Tag Archives: Theater

Bilingual theatre troupe takes the Linfield stage

A former Linfield theater major returned to the spotlight, accompanied by a new cast and crew, during Miracle Theatre’s production of “Frida, un retablo” on April 5 in the Marshall Theatre.

The Portland-based Miracle Theatre brought the play, which was a part of the Lacroute Arts Series.

The Miracle Theatre was founded in 1985 by Dañel Malán and her husband Eduardo Gonzalez. In 1989, the two created Teatro Milagro, a bilingual touring program.

“Frida, un retablo” starred Malán, Daniel Moreno, Ajai Terrazas and Linfield alumna Tricia Castñeda-Gonzáles Lee.

Castñeda-Gonzáles Lee graduated from Linfield in 2009 with a degree in theater arts. She has worked with Miracle Theatre for two years and appeared in several productions.

She has also performed with theaters in Portland, such as Defunct Theatre, Willamette Shakespeare, Portland Playhouse and CoHo Productions. She is also a pre-school teacher.

The cast of “Frida, un retablo” was versatile, as only four actors performed the roles of numerous characters. Terrazas, for example, would switch from playing a straight-laced art vendor with a heavy New York accent to an elderly version of Frida within minutes.

Frida Kahlo was born in Mexico City in 1907. She is well known for her self-portraits and notorious eyebrows “taking flight like the wings of a raven,” said Moreno in the opening minutes of the play.

She is one of Mexico’s acclaimed visual artists. She possessed extreme pride for her Mexican heritage and is still commonly referred to as Mexico’s daughter.

However, some may not know the whole story of Frida and the pain and suffering that plagued her every day.

She contracted polio when she was seven. When she was 18 she suffered a tragic accident when a trolley car struck the bus she was riding in. A metal rod struck her abdomen, damaging her spinal column, pelvis, collarbone, right leg and foot, left shoulder and two ribs. Her injuries pained her every day and led to a morphine addiction that endured until her final days.

“I’ll be happy to be alive if I can paint,” said Castñeda-Gonzáles Lee, quoting one of Frida’s famous lines.

Frida also experienced hardship in her social life. Her husband Diego Rivera, played by Moreno, was also a famous artist. She coped with being in his shadow.

Rivera also had a terrible habit of cheating on Frida, most infamously with her sister.

It eventually led to the end of their marriage in 1940, although he remarried less than two months later. Because of the muddled relationship with her husband, Frida was known to have a sting of affairs in her history with both men and women.

The Miracle Theatre shed light on the important, but perhaps unfamiliar, story of Frida’s strife.

The actors from “Frida, un retablo” recounted Frida’s entire interesting, exciting and sad life in a unique way.

Castñeda-Gonzáles Lee played a young Frida in the prime of her career and thrilling life. Terrazas played the role of Frida as an elderly lady. And Malán acted as Frida’s spirit. The three different versions of Frida were frequently on stage at once.

The three characters would speak to each other almost as if they were
voices inside of each others’ heads. It allowed audiences to understand Frida’s complex, conflicting and troubled spirit.

A student from the audience enjoyed learning about how Frida’s struggles influenced her art.

“I definitely think that with everything, your hardships make you who you are, and it really molds you into the person that you become, senior Krystal Galarca said.

“And so she is a living testament of that; you can take a tragedy and make it something wonderful that can really be an inspiration to others.”

The performance was brightened with moments of humor.

At one point, Moreno marched up to a student in the first row, grabbed her hand and partnered her for an impromptu dance number.

The arguing between a young Frida and Rivera conjured laughter, especially with the mention of one of Frida’s famous sayings: “I suffered two grave accidents in my life. One in which a streetcar knocked me down… the other accident is Diego.”

The production was a short and sweet 50 minutes and allowed for no moments of dullness.

The actors interlaced Spanish and English, which is customary for Miracle Theatre, to create an authentic representation of Frida’s life.

The backdrop was beautifully painted with bright colored flowers, skeletons, and of course, self-portraits of Frida.

The Miracle Theatre integrates pressing world issues into its performances. It combines Spanish language and music and features the Latino culture to demonstrate its diversity.

Miracle Theater added to Linfield’s continued efforts to increase diversity and exposure to the fine arts. In doing so, it also handed Linfield an opportunity to learn about the amazing life of Frida and to understand the Latino culture.

“I really enjoyed it. I always enjoy seeing outside artists come in, Galarca said.

“And I really enjoyed the mix of culture that was blended into the work.”

Carrie Skuzeski/Culture editor

Carrie Skuzeski can be reached at linfieldreviewculture@gmail.com.

 

Theater festival provides inspiration, training

For theater students, the second week of the Spring Semester represents an opportunity to attend an annual theater conference.

The Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival, or KCACTF, is a weeklong event for theater majors, minors and those who are interested. It is held in multiple regions across the country.

This year, KCACTF ran from Feb. 13-17 and was hosted by Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colo. Last year’s festival was at Humboldt State University in Arcata, Calif.

The group from Linfield consisted of 14 students and two professors, Tyrone Marshall, professor of theatre arts, director of theatre and resident designer, and Janet Gupton, associate professor of theatre arts and resident director.

Sophomore Jenny Layton said there were about 800 graduate and undergraduate students at the festival.

“I even met someone who was a high school senior,” Layton said.

Four Linfield students were nominees for the Irene Ryan acting competition.

“You get nominated by performing in shows at your school,” Layton said. “Two people are nominated from every show.  At the festival you perform for three judges.  The preliminaries cut it down from 200 or 300 students to about 30.  The semifinals cut it down to between 12 and 16 students, and then the final round has two winners and two runners-up.”

Besides being the stage for performance competitions, KCACTF is the site of workshops, classes, shows and information sessions. Some students bring technical portfolios, and some give staged readings of plays they have written.

“Every day there were workshops,” junior Laura Haspel said. “The focus varied from acting to play writing and design, and you had a choice as to which ones you went to.”

Layton said that one workshop about Eve Ensler’s “The Vagina Monologues” was so inspiring that several students decided to bring it back to Linfield.

”We held our own workshop in the Church of Totem exhibit,” Layton said. “There were maybe 30 people there. It was really cool to be able to take something we’d experienced at the festival and apply it to our own setting so quickly afterward.”

Haspel said she was also involved in the workshop at Linfield.

“We just made a Facebook group and invited a bunch of people to celebrate what it means to be a woman,” Haspel said. “I was in the production of ‘The Vagina Monologues’ that the Linfield Theatre Department put on a few years ago, and that was just an amazing experience. To bring it back to life was really incredible.”

Information about graduate schools and internship programs is also available to the students at the festival. One series of auditions gives seniors a chance to audition for several schools and theater companies all at once.

There are four full-length shows put on during the week, one every night from Monday through Thursday.

“One was about electroshock aversion,” Haspel said. “It was a study at BYU where they tried to reverse homosexual fantasies through electrocution, and the playwright was one of the participants. Another was a play called ‘Us’ that was basically devised by our generation for our generation. It covered everything from Facebook, to 9/11, to Taco Bell; everything that’s a part of our culture. It was really interactive with the audience—we were cheering, we were crying.”

Layton said coming back to school was hard, having to adjust to real school again after the festival.

“All of us came out wishing it had lasted longer,” Layton said. “It’s so rewarding to be surrounded by so many people with a passion for theater. You only get that in a very small scale in the theatre department here.”

Haspel compared the feeling to culture shock.

“You learn so much in that week and it’s exhausting, not just all fun,” Haspel said. “I think we all took something from that trip and brought it back.”

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Sharon Gollery/
Culture editor
Sharon Gollery can be reached at linfieldreviewculture@gmail.com.

 

Execution of Justice murders with emotion

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Senior Alessa Karlin, portraying the wife of Dan White, breaks down as riots occur during the production May 5 in the Marshall Theatre of Ford Hall. Megan Myer/Online editor

Senior Alessa Karlin, portraying the wife of Dan White, breaks down as riots occur during the production May 5 in the Marshall Theatre of Ford Hall. Megan Myer/Online editor

The Marshall Theatre invited a  welcoming audience May 5, for the opening night of the play “Execution of Justice.”

Junior Cody Levien said he doesn’t go to plays — ever. He attended the first “Execution of Justice” performance and summed it up in one word: “emotional.”

Levien’s uncle was a part of the gay community in San Francisco during the late ’70s when the city’s mayor, George Moscone and city supervisor, Harvey Milk were slain. Milk was the first openly gay man elected to public office in California during the 1970s

“He was there for the whole thing,” Levien said. “If anything, [seeing the play] was more of a learning experience.”

The aftermath of the assassinations drove the focus of the play.

Written by Emily Mann, the play documents the
trial proceedings of the man responsible for the 1978 double murders, Dan White.

“There were two murders that were committed and it was clearly proven, and yet they only gave him manslaughter,” Jane Lieber Mays, who watched the play with her husband, said. “That hit home because it’s indicative of what continues to happen in this country. People just make stuff up, and they are swayed by this emotional stuff that people make up and they vote according to that.”

Lieber Mays said she knows about Milk because she’s from that generation.

“I was in the ’60s when we were actually rioting,” she said. “I’ve been in it before.”

Lieber Mays praised the way the theater’s new equipment allowed the program to integrate varying forms of multimedia into the production.

“What they were able to do with [the equipment] was astonishing — we went through without a glitch tonight,” she said. “It was seamless; it was just beautiful.

The stage featured powerful projectors that the Department of Theatre and Communication Arts purchased using  a grant from the E.L. Wiegand Foundation, a nonprofit organization that serves charitable and educational purposes.

Lieber Mays said despite understanding the levels of interpretation
attempted, some of the play’s symbolism was distracting. However, she was blown away by the acting.

“The level of acting was amazing,” she said. “The level of acting is always high-quality, but they were up a notch this time. It has to do with the director and the commitment of the actors and probably the subject matter.”

“Shedding light on a part of history was the main objective for the play’s production,” Janet Gupton, associate professor of theatre arts anddirector of “Execution of Justice,” said.

“I felt like after the movie Milk came out, it was a good time to do this play because it picks up where Milk left off,” she said. “It’s a good chance for people to know what happened to Dan White and what happened in the trial.”

Levien and Lieber Mays said the summation scenes toward the end of the play stood out to them.

The audience was moved during the confession scene of Dan White, played by junior Aaron Granum and junior Daphne Dosset, who played the court clerk and the young mother roles in the play, she said.

“You could see people turning their programs into fans to dry their wet faces,” she said.

The gravity of the play was compelling, leaving  audience members in the middle of understanding and grief.

“It’s a lot of stuff to ask of them, but I think [the cast and crew] learned a lot by doing this show. [We] learned a lot of history and about the human psychology but also the human spirit,” Gupton said.

Gupton said that she has a high respect for public servants, those who are “willing to lay their life on the line knowing that they could
really make someone angry.”

“To discover these injustices in a world where we’re more accepting of everything, and realize that this happened in your own country, has to be a deeply moving experience,” Lieber Mays said.

The final show of “Execution of Justice” will run at 7:30 p.m. on May 14 inside the Marshall Theatre of Ford Hall.

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Septembre Russell/
Copy chief
Septembre Russell can be reached at linfieldreviewcopy@gmail.com.

 

Wildcats dip their paws into community theater

Three Linfield theater arts majors are set to act in a play at McMinnville Gallery Theater.

Seniors Steven Stewart and Matt Sunderland and sophomore Chris Forrer were cast in “Arsenic and Old Lace” by playwright Joseph Kesselring, which opens on April 1.

The play also features Meridith Symons, administrative assistant for Academic Affairs, and is directed by Paula Terry, Acquisitions, Cataloging and Administrative Support Coordinator at Nicholson Library.

The play’s plot centers around two sisters, Abby and Martha Brewster, who appear to rent out their spare room to kindly older gentlemen when in reality they are plotting to kill the men.

Sunderland said he was cast in a production of “Arsenic and Old Lace” during his senior year of high school.

“Once I heard that she [Terry] was directing, I was very excited, and I wanted to audition because I love the play.”

Sunderland was cast as Mortimer Brewster in high school, but this time he will portray Dr. Herbert Einstein.

“He [Einstein] is a homicidal maniac and a touch insane,” he said.

Forrer will play the role of Mortimer, a theater critic working for a newspaper in Brooklyn, the play’s setting.

Rehearsal dates for the Linfield theater’s next production, “Execution of Justice,” directed by associate professor of theatre arts Janet Gupton, coincide with the community theater’s rehearsal dates. Forrer, Stewart and Sunderland are each cast in “Execution of Justice,” as well.

“The primary concern was ‘Execution of Justice.’ It’s a huge production with a predominantly male cast, and it needs all hands on deck,” Sunderland said. “Unfortunately, to have three guys go audition for a play elsewhere and possibly, as such, not be able to do “Execution of Justice” really kind of threw things into question.”

The Department of Theatre Arts and the students have been able to coalesce as far as scheduling goes, he said.

“They’ve been very willing to work with us and help our show succeed, and we’ve been willing to do late-night rehearsals with Janet to do what we can for her show for these weeks,” Sunderland said. “All three of us love to do it. It adds motivation and fuel to the fire to really concentrate on both roles.”

The dual-role situation doesn’t cause turbulence, but there is one aspect of their moonlighting that has required some extra effort, he said.

“Something that Steven and I both had to struggle with is learning accents. Dr. Einstein is from Germany, so I had to learn a German accent and Officer Brophy is from Brooklyn, so he had to master a Brooklyn accent,” Sunderland said. “That was a good challenge for both of us, I think. It’s been fun to have that extra thing to work on.”

“Arsenic and Old Lace” runs through April 16 at the Gallery Theater at 210 Ford Street in McMinnville. Curtain is at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and at 3 p.m. on Sundays.

Call the Gallery Theater for tickets. Ticket pricing is as follows: general admission, $14, student and senior citizen tickets, $12.

Students can bring their IDs to the Gallery Theater half an hour before the curtain. When the theater has unsold tickets, students can purchase tickets half-off.

The Gallery Theater box office is open from noon to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday. Call the Gallery Theater at 503-472-2227 or visit www.gallerytheater.org for additional information.
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Septembre Russell/Copy chief
Septembre Russell can be reached at linfieldreviewcopy@gmail.com.

Play offers witty look at Victorian British society

Junior Kanon Havens (left)  and freshman Cole Curtright perform on March 15. Megan Myer/Online editor

The world of Oscar Wilde’s short story, “Lord Arthur Savile’s Crime,” adapted by playwright Robert Urbinati, came alive under the direction of Elizabeth Rothan, class of ’85, in the premiere of “West Moon Street” on March 15.

Audiences were taken back to the Victorian era and upper-class British society where duty was a priority for gentlemen such as Lord Arthur Savile, played by freshman Cole Curtright, who has a “secret that he kept locked away in his heart.”

The performance kept audiences on their feet with a thick plot, witty lines and eloquently designed period costumes by instructional associate costume designer and shop manager Alethia Moore-del Monaco.

“West Moon Street” received positive comments from Linfield students.

“I love how visually gorgeous the costumes and sets are,” sophomore Caitlyn Olson said.

Freshman Sylvan Tovar said he thought the characters were performed well.

“I liked Lady Windermere [played by freshman Gabrielle Leif]. She was really driven and had unique interests,” he said. “My favorite part was that actors were given a voice, and it was well acted — really well done.”

Curtright said he could easily connect with the lead role of Arthur Savile.

“I think in some aspects I am like my character,” Curtright said. “I can relate to him. He likes to have fun.”

Junior Kanon Havens, who played Sybil Merton, said she felt the opposite about her role.

“I thought I was much more like her when reading the script,” Havens said. “I found out she was bubbly and energetic, but I wasn’t really connecting to the play. She’s not really like me.”

Rothan noted some challenges with the play, including developing the role of the maid, removing the piano player and changing one male role to a female role.

Senior Rachel Westrick, who played Mrs. Podges, said that although Urbinati had to rewrite the play to accommodate these changes, the physical appearances of the characters didn’t matter.

Freshman Jacob Priester, who played Charles the Butler, talked about the significance of plays in general.

“Plays are intimate and audiences can connect with the actors. It’s not edited, and it’s more of a natural experience live,” he said.
For Rothan, the power of plays is that they “reflect life. [They’re] pieces of themselves; [they] inform awareness — in this case, culture, and more compassion and ideas. [They]give an insight into other people’s worlds; [They] take ourselves out of time’ and we all need to laugh.”


Yoko Gardiner can be reached at linfieldreviewculture@gmail.com.