Dublin High School Senior Kendra Wilcox Experiences the Oregon Shakespeare Festival Summer Seminar
OneDublin.org met with Ms. Wilcox to learn more about the experience, completed a few weeks ago, as she starts her senior year at Dublin High.
OneDublin.org: How did you learn about the Oregon Shakespeare Festival Summer Seminar and what inspired you to attend?
Kendra Wilcox: “My brother Ian attended the Seminar in 2011 and he had a ton of fun, met a lot of amazing people and said it was a terrific program.”
“The application included a series of written prompts on questions about who you are, what got you interested in acting, what inspires you to act and what theatre means to you. It’s a couple of months between applying and know if you have been accepted.”
OneDublin.org: When did you first get interested in theatre and acting?
Wilcox: “I started acted when I was seven. I was raised around the theatre, it’s been a huge part of my life. I’ve gone to plays since I was young and understood Shakespeare when I was a little kid. My first experience with theatre was driving up to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and I found it really beautiful how actors can take complex, even confusing, material like Shakespeare and create something inspiring.
“I fell in love with being on stage, putting yourself into a role, and creating a totally different person from who you are.”
OneDublin.org: One of the mysteries for those not in the theatre, who only see the finished product, is how actors memorize so much material. What is your strategy for learning lines?
Wilcox: “There are a couple of different ways to memorize lines and the one that I’ve found most effective is to take a few words, say up to the first punctuation mark or halfway through the line, and memorizing that piece by saying it over and over and over. After I’ve perfected that piece I move on to the next portion, and so on, over the course of a few days for each major monologue.”
OneDublin.org: Talk about your most recent experience on the stage, in Dublin High School’s production of ‘The Laramie Project’.
Wilcox: “‘The Laramie Project’ was the most powerful show I have ever done. It was a beautiful and sad experience. It was a challenge for myself and the rest of the cast because we had never done anything so intense before. It was very, very real because of the subject matter, because we were playing the roles of real people and using their actual words. We had to tackle the material with an eye for the funny aspects because the story is so sad, and we had to realize that the lives of the people portrayed are still going on.
“I found memorization for ‘The Laramie Project’ much easier than other productions because the play was composed of real people’s words. The words formed in my head.”
OneDublin.org: Tell me a bit about the Oregon Shakespeare Festival Summer Seminar for students considering the program.
Wilcox: “It’s a two-week program that has participants from around the country, from California to Texas, Hawaii to New Jersey. You can expect not to sleep! Very long, intense, inspiring days. You can expect to learn more than you’ve every learned about theatre. You get to meet some amazing people and take away new skills. And even though you won’t sleep very much, it’s completely worth it. The program includes workshops, forums and you see a lot of shows.
“I found the Romeo and Juliet workshop to be the most impactful. I can’t talk that much about the workshop because the program has an ‘all will be revealed’ policy and I wouldn’t want to spoil that experience for other students, but it was a very intense and powerful workshop and I will never be able to look at that play the same way again. I know a lot of students, including me in the past, saw the play as nothing more than a story of bunch of stupid teenagers where six people died, but after that workshop Romeo and Juliet changed into an entirely different show, entirely new characters.
“We also had a chance to talk to the director of ‘Into the Woods’ which was a great experience. I found her to be very insightful. For this particular production of ‘Into the Woods’ the actors start in everyday modern clothing, and a lot of us were trying to figure out what the director meant by that approach, was she trying to convey that this story starts like any other story but then transforms into something magical? We asked her about this decision during the forum and she responded simply, ‘Because I wanted to!’. I thought that was really cool, that not every direction decision has to have meaning, yet can mean something to you, or mean something entirely different than what was intended.”
OneDublin.org: Is theatre going to follow you into college as you complete your senior year?
Wilcox: “I definitely going to pursue theatre in college and my dream school is Southern Oregon University, which is where I stayed for the seminar. Southern Oregon has actors from the festival that teach there and they have one of the top theatre programs in the west coast. A beautiful school.
OneDublin.org: For students that are fascinated by theatre, but a little intimidated, what advice do you have for them?
Wilcox: “Just go for it! Being afraid of an audition is normal and that fear is worth the reward of being on stage, performing in front of an audience, and that beautiful feeling of being with your cast on opening night and knowing you are all in this together. And knowing that you’ve made something really incredible out of two months of hard work.
“I know that auditions can seem very, very scary but as long as you take a deep breath and focus on something you can do afterwards, like watching one of your favorite movies or going somewhere with your friends, then you have something to focus on that makes you happy other than the fear of auditioning. That simple step can make it a lot easier.”
OneDublin.org: Of all the parts you’ve played, what’s the character you’ve felt sad to leave behind after closing night?
Wilcox: “I always feel bad saying goodbye to characters. They become a part of you, you spend three months learning who they are, and becoming them. I’m not sure you can ever fully say goodbye to a part. I have yet to let go of Dennis Shepherd in ‘The Laramie Project’. I still have the monologue memorized and it’s a very powerful role that I felt very attached to.”
OneDubiln.org: What does ‘becoming the character’ mean to you?
Wilcox: “Becoming the character is not easy. It takes a lot of focus. You can’t just snap and become a character, you have to think about who you are, what you have that is similar to the character, what emotions the character is feeling and take emotions that you’ve felt in your life and think about how you felt at that time and how you can work that into your character. In doing so you want to try and feel and see what the character saw and felt.”
OneDublin.org: Dublin High School has a brand new Center for Performing Arts and Education. What does that mean for you as a student?
Wilcox: “It’s incredible. As hard as it was to say goodbye to The Little Theatre, since I’ve been attached to that space for the last three years of my life, it is incredible to have a brand new, beautiful building where we have all the resources we didn’t have before. We get real lighting and a real stage with real seats. It’s hard to create a play out of almost nothing which is what we had to do in the old theatre. We have dressing rooms, make-up rooms, a green room and place to store all of our flats. It’s going to be an amazing place to perform for my last year at Dublin High.”