Spring Immersion Trip to Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Ashland
Kimberly Mohne Hill
Ashland, March 2017
Hot on the heels of our wildly successful and inspiring first-annual Spring Break Immersion Trip to New York City, the Department of Theatre & Dance sponsored this year’s Spring Break Immersion Trip to Ashland, Oregon and the world-famous Oregon Shakespeare Festival.
Eight students accompanied three professors in a week-long excursion filled with alumni dinners, workshops with the OSF company members, talk-backs with the actors, tours of the theaters, and lectures and discussions with various members of the OSF staff and creative teams. Interspersed with this vast palette of activities, of course, was the viewing of four of the season’s main stage offerings: Julius Caesar, Mojada: A Medea in Los Angeles, Shakespeare in Love, and Henry IV, Pt. 1.
Workshops included a Stage Combat Workshop with OSF Company member (and Fight Choreographer for Broadway’s production of Sweat) U. Jonathan Toppo and a Voice & Text Workshop with OSF Company Voice Director, David Carey. Students were treated to a “Behind-the Scenes” tour of the Bowmer and Elizabethan Theaters led by actress Kate Hurster who plays “Portia” in Julius Caesar and “Penelope” in The Odyssey this season at Ashland. Talk-backs with actors included Stephen M. Spencer who plays an intense “Caska” in Julius Caesar and Lakin Valdez who was an amazing “Jason” in Mojada: A Medea in Los Angeles.
Among the most meaningful moments of the trip was the post-Mojada debrief hosted by the faculty after the show. Aldo Billingslea moderated a discussion of the play for students who were still a little shell-shocked by what they had just witnessed. Though some of them were familiar with the Greek origins of the story, some were completely blindsided and still others were overwhelmed by the emotions the story evoked. After a discussion and a voice exercise, the students were released to continue processing the intense evening’s viewing in their own small groups.
In short, students were fully engaged in the world of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival from all angles and perspectives. They were able to interact with the Company members and their professors in a way that brought the reality of the profession and the demands it requires of us to life in a profound and resonant way.
These trips would not be possible without the continued support of the College of Arts and Sciences Dean’s Office and donations from our incredibly generous alumni givers. Thank you for your support!