Archive for the ‘Fellowship’ Category

“Self Identification” from Bernardo Mazón

In Administration, Audience Development, Fellowship, Human Resources, Literary, Residency, Shakespeare Dramaturgy Residency, Uncategorized on May 16, 2017 at 5:33 PM

/var/folders/84/dy2qtnz13wddhtx39pw3vr1h0000gn/T/com.apple.iChat/Messages/Transfers/IMG_3700.JPG.jpegMy first sit-down with my supervisor, I tell her, “I want to make a lasting contribution here, what can I do” and she is like, “I know just the thing.” A few more discussions later, and I’m writing a thesis for a research project based on this company’s progression with the equity, diversity, & inclusion movement. I’m setting out to examine how successful the organization has been in terms of hiring and representation onstage/offstage. As I’m crafting this proposal and preparing to share it with jefes here, I step back for a moment and think about the problems I’ll face in collecting data.

Por ejemplo, incomplete records. Sometimes information is archived selectively; we can’t see the whole picture. There’s also tokenism. Quizás we CAN see the whole picture, but there’s no way of knowing if someone was hired based on their merit or for liberal bragging rights. I’m not saying there’s something wrong with the latter, as there is a difference between equity and equality, but the point is that sometimes a step forward is followed by several steps back. It’s common for situations like this to be followed by a long and dreary dryspell of hiring straight, able-bodied white men again—back to the old ways. The greatest obstacle, though, is the following:


Which is self-explanatory. It’s not enough, no, it’s not right for us to determine a person’s ethnic or gender from their appearance. Furthermore, it’s not like you can do a google search on any given name and see what that person is, because identity is an intimate thing. It ought to be shared, but not necessarily put on display. Therefore, por lo tanto, it’d be unfair (not to mention, crazy wrong) for me to go through a company’s history of hiring and make inferences off their picture. “Are they masculine or are they feminine”, “Their skin is dark, so they’re black”, “Oh, this dude must be Latino, oops, Latinx”, “I can’t see if they’re unable to hear” etc.

Back to my story. Entonces, I have this lump in my throat knowing that my research project is destined for turbulence. When I present my idea to the jefes, I leave out my concerns for fear of sounding too complicated. I neglect my politics in hopes for approval.

Seguramente, the responses are essentially, “Great, except…”. They’re receptive but skeptical. They point out exactly the same ethical difficulties I’d experience, and I’m in quiet awe.

I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it otra vez: I feel like I’m finally in America. Y eso es porque “self-identification” was not something we knew of in my hometown. Mexican border politics tend to enforce nationalities onto people (and don’t get me started on the Arabic diaspora, for I don’t know enough, but I do feel). The culture I come from doesn’t invite you to decide what you are and how the world ought to see it—let alone celebrate it. And here they are, celebrating it like champions.

Joining the parade, 

Bernardo Mazón
FAIR Literary Resident
Oregon Shakespeare Festival
My pronouns: He/Him/His


P.S. As a chavalillo, I didn’t like story time at school, because most of the books they chose seemed far-away and unimportant to me. They’d either be about animalitos, fairy tales, or some condescending sh*t talking down to little kids. Every now and then, though, they’d pick books that were about people. And they had a multicultural selection. Pictures of people owning their origins. Those books, those were my favorite thing.


“Shakespeare’s Histories” from Bernardo Mazon

In Fellowship, Literary, Producing, Shakespeare Dramaturgy Residency, Uncategorized on May 5, 2017 at 10:08 PM

Picture1One of my duties here is to assist the dramaturgy team on Henry IV Part 2. When I found out I was going to be working on that, I let out a long, anxious sigh—not because I wasn’t excited by the opportunity, but because I knew it was going to be a hell of an undertaking. Until this point, you could have asked me what I knew about Shakespeare’s Histories, and I would have said virtually para nada. Zip zilch zero. Never seen one, never dared read one. And now I’ve been assigned this play that lands right in the middle of the chronological saga. Hijole. I sighed because I want to do my job well, which means I have a lot of homework to do.

Fast forward to a week ago, I watched Henry IV Part 1. I say this honestly: I could tell it was a stellar show. Without saying anything about the story, I could at least say the production itself was phenomenal. But regardless, that pesky story went right over my head. I understood ni madre of what was going on up there.

As the literary resident, I’ll admit proudly that I have a particularly hard time with Shakespeare. Value judgements aside (though I am a fan, yes), I cannot watch or read a Shakespeare play without the overwhelming struggle and frustration. So any history play, especially one as planted in context, is daunting. On top of the difficulties there already are for this 21st Spanglish speaker, the entangled politics, the jimble jamble of names, and the historical references make it more difficult.

I see, though, that this uphill battle in comprehension isn’t unconquerably steep. Fortunately, the resources here are on another level, and everyone is on my side. Plus I’ve heard my mentors admit themselves that they still have to lean in to get the language. So a few days later I printed the text out and returned to that theater sin verguenza. No shame. I read the text as the play went on, and felt like I was starting to follow. Today, I went again (with my script) for my third viewing of Henry IV Part 1. I’ll confidently say I that I finally get it.

And. It. Is. Sick.

I love this play! The patience paid off, and it doesn’t feel as faraway as it used to. Before I didn’t have a high opinion on stories about kings and queens, let alone medieval England. Now I’m geeking out. I get what people mean when they say it’s captivating like a soap opera. It’s funny, it’s heartbreaking, and it’s totally accessible if you put your mind to it. I’m hungry and eager all to learn all these history plays, porque ya sabes: it’s like the Bard meets telenovelas.

“A birds-eye view of my life here at OSF” from Sam White

In Administration, Fellowship, Paul Nicholson Arts Management, Producing, Uncategorized on May 3, 2017 at 6:24 AM

FAIR Week 4The start of the week was a bit sad for me as I was feeling extremely homesick and a bit worried about the operations of my home theatre. It is truly a challenge being away from my elderly parents, my adorable nephew and my Shakespeare tribe in Detroit. The homesickness was intensified by my birthday which I celebrated this week. My new years are opportunities for me to reflect on where I am and where I want to see myself go, personally and professionally. But, here’s where the sadness of being thousands of miles away from home and in a different time zone waned: I didn’t have to go about my personal and professional reflections alone this year. I was able to tap into the knowledge, experiences and generous spirits of some of the women in leadership here on campus at OSF. One of them in particular called me into her office and called me out on my overzealous workload. She realized from a previous conversation that I am wearing myself thin at my home theatre. I have some help, but not enough, and the cost of being the fundraiser, the grant writer, the project manager, the bookkeeper and a lot of other things in between is costly. She reminded me of the importance of self-care – something I truly haven’t done regularly in the five years I have been building a Shakespeare company in the D. She also reminded me that while it is noble to want to give back to others, I matter in the equation of my life and my needs and wants are important. I had totally forgotten that. There isn’t a ton of time to think about myself when I am planning seasons, raising money and trying to find the resources to keep a dream alive. My conversation with this amazing woman was just what I needed to hear in this new year of life. I am so proud of the work I have done at home and I hope to continue the mission for Shakespeare for all but, I can’t lie, it’s no longer my greatest priority anymore – I am. If I don’t take care of me, I can’t take care of my elderly parents, I can’t play with my sweet nephew and I definitely can’t run an organization.

There are many great aspects of my OSF fellowship. The access and information that I have available to me are mind blowing. The caliber of artists, designers and technicians here are next level. I remember walking on top of the Thomas Theatre the other day and looking down, thinking to myself how incredible the magic of repertory theatre is and how lucky I am to be here, and the beauty and complexity of living, breathing art. But the greatest gift of this FAIR experience are the people here who want you to become the best version of yourself – from members of my cohort to the company artists and administrators. Being in Detroit meant that I never had the opportunity to fully assess my life because I was in the throes of what I felt I needed to do to contribute to making my hometown better. I needed to get away to learn how I can better serve it or, better yet, serve myself. I have learned a lot and there is more knowledge and experience to come over the next few months of the 2017 season. But what has been the most impactful is the reminder that I matter, and as much as I love him, Shakespeare does not negate that.

“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

“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?


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.

“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.

“Details” from Erik LaDue

In Erik LaDue, Richard L. Hay Fellowship, Scenic Design on January 16, 2014 at 12:49 PM

Erik LaDue 11.27

The magic is in the details.

So, of course, that’s where the work is.

I’ve spent two days applying molding to the carriages of  ½” scale stairs. That doesn’t sound like much, but it makes a huge impact when the whole project comes together. With tweezers in one hand and an X-acto blade in the other, I’m playing Cosmetic Surgeon for Shakespeare’s Richard III.

It’s funny sometimes when I need to use the Scene Shop facilities in order to fabricate materials for these mini-masterpieces. I’ve become familiar with using the table saw to rip down life-sized lumber into scale posts for my tiny handrails.

There are moments of spectacle present in the craft of model building. In the design studio, once someone has finished a project for one of the models, there is a brief moment of “Check out what I made in miniature….”A phone, a cashier, an umbrella, etc.

It’s all about maximizing communication to everyone else in the production, and we’re taking every detail, every piece of the magic, seriously.

“Go Home” from Erik LaDue

In Erik LaDue, Richard L. Hay Fellowship, Scenic Design on November 20, 2013 at 9:36 PM

Erik LaDue 11.20

“Erik, go home.”

I get that a lot. Every day, actually.

“It’s late. Go home.”

During my first week here with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, I’ve been delighted by the ease of simply being: being a craftsperson and an artist. On my first day, I was given a desk and the model of the Elizabethan Stage with last season’s scenic model still glued down to it. Immediately, I set to the task of…gingerly…dismantling and preserving the old design while refurbishing the Elizabethan. I used a prop knife I found in the Design Studio, still stained in fake blood, to wedge the various model pieces off the ½” model box. It looked like a tedious murder scene.

As soon as my task was finished, I was whisked away into the next project: updating and expanding the min-Elizabethan stage’s dimensions, adding downstage step units, etc.

At this point, they have me working on the model for the next design for the stage: Richard III. Drafting plates are floating to my desk all the time; an update, more details, flushed out molding details, etc.

At the end of last week I had stated that being at OSF was like a vacation. “Oh, well, we’ll have to get you working more,” some in the company have said.

My terminology is misunderstood.

“Erik, go home”

In an environment where information and resources are streamlined, a practitioner of the theater can work with a satisfaction. This satisfaction derives from the knowledge that putting in their 100% will have a yield of at least 100%. There are practically no restrictions on the artists that work here. OSF pushes for artistic efficacy. There is no wasted time or resources, just the direct labor of those that work here. Being an independent artist for the last two years, I am astounded at this opportunity to strive without material limits. My work is directly proportional to my output. This makes OSF an island resort for craftsmanship and art, inspiring only a desire to push one’s own output.

“Erik, stop working and GO HOME”

“But, Rick, I’m enjoying myself to much”

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