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“Discovery and Enlightenment” from JaMeeka Holloway-Burrell

In Assistantship, Directing, Uncategorized on April 24, 2017 at 5:33 PM
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Every day at The Oregon Shakespeare Festival is a new day of discovery and enlightenment for me.  From what I have experienced so far this organization is a wonderland, a complete arts utopia where creatives of all sorts are encouraged and supported in being the best at their chosen crafts. Even with a total of staff and company members reaching well into the 00’s, OSF remains a tight-knit group of theater lovers with an equity, diversity, and inclusion first mission, and that gives life to quality theater for all.  

I’ll be honest and admit that I have been seduced by the magic, unique congeniality and opportunity that permeates the grounds of 15 S. Pioneer St. Not a day has gone by since I arrived that I have not been amazed in some voluminous way.  This past week was full of moments that reassured me that taking this position as FAIR assistant director 2,835.5 miles away from my daughter will, in fact, be one of the best decision that I will ever make for myself and her in life.  The new things that I am being introduced and latching to have set my soul ablaze and I’m so delighted about sharing all I am gleaning with my tribe back in North Carolina.

Here, in no particular order are a few honest reflections on some of my most memorable, only been here three weeks moments at OSF (insert sound of Vinyl scratching sound here):

  • During week one, On April 4th, Dawn Monique Williams’ read her Director’s Note during the Merry Wives of Windsor Show Intro – It was touching and prescient; it was an ode to the work that clearly and passionately expressed her vision and foreknowledge. I’ll never forget what how I felt that moment when she spoke and I hope that type of spirit shines from me when I discuss that art that I am creating.

  • The Company Call on April 3rd.  Firstly, I want to say that just because you’ve been to a company call before doesn’t mean you can fathom what a company call is at OSF is or is like.  Second, at this particular company call Bill and Cynthia were giving out Longevity Awards.  These awards highlighted the contributions of folk who have been in the OSF fam from a span of five to sixty years.  It was so special to me because I witnessed the names of custodial staff being mentioned and celebrated by their colleagues with the same reverence as actors and executive staff.  It just warmed my heart and soul to see the genuine appreciation. Knowing that the leadership here believes that every department is vital, no matter how “big” or “small” and that your contribution is what continues to allow this organization to flourish and thrive.

  • On Saturday, April 22nd the cast of Merry Wives of Windsor had their first choreo rehearsal.  At the top of rehearsal PJP, our brilliant, dope composer and sound designer gathered our entire cast for our first, unarranged sing-along to our reworked version of Whitney Houston’s I Want to Dance With Somebody. I am telling you, that moment was enough to fuel me for the remainder of my time here.  The cast sang along spritely to the chorus, in a nostalgic and evocative way, most of them without help from the lyric sheet. It was an explosive moment of excitement that wreaked of actors who trusts their directors vision and who were ecstatic to be bringing this piece to life.  

  • On April 19th my associate FAIR assistant director, Roberta Insco-Cox and I (unofficially) renamed the production “Dawn Monique Williams’ Merry Wives of Windsor”.  When you see the show you will understand why!

  • Also on April 19th – The FAIR Assistant Directors sat down to tea with Mary Zimmerman and Robert O’hara – they engaged us with transparent and broadening conversation for over an hour and if they didn’t have rehearsal and tech to get to it feels like they would’ve stayed longer.  It was an invaluable moment that could only be brought to you by OSF. I am still letting that one sit in… In Oregon, at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, as an assistant director, sitting Robert O’Hara and Mary Zimmerman drinking tea and sharing THE tea. I may never stop pinching myself.

Again, this list is NO WAY exhaustive.  Stick around… I’ll be sharing more during my next few weeks here!

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