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Oregon Shakespeare Festival – Dublin High Drama Club Road Trip to Ashland, Oregon

August 21, 2010

Something miraculous happened midway through the first Dublin High Drama Club road trip since 1987 to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, Oregon.  21 Dublin High Drama Club students (from incoming freshmen to seniors) and 5 chaperones shared an unforgettable “the show must go on” experience during the second act of the popular musical “She Loves Me”.  A power outage impacting most of Ashland brought the show to a halt just as actress Lisa McCormick (as Amalia Balash) finished a solo number.  Instead of being whisked offstage with a set change in darkness, emergency lighting kicked in leaving Ms. McCormick stuck on-stage (and poorly lit).  Without missing a beat and with a tremendous sense of humor she looked out into the audience and said with a wink “I think I’m stuck!”  Standing ovations are normally left in the wings for the end of the production – in this case the audience, realizing what had happened, burst into spontaneous applause, cheers and laughter. 

After a short delay the show did go on – with stage hands manually moving sets that are normally powered and remote operated.  As power was restored across the city (and in fits and starts in the theater) the remarkable professionals that make the Oregon Shakespeare Festival so special finished the production.  Dublin High Drama Club students learned more about live theater courtesy of a power outage than they could by watching a flawless production.

 

The Dublin High Drama Program is led by Bryant Hoex (who also leads the drama program at Wells Middle School and who performs periodically with Shakepeare’s Associates in Livermore).  Mr. Hoex plans to make the parent-funded road trip to Ashland, Oregon an annual event (Mr. Hoex also led trips to Ashland during his tenure as Drama Director at Amador Valley High School in Pleasanton, California).  Thanks to careful planning – including booking almost every room in the The Ashland Hostel and enlisting parent volunteers – the event was very inexpensive, allowing more students to attend.  The Ashland Hostel is a 100+ year-old home converted into a hostel, just a short walk from the Elizabethan, Angus Bowmer and New Theatres.

In addition to the musical “She Loves Me” (based on the 1940 film “The Shop Around the Corner” which later inspired “You’ve Got Mail”), Dublin High Drama Students were treated to two Shakespeare productions on the outdoor Elizabethan Stage – “The Merchant of Venice” and “Twelfth Night”.  The Elizabethan Stage provides a magical backdrop for live theater: an outdoor amphitheater that, during the quiet darkened moments of a scene change, combines a star-filled sky with the shared experience of a live audience. 

In the Green Room with Actor John Tufts

In-between plays students and chaperones were led on a backstage tour by Oregon Shakespeare Festival company members including actors Rex Young (who is currently appearing in Twelfth Night as Sir Andrew Aguecheek) and John Tufts (who is currently appearing in Henry IV Part One as Prince Hal).  Mr. Tufts has previously played Puck in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, Romeo in “Romeo and Juliet” among many other starring roles.  Backstage tours are always interesting… but a backstage tour led by two accomplished actors added a unique perspective for the Dublin High Drama Club students.  The tour highlighted the extraordinary teamwork, organization and planning required to mount a production at the caliber of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. 

Backstage Tour - Elizabethan Theatre

The Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, Oregon is celebrating its diamond anniversary – that’s 75 years of theater – and is the country’s largest, oldest regional rotating repertory company.  In order to accommodate an audience that on average travels 200 miles to Ashland, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival runs multiple plays and musicals simultaneously (a rotating repertory).  This approach allows theater goers visiting Ashland for just a few days to see, on average, 3 productions.  Dublin High Drama Club students learned of the complex coordination and planning required in every theater department to share one stage with multiple productions running in parallel. 

Dublin High Drama Club students were excellent examples of Dublin and Gael Pride – actively engaging in each performance (include heated debates after each show on the artistic merit of the production), and treated the City of Ashland and its residents with respect. 

The Dublin High Drama Club road trip to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, Oregon is just one example of the remarkable experiences made possible by the Dublin High School faculty and parent community.  OneDublin.org will be publishing more articles in the new Dublin High Experiences series in the months ahead. 

The Dublin High Drama Club will be back on this stage this fall over the Halloween weekend with “Hide and Shriek”,  a black comedy by Tim Kelly.  For more information on the Dublin High Drama Club visit www.DHSDrama.org

In addition to the Drama Club, Dublin High also offers Drama and Advanced Drama courses.  As part of the Dublin High renewal project, the Dublin High Little Theater will be replaced by a new 500-seat Dublin High Performing Arts Center

Backstage Tour - Preparing the set of "She Loves Me"

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