Posts Tagged ‘Producing Fellowship’

Mission from Antonio David Lyons

In Antonio David Lyons, Fellowship, Producing on October 16, 2013 at 9:21 AM


OSF’s mission statement reads:

“Inspired by Shakespeare’s work and the cultural richness of the United States, we reveal our collective humanity through illuminating interpretations of new and classic plays, deepened by the kaleidoscope of rotating repertory.”

I had to revisit this prime directive in order to begin to put into context the multiple realities that exist at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. The overriding question for me being:  How does this work? What are the systems and philosophies that are in place to even make that mission possible? What sort of organizational ethos has to be structured in order to contain a space that allows for collective humanity to be revealed or to examine the cultural richness of the United States?

I began to believe that the secret lay in a word I’d been hearing a lot, “Company”. Initially it sounded as if the term was being used to just refer to the company of actors (100+). However, as I continued to listen and engage I began to understand that it included all of  the 500+ members that make the festival possible. As I settled into my day-to-day I began to substitute company for community and use the two terms interchangeably. I began to see how this company, community or family is able to create opportunity for change and growth in each other and the patrons that return to OSF year after year.

As the 2013 Producing Fellow in FAIR, I have the opportunity to exist within and outside of processes. To sit in senior level meetings as the leadership grapples with festival logistics, culture change and artistic direction. To get an understanding of how strong leadership, supported by a committed team, can implement institutional change. While the leadership at OSF isn’t perfect it is focused and responsive to the needs of its various members and stakeholders. In examining the management style of Artistic Director, Bill Rauch, I can’t help but wonder how and what point he bridged the gap between the commercial and activism. In my interactions with him I can clearly see the humanizing qualities that are essential to the pedagogy of the educator and transformer. I see a policy of inclusion used by community developers that invites everyone’s voice to be heard during decision-making. I see cultural sensitivity in discussions about what a play is saying, how it will be received, who will speak its text and direct its vision. I see a master facilitator who steps in and out of the fray allowing others the room to live and work through difficult spaces without dictating the direction the dialogue or outcome must flow.

It seems that the company used a combination of institutional knowledge, internal discussions and assistance from outside sources to educate/sensitize the community about issues of race, gender, class and privilege in order to ensure the company’s growth and to honor the organization’s mission.

“When you know better, you do better”

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