Molly Tinsley

Jefferson Monthly Contributor

In an episode of sanity, Molly Tinsley decided twenty years of teaching literature and creative writing at the U. S. Naval Academy was enough.  She resigned from the faculty, moved west, and now writes full-time in Ashland and Portland.  She crafts the monthly column Theatre and the Arts for the Jefferson Monthly magazine.

Tinsley is the recipient of two National Endowment of the Arts fellowships in fiction, and has published a novel, My Life with Darwin, and a story collection, Throwing Knives, which won the Oregon Book Award in 2001.   Her dramatic work has been a finalist for the Eugene O’Neill Theatre Conference and the Heideman award, among other prizes, and she’s a survivor of the Kennedy Center Playwriting Intensive.  Her most recent work in narrative explores its antipodes:  the memoir, Entering the Blue Stone, and the spy thriller, Broken Angels

Theatre
11:10 am
Sat November 1, 2014

Oregon Shakespeare Festival's The Great Society

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (Kenajuan Bentley) and President Johnson (Jack Willis) confer about the Voting Rights Act in Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s production of The Great Society. (Ensemble, gallery, Richard Elmore, Wayne T. Carr, Jonathan Haugen)
Credit Jenny Graham

Robert Schenkkan’s All the Way brings to the stage Lyndon Johnson’s first year as President. Though the office is thrust upon him by Kennedy’s assassination, LBJ channels his political genius and immense energy into passing Kennedy’s languishing Civil Rights Act, then wins reelection by a landslide. High on these successes, the Johnson we meet at the start of The Great Society is reminiscing about his boyhood fascination with rodeo bull-riding.

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Theatre
11:29 am
Wed October 1, 2014

Ashland New Plays Festival

In its twenty-third season, Ashland New Plays Festival promises that ANPF 2014 will offer the most entertaining and edifying program yet.  To kick off the nine-day-long celebration, on Friday, October 17, OSF’s Dan Donohue will be interviewed by John Rose for a Theatre Talk.  The event will take place at 310 Oak Street, Ashland, and tickets are moving fast. 

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Theatre
11:19 am
Wed October 1, 2014

Remembering Jim Giancarlo

No summary of his considerable accomplishments can begin to capture Jim's extraordinary spirit.
Credit Tom Lavine

The biography of Jim Giancarlo paints a portrait of the artist from a very early age. His boyhood fascination with producing neighborhood shows, his immersion in visual arts at SUNY Buffalo, his ongoing aspiration to be a writer—all were father to the multi-talented man who speculated recently, “Maybe the Creator’s plan is no plan at all.  Maybe ‘He’ just loves creating beauty.”

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Theatre
11:39 am
Tue September 2, 2014

Into The Liminal Woods

Jack's Mother (Robin Goodrin Nordli) tries to explain a few things to her son, Jack (Miles Fletcher).
Credit T. Charles Erickson

Rituals of initiation unfold in three phases: the first separates the individual from the world she’s taken for granted; the third reintegrates her into a new world as a changed person. Between the two is the liminal phase, in which the individual floats in a kind of dreamland of possibility, suspended between selves and social roles. Both terrifying and transformational, this in-between phase encourages a sort of regression to pre-conscious chaos. Into the Woods, the brilliant musical by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine, plants its action in just such a no-man’s land.

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Theatre
3:04 pm
Thu July 31, 2014

The Darkness Of King Richard

Richard III (Dan Donohue) prepares to battle the Earl of Richmond.
Credit T. Charles Erickson

Shakespeare’s first four history plays reconstruct the political chaos of the English court under the incompetent King Henry VI. The power-hungry House of York wages war on its cousins of the ruling House of Lancaster, but once Henry and his prince have been killed, and the Yorkish Edward wears the crown, he must guard it against his own brothers, Clarence and Richard. Richard III concludes the tetralogy, charting Richard’s ruthless rise to the throne and his final downfall.

   

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Theatre
9:58 am
Tue July 1, 2014

When Families Collide: OSF Presents Quiara Alegria Hude's Water By The Spoonful

John (Barret O'Brien) tends to Odessa (Vilma Silva) in the OSF production of Quiara Alegria Hude’s Water by the Spoonful.
Credit Jenny Graham

I confess: Thornton Wilder’s Our Town was never my town. The notion of family rooted in the same rural village for generations is light years from my reality as the grandchild of immigrants and a migrant military brat. Similarly, despite Wilder’s innovations in dramatic technique, the human condition as portrayed through Grovers Corners seems abnormally normal.

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Theatre
11:43 am
Thu May 22, 2014

The Sign of Genius: Oregon Shakespeare Festival's "The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window"

Alton Scales (Armando McClain) is interested in the news in Iris' (Sofia Jean Gomez) sister's letter.
Jenny Graham

Lorraine Hansberry’s premature death from cancer in 1965 at the age of the thirty-four deprived American theatre of a brilliant light. Her first play, A Raisin in the Sun, had dazzled Broadway in 1959, winning the New York Drama Critics Circle Award.  Only one other play, The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window, saw production in her lifetime, and her deteriorating health severely challenged its development.

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Theatre
12:36 pm
Thu May 1, 2014

Oregon Shakespeare Festival Presents Comedies With Heart

The Cocoanuts | Detective Hennessey (David Kelly, center) has much to sing about at the wedding rehearsal dinner. Ensemble.
Jenny Graham

The two comedies anchoring the 2014 season at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival put the accent on zany shenanigans. The Cocoanuts, by Irving Berlin and George S. Kaufman, was created as a vehicle for the legendary Marx Brothers—vaudeville veterans with a bottomless bag of comic shticks. And the title of Shakespeare’s early The Comedy of Errors says it all: mistaken identities, compounding misunderstandings, escalating farce.

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Theatre
11:34 am
Mon March 31, 2014

The Tempest: Shakespeare’s Final Answer

Denis Arndt as Prospero and Kate Hurster as Ariel in "The Tempest."
Photo: Jenny Graham | Oregon Shakespeare Festival

A narcissistic ruler opts to abdicate his position of responsibility in exchange for personal freedom. He assumes that he will retain the privileges and respect afforded his former role. But the family member he has designated to take over betrays him. Instead of enjoying the comfortable life of his choice, he is exiled and undergoes a terrible ordeal. Last year at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, this premise devolved into the darkest of denouements in King Lear.

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Theatre
10:57 am
Sat March 1, 2014

Buildings That Won't Fall Down

Alys Holden

Alys Holden, the new Director of Production at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, had held the same position at the Center Theatre Group in Los Angeles for over eight years. When Bill Rauch invited her to leave that professional pinnacle and sign on with the OSF, she had to make a tough choice. She decided to visit Ashland incognito, see a couple performances, and scout the town. Lunching in a local restaurant, she eavesdropped on the tourists—and they were all talking about the plays. “Nobody in L.A. talks about plays,” she said. She took the leap.

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Theatre
3:30 pm
Sat February 1, 2014

The [Unforgettable] White Fugue

From left: Michael Hays, Grace Wolcott, Cesar Perez-Rosas and Sierra Faulkner are featured in the ensemble performing the world premiere of “The White Fugue”.
Greg Eliason

The frustration in crafting this column is the long lag-time between deadline and publication date. Add to that the tradition of orienting December articles to holiday subjects, and my enthusiasm for the Southern Oregon University production last November of The White Fugue, devised and directed by James Donlon, becomes almost a why-bother-mention-it-now?

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Theatre
4:16 pm
Tue December 31, 2013

The Camelot Challenge

Back in 2002, when Livia Genise became Artistic Director of Actor’s Theatre in Talent, she expressed her interest in producing the musical Annie, and her desire to make musicals a vital element of the theatre’s repertory. She heard plenty of discouraging words. Their gist: the Rogue Valley lacked the performers necessary to support such an enterprise. Eleven seasons have passed since Annie played to resounding applause, and they have proved the naysayers wrong.

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Theatre
10:49 am
Fri November 1, 2013

The Heroine's Journey

Jesusa (Vivia Font), Manuela (Alejandra Escalante) and Tomasita (Sabina Zuniga Varela) discuss a radical course of action.
Jenny Graham

In her essay, A Room of One’s Own, Virginia Woolf imagines a gifted sister for Shakespeare and speculates on her fate. Unschooled, married as a teenager against her will, the young woman yearns to write plays so runs away to London only to find herself barred from work in the theatre. She winds up pregnant, and commits suicide.

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Theatre
4:38 pm
Tue October 1, 2013

Into The Woods

The Elizabethan Stage set by designer Michael Ganio and lighted by Mary Louise Geiger, with video projections by Alexander Nichols serves for three productions this season.

Two heroes of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival this summer are scenic designer Michael Ganio and projection designer Alexander Nichols, who manage with a single set to turn the ornery Elizabethan Stage into a space that splendidly serves all three outdoor productions.  In Cymbeline, the rocky, wooded terrain supports a primitive ancient Britain and the wilderness of Wales.  In David Farr’s The Heart of Robin Hood and Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, on the other hand, the scaffold of trees hovers over scenes of palace and town like an ironic reminder.  Enha

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Theatre
11:41 am
Wed August 28, 2013

The Myth of History

Naomi Wallace

For its special initiative, American Revolutions, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival commissions playwrights to explore a critical moment or issue in U. S. history.  Of the five works the OSF has developed and produced under this rubric so far, Naomi Wallace’s intriguing, disruptive The Liquid Plain, premiering this season in the Thomas Theatre, also questions the stability of history itself, composed as it is of competing myths. 

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