Matthew Reynolds is the director of drama and dance at the Crater Renaissance Academy of Arts and Sciences in Central Point. In 2010, Reynolds' students wrote an original play about life in Central Point that they performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland. The Crater High School students have again been invited to perform at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August 2014. The group is raising funds for the trip. I chatted with Reynolds over lunch at La Casa del Pueblo in Ashland.
EH: Why are some people passionate about theater?
MR: I think it is the passion towards humanity, that desire to see humanity. For those of us who get on stage, why do we go on stage in this dark space with others whom we don't know? It's seeing us as healers of society, motivators of society, as we move forward and tell our collective stories.
Theater is life, if we look around. It's how we deal with people everywhere that we look. Theater is a life-giving force. It gives so much back to society, if we would take the opportunity to support it. It all starts with self-exploration. It seems that some people don't want to look at theater in that perspective. It's too much for them to look in the mirror. They don't want to process their stuff. They don't want to ask themselves those hard questions which art can sometimes bring up for people.
Some folks are starting to realize that they are in control of their own story; they can create that story, and be whatever they want to be. They've just got to believe in their story, no matter what happens; to embrace it and take it however they want. That surfer saying of "It's all good." It really is, if you let it be. Even if what I learn from a situation is that I never want to be in this situation again, I've learned.
We're all characters. I feel as an actor, you start getting a vision of character development, always watching people how they carry their bodies and how they interact with one another. If they walk a particular way, or they're living in a particular neighborhood, or driving a certain car, or getting out at this storefront or that big building, I'm looking at those things because I never know when I might have to portray that person when I get on stage. It allows me into that world in a way that I think a lot of people who go down the street with blinders on are too prejudiced and biased to see. I'm constantly looking at those things, and it's not a judgment, it's "How do I play that?"
Then through the art that somebody else has written, I get to experience that, and maybe now, maybe my prejudices and biases don't run so deep anymore. I get to be a little more comfortable in my own skin, and maybe allow others to be a little more comfortable in theirs.
Crater High School Students will perform four shows at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. There are numerous fundraising activities for the 14-day trip. For information or to make a contribution, look on the Web at southernoregonvenue.com; on Facebook at Crater Performing Arts Center; or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Evalyn Hansen is a writer and director living in Ashland. She trained as an actor at the American Conservatory Theatre and is a founding member of San Francisco's Magic Theatre. Reach her at email@example.com.