Claudia Alick oversees numerous activities as the Oregon Shakespeare Festival's community associate producer, including the Green Show summer performances on the bricks and Open Mics in the Black Swan Theatre. This is Alick's seventh season at OSF. We ate lunch at the Dragonfly Restaurant in Ashland. This is the first of two parts; the second will publish April 30.
EH: Are the Green Shows coordinated with the plays in this OSF season?
CA: Everything needs to have resonance with the communities we are a part of. Because we are doing "A Comedy of Errors" set in the Harlem Renaissance, that brings us in resonance with all of the music and cultural touchstones in that show. This year I have Green Shows that are riffing on that time period and those musicians. Several years ago we did "Troilus and Cressida" set in Iraq. We actually had students from Iraq come here and perform Shakespeare in three different languages.
We are doing shows in the Rogue Valley, so I am going to be booking artists from the Rogue Valley because that is our community. The point of resonance is where we live, who we are, and who our audience is. We haven't announced the season yet.
EH: Tell me about your Open Mics.
CA: There is a featured artist. That means that I know what's going to happen for 15 minutes of that evening, and that's all I know. And then I open up the doors and whoever shows up, that's the show. So you never know what you're going to get.
At the last Open Mic, we had a group of kids just jamming outside of the Black Swan Theatre. They all came in; it was like a huge band; it was really beautiful. We had somebody on an elevated unicycle juggling with knives. So it's very diverse in terms of the types of work that people are doing. You've got people reciting poetry that they've memorized, that they just love. You have people coming in and they're rapping and they've got tracks in the background. We have people who dance.
It's varied. It's different every single time, but it's always really entertaining and surprising and fun. We only do three of them. We do them in the spring. We do one in March, one in April and one in May. I wish that we had the capacity to do more.
Open Mics are about creating open spaces for us to collaborate with each other, because we all live together; and these are spaces for us to artistically jam. It's the same with the Green Show Stage. That's us opening up our theater and saying, "Come on in."
For the Green Show, we have our online application system. We have 116 shows this season, just for the Green Show itself. We also have Culture Fest this year, which means we have matinee Green Shows in September for four days, Sept. 11-14. We celebrate the different cultures that we're celebrating in our plays. Then we add extra programming. We have play readings, panel discussions and open-captioned performances, captioned in Spanish. Then, of course, there'll be some parties, so it should be fun.
I like to book artists who are doing multiple things and who are good at what they do, but are also really smart and can let people into their aesthetic. This is about cultural exchange and figuring out what our points of commonality are.
For information on the Green Show, go to osfashland.org; then go to Experience OSF, then to Activities and Events, then to Green Shows. To find Open Mic information, Google OSF Open Mic.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.