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Archive for February, 2014|Monthly archive page

“OSF: Automated” from Jen Seleznow

In Assistantship, Automation, Jen Seleznow on February 12, 2014 at 12:28 PM

Jen Sleznow 1

Though I am writing my first blog entry on my fifth day of living here in Ashland, I already know that when my Assistantship is over, I won’t feel as though I’ve had enough time here at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.  I am struck and moved by OSF’s diversity and inclusion mission because, while many organizations claim commitment to diversity, it seems to me that OSF actually walks the walk.  Throughout show introductions, the campus tour, and the season kickoff party, I noticed again and again that the wide range of faces and voices I encountered at our first FAIR meeting is reflected throughout the staff.

Despite the diversity of the company, I have noticed that the common thread which ties the OSF organization together is a shared passion for the work that is produced here. From Artistic Director Bill Rauch’s tears during his season kickoff speech, to the Director’s presentation for Comedy of Errors made by Kent Gash, to my own HOD James Dean’s automation creation genius, it is apparent that the people who work at OSF are extraordinarily ambitious, dedicated, and take pride in the work that is done here.

Jen Seleznow 1a

My passion for theatre technology and desire to learn as I work make me feel right at home here; I have already learned a ton working with Tim “Gizmo” Hannon to install the lift for The Tempest.  I will expand upon this week’s work next week as I build and assemble a smaller lift that will also be used in The Tempest.  I will admit, because everyone in the automation department is SO good, I am a bit intimidated, but I continue to remind myself that I am here to learn and improve my skills while I contribute to each show and the department as a whole. Needless to say, I am thoroughly excited to be here.

“Snacks, Snacks, and More Snacks” from Hana Kadoyama

In Assistantship, Directing, Hana Kadoyama on February 11, 2014 at 7:44 PM

Hana Kadoyama 1.22

Of all the lessons OSF has taught me about art and life, perhaps the biggest is the importance of snacks. Sweet or savory, homemade or store-bought, full of sugar or full of protein, snacking is a big deal at OSF. Maybe it’s because we tend to work long, odd hours and sometimes you just need that 11pm pick-me-up; maybe it’s because of the wonderfully high population of fantastic bakers in the company. Or maybe it’s the community spirit of sharing food, gathering around the snack table on a rehearsal break or passing muffins around the meeting table. There’s no better icebreaker than chatting about food and comparing favorite recipes and combinations.

Here’s the real secret to OSF snacking: if you want to be in the room with the best snacks, work on a project with Lue Douthit. She may be the director of the literary department, but I’m convinced her real job is Provider of the Snackage. It was Lue who taught me the importance of a well-balanced snack table: savory and sweet, fruits and veggies as well as chocolate and chips, and always a gluten-free option for those who need it. And once a snack table has been established, it becomes a community project. Everyone contributes to it, and you end up with a food collage of people’s homemade recipes, impulse purchases, and sometimes even their leftovers. The snack table becomes the heart of the rehearsal room, a central topic of conversation, and the ultimate test of your self-control (today my self-control utterly failed me because KETTLE CORN).

There’s something familial about sharing food, and the OSF family has perfected the art of community snacking – an art for which I am deeply grateful.

“Spaces” from Atesede Makonnen

In Atesede Makonnen, Shakespeare Dramaturgy Residency on February 11, 2014 at 8:17 AM

Atesede Makonnen 1.22.JPG

I seem to be preoccupied with spaces – last week’s post was about the bigger, encompassing space that is Ashland. This week, I focus on rehearsal spaces. The first week of read-through happened in the Great Hall, with all of us sitting at tables and reading the script together. Those first few days, the room felt almost impersonal, a place to meet and talk but not where art was created. We quickly moved to the actual stage of the Bowmer, wandering in awe around the bright red stage that was so uniquely cushioned and carpeted. I don’t want to say that it all became ‘real’ at that moment because that space is so very surreal, like walking through a dream or a nightmare. Even in plain clothes, the actors are transformed into otherly beings and the theatre seems to narrow into a colorful and limited/limitless world.

Going back to the Great Hall was a shock, back to the basement of an administration building, neutrally painted and with a flat, white floor. But suddenly a rack of costumes appeared, designs were taped to walls, and snacks began to appear. The floor got scuffed and brightly colored tape appeared to mark out the traps and boundaries of a real stage. The focus in this space is on the actors and their every move and word, on the text and the movements. The bright red of the Bowmer stage is only here in pictures on a wall, a lonely model, and the minds of the actors. This room, under the clacking keyboards and busy people in administration, is where the nitty-gritty takes place, where one scene is hammered out to perfection. This is where the art is created.

“Family is Where You Make It” from Ciara Ayala

In Assistantship, Ciara Ayala, Stage Management on February 10, 2014 at 11:50 AM

Ciara Ayala 1.22One of my favorite things about working in the theater is creating a new family with every show you create. Whether it be company members that have worked together for years or a slew of newcomers, each show is a new experience and a new family. OSF is no different. Even though I am thousands of miles away from home, it doesn’t feel that way. From watching football, to baking cookies, to going on group runs…everyone is so inviting! This last day off, I went to a party with a ton of colleagues, in a beautiful home, with delicious food. I was even able to torch my own crème brulee! How cool is that?! I’ve welded scenery, but never food. It was a blast (pun intended).

Not to mention the camaraderie within the rehearsal room. I knew from the first company call that our room was going to be an absolute riot, in the best way. There is so much freedom of expression, there isn’t ever any tension regarding “Can I try this?” The response is always “Of course! This is rehearsal.” It’s always really fluid, and really fun. One of the more outstanding moments happened during one mammoth of a monologue. The actor was doing a really great job, but every time the lines started to slip, the cast literally started cheering him on. I love that! It was great to see everyone so supportive, showing how close and comfortable the company has become. That’s why I love theater, and that’s what keeps me doing it every day. For moments like that (let’s get sappy now), when you are engulfed with friendship and can’t possibly escape that warm feeling in your heart. Have I mentioned that I love it here? Because I do.

“Here Art is Created” from Jasmine A. Neal

In Assistantship, Directing, Jasmine Neal on February 10, 2014 at 6:10 AM

Jasmine Neal 1.22

Everyday (or night) I enter thru the side door of the Thomas Theatre into our rehearsal space. The Comedy of Errors is fortunate because unlike the other productions in rehearsal right now, we are able to stage in our performance space. This rehearsal process is different for me. Coming from mostly academic theatre into professional, the rehearsal schedule is more intensive. Kent Gash’s directing style is very unique. He is extremely knowledgeable; not only of this play , but of theatre in general. Because he was an actor,  a dancer, and now a director,  he sees the stage from several viewpoints. This process allows for a well-rounded play that can be enjoyed by all.

Comedy is being set in 1929/1930 New York during the Harlem Renaissance. The majority of the actors are people of color. This new setting brings a fresh and exciting twist to an old Shakespearean play. Because this is his shortest and one of his earliest plays, most don’t view it as they would his other works. It is often thrown to the side but Kent’s direction brings new meaning and purpose.  The themes of love, loss, and reunification are still relevant to this day, especially in the African-American/Black community. The unification of the family at the end of the play gives hope to families of all races. Love can truly stand the test of any time or situation. Dromio and Antipholus‘ relationship also shows that family is not defined by blood lines. Family is defined by love.

“Let’s Get Animated!” from Daniel Carino

In Daniel Carino, Fellowship, Video Projections on February 3, 2014 at 10:29 PM

Daniel 1.22

And it has begun! The first tech has started here at Oregon Shakespeare Festival for The Cocoanuts. I’m already at work helping create things for the show. The video designer for the show is Omar and I’m assisting with anything he needs. So far, I’ve made masks for the set as well as the drop. I also created a looping video of clouds in the sky. I’m currently working on animating birds and bees. The artwork is original to the set by the set designer, the only down side is having it as a flat image, however, since these aren’t photo realistic images it is very easy to fill in the gaps and make each part of the animal or bug its own image to animate.

Bee Animation Process:Daniel 1.22b

I just finished the bee that you can see to the right. The process of making the animation was simple – I provide a complete explanation on my blog HERE

“Diversity Again?” from Amelia Burke-Holt

In Amelia Burke-Holt, Internship, Props on February 3, 2014 at 8:45 PM

Amelia Burke-Holt 1.22

I have two big passions in life. Feminism/queer theory and building cool things for the theater. I’ve been able to study both of them in college, as a theater major and gender, sexuality and women’s studies minor. When arriving at OSF, it was pretty obvious to me I would be learning a lot about theater, but I had no idea how much my social justice brain would be stimulated as well. Going into my first FAIR Forum specifically themed around diversity, I was less than thrilled. Coming from an academic environment where I’m used to discussing diversity at length every day, I was prepared to not learn about anything new. I was pleasantly surprised. Three hours later when I left the meeting to go back to the prop shop, my social justice brain would couldn’t get off the topic. Talking to a fellow FAIR participant the next day we both experienced the need for the conversation to continue, after the meeting had come to a close.

In the discussion, I was familiar with all of the terms we had discussed, however the group brought up points of view I had never considered before. Coming from a feminist and queer theory background, I’ve explored them at length, and through intersectionality, explored other issues such as race through their lenses. What interested me particularly in this FAIR Forum, was hearing people’s experience the other way around; looking at women’s and queer issues through the lens of race. As in many aspects of life, it is important to recognize where you can be a teacher, and when its most important to sit back and listen. The subject of diversity especially demands this, as we all have different, valuable experiences and ways to look at the world.

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