One aspect of Oregon Adventure Theatre is the use of Commedia Dell’arte masks.
Our masks are painstakingly and lovingly created by Newman Masks located in Cave Junction, Oregon.
We use the masks for a variety of reasons but primarily we use them to heighten the reality of the actors for those watching the play. Commedia masks often allow a modern actor to relate to unbelievable stakes and for a modern actor to accept the reality, albeit sometimes absurd, thrown at them by William Shakespeare. If noth-ing else it allows a 30 year old the chance to play an 80 year old with no one batting an eyelash.
Commedia Dell’arte was originally a form of masked improvisational theatre used by traveling troupes of fantastic and resourceful performers in Italy. The art both reached its zenith and its demise in the mid 1700’s as arts movements and political leanings changed and the viability of a traveling theatre troupe became more dubious.
What Oregon Adventure Theatre does is not actually Commedia Dell’arte but a wholesale borrowing of those devices that serve us well and a peaceful leaving alone of those devices which do not. It was at the First Annual LaGrande Shakespeare Festival that we christened what it is OAT does. Born out of the improvised antics at a farmers market of several Ore-gon Adventure Theatre performers, Commedia Dell’a Marché was born. Depending on where you put an accent and ignoring its bilingual etymology, Commedia Dell’a Marché is either poorly translated as Commedia of the Market or Commedia on the Go.
For authentic Commmedia Dell’arte, one must accept it has gone the way of honesty in politics or amateurs in the Olympics. We claim to seek its return, but perhaps it was never even there to begin with. Today there are such magnificent Commedia creators as Dario Fo and Newman who through their own type of rebellion bring new red blood cells to the blue and weak blood of an ancient form but even they are not purists. There are also handfuls of pages of modern text illustrating the ins and outs of Commedia available from a variety of University Textbook manufacturers. But it is my belief, if you are a purist at heart, to get the full experience, simply put on an Arlecchino mask oneself, eat pasta and cry.
Worked a Commedia dell’Arte workshop at West Linn High School,
Will was initiated into Peninsula Odd Fellows,
Jordin Bradley directed selected scenes of an all-male cast of Romeo and Juliet, and the cast list was announced with performance dates to boot.
Things have been busy here at Oregon Adventure Theatre.
Needless to say, WELCOME BACK!
The pedal has been pushed to the floor in making this season happen, King Lear and The Taming of the Shrew. We’re very excited to work with this current cast, our largest cast yet. We have re-collected old friends, and invited in a crew of new friends. Sort of like a sequel to a Pixar movie.
Having just started rehearsals, it’ll be great to see where this new season takes us.
We’re looking forward to adventures and learning from the past. We’re excited to see where we grow, and quite frankly, kind of excited to see where we haven’t.
Every year has been a new opportunity to push us where we never thought we could go. And if we’re being honest, we only really see failure as, “Well, maybe we just didn’t try this.” So to new troubles, and the old, bring it on.
Any thoughts, questions, Yelp reviews? Leave a comment below!
Samantha (Assistant Director)
Want to see more by Samantha? Have a look at the Archives!
Happy Thanksgiving! We have some exciting news and not-so-exciting news here at Oregon Adventure Theatre. First, there has been a change with A Christmas Carol. It may not go as expected, and talks are still in the works and plans are still being planned. The house party shows of original expectation may no longer be happening.
In other news, we have started work on our business plan. That we being Artistic Director Will and my lovely self. Also, I got a job! In Alta, Utah as a server in a ski-lodge! (Side note, has anyone seen the Civil War trailer? Because oh man, “But he’s my friend.” “So was I.” is cutting real deep.) But those are the major changes within the last week. Furthermore, for Shakespeare in Westeros:
I like to imagine if Hamlet and Sansa Stark ever met each other, they would bond over being nice people with dead dads. Also, if anyone wants to read my fifteen-page dissertation with PowerPoint slides on why the show deeply violated and assaulted Sansa Stark and the importance of source material, hit me up. Otherwise, know that I’m angry.
But back to turkey eating. Tonight, Ryan (company member), Charlie (board member), and I stayed up until roughly two in the morning (So late you could call it morning! Ha! Classic Shakespeare humor!) cooking pie and dinner rolls and sourdough bread. Well, the bread is all Ryan. I won’t try and take any credit for the waking up every two hours ordeal of tasty sourdough. The night started with a ton of lovely board game massacres, Small World and Betrayal of House on the Hill, and some hand-turkeys which are now proudly peppering every door. It ended with MST3K’s Mitchell (“Even his name says, ‘Is that a beer?’”).
So what are your Thanksgiving traditions? Every year, my family has sat by a fire and listened to Alice’s Restaurant on Kink FM promptly at noon. Talk about a Thanksgiving tradition that couldn’t be beat. Also, my dad does not make Yorkshire pudding. That’s Christmas Eve. But he does make Cointreau-Carrots sometimes, which is kind of like if you once thought to yourself, “I want to eat sugar, but I feel ashamed eating just sugar.” Anyway, let us hear what you have to say, and leave a comment below!
Signed, and sincerely, and look forward to next time, and Happy Thanksgiving!,
Want to see more by Samantha? Have a look at the Archives!
To keep you in the loop of the going-ons here at OAT, we’re working on A Christmas Carol. We use the term “we” loosely here. I have nothing to do with it. Will and Ryan are probably doing an amazing job, though. We’re all very proud of them.
If you wanna know what I’ve been doing, I’ve been reading Dan Bergstein’s Blogging Harry Potter and just wrapped up playing Keyboard #2 for Wilsonville High School’s Suessical the Musical. I cannot stress this enough, high school boys were made to play monkeys. (Coincidentally, I’m also helping with make-up at the Lako Oswego stake play of Fiddler on the Roof. But I think it’s a safe bet to not swing one way or the other about Mormons being made to play Russian Jews, however.)
Other things we’ve been doing is keeping up with the OAT Board Meetings. If you’ve been nosing around at all, you’re probably aware our social media is a tad lacking. You probably haven’t noticed it, because we never use it, so you probably have no idea it’s even there. It’s like a Stephanie Meyer plot. (Zing!)
But you know it’s been a long time since anything’s happened when we didn’t even talk about Halloween! And Ryan even wore a pretty dress! Halloween is a special holiday for any theatre kid. It’s like Santa said, “Fine, I’ll let you get one day where you can dress up and not feel weird about it. But for the last time, I’m not making banana-scented gasoline!” And for one glorious day, we get to be goofy and fun and not pretend we want to recite a script while we’re doing it. So all that aside, it’s been a long, long time.
One idea was to start updating the blog at a regular schedule. We decided every Wednesday, and even that update was supposed to happen two weeks ago. I wish I could say I was fighting off zombies and being heroic, and therefor awarded bravery points instead of frowns of disapproval, but I’m also not about to put my money where my mouth is and start a zombie apocalypse just in the interest of not writing a blog. So here it is! Yay! And published on a Thursday, because my time management is bonkers.
So what do you think? Should we start a mailing list? Should we scrap Instagram and tweet haikus about dinosaurs? When should we run the summer season of Shakespeare in Westeros, where Hamlet is a Stark because he has a knack for making people absurdly loyal at the useless last second, or Iago is a stupid, dumb Lannister because they love to ruin everything? Let us know in the comments!
-Sam (who was Slave Princess Leia for Halloween, baby)
Want to see more by Samantha? Have a look at the Archives!
I moved from Chicago to Oregon on May 6th, 2015. This year.
I came here to help support, grow, and build a theater company from the ground up.
That company is Oregon Adventure Theatre.
This summer I'm playing Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing and several small parts in Macbeth.
I started coming to Oregon to do shows with this theatre three years ago. Will, the Artistic Director called me on the phone while I was living in Chicago and said,
"Ryan, I want to start an outdoor shakespeare company out here in Oregon. I want it to be lit entirely with campfires and lanterns, I want to use Comedia del Arte' masks, and I want to take people camping. The show this summer is Midsummer Night's Dream. You wana come play the lead role?"
I think its safe to say I'd bought the ticket out in less than a week.
From then until now, I've fallen in love. Fallen in love with the Northwest, with Portland, and with this theater company.
What we do out here is different, more visceral, and more connected to the earth than anything I've ever been a part of.
We take Shakespeare, focus on the things that make it the most exciting to watch - the things that an audience connects the most with. We take the language, and make it absolutely, 100 % accessible to even the least well read Shakespeare novice.
We perform in peoples back yards all across the Portland area, in High school auditoriums, on farmsteads and in the woods.
I fell in love so hard, that last February, I decided I would move from Chicago, to Portland, to help build this adventure. I left my family, my friends, my career out there - and I came here - to chase a dream.
We open in 7 days.
Come see us on Alberta street opening weekend.
You wont regret it.
After a long sleep Oregon Adventure Theatre is back! We had a miraculous and wonderful season last year with Romeo and Juliet. From our noisy but fabulous rehearsals under the Marquam Bridge to our closing night Performance on the magical banks of the Molalla River, pun intended, we had a great run. It would be difficult to thank everyone who helped make last year a success but suffice it to say you know who you are and without you we could not have done what we did. To celebrate last year's success I have posted a few photos. They range from the start of the rehearsal process at Cannon Beach and end with a photo from our Green Room on the Molalla river. It was amazing to see the growth of the company as well as the actors and crew. We brought some big and diverse personalities together and created something amazing, entertaining and fulfilling.
The 2015 Season is shaping up to be one of great discovery, development and delight. But before we leave the 2014 for the horizon of glory I have made a slide show to show off the great times, great work and great people that made Oregon Adventure Theatre the celebration of life it was last year.
Until Next Time,
Hello Again Fellow Adventure Seekers,
This last week has been one of the most rewarding and challenging weeks in recent OAT history. We have managed to keep on this break-neck course to bring some wonderful and beautiful depth to Romeo and Juliet. Tonight we attempted our first run and although due to an unexpected nose bleed and a couple little lighting snafus we were able to climb our way into the last scene and just ran out of time before we had to stop. Watching all the characters burst into life before a campfire and behind the glow of gas and propane lanterns is wonderful. It's a spiritual kind of captivating.
I am so beyond proud of this group. I am so blessed to be working with such dedicated and enthusiastic people. Romeo and Juliet is a classic story and this cast and crew has breathed new life and wonderful vitality into the show. Tomorrow night we have our first dress rehearsal and on Wednesday we open to the public. This is going to be a fabulous show and I can't wait to see how it grows over the next week.
"If before we reached our goals we were certain of victory, would we still endeavor to finish strong?"
Until next time my adventure hungry friends,
This is Jordin. Hello!
Here we are in tech week: a time that seems to be designed to drive theatre people insane the week before a show opens. So much to do! So little time!
I hit this week running after a weekend of craziness (unrelated to OAT) in which I was challenged to create a three act devised piece about Identity in the 21st Century with 13 other young theatre makers in just 36 hours. Needless to say, sleep was low, stress was high, and I was dreading the onslaught of endless work for Romeo and Juliet.
Nonetheless, I dragged my tired butt out of bed on Monday morning with a mind to take on and conquer the mission of madness that is TECH WEEK. First order of business was nailing down our last two performance locations. This is a task I probably should have had done weeks before, but I had found myself running into wall after wall as I tried to coordinate the last couple spots. I am definitely still learning about the whole producing game...
To quote Fate from OAT's Romeo and Juliet, "But passion lends them power; time means to meet, temp'ring extremities with extreme sweet." In this case "them" is just me. And time did mean for me to meet our last two locations this week! They were both unique and unexpected solutions made possible by wonderful, art-loving people. HELL YEAH!
By the way, if you haven't noticed, I recently learned to put gif's in my blog posts and I am really enjoying myself.
Anywho, back to crazy nuts bananas expectations and tech week. As it turns out, this week has in fact been insane and a lot of work. BUT, it has at the same time been rejuvenating and soul-quenching. This is for several reasons, some of which Ryan touched upon in his last blog post. OAT is a family (especially when MJ and John Steele are making meals for every rehearsal and the cast is gathering together to share food and laughs and love). And this family is creating some kickass, unique, magical, hilarious, heart-wrenching art that in just a little under a week we will get to share with the greater Portland community. I am feeling beautifully giddy and stoked and a little terrified. And I do not think that I can fully explain in words how insanely amazing this show is going to be. SO COME SEE IT!!
Now off I go, back to tech week insanity. I can't wait :)
Ryan here -
One of the things Will asked me to do with this blog, is discuss, delve into and determine the difference between working on theatre out in Chicago - and working on theatre with O.A.T. I haven't really jumped into it yet, however, because I hadn't figured it out yet. Or rather - I figured it out 2 years ago doing Midsummer, and realize it more every day I work on Romeo and Juliet - But - Today - and yesterday - It just came right out - and said, "Here I am".
Yesterday was my birthday. September 9th. Thanks Mom, for popping me out. I know it wasn't pleasant. So thanks for that. I don't think we thank our mom's enough for that. You know? I digress.
Yesterday I went to court for not having a Fishing License on August 10th while fishing on the Willamette. $397.00 later I decided I'll never again fish without a license. I don't think we thank the police enough for those lessons. I digress. Again.
Yesterday I rolled into rehearsal an hour early, made some prop knives with a circular saw, some duct tape, some sand paper, a pencil, and some wood. I don' t think we thank our non -existent prop-masters enough for these opportunities. I digress. X 3.
Yesterday we lit the white gasoline and lanterns and the propane fire as the sun went down, the breeze slowly picked up, and the Super Moon rose up above our heads. I don't think we thank Coleman Co. enough for their products. I digress. looks like 4 times.
Yesterday after rehearsal, we celebrated my birthday, and Sam Steel's (Lady Montague/Peter/Apothacary/Page) Bday, who was born on the same day as me 9 years later, with spaghetti, red wine, garlic bread, cupcakes, and Chocolate -Chili- Cinnamon cake. I don't think we thank folks who put together birthday dinner's, that make the entire day feel like a birthday - Quite enough. I digress. might as well stop counting.
Yesterday - we went to a Scotch bar called The Stillhouse and shared glasses of smokey delight and laughter through the midnight hour.
I don't think we thank Brothers who pay for half of the tab of the table - Quite enough. I wasn't really digressing. It was a trick. Fooled you.
Because this is it - This - is what is different. I don't think you have to be in Oregon to find this - I'm sure people have found it in every state, every nation across the world - But I have found it here along the western edge of the WIllamette river.
I often talk about the "Magic" that is out here. The magic in the air, flickering in the firelight and glowing down from the moon. And the reason it is magic - is because at some point, in every rehearsal, we all latch onto it. It's like we all hop on this train that's headed straight to creativity town. Everyone in the town loves each other, trusts each other, protects each other, lifts each other off the ground. From that place, from that connection, art explodes like air bursting out of a rubber balloon - Bursts forth like the crackle of a pine cone at 600 degrees with the force of a cresting tsunami. It is in these misty times that I hear people saying - " What just happened, what yall just created? its the best I've ever seen that scene. In any production." People. Keep. Saying that --- Night after night.
We open in 7 days. The show is worth a plane ticket. The show is worth a train ticket. The show is worth a boat ticket. The show is worth it.
I've never been in productions- where I truly believed, if you bought a plane ticket JUST to come see it - that it would be worth it. Not until O.A.T's. Not until this. We are producing a Romeo and Juliet none of us have ever dreamed of before. Every day it challenges us, widens our eyes, and obliterates the stereotype we know - as "Romeo and Juliet". And everyday, we fall in love with characters we thought we knew, but are actually just meeting - a little more.
That - is the difference. The Love. The Pride. The Ownership.
7 Days ladies and gentlemen. 7 days.