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Posts Tagged ‘Shakespeare Dramaturgy Residency’

“Spaces” from Atesede Makonnen

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

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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.

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“It’s the Little Things” from Atesede Makonnen

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

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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!

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