Sunday, June 19, 2011

"TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD" SEEN AS NEVER BEFORE AND PROBABLY NEVER AGAIN




Tonight we were among a few hundred people gathered in the 1913 Historic Ashland Armory for a "concert performance" of the play "To Kill a Mockingbird" by the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. The regular staged performance had to be cancelled because of structural damage to the Bowmer Theater building discovered earlier in the day. Numerous people and institutions of Ashland rallied around OSF to make the Armory available and ready for the performance.

Nineteen chairs were lined up across the stage. The actors filed in, sat down, and after an explaination of how this had come together so quickly, each actor introduced her/himself, told what characters they play, and the play began. No set. No props. Each actor standing to play their role, with limited stage movement. And it was wonderful!

The audience sat enthralled on folding chairs borrowed from local schools, hanging on every word and phrase. I can't imagine a better performance, even with a full set, props and blocking. The cast, to a person, brought this compelling play to life using only their acting skills, the words of a great script, and the cohesion of a fine acting company.

Thank you, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, for a once in a lifetime experience.

- posted from the fisheyepad

Location:Ashland, Oregon. USA

24 comments:

Mythtown said...

Hi, thanks. How was the sound quality? Were they miked? (I'm hard of hearing -- part of the reason I buy A+ seats well in advance.)

Priscilla Weaver said...

As a local season-ticket holder, my heart is aching for OSF and all the disappointed ticketholders. But ... I almost wish we had had tickets in the Bowmer this week so we could have shared in the extraordinary performance last night at the Armory and compared it to the glorious performance we saw in the Bowmer in early spring. Three cheers for the actors and staff of OSF, the folks in charge of the Armory, and all the other Jackson County residents who rallied to make this happen!

Paul said...

@Mythtown...the actors were not miked for that first performance in the Armory; however, I understand that they are re-staging the performances for the Armory. Check with OSF about sound, and I hope you enjoy.

marney said...

i bet the performances in the new venues are amazing! actors rise to new heights when given a challenge of this type. we can't wait to be bumped to a new venue and experience later this month, in july and again in august. guests since 1977.

charles said...

I saw my first OSF production in 1960. My son was in Oedipus in 1974 at age 8. My wife was an actor with OSF in '90 and '91. We both love theater and OSF. This horrendous circumstance is the stuff of theater...alive. We know how exciting it must be to the company to do this this way; we know the experience is a theatrical opportunity without equal. Imagine what we are missing! I love how both the company and audiences so quickly adapt. It is like the accidental dropped ashtray in the middle of Act One: real actors can pick it up and make it look as if it were written that way. The show must...and so on. Chuck Weller Brookings, OR

Anonymous said...

wow- we were up last week- I almost wish we were there this week. I know these unique performances will be terrific. OSF is so skilled at making performances such a wonderful experience - break a leg to all of the actors and many people helping them show these one of a kind plays !

susan said...

I must add my comments about seeing August: Osage County in this unexpected but ultimately spellbinding venue. Turns out that a stripped down stage with only limited lighting and a dozen folding chairs can end up opening the imagination to a three story rambling home -attic and all. The play was fantastic with these actors leaving their last great breath to wonderful applause. You could feel in that room everyone rooting for everyone else - actors hoping the audience wouldn't be disappointed; the audience hoping the actors would give it their all; the theater wanting to be the best it could be in a pinch - and it
was! A treat I will remember for a long time to come.

PattyHeller said...

When the Loma Prieta earthquake shut down the San Francisco Opera House in 1989, our company (I'm in the orchestra) scurried to open as soon as possible, and scheduled a full weekend of performances in the Masonic Auditorium, just 4 days after the earthquake. We did semi-staged versions of Aida, Otello, and Idomeneo, with full orchestra. The audience was won over with this Herculean effort, and with the unexpected opportunity to be Up Close and Personal with the sheer power of the art. I love that OSF has found a way to hit the ground running even with this disappointing surprise. It's a great opportunity for your audience to look with different eyes.

Deafy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Deafy said...

Thank you, Mr. Fishman and everyone else. Yes, Indeed, it was quite an experience for us (Mockingbird) and especially for this Deaf actor (Bob Ewell) to re-mount MB as a "concert reading." It was a two-fold treat for me: 1. To be able to directly see and feel the responses from you, the audience, that I miss when offstage and even when onstage. 2. To witness the growth of the cast in action since I last observed them in rehearsal. OSF is truly a humane and thoughtful organization in how they treat their patrons and recruit such a diverse company. Much thanks to all of you for your wonderful support, past, present, and future. When given a lemon,...
Howie Seago

Dave C. said...

Dear OSF,
Thank you for the exellent adjustment to the Bowmer problem, for the rapid communication, and for the superb-by all reports- response of the actors and staff. Fortunately, you have a major problem to deal with and not a tragedy....finding structural issues before they fail is definitely the way to do it. "Lucky is he for whom the bell tinkles before it tolls....."
Best Wishes.
D.C.

Christine Menefee said...

Thanks for an excellent post - the next best thing to being there. Great comments, too. It's a major monkey wrench in the works to have to close the theatre just now when the season's really jumping, but it's a good thing the problem was found -- and leave it to OSF, Ashland, and loyal theatregoers to turn the situation into something new and special.

Glad to have stumbled upon your blog this way. Am enjoying other posts too.

Dana Chaney said...

A few years ago we attended a reading of August Strindberg's A Dream Play presented by the company in a similar fashion: chairs lined up on the stage, actors standing to read their parts, no costumes and no set. As the reading went on the sets and costumes were filled in by the imagination and the actors voices substituted for the acting. It was ultimately satisfying and really felt like the full performance.

Toby Bradley said...

My husband and I started attending OSF performances in 1972 and he wrote his dissertation on a production of "The Winter's Tale" performed there several years later. When he died in 2008 (after more than 35 years of semi-continuous attendance) we used a picture of the OSF Elizabethan Stage on his memorial service program. One of our most memorable experiences at Ashland was sometime in the 1970s when a production of "All's Well That Ends Well" performed in pouring rain on the Elizabethan Stage with the actors wearing jeans and sweatshirts and acting their hearts out with the audience enthralled took place. Glad to know that the OSF tradition of "The Show Must Go On" survives to this day. I haven't gotten back since my husband Jerry died, but I will be back soon.

Paul said...

Thanks everyone for these wonderful comments, and I will make sure OSF staff are seeing these. The back story of the importance OSF has in people's lives gives me hope for humanity in this crazy world. I'm learning that for so many of us, OSF isn't just a place we go for theater, it is an integral part of who we are, our identities. (Note: this is the point where I should have the perfect quote from William S., but alas, I don't!)

Best to all of you wonderful people...Paul

Loretta Miles said...

Thank you to everyone involved for offering the alternative "concert" performance of August, Osage County at the Armory on Sunday, June 19th. I think I loved the show even more than if I had been able to see it in the Angus Bowmer Theatre, as rehearsed and planned. To be able to witness the passion of the cast in the spirit of "the show must go on" was incomparable and nothing short of breathtaking! I loved imagining the stage set in my mind, as described by the director, and to see the dedication of the incredibly talented actors in an improvised setting was an experience I will forever hold dear and remember as absolutely unforgettable.

Oregon Shakespeare Festival said...

This is Eddie at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival marketing office. Your amazing support is carrying us through this unexpected and challenging time. Thank you so, so much!

Penny said...

I have not seen one of the concert performances at the Old Armory, but I wanted to note that Bill Langen gave a terrific brief talk prior to the Pirates of Penzance show on Saturday night; just to update everyone, especially those with tickets to upcoming Bowmer shows. Very informative, entertaining and appreciative of OSF's great audiences.

Brenda said...

My friend and I were celebrating our 25th year of Ashland attendance - saving what we thought would be the best 3 shows for last - Measure,Mockingbird and Osage County!!! We were fortunate enough to be able to see both Mockingbird and Osage County at the Armory and it was AMAZING! We can't imagine the "hoops" OSF and Ashland had to jump through to pull this off so quickly! I think it was a "once in a lifetime" experience and I thank you all from the bottom of my heart!

nancy said...

We brought 5 grandkids to see To Kill a Mockingbird. I wondered how this play would go, the kids questioned if we should attend but we had faith the OSF could pull it off. We thought it would be an adventure. As the play progressed and we were pulled into the story I thought "they are doing well". Then when the black minister said to Scout , "stand up, your father is walking before us" it physically felt as though my heart had been grabbed. Tears immediately poured down my face and continued off and on till reaching the car. You did it again!! Without a stage set, elaborate costuming etc , you totally pulled us into the story and we felt the emotions and injustice's of this powerful play. Thank you OSF .
Nancy

Jessica Powell said...

Wow -- now I'm almost hoping the Bowmer ISN'T fixed when we get there in October! As actors ourselves, my husband I know that theatre is the most communal of art forms. Something special happens when we're all breathing the same air together, and sensing the responses, heightened all the more without the "distractions" of sets, etc. Too many theatres don't trust their audiences' intelligence and imagination, so this is wonderful proof that those qualities are alive and well.

Mythtown said...

We just attended the re-imagined "Imaginary Invalid" at the armory. It was absolutely fine. I needn't have worried about the sound quality or anything else. Really impressive what they've managed to put together in such a short time. OSF is adding to its legend in a big way. Bravo!

Pam Hardy said...

We wondered if seeing Mockingbird at the armory would be worth the effort, but with friends who had driven 400 plus miles to join us, we forged ahead. It was absolutely wonderful. I really can't imagine a performance in the Bowmer being more moving. The crew at OSF did an amazing job getting this "new" production up and running. Well done!

Anonymous said...

With the actors costumed from their own closets, limited props and endless imagination we enjoyed Sunday night's performance of "Imaginary Invalid" complete with improvisations and asides that kept the audience in stitches. The intermission was a tad longer than usual (what machinations must have been going on back stage to bring this off?), but many in the audience were beguiled by the french accordion music--enough to dance in the aisles (try that at the Bowmer!). We felt extremely lucky to be in the audience and experience the loosening this impromptu performance educed in the actors. We could even see the (imaginary) Eiffel Tower! A memorable night, and to think the last time we saw "Imag. Inv."was when S.F. ACT was in temporary theaters while the Geary Theater recoved from Loma Prieta. Bravo OSF!

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