Productions

Productions

“Arcadia’s” Production Team

16 Nov , 2016  

“This vibrant play moves effortlessly between the centuries and explores the nature of truth and time, the difference between classical and romantic temperaments, and the disruptive influence of sex on our life orbits, the attraction Newton left out.”

Sydney Cheek-O’Donnell (dramaturg)

A dramaturg is the theatre artist who specializes in connecting a play to the performance context in which it will be performed. We do this in a variety of ways. One of the ways in which we do that is by conducting and sharing relevant research with our production team, actors, and audience. We typically do research on the play, the playwright, the content of the play, and the original context in which the play was written and performed. This information becomes creative source material for the theatre artists involved; and it can offer audiences ways to connect the play to their own lives and the world around them.

Arcadia, this took the form of an extensive glossary because the characters refer to dozens of historical figures, places, artistic movements, inventions, and scientific concepts. As with a Shakespeare play, the actors in Arcadia must understand what they are talking about so that they can help lead the audience through the story. The audience may not know exactly what the meaning of “determinism” is, for example, but if the actors understand it, they will be able to convey the significance or weight of it to the audience. The other part of my job is to watch the show in rehearsals at key moments (like run-throughs and dress rehearsals) and provide feedback to the director, with special attention on the clarity of the story telling.

I love this play. I think it’s probably one of the greatest plays—if not the greatest play—of the 20th century. The play addresses an astonishing variety of ideas, not just through the words the characters speak, but through the development of the play’s action, the way props are used and accumulate on stage, and the way characters parallel one another. The variety of complex ideas addressed in the play along with the sheer number of specific references the characters make to various historical figures, made simply developing a glossary an extremely challenging task. To create a good glossary, a dramaturg needs to process the information into bite-sized chunks that are clear and relevant to an actor. For a lot of plays, a glossary will only take a couple of days to put together. This one took me a couple of weeks. I think it ended up being in the neighborhood of 18 pages. So although it’s an extremely challenging text to work on, it’s also been a joy.

Macarena Subiabre (Stage Manager)

I was incredibly excited to start working on this show after reading the script. I love working with the people in the cast, many of which I have already worked with before, but have such different roles and challenges in this show. I also have really enjoyed seeing the process that the designers have had during this show, and seeing how their ideas all come together. This show is unique in the sense that there are so many props to keep track of. The scenes in this show are more intimate, and the connection between characters is incredibly important, which is what makes it so captivating. The show is also different in that every line said in this show is important, as it a clue to future scenes or it explains a previous action.

Haley Nowiki (Set Designer)

It has been a whole new experience for me designing the set for Arcadia. This is my third show at the U and it’s also the first show that takes place in another time period. I really enjoyed researching the architecture of the early 19th century and putting my own spin on things to create a more realistic experience for the audience. My favorite part of this set has got to be the floor. I worked with the scenic charge, Halee Rasmussen, and we painted it in the span of 2 days. It was so exciting to see a plain black stage floor transform into beautiful finished hard wood right in front of my eyes. It really ties the scene together for me. The whole set is so elegant and clean that it has become a stately home in our little basement theater. The most challenging part of this design was probably the research I had to do for it. I had to make sure that the elements I wanted to include were built correctly and were selling the right time period to the audience. Historical accuracy is important for a show like this one, so I had to make sure that I was digging deep to find the exact look I was going for, while still allowing me the freedom to mix and match ideas and include some of my artistry. It was pretty cool to design my own crown moulding and wainscoting, though.

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Christa Didier (Costume Designer)

This show had a unique challenge of two different time periods, early 1800s and 1993. For the 1990’s, there were a lot of things I could skip; I already know from experience the types of fabrics that were used, the type of undergarments (which affects the silhouette ), and have a general sense of what “fits” the time and what doesn’t. I had to concentrate more on figuring out what was appropriate to each character, and what reads as British and aristocratic rather than middle class or American (Hint: American fashion was flashier and more unhinged.) It takes a lot of specific research to develop an instinct for what works and what doesn’t within a certain context, especially when the differences can be so subtle. I struggled with making things look British enough, particularly since my director, Sarah Shippobotham, is a native Brit who experienced the 90’s personally. She was always able to point out when something didn’t look quite right, even in such small of details as Valentine needing to unbutton his shirt collar.

As for the Regency research, I researched the type of structural undergarments that were used, fabric types, popular colors, accessories, silhouettes, appropriate fabric patterns, and a little bit of research of what came before and after. Something you have to keep in mind is that you usually won’t the luxury of getting to build every costume from scratch. It’s just not economical, especially in a show like this with 43 costumes. Out of those, I was only able to build part or all of the costume pieces for five looks, and sadly one of those actually ended up being cut from the show. The rest of the costumes must be pulled from existing storage, rented from other companies, or purchased and altered. I came up with an idea for a costume to use at the end of the show that was sort of “out there.” It’s more symbolic, less literal; sort of a wearable metaphor. Luckily, Sarah was on board when I explained the idea. I won’t spoil the ending for those who haven’t seen the show yet, but I will say I’m really satisfied with how it turned out. Initially this had very little to do with the play itself, but together in a very specific moment of the play, they conjure up powerful imagery and symbolism that I felt added depth and emotion to the scene.

Arcadia runs November 17-20 at 7:30 p.m. and 19 and 20 at 2:00 p.m. at the Babcock Theatre.

By: Kim Davison

Productions

Making of “Self Defense, or death of some salesmen”

24 Oct , 2016  

Playwright Carson Kreitzer’s Self Defense, or death of some salesmen is the Department of Theatre’s second production of the season. It tells the story of a woman who has been convicted of killing seven men; she claims that she killed them all in self-defense. In her preface, Kreitzer writes, “This play is dedicated to Aileen Wuornos, and all those whose names we don’t know.” The following are some behind-the-scenes conversations on the making of the Studio 115 production of Self Defense, or death of some salesmen.

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Production Team

Alexandra Harbold (Director)

“When I was asked to direct Self Defense, or death of some salesmen, I immediately fell in love with Carson’s script – its questions, velocity, scalpel wit, and compassion. The play makes pendulum swings; a scene will cut to the bone then torque with unexpected theatricality. Studio 115’s three-quarter stage allows for an intimacy and immediacy of the work, and we worked to find a kinetic staging to serve the script in that space.  As a Cast and Creative Team, we stayed in a state of experimentation much longer than usual, which allowed us to develop the visual and aural language of our play-world over time.”

“The production is many drafts and layers deep because of their ongoing exploration and investment. Working on Self Defense, or death of some salesmen often felt more like rehearsing a devised theatre piece than on a traditional script. Although it is an established play, I felt it shape-shift with the casting of the ensemble and the particular demands and advantages of the space. This production feels like our very particular telling of Carson Kreitzer’s play. Throughout the process, Carson’s dedication in the play’s preface has been our compass star: attention must be paid.”

Zoe Fetters (Costume Designer)

“The first thing I do as a costume designer is read the play. Then, I read it again. I probably read the play about 40 times to truly understand it. Then I do visual research and talk to the director about their vision for the show. For this play I tried to take ideas of the 80s and 90s and integrate them subtly to the piece. I did research for individual characters to find their visual story. I always want it to look like the costume pieces would come from each specific character’s closet. When I design I start broad and then narrow it down. For this production I found old magazines from the 80s and 90s and found my inspiration from there. Designing Self Defense, or the death of some salesmen stretched a design muscle for me on how artistic I can be.”

Cate Heiner (Dramaturg)

“A dramaturg builds the historical background for a piece of drama by making sure the story is clear and consistent. The first thing I do when starting a new production is get in touch with the director and talk about the concept. Then I do research and make a packet of information to help the actors. For this show I researched the law and sexual violence. After doing that research I discovered how rape and sexual violence are treated in the court system is extremely unfair. It was interesting to see how all of the pieces of Self Defense, or the death of some salesmen came together. One of the most challenging things about being the dramaturge for this production is the more we unpacked it the more we realized it really isn’t about Aileen Wuornos. It is about how other people and people of the court systems respond to sexual assault, rape and violence towards women.”

Actors

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Isabella Reeder (Jo Palmer)

“The rehearsal process for this show was a great mix of table work, movement-based exercises like ‘flocking’ and ‘Suzuki’, and playing with the set pieces pretty early on in the process. Particularly with the flocking work, it’s been a wonderful gift to see how all of us in the company have come together to grow and trust one another, which I think is so integral in a show that deals with the themes that Self Defense, or death of some salesmen does. These exercises have been incredibly helpful in this show, not only define character and relationships, but also to increase my own awareness of the kind of staging that needs to takes place in Studio 115. My character, Jolene Palmer, is based on the real-life first female serial killer, Aileen Wuornos.  The most interesting part about playing my character has been diving into the personality, drive, and story of the actual woman. When I first started researching Aileen Wuornos, I expected to come up with an embittered, violent woman, but was surprised to find that she was actually a very loving, charismatic—and moreover, incredibly intelligent—individual. I love the collision of themes in this play: justice, shame, and hope in a kind of metaphorical (and at times, physical) courtroom; being able to hear the voice and points of views of women who are usually silenced in our everyday reality. It’s a very muscularly logical play, but it has such a deep vein of humanity running through it, which makes it all the more powerful.”

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Cece Otto (Lu)

“Working with Andra has been awesome. She makes you feel like a star and like you are in a safe space. Being in my first show at the U is nice and scary at same time. I feel like I have been out of practice the last few years; I haven’t performed for the public at the U and have been undercover, hiding, learning technique freshman and sophomore years. In the last two years in the ATP we focused a lot on the voice work, which was something I had never done before. Learning how to speak properly and following arguments are important and are helping me in this production. Something that I discovered in this show is that sometimes the bold choice isn’t always the loud choice. This show is very ensemble-heavy, unique, and it is a female-based show. People should come see it because it’s fun. It is full of strippers and prostitutes. What more could you want?!”

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Alex Coltrin (Prosecutor/Cameraman/Cop)

“This is my first time working with Andra, and it has been interesting. She’s not like any other director I have worked with. She has been hands-on since the beginning. In this production, we have spent more time discovering the world vs. discovering characters. Being in a contemporary show like this has been fun, because it is easier to relate to. I love the movement work and ensemble work we have put into this show. It has a Greek chorus feel and is very compelling to watch. This show has a new take on storytelling, and is not told like any other play I’ve seen. Self Defense, or death of some salesmen is a different kind of show for our department to do, and there is a lot of new talent in the show because of the number of sophomores in the cast.”

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Kelsey Jensen (Cassandra Chase/Pandora/Reporter/Corner 4)

“Working with Andra has been great; she pays attention to every little detail. She wants the best for every person in the cast and wants them to be the best they can be. Being in my first production at the U, I feel like all my hard work from my classes the last two years finally gets to pay off. One of the most challenging things in this show has been diving in and finding the back-story for each character. Finding out who a character is and why they’re speaking, and what each word means. People should come see this show because it shows how corrupt the justice system can be. It is also very visually appealing; there are so many cool tech elements. The show is fast-paced so the audience will be on the edge of their seats the whole time.”

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Bailey Walker (Daytona/Jean/Muse)

“The rehearsal process for this show has been awesome! We’ve been experimenting a lot with movement and the world of this non-linear play. Working with Andra on this production has been absolutely amazing!!! She has such a creative mind and is constantly looking at how to incorporate movement to help move the storyline. She is so passionate about this play; on her time off she was sending us research, inspiration, or working with cast members who want to work more outside of rehearsal. Self Defense, or death of some salesmen has a story that is very relevant to today’s society: how we perceive the truth, gender roles, sexual assault, and how the media portrays all of these things.”

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Make sure to catch Self Defense, or death of some salesmen in Studio 115 while you can! This thrilling play is a must see.

Productions

Announcing the Department of Theatre’s 2016-17 Season

1 Aug , 2016  

Welcome to the 2016-17 Department of Theatre Season!

We kick off the season by returning to the Hayes Christensen Theater at the Marriott Center for Dance to open Bring It On: The Musical, with music and lyrics by three-time Tony Award Winner Lin-Manuel Miranda, best known for creating and starring in the Broadway musicals Hamilton and In The Heights.

We kick off the season by returning to the Hayes Christensen Theater at the Marriott Center for Dance to open Bring It On: The Musical, with music and lyrics by three-time Tony Award Winner Lin-Manuel Miranda, best known for creating and starring in the Broadway musicals Hamilton and In The Heights.

Highlights from the 2016-17 theatre season include Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia; Self Defense, or death of some salesmen, inspired by the true story of American serial killer Aileen Wournos; the musical Dogfight by Benj Pasek, Justin Paul and Peter Duchan; and Danai Gurira’s Eclipsed, a play about the Liberian Civil War with an all-black female cast, which played on Broadway Spring of 2016.

In April, we conclude the season with the premiere of The Two Noble Kinsmen written by William Shakespeare and John Fletcher, translated by professor Tim Slover and dramaturged by Martine Kei Green-Rogers as part of the 36 new plays translated into modern English as part of the Play On! Project by Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

The Department of Theatre strives to maximize the access, interest and impact of theatre for our diverse audiences. The productions will ignite exciting dialogue through talkbacks, panel discussions and other artist interface opportunities. This season will be everything you have hoped for and nothing like you expected.


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Bring It On: The Musical
Bitingly relevant, sprinkled with sass, and inspired by the hit film, Bring It On. The Musical takes audiences on a high-flying journey filled with the complexities of friendship, jealousy, betrayal, and forgiveness. Uniting some of the freshest and funniest creative minds on Broadway, Bring It On features an original story by Tony Award winner Jeff Whitty (Avenue Q), music and lyrics by Tony Award-winning composer Lin-Manuel Miranda (In The Heights, Hamilton), music by Pulitzer and Tony Award-winning composer Tom Kitt (Next To Normal), lyrics by Broadway lyricist Amanda Green (High Fidelity) and was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Musical.

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Self Defense, or death of some salesmen

A hitchhiking, highway prostitute is turned into a nation–wide celebrity when she is arrested for the murder of seven men. Is she the nation’s first female serial killer, as the media paint her, or a victim? Self Defense gives a long, hard look at an America most of us don’t want to admit exists.

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Arcadia
This vibrant play moves effortlessly between the centuries and explores the nature of truth and time, the difference between classical and romantic temperaments, and the disruptive influence of sex on our life orbits, the attraction Newton left out.

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Dogfight
On the eve of their deployment to a small but growing conflict in Southeast Asia, three young Marines set out for one final boys’ night of debauchery, partying and maybe a little trouble. But when Corporal Eddie Birdlace meets Rose, an awkward and idealistic waitress he enlists to win a cruel bet with his fellow recruits, she rewrites the rules of the game and teaches him the power of love and compassion.

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Eclipsed
Based on the real life stories of the women and girls who helped bring peace to the African nation of Liberia during its second civil war, Eclipsed doesn’t only capture a piece of untold history, it’s also making it. Eclipsed became the first play with an all-black and female creative cast and team to premiere on Broadway in 2015.

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The Two Noble Kinsmen
Two cousins, Palamon and Arcite are captured while fighting for Thebes against Athens. While imprisoned, they find themselves attracted to Emilia, who is the sister of Hippolyta, wife of Theseus. The Two Noble Kinsmen is one of 39 plays to be translated and adapted for Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s three-year Play On! project. This production will be translated by playwright Dr. Tim Slover and the dramaturgist is Dr. Martine Kei Green-Rogers.

 

by Josiane Dubois