.

Nonetheless, I’m enjoying the town, its people, and Oregon as a whole. I can’t wait to explore more!

“Keep or Jot” featuring Peter J. Kuo – episode 1

In Assistantship, Directing, Peter Kuo on January 23, 2014 at 5:07 PM

EPISODE 1: This week on Keep or Jot, Peter Kuo breaks down life at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and its professional development program, FAIR. Enjoy!

“What a Surprise” from Amelia Burke-Holt

In Amelia Burke-Holt, Internship, Props on January 23, 2014 at 8:52 AM

Amelia Burke-Holt 1.15

My first few days at OSF felt like I was back to the first week of college, something I was not too thrilled about. Being an introvert I am not a big fan of crowds, and feel uncomfortable doing ‘get to know you’ type of activities. I was pleased to see though, how friendly and welcoming everyone at OSF has been my first few days. Very little have I felt pressured to go out and get to know people, because they have come to me. I was also impressed by the variety of people I met and how people who worked in various areas at OSF all mixed together. In my high school theater, there was always the attitude that actors and technicians didn’t mingle, mostly due to difference in interests and personality. In college theater, this feeling wasn’t as universal, but I still found most of my friendships with others involved in scenery. I was pleasantly surprised then, to join a group of people expecting them all to belong to one department because of how well they seemed to know each other, to find a mix of all different interests.

Outside of the variety of people I spoke to on my first day at OSF, I have not spent much time with people outside the department I am working in, however every time someone walks through the shop, before they go I hear ‘Oh, have you met our intern yet?’ Overall, I have found the experience I dreaded of meeting new people in a new place to be surprisingly painless, and I look forward to getting to know more people as I explore all OSF has to offer me.

“Three Royal Thrones” from Erik LaDue

In Erik LaDue, Fellowship, Richard L. Hay Fellowship, Scenic Design on January 19, 2014 at 1:44 PM

Erik Ladue 1.15

And so we are settled!

Painstakingly, I have crafted thee royal thrones. I feel like I’m the king of the ½” world! I’d take a seat on my royal seats, but then I’d undo a three days of labor.

While working on my micro work, I’ve been keeping an eye on the macro. I’ve been interviewing established designers to get an idea of what I ought to be working towards after my tenure with OSF is completed. Most narratives have a similar spine: work hard, designing as often as possible, then go get a Master in Fine Arts at a school that connects with you. It’s fairly simple. I’m surprised to find that many designers currently in active, established careers did not do any sort of internships or fellowships in the gap between their undergraduate and M.F.A. programs.

I’ve done three so far.

Of course, no two paths of life are the same. But it does give me pause to think: “All I have to do is keep designing?” Bring prolific in art makes a career out of it. So what is OSF in relation to what I was always doing, designing? Back to my royal thrones: I would never have conceived building anything like these before coming to OSF. I probably would have given up and moved on to another project, avoided having to construct these model pieces all together. Further expanding my mind are the technological advanced that OSF is utilizing: I already know that it is vital that I master a 3-D computer drafting program. It would also help to start saving up for a 3-D printer…

If nothing else, I will leave OSF with a higher bar for excellence.

“Back Home Again” from Hana Kadoyama

In Assistantship, Directing, Hana Kadoyama on January 19, 2014 at 7:37 AM

Hello from Ashlandia, where the mountains are finally getting some snow; where the deer are as vocal as the people; where there are more public Shakespeare references than anywhere in the world (or at least in the United States); and where hundreds of people are reuniting, rehearsing, building, meeting, singing and dancing as the first weeks of “school” are upon us.

The beginning of the OSF season does feel like the first day of school; we all gather after the 7-week off-season to welcome new company members and begin rehearsals for the first four shows of the year. And the first event of the new school year is Company Call, where the whole company piles into the Bowmer Theatre to introduce ourselves – new company members and 30-year veterans alike.

For me, this is a poignant “first day of school,” as it also marks a school year in which I’ll only be at OSF for a little space of time. I’ve been lucky enough to work at OSF in various departments over the last few years; this company has taught me more about life and art and theater than anywhere else I’ve been. I’ve recently made the move to Chicago – the real world, where bars and self-storage companies aren’t named after Shakespeare! – and am back in Ashland for 7 weeks as second assistant director on Tony Taccone’s production of The Tempest. Despite my history of OSF department-hopping, I have very little (read: zero) directing experience, and I’m incredibly lucky to be in a rehearsal room with Tony and my fellow A.D., this year’s Phil Killian Directing Fellow, Tom Ridgely. In our third week of rehearsals, I’m overwhelmed with the intelligence, instincts, and humor of this team and this community. It’s good to be home for a while.

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