Tag Archive for: Oregon Shakespeare Festival

Oregon Shakespeare Festival actors graduated from SOU

Four SOU actors take the stage at Oregon Shakespeare Festival

(Ashland, Ore.) — If you’ve seen a play at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival over the past 10 years, chances are you’ve seen Southern Oregon University students on stage.

Professor Jackie Apodaca saw opportunity when she first arrived at SOU in 2011. With a world-class Shakespeare festival just down the street, and a budding performance bachelor of fine arts program, she set to work building the SOU/OSF Acting Trainee Program. Along with Scott Kaiser, OSF’s former director of company development, Apodaca turned what was once a rare opportunity – open to one or two SOU student actors every once in a while – into a unique and robust annual partnership.

The SOU/OSF Acting Trainee Program has been operating for over a decade, channeling actors directly from SOU classrooms to professional stages for life- and career-changing experiences. The opportunities provided to these young artists rival, and often exceed, internship opportunities offered through graduate programs across the country.

“Before the pandemic, we regularly had eight to 15 actors on stage at OSF every single year,” Apodaca said. “The numbers, of course, dropped during 2020, but we are quickly building back the pathway. Not only do we have four recent graduates in the OSF 2024 acting company through the Acting Trainee program, we have recently developed internships with OSF’s education department.

“And of course, we’re eager for OSF’s FAIR program to be rebuilt, which will catalyze even more opportunities for our design, technology and management students. OSF’s new leadership has been incredibly welcoming and responsive, and I am really excited for what’s to come. The OSF/SOU theatre partnership is stronger than ever.”

Here’s more about the recent SOU graduates taking center stage at OSF in 2024:

Aleeyah Enriquez from Hood River graduated from SOU in the spring of 2023. Aleeyah will be playing a watchman in “Much Ado About Nothing” and understudying this year at OSF.

“I’m so grateful to have done my BFA at SOU because not only did I have access to the amazing performance faculty for my voice, movement and acting classes, but I also had the opportunity to work with guest artists/educators directly from the festival,” Aleeyah said. “SOU is well-equipped with incredible professors and the amount of knowledge I’ve obtained has prepared me for these next steps into my career.”

Jennie Babisch from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, graduated in spring of 2023. She will understudy several roles in this year’s OSF production of “Macbeth.”

“My favorite thing about SOU was the diversity of training I received,” Jennie said. “I studied commedia del’arte, viewpoints, masks, Meisner, Greek, Shakespeare and clowning, and so much more from so many incredible teachers at SOU – several of whom were also working actors at OSF!”

Nicole Villavicencio Gonzalez from Reno, Nevada, graduated SOU in the spring of 2023. She will be playing Fleance and other ensemble roles in this year’s production of “Macbeth.”

“Some of my favorite things about SOU theatre are its connection to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and the opportunity to take workshops and classes from OSF actors,” Nicole said. “I also appreciated experiencing the amount of student collaboration it takes to put on shows at SOU. It’s a good reminder that you are a small part in comparison to the larger collaborative production.”

Thilini (Lini) Dissanayake from Eugene graduated SOU in the summer of 2023. Lini will be playing Young Jane and Adele in “Jane Eyre,” and understudying roles in “Much Ado About Nothing” at OSF this year.

“The potential to work at OSF was one of the primary reasons I came to SOU, and I am so grateful for my time here,” Lini said. “I felt so challenged, supported, and uplifted by my classmates and my professors in the BFA Performance program. Being a part of the OSF Repertory is a dream come true, and it came to fruition through my training and industry connections at this school. See y’all at the Elizabethan (Theatre) this summer!”


Kamilah Long-SOU commencement speaker

OSF’s Long to serve as keynote speaker at SOU commencement

(Ashland, Ore.) — Graduates and others at Southern Oregon University’s June 15 commencement ceremony should expect a keynote speech about motivation, self-empowerment, the importance of personal interactions and the lifelong value of friendships. And perhaps a soulful, heartfelt song.

Kamilah Long, the director of leadership gifts at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and a powerful speaker at local events, will tell graduates to believe in themselves and drill down to their “core purpose.”

“I have a story I want to share,” Long said. “It’s about the experience I had working for Angela Basset, as an intern on the set of a movie. It impacted the rest of my life.

“And I’ll probably weave a little song into it – ‘This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine.’”

Long will anchor the list of speakers at this year’s SOU commencement, which will begin with an 8:45 a.m. processional into Raider Stadium. The program is expected to be more compact than in recent years, with the focus squarely on the accomplishments and potential of about 1,000 graduates who will receive degrees.

There will be no tickets to the event, but graduates have been asked to tell their guests to arrive early. Parking and seating are both limited, and available on a first-come basis.

Long, who is originally from Montgomery, Alabama, has worked in the development office at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival since 2014. She previously worked as a creative arts consultant for the Lowndes County Board of Education in Alabama, and has served as an artistic director and as an adjunct professor.

She received her bachelor’s degree in theatre and biology from Alabama State University and her master of fine arts degree from the University of Louisville.

Long said one piece of advice she would have liked to have heard more emphatically during her graduation ceremonies is to maintain the friendships that are forged in college.

“Yeah, stay in contact with the people you’ve connected with,” she said. “What you learn in life is that your family doesn’t always have to be your blood relative.”

Long was chosen as the keynote speaker for this year’s commencement ceremony in part because of the rousing reception she received as a speaker at this year’s Southern Oregon Martin Luther King, Jr., Celebration. She spoke about the impact of hearing Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech as a young girl, and about believing in yourself and living with dignity. She ended that speech with a few soulful lines of the Gospel song, “How I Got Over” – which Mahalia Jackson sang shortly before Dr. King delivered his iconic speech at the 1963 March on Washington.

Long said she hopes to touch on the importance of contributing to society, treating others with kindness and respect, and living with confidence in her speech to SOU’s graduates.

“My approach is definitely motivation of the students to use their personal power,” Long said. “It’s about self-empowerment and the importance of stepping into your light.”


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

SOU Students to Harvest, Reuse OSF Bricks

Who: Students from SOU’s Center for Sustainability
What: Harvesting bricks from the Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s Green Show plaza
When: 9 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 12, and again on Saturday, Nov. 19
osf-courtyardWhere: Oregon Shakespeare Festival (brick plaza off Pioneer Street, between the Bowmer and Elizabethan theaters)
Why: The bricks will be reused, which is what the Center for Sustainability is all about (they’ll be used for pathways and other projects at The Farm at SOU, on Walker Street).
About Southern Oregon University
Southern Oregon University is a medium-sized campus that provides comprehensive educational opportunities with a strong focus on student success and intellectual creativity. Located in vibrant Ashland, Oregon, SOU remains committed to diversity and inclusion for all students on its environmentally sustainable campus. Connected learning programs taught by a host of exceptional faculty provide quality, innovative experiences for students. Visit sou.edu.