After moving back-and-forth – between the East and West coasts, and between theater stage design and historic preservation – Sean O’Skea has settled into his role at SOU as a professor of scenic design, which he’s held for the past 13 years.
Oregon Center for the Arts Marketing Manager recently interviewed SOU Theatre major Alex Szabo, class of 2020 regarding their reorganization of the annual SOU OSPIRG fundraiser. OSPIRG is a campus political action group that enables students to lobby local, regional, and global political issues at the state level.
Dance Courses By Zoom? Theater, Arts Students At SOU Transition To Remote Learning
This article was originally published to Jefferson Public Radio
How can you teach someone the intricacies of a dance remotely? Or see the details of a sculpture through cell phone photos?
Many university professors had to ask themselves these questions after Oregon Gov. Kate Brown announced that schools would have to completely transition to remote learning to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
That hasn’t stopped some theater and arts courses from moving forward, mostly by using the popular video-conferencing software, Zoom.
“This would not be the premier way of teaching dance,” says Southern Oregon University musical theater dance instructor Suzanne Seiber. “But you get that sense of community that you get in dance. It’s a substitute, but it’s working.”
Still, there have been challenges. It takes a little more time to plan out courses and view students’ works. Seiber says she learns something new every time she teaches the course and encounters a glitch either on her computer or a student’s computer. She has also had to become accustomed to an internet delay — since everyone has a different internet connection with different speeds, they all hear the music at different times, so Seiber sees each student performing the dance at different times.
“The very first class I taught, I felt like a beginning teacher,” Seiber says. “After you’ve done this for 20-some years, you feel like, ‘How can I feel like a beginning teacher?'”
When Seiber logs into her course through Zoom, she sees 17 little boxes on her computer screen, each showing a student ready to practice dancing wherever they are. Some are in their bedrooms, their living rooms, their kitchens — any room that has a smooth-surfaced floor that’s similar to a dance floor.
One of Seiber’s students, Ryan Zamudio, had to practice dancing in his dorm room bathroom.
“I had to jump between two or three different locations — of putting my laptop on the bathtub, putting it on the sink, putting it on the end of the bathroom,” Zamudio recalls. “It was not a fun experience, not gonna lie.”
His roommate moved out of the dorms a few days into the spring term, so Zamudio now has an extra room with a smooth floor that he can use for dancing. He says a lot of students have decided to leave the dorms because of the coronavirus pandemic. He chose to stay at the dorms to prevent inadvertently spreading the disease to his parents back home in Portland.
“All of my friends left,” Zamudio says. “It has forced me out of my comfort zone and to reach out to anyone who is still on campus. So, it has brought people together, the few people who have stayed.”
Many students dropped the musical theater dance class once they heard that it would be taught online. But Zamudio stuck with it.
“I’m not going to let this stop me from doing what I’m passionate about,” he says. “I’m not going to let this situation completely change what I’m doing with my life.”
Zamudio is also taking art classes, where he says students have had to make do with what they have on hand for their assignments, like tearing up paper bags and using them as canvas. But sometimes that need to be resourceful is a valuable lesson in itself, says assistant professor Michael Parker, who teaches sculpture at SOU.
“You have to have creative solutions to this,” Parker says. “I think it’s also helping students learn about flexibility. There’s an opportunity to have critical thinking be front and center.”
For instance, he gave his students a two-day assignment that asked them to gather all of the available toilet paper rolls within their homes — without destroying the toilet paper and with permission from everyone they live with. Then, using only the toilet paper rolls and found household objects like curtain rods, they were to assemble a sculpture.
One student, Elise Mitchell, took him to task and gathered a couple of dozen rolls and piled them so that they resemble Auguste Rodin’s “thinking man” sculpture sitting on a toilet.
Parker says projects like this can be helpful for students who might feel isolated or stressed out during the pandemic, and attending a regular class, even remotely, could give them a sense of structure. In fact, one of the unexpected side-effects of remote learning is that most classes have had near-perfect attendance.
“It’s a place to go,” Parker says. “It’s not just binge-watching Netflix. In some ways, it’s kind of the best thing to be is in college discussion-based courses right now.”
Parker uses his classes as an opportunity to ensure students are doing OK. He says some of them are essential workers, so they’re risking their health while engaging with the public. A few have even lost family members to the coronavirus.
“There’s always a check-in at the beginning of class, to make sure everybody’s personally safe, family members are safe, and just really being human,” he says.
That can be important for students right now — most of whom are determined to continue their education and their life goals, even if they don’t really know what life will look like after graduation.
This article was originally published by the Ashland Tidings
Deborah Rosenberg, professor in costume design at Southern Oregon University, is enjoying her 20th year as a faculty member of the SOU Theatre Program. Rosenberg acted in college and found herself in costume design when she admitted to a director that she knew how to sew. I visited with Rosenberg in her office in the university’s newly expanded Theatre Building.
D.R.: I discovered that costume design gave me some distance from the stage pictures, whereas, with acting, you’re in the middle of it. I found that my temperament was better served by being able to see the whole picture rather than the immersion experience from within. I could easily see that costume is too light, and that costume’s too dark, and I need more red on the rest of the stage.
We often get students who are interested in performance and discover lighting design for the very first time. It’s a glorious thing to watch a young person say, “I didn’t even know about this. And now I must know everything.” Or we have someone who comes in as a quiet, very shy person, and we watch them just grow in confidence, strength, skill, and interest, and they’re standing center stage. It’s fun to watch the transformation of young people, of where they come from, mentally, emotionally, physically, to where they get to in just a few short years.
E.H.: What draws students to your program?
D.R.: I think the initial thing is our proximity to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. To be down the street from a world-class theater is pretty significant. Students come because of the proximity and then discover that we’re quite good at this. We’re large enough to give many options to many people. We’re small enough to know them by name and understand their personal strengths and challenges.
We train people well so that they are ready when they graduate to work almost anywhere in the country, particularly in design and tech. If they are performance majors, they have the skills to audition anywhere in the country. Our students who choose grad school often get scholarships. Our students who choose to work in the field get work in the field. We’ve had some wildly successful graduates. Students come here knowing that they’re not wasting their time and money. They’ll be fully educated, confident, and experienced enough to take the next step. We are confident that they have the skills to have the lives they want in almost any part of this country that they choose to live.
E.H.: What sets theater apart from other arts?
D.R.: The fact that it’s such a collaborative art form. I bring my part, costume design. My colleague Sean O’Skea brings scenic design. The lighting designer and the sound designer bring their pieces. We don’t work individually for very long. I might design the costumes in solitude, but as soon as those sketches exist, the work is shared by many, many, many people.
We’ve all been listening to the director, who has a vision. We are then filling the room with additional voices and more sets of hands so that we make something together that is more powerful than any one of us.
We’re learning from each other, we’re sharing with each other. We are sparking ideas. An idea leads to an idea, which leads to another idea. It’s partly the alchemy of everybody thinking about the same challenge. Theater makes us more than ourselves, makes us bigger than ourselves. The experience is richer than one would have individually. We’re each bringing our best selves. And in a complex world, that’s a gift, and a treat, and a refuge.
The Theatre Arts program of the Oregon Center for the Arts at Southern Oregon University (SOU) presents the Tony Award-winning Peter and the Starcatcher at the Craterian Theater in Medford. Performances will take place Friday, May 26 at 7:30 PM, Saturday May 27 at 2:00 PM and 7:30 PM, and Sunday, May 28 at 2:00 PM.
Based on Peter and the Starcatchers, the popular children’s book by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, Peter and the Starcatcher serves as a prequel to J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan, providing answers to such questions as, “where exactly is Neverland? How did the Lost Boys become lost? And when did Peter learn to fly?”
Written by Rick Elice, Peter and the Starcatcher was a huge hit on Broadway, winning five Tony awards in 2014, and earning nearly universal critical acclaim. New York magazine called it “miraculous,” exclaiming, “spectacle, wit, and joy spill out of this play like treasure from a magic pocket.”
Beyond the play’s appeal as a Peter Pan prequel, Peter and the Starcatcher also wins audiences with its do-it-yourself, story-theater aesthetic, according to David McCandless, SOU Professor of Theater, who is directing the production. “The play has a delightful, catch-as-catch-can quality,” McCandless explains. “At its heart, it’s just a bunch of actors with a few props telling a story. It’s a great show for audiences of all ages.”
The play is also genuinely witty, according to McCandless. “It’s full of cheeky humor and dazzling language,” he remarks. “It’s the funniest play I’ve read in a long time.” In addition, while not exactly a musical, the play boasts hearty, catchy songs composed by Wayne Barker. According to McCandless, “the play is also a love story, as Peter comes into his own through his close friendship with the extraordinary Molly Aster, the play’s heroine.”
Peter and the Starcatcher will play at the Craterian Theater in Medford because SOU’s theatre building is being readied for a long-delayed renovation. “To paraphrase a line from Shakespeare in Love, SOU had a play, and we had a theater,” said Stephen McCandless, Executive Director of the Craterian. The McCandless brothers grew up in Medford and pursued careers in other locales until their separate professional trajectories returned them to the Rogue Valley.
The cast of Peter and the Starcatcher includes Bernard Hefner, Ethan Hennes, John Alan Hulbert, Grant Luecke, Alex Magni, Samantha Miller, Meghan Nealon, Nolan Sanchez, Kyle Sanderson, Eric Solis, Jonah Thorpe-Kramp, Krista Unverferth, and Tavis Williams. The design team consists of Sean O’Skea (set), Michael Stanfill (lighting), Estrella Page-Lopez (costumes), and Reilly Schrader-Dee (sound). Jennifer Schloming provides musical direction, and Cailey McCandless choreography. Melissa Hampton serves as stage manager, with Andy Palstring as technical director.
Performances take place Friday, May 26 at 7:30 PM, Saturday May 27 at 2:00 PM and 7:30 PM, and Sunday, May 28 at 2:00 PM at the Craterian Theater in Medford, at 23 S Central Ave, Medford, OR 97501.
Tickets are being sold through the Craterian Theater Box Office. Tickets are: $22 general admission and $10 for youth (ages 6-20). Tickets can be purchased online at http://www.craterian.org/ or by calling 541-779-3000.
The Oregon Fringe Festival is underway! The festival kicked off Wednesday to host a variety of local art, film, music, and theater student-driven acts. A mixture of innovatively produced happenings, installations, and curated works from artists at Southern Oregon University, the Oregon Fringe Festival breaks boundaries and takes art out of its traditional venues. The Festival’s student producers are particularly excited to present headlining performances this weekend by special guest artists Mark Applebaum and James Donlon.
Key Fringe events are listed below – for a full schedule of Fringe events, please see www.oregonfringefestival.org. All events are FREE and open to the public.
Mark Applebaum and James DelPrince: Concerto for Florist
Friday, May 5, 6:00 PM, SOU Music Recital Hall
Saturday, May 6, 3:00 PM, Lithia Park Butler Bandshell
Mark Applebaum’s Concerto for Florist is a daring composition that exemplifies his unconventionality. Featuring floral designer James DelPrince, the piece blends floral design, musical composition, and performance work. Mark Applebaum is an internationally renowned musician and composer whose solo, chamber, choral, orchestral, operatic, and electroacoustic work has been performed throughout the United States, Europe, Africa, and Asia. www.markapplebaum.com.
James Donlon: Monsters
Friday, May 5, 10:30 PM, SOU Music Recital Hall
Saturday, May 6, 10:00 PM, SOU Music Recital Hall
James Donlon presents a devised theater piece, entitled Monsters, that changes in each manifestation. Donlon has partnered with students from the SOU Theater, Music, and Visual Arts Departments to bring this provocative work to the Oregon Fringe Festival. James Donlon has been a celebrated master teacher, international performer, and director since 1970. The New York Times describes his work as “an extraordinary blend of skill and lunacy!” jamesdonlon.com
Visual Arts Exhibitions
Opening Receptions – Coinciding with First Friday Trolley: Friday, May 5th, 5-8pm
Exhibition Dates: May 5 – 28, 2017
Stevenson Union Gallery
figure.ground, David Bithell, Solo Exhibition
Center for the Visual Arts Galleries
Dancing with Alchemy, Mara Reinhardt, Solo Exhibition
Imagined: 30 Years of Performance Mask, James Jesse Peck, Solo Exhibition
Works by Ka’ila Farrell-Smith, Ka’ila Farrell-Smith, Solo Exhibition
[i s h], Samuel Lindley, Solo Exhibition
Revelation, Charlie Howarth, Solo Exhibition
The Oregon Center for the Arts at Southern Oregon University Theatre program proudly presents Maxim Gorky’s depiction of turn of the century Russia, Summer People. This homage to Anton Chekov, runs May 11-14, 2017 at Southern Oregon University’s Stevenson Union Arena.
Something of a de facto sequel to Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard, Summer People depicts the ordeals and aspirations of Russia’s new middle class, represented by several families vacationing in their summer homes. They play chess, meet for picnics, and entangle themselves in perilous romances, all while facing the unmistakable specter of change—a change some fear, some welcome, and none can avoid.
Summer People is written by Maxim Gorky, and the translation of the play is by Nicholas Sanders and Frank Dwyer. According to dramaturg Tamar Peterson, “Maxim Gorky (1868-1936), a Russian and Soviet writer, born under the name Alexei Maximovich Peshkov, got his start writing as a journalist, favoring the alias, “Gorky,” which means “the bitter one.” Gorky’s career breakthrough came when he published his first book, Essays and Stories, in 1898. He believed that literature should be a form of political commentary and protest. His best-known work, The Lower Depths, which debuted at the Moscow Art Theatre in 1902, depicts the plight of down-and-out Russians living in a shelter near the Volga River.”
Summer People is directed by James Edmondson, a long-time resident director and actor with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. “We are particularly excited about the production of Summer People because it showcases the outstanding depth and skills of our student performers. It has been a rewarding experience to work with actors who demonstrate such dedication and discipline,” states Edmonson.
Performances take place Thursday-Saturday, May 11 through 13 at 8 PM; Saturday-Sunday, May 13 through 14 at 2 PM at the Stevenson Union Arena on the Southern University Campus at University Way. Tickets are: $21 regular, $18 senior, $6 student, general admission.
Tickets are being sold through the Oregon Center for the Arts Box Office. The box office is located in the SOU Music Building, off South Mountain Avenue, adjacent from the Theatre building which is currently under construction. Remaining tickets will be on sale one hour prior to performances at the entrance to the Stevenson Union Arena. OCA Box office hours are noon to 6 PM Monday through Friday. Tickets can be purchased with a credit card over the phone by calling 541-552-6348 or online at oca.sou.edu/box-office.
Shakespeare America will present a special event entitled, “The Woman’s Part in Shakespeare” at Southern Oregon University on Saturday, April 22 from 1:00 to 4:00 PM in the Meese Room in Hannon Library. The event will include a performance by Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF) actress Robin Goodrin Nordli of her acclaimed one-woman show, “Virgins to Villains: My Journey with Shakespeare’s Women,” as well as a panel discussion featuring Lisa Wolpe, director of the Los Angeles Women’s Shakespeare Company. There is no admission charge.
According to David McCandless, Director of Shakespeare’s Studies at SOU and organizer of the event, “The Woman’s Part in Shakespeare” will address the challenges of being a female performer of Shakespeare’s plays. “Robin’s show addresses that topic in a uniquely personal way,” he explains, “and the panelists will also consider how being a woman in 2017 shapes their approach to characters created over 400 years ago—especially those women considered shrewish or villainous.” Additionally, the panel will discuss “the rewards and risks of women taking on male roles.” Wolpe is a specialist in cross-gender performance who, according to American Theatre magazine, has played more Shakespearean male roles than any woman in history.
Joining Wolpe on the panel are OSF actress Christiana Clark, who has played both male and female Shakespearean characters, including Proteus in The Two Gentlemen of Verona and Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing, and Dawn Monique Williams, OSF Artistic Associate whose upcoming production of The Merry Wives of Windsor will feature many women in male roles, including that of Falstaff. Professor Pamela Brown, a Shakespeare scholar from the University of Connecticut, will kick off the event with a brief lecture on Shakespearean actresses from a historical perspective, entitled “For what’s a play without a woman in it?”
The public is welcome to attend “The Woman’s Part in Shakespeare” on Saturday, April 22 from 1:00 to 4:00 PM in the Meese Room in Hannon Library at Southern Oregon University. This event is free of charge with no RSVP required. For more information, please contact Helen Eckard at 541-552-6346 or at email@example.com.
broadwayworld.com Sacramento – Posted Nov. 9 12016
Darek Riley, who received his bachelor of fine arts degree in acting/performance from SOU, plays Robin Hood in Greg Banks’ adaptation of “Robin Hood” at Sacramento’s B Street Theatre.
Mail Tribune – Posted Nov 8, 2016
Small-time gangster Arturo Ui sets out to take over the Chicago cauliflower trade by ruthlessly disposing of the opposition in Bertolt Brecht’s surprisingly contemporary and comical take on the rise of fascism in a free society.
“The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui” — written in just a few weeks in 1941 by the German playwright while he waited for a visa to leave Finland for America — is a satirical allegory of the rise of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party in Germany prior to World War II.
During the Academic Year
M – F 12 to 5 pm, and one hour before performances