Tag Archives: Theatre

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.

 

Veterans share stories during theatre talk-back

Audience members were invited to join the cast of the Linfield theatre program’s “Fifth of July” in a special Veteran’s Day post-show discussion.

The talk, “Veterans’ Perspectives on War,” followed the performance Nov. 11.

Sophomore Jenny Layton said the theatre program holds discussions after at least one show every year.

“We call them talk-backs,” Layton said. “There’s a panel of people who are invited. The talks usually fit with the theme of the show. It’s usually an open discussion, and the audience and the cast are free to ask questions.”

The panel for “Fifth of July” consisted of six men who were veterans of World War II, the Vietnam War and the second Gulf War. Bob Ferguson, a 1965 Linfield graduate, Daniel Belderrain, a 1973 Linfield graduate, James Duckworth, a 2007 Linfield graduate, Professor Michael Jones, Professor Eric Schuck and Jim Ragsdale were all on the panel.

Layton said that since the play focuses on a veteran returning home, the panel shared their perspectives on war and their post-war homecoming stories.

“They mostly talked about what it was like coming home and adjusting to being back with people,” Layton said. “They all had different experiences coming back. One of them said he went hitchhiking after he went back, and one was in Europe for six or eight months before he could go home.”

Besides the panel, several audience members who participated in the discussion were also veterans.

“One woman talked about how women are kind of overlooked as Vietnam veterans,” Layton said. “She was a nurse in Vietnam, but she’s had trouble getting the same benefits and things as other veterans. That hit me so hard, that in Vietnam and WWII, women weren’t really appreciated.”

The cast of “Fifth of July” felt touched by this discussion of real life war experiences, Layton said.

“We were all so in awe of what these men and women were saying,” Layton said. “There were several times when we were in tears or near tears.”

Layton said the subject of the play brought the cast and the veterans together in this discussion.

“To listen to these experiences of war, and then insert myself into my character watching my nephew come home as a veteran—it was so interesting to listen to them,” Layton said. “And then for the veterans watching the play, it was similar to watching themselves.”

The Veteran’s Day performance was for the benefit of the Disabled American Veterans Auxiliary of Yamhill County, which the veterans on the panel said they were grateful for during the talk.

“It was a beautiful discussion,” Layton said.

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

Latest play spotlights themes of family

Freshmen Kristin Miller (left) and Nicholas Granato (right) play Shirley Talley and John Landis in the Marshall Theatre production of the “Fifth of July” on Nov. 3. Joel Ray/Photo editor

Though the theatre was not full, the buzz of conversation from the crowd filled the air. As the crowd slowly filed in, a big band number drifted from the speakers.

“Fifth of July,” written by Lanford Wilson and directed by Janet Gupton, associate professor of theatre arts, is set in 1977, on Independence Day.

A group of old college friends and several family members return home to Lebanon, Mo., so they can scatter their uncle’s ashes.

The young cast, comprised of mostly freshmen, worked to join their collaborative efforts to make the play shine.

The audience found the play positively entertaining, engaging with the actors on stage by responding with laughter and applause.

The oldest actor in this play is junior Chris Forrer who plays the character Kenneth Talley, Jr. Talley is a gay Vietnam Vet who lives in his family’s farmhouse with his boyfriend, Jed Jenkins.

Forrer said that when he first read through the script he was a little shocked. “There wasn’t anything that I could relate to,” Forrer said. “I thought it was going to be very challenging.”

He said that the more he got into the play though, the more he learned from it.

“I definitely think I have more in common with the character than I first realized,” Forrer said.

Talley’s boyfriend, Jed Jenkins, is played by freshman Jeremy Odden. Although Odden is a freshman, he was recently in Linfield’s production of Chekhov’s “The Proposal.”

When commenting on the character that he played, Odden said he most enjoyed it because, “He [Jed] is a quiet, observant person. It was really fun because I could be really laid back and relaxed. I could look like I wasn’t really paying attention, because that is how my character felt.”

He said the family relationships were an important part of the story that the audience should take away.

“The undertone that John [Landis] is Shirley [Talley]’s father is really important,” Odden said. “During the preview audience, several people didn’t get that. We had to change a few things to make that more understandable.”

Forrer agreed that family was an important aspect of this play.

“People fight, but it’s because they love each other deeply,” Forrer said. “Their arguing comes from wanting what is best; it’s because they care.”

Freshman Kristin Miller also brought up the aspect of family, but on a more personal
level to the actors.

“I loved the cast,” Miller said. “Everyone got along really well, like a big family. We are always laughing and dancing around.”

On a more serious note, she said this play can definitely teach people about the importance of our veterans.

“We need to see things from their perspective,” Miller
said. “How things affect them and their lives.”

She said there are a lot of ways viewers can relate this play to the present day, dealing with soldiers who are coming home from Iraq.

Walking away from the foyer, Forrer called out, “Tell all your friends about [the play]!”

Students are encouraged to attend the Veteran’s Day performance Nov. 11 with a post-show discussion from Vietnam Vet and Linfield alumnus, Bob Ferguson.

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Lydia Driver/
For the Review
Lydia Driver can be reached at linfieldreviewculture@gmail.com.

’Cats audition for scenes showcase

In the basement of Mahaffey Hall, people bustled in and out of the theatre rehearsal room. Individuals awaited their chance to impress the directors, going over the scripts they were just handed in pairs or groups of three or four.

The 13 directors from the Directing class held open auditions Oct. 24 and 25 for their Showcase of Scenes, which will be presented Dec. 4-6.

For the 33 roles that they needed filled, almost 50 people came out to audition, according to junior Caitlyn Olson, one of the directors.

Everyone who auditioned received a callback.

Because all of the plays at Linfield are open school-wide for auditioning, the theatre department gets a lot of new talent.

“The callbacks went really well,” Olson said. “We saw a lot of new faces as well as new aspects of actors we already know. By having all auditions campus
wide it is more low key for people to audition and is much more accessible.”

This was true for a number of individuals who were there Wednesday evening.

Junior Julia Prow, who has no previous theatre work, wanted to come support her roommate, Brita Gaeddert, who is directing “Sunday on the Rocks” by Theresa Rebeck.

Prow said she felt she could relate to this scene. Gaeddert said that she knew Rebeck from another piece, “Spike Heels,” that she acted in and was excited to be directing this scene.

The plot greatly supports women in society and “women’s power.”

Senior Bradley Keliinoi and freshman Mackensie Sempert, who were running lines together, both said they weren’t after a specific scene or role, and they were just there for the fun of it and hoping they would get cast.

“Auditioning is fun, but one of the most nerve wracking things I’ve ever done,” Keliinoi said.

These one-scene performances make theatre an option for people who wouldn’t otherwise have the time to devote.

Freshman Jessica Newton, a nursing major, hasn’t had much free time on her hands, but was “pretty psyched” when she was cast for “Sure Thing” by David Ives and directed by junior Chris Forrer.

When asked what drew her to this scene, she said, “it just sounded fun and quirky and enjoyable to watch. Also, I think the ways relationships start out are usually hilarious and this just solidifies that.”

This is also a great chance for theatre majors and minors to get more acting experience.

Freshman Nicholas Granato, a theatre major who recently performed as Smirnov in “Chekhov Shorts,” has been cast in two scenes.

In “Not A Creature Was Stirring” by Christopher Durang and directed by Rom Giles, he will play a father who is “almost clinically insane” and tries to claim that he wrote “‘Twas The Night Before Christmas.”

The second scene he will be in is “The Moon Please,” written by Diana Son and directed by Olson, which he said is a “much heavier and intense scene.”

“In all honesty, I came into the auditions just
wanting to have fun,” Granato said. “I for sure wanted to be in a comedic scene. I love doing comedy.”

Granato said that he enjoys the way acting allows him to take on different characteristics and personality traits in a safe environment.

“It is so much fun to just be able to get up and act completely different from what I normally get to in an atmosphere where it is totally accepted,” he said. “I am very glad that I get to do two contrasting scenes, and I’m really excited for this experience.”

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Lydia Driver/
For the Review
Lydia Driver can be reached at linfieldreviewculture@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.