Free tickets to OCA performances

OCA offers free performance tickets to SOU community

Did you know that if you are an SOU faculty, staff or student that you receive two free tickets to all SOU Theatre and Music program performances?

The Oregon Center for the Arts at SOU is pleased to offer this two-free-ticket benefit to the SOU campus community. Faculty, staff and students can reserve tickets online or by calling or visiting the OCA Box Office in person. The box office is located between the music and theatre buildings, at 450 S. Mountain Ave.

“We can now directly email you tickets for both reserved seating and general admission performances – for unlimited plays and music concerts,” said Kim Andresen, OCA marketing and box office manager.

Students, faculty and staff are strongly encouraged to reserve their tickets online in advance of performance days to help alleviate last-minute congestion in the OCA Box Office.

“This past weekend during a theatre performance, more than 40 people were waiting in line to purchase or redeem their free tickets in the OCA Box Office,” Andresen said. “It’s a bit of a tight space, and students and faculty could have avoided the lines altogether. We highly recommend that the SOU Community reserve their tickets early to avoid the last-minute rush.”

In addition to the SOU campus community ticket benefit, the OCA offers a reduced rate SOU alumni ticket for local or visiting alumni so that they, too, can enjoy the opportunity to attend performances and concerts. Also offered are reduced rates for seniors age 55 and above, and complimentary SOU VIP ticket reservations.

The OCA Box Office is open Monday through Friday from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. for in-person reservations/ticket purchases, and one hour prior to performances. You can also get tickets via phone at (541) 552- 6348 and email at All ticket types can be reserved or purchased online at

Examples of opportunities to use your free ticket benefit are this week’s SOU Percussion and Wind Ensembles concert titled “Meditations and Celebrations” on Thursday, Nov. 18, at  7:30 p.m. in the SOU Music Recital Hall. After Thanksgiving, the SOU Choir will also perform their end-of-term concert: “Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day” on Sunday, Dec. 5, at 3 p.m.; and don’t miss the SOU Jazz and Commercial Music Ensemble’s (re-named MUSIX) performance on Thursday, Dec. 2, at 7:30 p.m.

Many concerts are also presented via livestream on the Oregon Center for the Arts YouTube Channel at

SOU’s Theatre Program will also have four shows coming up during winter and spring terms (Black Box and Main Stage productions) and we hope the SOU campus community will plan to come and support the hard work and professional quality performances our students, faculty and staff create.

Another option for free music enjoyment is the Friday Music Showcase offered by the SOU Music Program. No tickets are necessary. This is a music appreciation class that showcases student and faculty performances on most Fridays (we follow SOU Academic Calendar for non- school/holiday schedules), as well as international guest artists, and the occasional Q&A or guest artist lecture. Livestreamed on the Oregon Center for the Arts YouTube Channel, and available in person 12:30 p.m. to 1:20 p.m. on Fridays in the SOU Music Recital Hall.

The SOU Campus Community is welcome to attend in person. For more information, call the Music Office at (541) 552-6101 or attend virtually

For more information on OCA performances please go to or contact Kim Andresen at (541) 552-6348.

Story by Kim Andresen, marketing and box office manager, Oregon Center for the Arts at SOU

Dorothy Thomas Kole in her mink stole

Remembering college fur-ever

Dorothy Thomas Kole often regaled her daughters with stories of her college years in Ashland – of her involvement in the theatre program, soliciting donations from community members of curtains, bedspreads, tablecloths and other materials that could be used to make costumes.

So it seemed only fitting to the daughters that they should donate a mink stole that was prized by their mother, who earned her teaching credentials in the 1938-39 academic year at what was then Southern Oregon  Normal School before beginning her life as a teacher and mother.

“We are so delighted that our mom’s mink will find a new home working as a theater costume piece,” daughters Linda Kole and Karen (Kay) Kole Leary said in a two-page, handwritten letter accompanying their recent gift to the SOU Theatre Department.

“She was involved in the plays Mr. Bowmer put on. (She always called him Mr. Bowmer.),” the letter said, referring to the late Angus Bowmer, who taught drama at the normal school and founded the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

“She loved to laugh and tell about her big dramatic Shakespearean role,” Dorothy’s daughters said. “She had one line, ‘Master, he cometh!’”

Their mother had another key job in the play – she and a friend dressed as pageboys to open and close the curtains – but the daughters suspect that may have been “a bit of tomfoolery” by Bowmer.

Dorothy forgot over the years from which Shakespearean play that line had come, but her daughters narrowed it down by finding a playlist in the 1938-39 edition of the Oregon SON (as in, Southern Oregon Normal) yearbook. It could have been “Hamlet,” “Taming of the Shrew,” “A Comedy of Errors” or “As You Like It.”

“We’re not sure ‘master, he cometh’ is an actual line from any Shakespearean play,” the daughters said. “Perhaps Mr. Bowmer’s sense of humor was at play here, as well.”

Among the items that Linda Kole and Kay Kole Leary sent to the SOU costume shop along with the pristine mink stole is a photo of their mother wearing the fur piece and posing with her husband and daughters – who point out that they were “accessorized” with white, bunny fur hats and muffs.

“Our dad … does not appear to be draping himself in any dead animal skins, but we do have a photo of him with a dead dear draped around his shoulders in much the same manner as Dorothy’s minks,” the letter said, explaining that he was “packing it out on a hunting trip.”

Linda and Kay said that Dorothy – the daughter of a saw filer whose family had lived in Chiloquin, Ashland and Medford – loved her year at the Ashland college. She later taught in Oregon, California and Brazil

“She followed her brothers, Frank and Ralph, to Southern Oregon Normal and they all had careers as teachers,” the letter said. And it pointed out that due to her experiences in theatre productions, “she could make a costume out of anything.”

Dorothy Thomas Kole died in November 2019 in California, just short of her 101st birthday.

“Dorothy set her sights on living to 100,” her daughters said in their letter. “She planned on a ‘big birthday bash’ and lived a life that got her there. At her party, she danced to ‘Stardust’ and other songs that once echoed out of the old halls of Southern Oregon Normal School.

“Pet the minks for us every now and then, and give them our most fond regards.”

Virtual meeting of SOU Percussion Ensemble

SOU music ensembles get creative in their new, virtual reality

With some schools cancelling ensembles altogether, Paul T. French – Southern Oregon University’s Director of Choral Studies and Vocal Studies – had doubts about the spring ahead for his corner of the Music Program in the Oregon Center for the Arts at SOU. The idea of taking the choir virtual was especially daunting, with the experience rooted in collaborative rehearsals and harmonious performance.

“I didn’t even have a Google calendar,” French joked, “so we’re all kind of crawling forward and learning this together.”

SOU’s Chamber and Concert Choirs are joined for now and still rehearse twice weekly online. With upwards of 50 people on the screen, French and concert choir director Kendra Taylor watch as the singers mute themselves in their homes and perform individual parts to a piano accompaniment written by French’s wife, SOU instructor and staff pianist Jodi French.

Once they’ve learned and perfected the parts, they’ll record and send them to Taylor, who will plug them into and arrange them on an online music platform called Soundtrap.

“It calls for a lot of accountability from individual students because they can’t lean on other people, so the bar is higher and their own contributions are that much more meaningful,” Paul French said. “I’m proud of the students because they’re compassionate when we screw up and want to do whatever it takes to move forward, and after our second rehearsal the chat bar was full of all these tremendously positive and excited comments.”

The recording will be released later this spring. They hope to add a video component and perform the piece live in the fall, if all goes well.

Terry Longshore, SOU’s director of percussion studies, is taking a similar, virtual tack. Originally, he and SOU Raider Band director Bryan Jeffs had been invited to take 17 students to New York City in May for the inaugural “Long Play” music festival by the renowned contemporary music organization Bang on a Can.

In lieu of that trip, and considering the limitations some students have without access to their instruments, they’re working on an 18-minute piece in which 16 performers will pour dry rice over various materials – metal, wood, and leaves, to name a few. It will explore textural changes created by the rate at which the rice is falling. They will eventually turn their individual recordings into a video collage, and will later have the chance to interview the piece’s composer, Michael Pisaro of the CalArts School of Music.

Their other ideas include breaking into small groups that will create original soundtracks to short, silent films.

“They’re excited about the projects because they get to take advantage of what we have and try to make lemonade out of it while still learning something, having a unique creative experience and putting something out in the world that we’re proud of,” Longshore said.

French concurred with the sentiment.

“Given how isolated we feel, we’re not together, but we can see each other and create something together,” he said. “We still need art and this is what we can do.”

Story by Josh McDermott, SOU staff writer

SOU bachelor of fine arts cohort "the Frenzies"

Entire cohort of SOU bachelor of fine arts students perform in L.A. and gain internships

The 2019 cohort for Southern Oregon University’s bachelor of fine arts in performance program will get more than degrees after completing their requirements last month. All 16 members of the BFA program performed a thesis showcase in December, first on the SOU campus and then at the historic Miles Memorial Playhouse in Santa Monica, California.

And all 16 have secured internships at either the Oregon Shakespeare Festival or the Oregon Cabaret Theatre.

“Performing our thesis showcase in L.A. was a peek into the work it takes to put on your own show and let people see it,” said Taya Dixon, one of the actors who participated in the performance. “I now feel better prepared to produce my own art in a place like L.A., which makes me excited and more at ease to jump into the professional world.”

Jackie Apodaca, the head of performance for SOU’s Theatre’ program, redesigned the BFA-performance program’s thesis requirement several years ago. In place of a thesis paper, students now work collaboratively to create an industry-style acting showcase for a local audience.

This year, Apodaca led the senior BFA cohort – who call themselves the “Frenzies” – on the trip to Southern California, where they performed for friends, family, alumni and industry guests. 

In addition to booking the performance at Miles Memorial Playhouse, Apodaca was able to help the Frenzies find local internships and fellowships with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and the Oregon Cabaret Theatre. Both have close relationships with the SOU Theatre program.

“We often place every BFA student in a professional internship upon graduation,” Apodaca said. “It’s exciting to know our graduates are consistently going straight into the profession. This success distinguishes us from many regional undergraduate programs that offer, frankly, less for more.”

The BFA is a pre-professional degree with a declared area of emphasis in either performance, design, technology or management/direction. Admission into the BFA program is through audition, interview, and/or portfolio presentation, and requires two years in residence and acceptance into an undergraduate theatre major. For more information about audition/interview guidelines and dates, you can contact the Theatre Office.

“I’m so excited for the opportunity to work for a professional theatre company right out of college,” said Annie Murrell, another member of the Frenzies. “Especially one with as renowned a reputation as the Cabaret. I feel prepared for life as a working actor in a way I never could have without receiving a formal education in theatre and performance.”

The full 2019 BFA cohort – the Frenzies – are Austin Ewing, Quinci Lytle-Freeman, Hunter Sims-Douglas, Wren Eustis, Taya Dixon, Bucanan Howard, Lauren Taylor, Carlos-Zenen Trujillo, Galen James-Heskett, Annie Murrell, Sam Campbell, Rachel Routh, Angela Hernandez, Sean Boulton, Meghan Nealon and Corey Renfree.

Story by Blair Selph, SOU Marketing and Communications student writer

SOU Percussion Ensemble members

SOU percussion groups to perform at prominent NYC music festival

Two percussion groups affiliated with Southern Oregon University will be featured this spring at the inaugural “Long Play” music festival – a three-day event at various New York City venues, produced by the renowned contemporary music organization Bang on a Can.

Left Edge Percussion, a contemporary percussion group in residence at SOU’s Oregon Center for the Arts, and the SOU Percussion Ensemble, a student group at OCA, both have accepted invitations to perform at the May 1-3 festival in Brooklyn.

They are among nearly 50 groups that have been announced so far for the Long Play festival, with additional acts expected to be added next month. Performances are planned for at least 10 locations ranging from the opulent BAM Howard Gilman Opera House to The Plaza at 300 Ashland, an outdoor venue in downtown Brooklyn.

Left Edge Percussion, an ensemble of graduate students in SOU’s master of music performance program, is led by SOU music professor Terry Longshore. The group and its members regularly collaborate with artists of various media and are featured at festivals and events worldwide.

The SOU Percussion Ensemble, directed by Longshore and made up of students in the university’s music program, perform often on campus and elsewhere.

“Our students will perform along a star-studded cast of performers and composers at the festival, and worthy of note, we are the only university ensemble being featured at this festival,” Longshore said. “All of the other performers and composers are world-renowned professionals.”

The two SOU groups will perform “Strange and Sacred Noise” by composer and Pulitzer Prize for Music awardee John Luther Adams, who uses his music to describe the natural world and his concerns for its health. They will also perform “Ricefall” by Michael Pisaro, director of the Composition and Experimental Sound program at the California Institute of the Arts.

Bang on a Can was founded in 1987 by lauded contemporary composers Julia Wolfe, David Lang and Michael Gordon. Lang and Wolfe have each been awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Music. Gordon is the composer of “Natural History,” which premiered with a 2016 performance at Crater Lake by the Britt Festival Orchestra with Steiger Butte Drum, members of the SOU Percussion Ensemble and various SOU music faculty and students.

Eclectic performances and demonstrations at SOU's Oregon Fringe Festival

Oregon Fringe Festival seeking applicants for week-long exhibition

The application deadline for the Oregon Fringe Festival – a distinctive blend of visual, musical, and theatre arts presentations – is Dec. 30. Interested parties can apply online here.

Started in 2014, the Oregon Fringe Festival (OFF), is an Oregon Center for the Arts-funded showcase of SOU students’ creative work. It includes presentations of music, visual art, theatre, dance, creative writing and spoken word, and is built to expand as needed. The festival invites artists from all stages of their careers – from beginners to award-winners – to mingle, network, and perform.

“Our mission is simple: to provide a platform for free expression, and work to secure a tolerant space for the sharing of ideas through story,” the OFF website says.

The six-day arts celebration will start on April 21, but applications to be a part of next spring’s Fringe Festival will be open only until Dec. 30. Those presenting at the festival – which is free and open to the public – will have a unique chance to get their work seen by professionals in their fields. Non-student professionals seeking to present at OFF are allowed to ask for donations to help recoup their costs of performing.

Applications are reviewed by the OFF director and a group of SOU students from the Theatre, Music, Visual Arts, and Emerging Media and Digital Arts departments. Late applications will not be considered.

Accepted applicants will participate in a production meeting to plan the logistics of their show and how it fits into the festival schedule before April. Last year’s OFF included 70 performances with an average audience size of 19 people, but organizers hope to decrease the number of competing performances at this year’s festival in an effort to boost the size of each audience.

The festival is partnered with Levity Circus Collective, Case Coffee Roasters, Jackson County Library Services, The Black Sheep Pub & Restaurant, Three Penny Mercantile and Jefferson Public Radio.

Story by Blair Selph, SOU Marketing and Communications student writer

"Angels in America" is one of two plays performed this month by SOU students

SOU’S Oregon Center for the Arts presents two plays in November

Southern Oregon University theater students are performing two plays this month: Henrik Ibsen’s “Hedda Gabler” was presented on eight dates ending on Nov. 17, and Tony Kushner’s “Angels in America Part Two: Perestroika” has four performances remaining.

Tickets for “Angels” can be purchased online or in-person for $5 for students, $20 for the general public, and $15 for seniors. Parking during the Oregon Center for the Arts performances is free in lot #36, which is on South Mountain Avenue and Henry Street, across from the SOU Music Building.

Following up spring 2019’s production of “Angels in America Part One: Millennium Approaches,” this fall’s “Angels in America Part Two” is directed by SOU faculty member Jim Edmondson and follows the entwined stories of two AIDS; the reluctant “prophet” Prior, who sees angels, and the notorious reactionary Roy Cohn, who sees the ghost of Ethel Rosenberg (played by Katie Bullock).

The play offsets the end-of-the-world dread of the 1980’s AIDS Crisis with a powerful affirmation of love and hope. It began last weekend and can still be seen at the Main Stage Theatre at 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 21 and 22, and at 1:30 p.m. on Nov. 23 and 24.

“Hedda Gabler,” directed by SOU Theatre professor Jackie Apodaca, followed the titular main character (played by Angela Hernandez) as she chafes against the restraints placed on women in the late 19th century.

The conflicts Hedda deals with are still relevant today: what does it cost a woman to be “likable?” Can she be strong but not “bossy,” smart but not “scary?” The play was performed in the Black Box Theatre on eight dates between Nov. 7 and Nov. 17.

Story by Blair Selph, SOU Marketing and Communications student writer

Paul Kirby in "Lodestar," which has a busy film festival schedule

SOU student’s documentary on recreational therapy hits the film festival circuit

“Lodestar,” a short documentary film by SOU graduate student and Army Ranger veteran Paul Kirby, has a busy schedule on the film festival circuit.

It has been selected for the St. Lawrence International Film Festival, the Miami Independent Film Festival, the 2019 Impact DOCS Awards, the First Time Film-Makers Review and the Digital Monthly Online Film Festival.

Kirby wrote, produced, directed and acted in the documentary during spring term, as part of faculty member Chris Lucas’ Advanced Documentary Production class at the SOU’s Digital Media Center. Two other SOU students – Evan Johnson (editor) and Dustin Saigo (cinematographer) – assisted with the production.

The film focuses on coastal access and nature experiences as an under-used intervention for mental health issues, and describes the role of then-Gov. Tom McCall in ensuring public access to all Oregon beaches in 1967.  McCall described Oregon as a lodestar – a star used in shipping navigation to point the way.

“Oregon is unique, in that it is the only state other than Hawaii that has unrestricted public access to the entire length of its coastline,” Kirby said. “Oregon leads the way in terms of public coastal access, but I felt strongly that we need to celebrate our state’s unique status in order to reinforce the existing legislation.”

“Lodestar” touches on a suicide epidemic among veterans and the restrictive coastal access laws of states such as Florida and California. It invokes images of Kirby’s own experiences with PTSD and depression, juxtaposed against his experiences sea kayaking along the Oregon Coast.

The film tackles a topical issue – the federal “Accelerating Veterans Recovery Outdoors Act” (HR-2435) is under consideration during the current session of Congress. The bill, currently awaiting a hearing before the House Subcommittee on Health, would require an interagency task force to identify opportunities for recreational therapy by veterans on public lands and other outdoor spaces.

Kirby has also been selected as a guest presenter at the Arctic Futures 2050 Conference at the National Academy of Sciences this September in Washington, D.C. The research focus of his presentation is Inuit self-determination.

“One of the great things about the interdisciplinary grad program is it provides the skills and flexibility to make a documentary about the suicide rate among veterans and also conduct research on other marginalized groups with similar issues – like the suicide epidemic among Inuit youth,” Kirby said. “I wouldn’t be able to do that without synthesizing Native American Studies with Documentary Production.”

Harry Fuller birding in Klamath Basin

Author, birder Harry Fuller hosted at SOU by Friends of Hannon Library

(Ashland, Ore.) — Natural history author Harry Fuller, whose work includes books on birding and owls, will discuss the Klamath Basin and its birds in a presentation on Thursday, May 9, that is part of the Friends of Hannon Library Speaker Series for the 2018-19 academic year.

The event, which is free and open to the public, will begin at 4 p.m. in the Southern Oregon University library’s Meese Room (#305).

Fuller will explain why the Klamath Basin is such a rich birding location, and how one of the nation’s first wildlife refuges was designated in that area. He has been leading bird trips and teaching birding classes since the 1990s. Annual trips that Fuller leads include trips in Oregon and Washington for the Klamath Bird Observatory, Road Scholar and Golden Gate Audubon.

Before retirement, Fuller managed TV and internet newsrooms in both San Francisco and London. He has lived in Oregon since 2007.

His natural history books include “Freeway Birding” and “Great Gray Owls in California, Oregon and Washington.”

The Oregon State University Press will publish a book of Fuller’s essays next year about Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, titled “Edge of Awe.” It will include his essay on common nighthawks that are seen at the Malheur refuge in abundance.

Fuller’s birding journal can be accessed online at

Friends of Hannon Library was established in 1974 by a group of SOU librarians, faculty members and interested citizens to raise money and enrich the library’s collections. The organization sponsors a lecture series each year – this year bringing a total of six speakers to campus for talks on a variety of literary topics.

Those who are visiting campus to attend Thursday’s event can park free in any SOU lot by entering the special code FHL1904 in the lot’s parking meter.

Those who need disability accommodations to participate in the event, may contact DOU’s Disability Resources office at (541) 552-6213. For more information on the event, contact Hannon Library staff at or (541) 552-6816.

Bill Rauch speaks to a group at OSF

An interview with Bill Rauch: Trials and Transformations at OSF

ShakespeareAMERICA, Jefferson Public Radio and Oregon Shakespeare Festival will present “An interview with Bill Rauch: Trials and Transformations at OSF,” from 5:30 to 7 p.m. on Monday, May 6, at SOU’s Music Recital Hall.

Rauch, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s outgoing artistic director, will discuss his 12-year leadership of the organization in Monday’s special presentation.

Geoff Riley of Jefferson Public Radio will conduct the interview, which will be recorded for future broadcast on the “Jefferson Exchange” at JPR. There is no admission charge.

David McCandless, director of Shakespeare Studies at SOU and organizer of the event, said Rauch will have an opportunity to reflect on all aspects of his work. He will discuss signature challenges, crucial turning points, proudest achievements and thoughts about OSF’s future.

Rauch is due to leave OSF in August to assume artistic leadership of the Ronald O. Perelman Center for Performing Arts at the World Trade Center in New York City.

Rauch became OSF’s fifth Artistic Director in 2007. He has directed more than 25 plays during his tenure, including seven world premieres. One of those premieres – “All the Way,” by Robert Schenkhan – went all the way to Broadway, and the Tony Award for Best Play in 2014.

ShakespeareAMERICA – an OSF-SOU consortium committed to exploring the meaning of “American Shakespeare” – was founded by David Humphrey, director of the Oregon Center for the Arts at SOU, and Paul Nicholson, OSF’s executive director emeritus.

Past ShakespeareAMERICA events include “Much Ado About Shakespeare in America,” “Multi-Cultural Shakespeare,” “The Woman’s Part in Shakespeare,” “Shakespeare in Prison” and “A Conversation with Peter Sellars.”

This story is reposted from the Oregon Center for the Arts at SOU