Oregon State UniversitySpecial Collections & Archives Research Center

“Shakespeare through the Ages at OSU,” Charlotte Headrick

October 30, 2019

Video: “Shakespeare through the Ages at OSU” 

- Abstract | Biography


Karl McCreary: [...]Special Collections and Archives. Collections that are about the university theatre, and most of the images, in fact, I believe all of the images that you'll see today are one part or another part of the collections at the library, which include yearbook shots that we basically is searchable and completely findable online. We've scanned those. It was that little discovery while looking around at the earliest renditions of these plays that we've found out that Shakespeare's older than we thought. This is one of these insights that Charlotte will reveal to us today and let me introduce Charlotte, now that I've opened the door here.

Michael Dicianna: Yay, Charlotte.

Charlotte Headrick: Thank you, Michael. Fellow history major here. There's at least four of us in the room.

KM: Charlotte was self-conscious about being called out as a legend, so I will instead call her a local cultural phenomenon [laughter]. Rightly, less, you know no pressure here. She has performed dozens, she has directed and performed in dozens and dozens. The exact number is only the almighty knows, but Charlotte has been an integral part of the OSU theater community and Corvallis theater committee since 1983.

CH: -2.

KM: 1982, and it's an honor. She has been a friend of the archives ever since I've been here in 2000, and she has channeled her own papers and various papers, photographs, and posters and other materials about OSU theater and without Charlotte we would know next to nothing about OSU theater and its history. It's fitting that she should talk about the history of the Shakespeare production that has happened throughout the past, essentially. At that, I'm going to dim the lights and Charlotte you have the floor, thank you.

CH: Thank you. When I first came to OSU, just, this is apropos, well, history. I said there's at least four history majors here. When I first came to OSU I discovered all these photographs, all these photographs. I don't know that I can do this in the dark, Karl [lights turned off and turned back on]. Just I need a little light because I've got a manuscript. Anyhow, they had all these photographs, and nothing was labeled. Nothing was labeled. I went around to the faculty that was there and said, okay, I think this is a pretty good theater story and I can probably look at a picture and tell you what the production is, sometimes, but I had no idea about the dates. I had nothing like that. I went around doing that. Then over the years I discovered that things weren't being sent over to the library. The programs, the playbills, the posters. I started doing that. I don't know if they continued or not. I don't know, Karl. But I tried to get as much over here, because I was an undergraduate history major. That's important. "These are our actors. All were spirits and are melted into air, into thin air." That's from The Tempest. Originally, I gave a version of this speech last summer to the Benton County Historical Society and Irene Zenev had commissioned me to do this. I've thought about this and I think I'm here today because Karl wasn't able to attend that speech, so he found out a way to do it. I thank Karl for the invitation. This is Oregon archives month, which is appropriate because I certainly used the archives and as I'll tell you... well, I'll tell you this now, just skip over this part in my speech. I donated my own personal archive because I used to take photographs of all my productions myself. We also had a photographer hired to do that too. Now, when I wanted to access the archives they don't belong to me. They belong to OSU. I have to have an archivist sitting next to me as we go through and say, well, pull that one. Well, pull-right, Larry? So, that's, but I thank you. I'm indebted also... years ago, Marion Rossi and I-Marion's gone to the dark side, he's the Associate Dean-you can tell him I said that. I believe it.


Marion and I wrote an article together for the Northwest Theater Journal. Now it's called the Western Theater Journal, which is part of the Northwest Theater Conference. There she is. I just used her name a minute ago. There's Anita, but-you'll find out Anita. So, Marion and I wrote this. I used that original story but that was published in the early '90s or something, so we've done a lot of work since then. I'm indebted to that. People often misunderstand the history of theater at Oregon State. Many identify the university as an Engineering School, the Forestry School, the Ag school, and some of us think of us primarily in that way: as the school of Betty Crocker and Linus Pauling. While it's true that the College of Liberal Arts, including the Theatre Arts Program was a later development in the academic history of the university, the dramatic arts were alive and well on campus from its earliest days. The second annual catalogue of Corvallis College, 1866-1867, listed elocution as one of the first term courses for freshman to study. Classes in elocution and public declamation existed in some form in academic departments throughout most of the nineteenth century, not only in Oregon State but across the United States and well into the early twentieth century. Here at OSU a campus student society, in various forms under various names, was dedicated to debate, drama, declamation, rhetoric beginning in the late nineteenth century. There have been drama societies at OSU involving Shakespearian activities or productions of Shakespearian activities for well over 100 years. In 1895 official university sponsored debating oratory societies were founded at the college: the Philadelphia Society for Men and the Feronian Society for Women. Theatre has been active on the campus.

The Philadelphia Society was disrupted in 1898 due to the Spanish-American War, but that was a minor glitch in the history of theater here. Prior to 1907, Mike was just talking about this, the senior class always did a play. In 1907 the two campus societies noted, noted above, mounted the production. In 1908 the societies merged to create the Mask and Dagger Theater Dramatic Club at OSU. At one time it was the oldest society on campus, tracing its earliest origins back to the nineteenth century. Trisha Goodnow and I debate this. She says it was the debate society is older. She may be right. In the summer of 2007, we installed a display-the history of the theater at OSU-filling every display case in the venue. We did this two years. They asked us if we would do it again, and we said no, we're done. Because it took us all-it was an all-day affair. Thanks to Larry Landis who helped us install that first-the Linus Pauling archivist here-he helped with the first installation and it was at that time that he found the only piece of Shakespeare archival photograph at OSU that we know of. This is the, we estimate, the 1895 Julius Caesar. From what I can tell of the picture and the date, we believe that the production was probably done at the Opera House which is opposite the present-day Starbucks. You can go across the street from Starbucks and there's a plaque, kind of a ceramic plaque on the wall. Some people are nodding. You can read about the history of the opera house, which stood there, and it also was the site, there's also a wonderful reference to Gilbert Sullivan being done at the university. That goes back over a hundred years, too. My thanks to Karl in the archives who discovered one of the-during a speech we discovered a Shakespeare play we didn't know about. In 1912 there was a production of Merchants of Venice. I didn't know about this until I did research for this. I'd like to also thank Hayden Wilcox who did the PowerPoint, also at OSU library. I'd like to also thank my former colleagues at Young Harris College in George: Janis Moore and Elizabeth Bracken, who helped me locate some materials for this speech and you'll see where that goes later on. In 1921 Mask and Dagger produced William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. We've got that there. In May of 1924, As You Like It was produced. Both were directed by Ms. Elizabeth Barnes, who was a fascinating person. Several years ago, I interviewed one of her students, Alice Summers Roberts Fischer. Alice had great stories to tell and that essay appeared in the Oregon Stater.


I live on 36th Street and Alice's home is just two streets over, just two blocks from me. She designed and built that house. From the records we have at Oregon State, it's clear that Shakespeare plays were performed on a regular basis from the 1920s to the present time. In 1931 there was a production of The Merchant of Venice. When we did the display in the MU-I want you to take note of that latter-when we did the display at the MU we had a bench, and I think the next slide has the bench in it. That bench and that ladder were in the display case. We're still using them at the university theater as far as I know. As I pointed out in the display case, the university theater was into recycling long before it became fashionable. In 1954, The Taming of the Shrew. In 1951, The Taming of the Shrew. In 1964 Hamlet was directed by Angus Bowmer, who founded the Oregon Shakespeare Festival for whom the indoor theater at Ashland is named. I'm just going to go forward in time a little bit, in 2006 when Scott Palmer came here, Scott founded, he had done "Bard in the Botanics" in Glasgow and he had also been in Titus Andronicus playing Aaron, the Moor, and Scott came back. He said "I want to do outdoor Shakespeare," so he founded in 2006, he did an outdoor production of Romeo & Juliet, which we did this past summer again, an anniversary production. Scott was saying, he was writing he was saying, "oh the first time in the history of OSU we're doing Shakespeare outdoors." I'm going, "no, no, no, no, Scott. Mrs. Barnes was doing Shakespeare outdoors in the '20s." From then on, he just referred to me as the historian, and then I told him later on he brought Bill Rauch here to be a guest speaker for one of the Shakespeare. He did several Bard in the quads. He said "first time the Oregon Shakespeare artistic director is coming." I'm going, "wrong, Scott. Angus Bowmer was here." The list continues with what's been done. In 1968 there was A Midsummer Night's Dream, which has probably been the most-produced production that we've done at OSU. When I did this speech last summer there were people in the audience who said we were in that production. A couple of people. Then we had-I think we skipped a slide-then, that was followed by several Merchants of Venice, and then there was a-what do we got up here? This is a Macbeth. We think this is the 19-probably a 1971 Macbeth, something, late '70s, yeah, '71. Notice the lantern. I think this is the drunken porter scene from this, and I know somebody who happened to be in that production. He said it was just awful. He hated it. He was playing Macbeth and he didn't like it at all. Then the Mitchell Playhouse saw a Twelfth Night in 1978. There was a Hamlet that was done in 1975 and it was a much-discussed space-age Hamlet with this great set by Richard George. Before my time, but I've heard people talk about that.

In 1983, my first year here, we had a guest director. We had Ronald Mitchell, professor emeritus from the University of Wisconsin. Professor Mitchell directed Merchant of Venice. You see these shots. This is Greg Eubank, who later on went to work for Oregon Public Broadcasting. Professor Mitchell-there's a connection there, because there's an old joke in theater that there's 100 ducks and we just move around a lot. Professor Mitchell's daughter is Deborah Dryden. Deborah Dryden is now the costumer emeritus at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Deborah was just legendary at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival for her costume work. Just wonderful. Professor Mitchell I think was 78 when he came to direct here, and the old Mitchell Playhouse had a ramp like this, and he would be directing in the back of the theater-I'd go in and watch him-and he'd run up and down the ramp. I went, "I want to be that when I'm 78." He was just terrific. We also had people in the audience last summer who were in this production. It was a beautifully spoken Merchant of Venice, excellent diction. That's what Professor Mitchell was known for, but it was very sterile. Johanna Spencer, who was in the audience, said yep, and she was playing the lead, she kept saying, yep, nope, "he would say to us-no kissing, no kissing, no touching." It was different. I want to tell the story about this because the story about this play is that we used to babysit each other's productions.


Professor Mitchell was a guest and we'd have another faculty member every night there to take care of stuff that happens, as Mike Dicianna can tell you, stuff happens. I'm there and the stage manager comes to me and says, "we got a problem." What we do is do a sign-in sheet to make sure you're in the theater and if you're not in the theater by your call time the stage manager starts calling you. There's a reason it's called call time. We called. This guy didn't show up and he didn't show up. I think this is him here. This is the guy that didn't show up. I don't remember his name. He wasn't a theater major. He didn't show up. Finally, we sent a group out to go find him and went to his apartment, woke him up-he was asleep-got him to the theater, got him in costume, and got him on stage. Now, you people never know these things. Now you do. You never know what's going to-what can go wrong will go wrong in the theater. All this anxiety-we were trying to keep it from Professor Mitchell because he was a guest. We didn't want him to know this. My friend John Doyle, who's now the artistic director of the Classic Stage Company in New York City, John won a Tony Award, and he was a guest artist three times at OSU before he won his Tony Award, yes. John said that a doctor said to him once every opening night is like a car crash. That was followed the next year by A Comedy of Errors that I directed with a wonderful scene designed by Alex Wallace in 1984. Two years later Ben Bennett directed a Shakespeare production Much Ado About Nothing in 1986. That's the wonderful thing about Shakespeare, you can do all kinds of things with it. He set it in early California with what I would call California hacienda style. A word of caution about some of these dates-come on in [gestures to back of the room], they may be off a little here and there, but we're close. The Tempest was seen in the spring of 1989. I have this wonderful poster that Karl made, that's Julianna Soelistyo who played one of the dual Ariels with Scott Gilbert as Prospero. Julianna went on to be nominated for a Tony Award for her work in The Golden Child with David Henry Hwang. I had the duo Ariels. The other one was Soomi Kim. Soomi Kim was a performance artist. She did a production, just this part of the production. My Little China Girl to CoHo Theater last summer. She's been a guest artist, come back to be a guest artist for us.

Also, in that production of The Tempest, was Michael Lowry. Michael is an actor who was on All My Children for years and everything but then he decided to go to law school and he's a lawyer in Albany, but he still acts. He flies to Atlanta and does things. I think he did a film recently with Julianna Moore. Scott had a great directing career at Louisiana Tech and he's now in the San Francisco area, north of San Francisco, Sacramento, that area there directing also. In 1990, after forty years plus of service, the Mitchell Playhouse-I am still trying to get the plaque up that we wrote to go, the historic plaque outside the Valley Gymnastic Facility. That was a theater for over forty years. It was a wooden structure, you can go out from the library and see it now. It's still a wooden structure. The fire marshall said, huh-uh, you're not going to have 600 people in this space. It's fine for a bunch of gymnasts. It's fine for the offices downstairs, but the Mitchell Playhouse had a balcony and it would seat just under 600, I think. We filled it on several occasions. They closed it down, and I was gone. I was on sabbatical. I called back, called Greg just to chat with him to see how things are going and there was this pause. He says, "No one's told you?" [audience laughs]. I said, "Told me what, Greg?" He says, "They closed the theater down." I mean, Alex Wallace used to say, "if she catches on fire the fire trucks will come and they will sit and watch her burn." It's still there. It's a historic building. They took it on the road. The Scottish play, another Macbeth, in modern dress. I remember Bob Schwartz and them were saying no more saxophones. I guess Greg used some sort of saxophone and clarinet kind of stuff that went on for the soundtrack. Then that was followed by his-this is another Greg Eubank directed play, his wacky Merry Wives of Windsor. You can see that sort of colorful costume, clown-like stuff.


A new faculty member, Marion Rossi, directed a Taming of the Shrew in 1995 with live chickens on stage. That was at Withycombe. He got it in his head he wanted live chickens and they had live chickens. Like so many universities and theaters there was a standard formula at OSU that we tried to follow. We would produce a Shakespeare play approximately every other year and Oregon State's a land grant university, as you know, and the charter of such universities dictates that they teach the classics. You may not have known that. As we all know, the theater, we often teach the classics, not just out of textbooks but on stage in a living art form. Doing so is sound business sense to do this formula: we'd do a Shakespeare play and then we'd do a musical every year and somewhere along the way we stopped doing that. It had been, OSU theater faculty member Richard George, scene designer, his observation that two genres almost always sell: musicals and Shakespeare. So, a couple of years we've done both in the history. That was the formula. But then George came up with this idea, he said, why don't we do an all-Shakespeare season. We all sit there like, why not? Two years in planning sometime in 1995 we did this, and Richard had the idea but also Marion Rossi was in there too. Marion wanted to do it. I think Marion always thought he would do the whole cannon, but he's gone to the dark side, you know. In the winter of 1996 we planned the 1997-1998 Shakespeare season: Comedy of Errors, Titus Andronicus, Romeo & Juliet, and Measure for Measure. Rossi would direct, and he did Comedy of Errors and Romeo & Juliet, and I directed Titus Andronicus and Measure for Measure. In addition to the main stage we had a whole program planned and that's when we had guest directors coming in. I had a course that we taught on Shakespeare all year once a week. By the time the year was over you could get three academic credits. You got credit every term and we had guest artists speak. We had English faculty speak about plays. It was great. It nearly killed us that year, but it was great. Richard George built, instead of building four completely different sets, we went Elizabethan. It's like, you know, you have the outdoor Elizabethan stage at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. That's what we did. He wasn't able to finish the set for the first play, so we had a different set for that Comedy of Errors, which was done Indiana Jones meets Aladdin, which was great fun. The Elizabethan set was being built backstage. We had this on the front.

Then we went to the Elizabethan stage and the rest of the year was all on that Elizabethan stage. Not only was it on stage, Richard was very creative. He used that design for three Shakespeare plays but he also modified it for that summer's Pirates of Penzance in 1998 and he reused parts of it for Camino Real the following season. Richard was a mad genius. Just a fabulous scene designer. He's retired now. We had four secondary-school matinees, part of the season hundreds of schoolchildren from high schools got to see the-we didn't turn people away because there weren't enough seats for the Romeo & Juliet, which they teach in high school, and we taught special courses and these next three slides that was when John Doyle-these are out of order. This was the spring of 1998 and that's Measure for Measure, and Marie Cheslie [phonetic] that was her final-She was getting ready to retire and Marie had conflict with most directors, including me. But very talented, a costume designer. I said, okay, I'm going to rise above this and I said Marie "what style do you want to do Measure for Measure?" And she said, "I want to do it in German mannerist." I went, "fine" [audience laughter]. It was beautiful and because the play's actually set in Vienna. That sort of worked. She did this with these. That's Measure for Measure that we did. As I said, this was the last of the season. You can go ahead and go through for the others. Karl, my ace assistant here, and John Doyle made his first campus visit then and then followed by two more.


Jim Edmonson came up from the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and this is the Romeo & Juliet which preceded the Measure for Measure. See the balcony scene there. This is the Titus Andronicus. This is the late Robert Iltis in Titus. I made a deal with Robert and you see him in the middle. That's Scott Palmer. I made a deal with Robert that if he got tenure, and I was writing his promotion letter, I said if you get it I want you to be on stage. I got him back on stage. He hadn't been on the stage since he had been in high school. He was a wonderful actor, wonderful actor. That's Robert. At Robert's funeral this past year they had the large photograph on display, both at the vigil and then at his service. This photograph, Jim Faults [phonetic] was just fabulous. I had coached his daughter at some point for a drama competition and she won. The bottle of Jack Daniels wasn't enough. I just said, "well, Jim can you take some pictures for us?" He loved the theater and Jim came and took all these fabulous photographs for us, starting in the Greg era and that was-and then he decided he wanted to do, he liked the faces of these people in Titus, that he wanted to do some portraits, and this is one of the portraits that he did. Robert had this in his office on campus for years, I understand. Some of the people we had that came and talked-John Doyle talked, Jim Edmonson talked on our little Shakespeare events that we had at noon that students could get credit for. Dan Kenning recently, who's recently retired from the University of Colorado Denver. He has an MFA from Yale and he was very much involved since he was at Yale and New York City and ended up in New York he was very much involved with Joseph Papp and the Public Theater and he told stories of the outdoor productions and Ming Cho Lee was his teacher at Yale. Doug Getzoff, the late Doug Getzoff, Doug was very involved with the Oklahoma Shakespeare Festival, so he talked to the students about what their festival was like, which is still going on. One lecture was by Anita Helle who talked about James Smiley's, A Thousand Acres and its relationship to King Lear. There was just this huge, wide variety. I did a lecture on Romeo & Juliet called "Balconies for Comparison," and I had clips from the early Merle Oberon, Leslie Howard all the way through down to Baz Luhrmann, clips of the balcony scene and how they had changed and morphed into different and the students just couldn't believe Leslie Howard and Merle Oberon playing Romeo & Juliet. That was the tradition, and John Barrymore was in that production in the '30s.

We also had a special event for Shakespeare's birthday on April 23rd and we used to do that annually, have a Shakespeare birthday celebration and that's gone into something else now. Funding for outside speakers came from across campus: The Center for Humanities, the Hundere, and the Department of Philosophy, the Department of English, and the University Theater. An offshoot of this is during Titus Andronicus, I had cast Greg Lischner, who was a computer scientist and Ray had had on the backburner this burning desire to do a dummies book on Shakespeare. He had gone to Cal Tech and had done Shakespeare there. Yeah, they have a theater program of sorts at Cal Tech. But Ray knew he couldn't do it if he didn't have the name, so he went up to John when John was a guest artist and pitched to John. Ray said, do you think this is okay? I went, John's his own person do what you want. So, he pitched it to John and John said, yeah, we can do this. They worked on this and this became Shakespeare for Dummies. I assume it's still in print. I have a very nice blurb here on the back with Natasha McElhone and I both and this dedication is by Judi Dench. They wrote in the acknowledgements that I inadvertently led to this book because they met each other and did that. That was an offshoot. OSU is acknowledged in this. That 1997-98 season was thrilling and exhausting but memorable. Then it was still a surprise when in 2001 Richard George says we need to repeat it for the 2002-2003 season. Noting that it had provided an incredible opportunity for students, the university family.


George pointed out that 1997-1998 was also good for the box office and we get very little funding. The University Theater is funded by its box office, by the educational fund and donations, donors. That's what keeps it going. This has not kept the university theater from doing new works, experimental works like Ping Chon's Kindness, David Edgar's Pentecost, premiers of plays like Senior Joyce [phonetic] that I directed [inaudible]. The university theater has been very kind to me when I was there to let me do my Irish plays, so we did many Irish plays. Nevertheless, Shakespeare has held the scene. For several summers we would do Shakespeare indoors at Withycombe Hall starting in 1999. This is A Midsummer Night's Dream. I think that is, Karl has this, I think that's a little program from A Midsummer Night's Dream. I got a grant from the Oregon Cultural Trust and we did students, we took that, that's an Earle Newman sketch-I blew it up in black and white and sent it out to all the libraries and stuff so that the students could color it. The university theater season for 2002-2003 was scheduled. Henry V, The Merchant of Venice (there's the merchant again), the Two Gentlemen of Verona, and The Tempest.

Henry V, directed by me, was the first history play ever produced at Oregon State University of the histories. They'd done dramas, tragedies, comedies, but no histories because you need so many bodies to do a history play, and we knew it was going-we didn't have the budget to do a lot, so we just, we dressed all the actors in black and then they added pieces, historic pieces and crowns and things, and it worked really well, and I'm very proud of that history play that we did. When we decided to do this, I said "look we were exhausted by this last time we did this season. Let's, one thing we got to do is we got to find directors. We've got to have four directors for four plays." Not Marion and I doing two apiece. It was hard work. We did that. We had four directors. The late Jack Watson directed Merchant of Venice with Marion in it as Shylock, and Marion was a very, very good Shylock. Margaret Jones and Barbara Mason directed a gender-bending Two Gentlemen of Verona with an almost all-female cast. The season was completed with another Tempest by Marion Rossi. In the summer of that year and at that time Richard George built a set that was there for the whole entire season and then into the summer and Marion directed As You Like It. It was completed for the first production and it was there. Richard would just modify a few things on the set from play to play. It worked beautifully. Barbara Mason did miraculous work and created hundreds of costumes for all four shows.

The key rationale for doing that for those two Shakespeare seasons-I don't know many other universities who have done this-there's an old acting adage that says, do the classics the rest will follow. There were students who were able to not have a huge role in every play, but there were students who were in all five of those productions. What great training for them to speak the verse. The students they made really sharp choices. They learned to think on their feet in doing that and to work the verses. It was great. Both seasons of Shakespeare were artistic and financial successes. I've done that, and I asked-I did that too. Okay. The University Theatre certainly has fulfilled the mandate to teach the classics while providing students with valuable experience and at the same time making some money. Then, like I said before, in 2006 Scott Gilbert came back on campus. He came back from Glasgow. His partner at the time was in public health. He was an M.D., but he wanted to get a public health degree and he came back, and Scott wanted to do outdoor Shakespeare, so we started in 2006 the Bard in the Quad, which has continued until last summer and we hope it will continue summers forward, although please give contributions because the university did its budget last year, as you may know, or you may not know, and there were cuts made and they cut funding for Bard in the Quad.


We got-I say we-I got a sponsor for the Bard in the Quad last summer and that really, really helped. That was Joe Mayo, who just bought the Corvallis Country Club and is redoing it. Joe's brother, Jim, was one of my first students in 1982. There is only a hundred of us and we move around a lot. I then pitched to Joe, he just bought it, said "do you want to do something really great for the community," so, anyway, he did. That was wonderful. I've known the Mayo family-Joe says that I got Jim through college, and I don't know, but I helped, probably. Some people keep coming back and saying why aren't you doing Gilbert and Sullivan? I said we did Gilbert and Sullivan for ten years, more or less, and it was so expensive to do, Gilbert and Sullivan. Because we can do Shakespeare on our own. We don't need a pianist. We don't need a choreographer. We don't need a music director, da, da, da, da, da. There was so much extra expense. Things like getting a piano that was acceptable to the accompanist. Transport it from community hall, Benton Hall, back to the University Theater costs money. That's why it's cheaper to do Shakespeare, actually. At least that's why we're doing it this summer and then it got more ambitious doing it when we got into Bard and doing it outdoors. Starting in 1990 there were five summers of Shakespeare: Love's Labour's Lost, Twelfth Night, All's Well That Ends Well, As You Like It, and then Scott came back in 2006. He was my sabbatical replacement. He had been my Titus in Titus Andronicus. That tells you enough, I think. I asked three African American students to play Aaron the Moor. They wouldn't do it because of face issues, because Aaron talks about his blackness and this is holding him back, and finally I knew that Titus Andronicus was Scott Palmer's favorite play and I said Scott will you please do this for me? He said, yes. He played Aaron the Moor. We didn't do it in blackface. We did it Moor-ish. He had on sun tan. There are people who would disagree with that, but we did it and he was a very, very good Aaron. Then Scott went on from here to move to Pennsylvania and I think he was in Penn State and there was a theater company there, an all African American theater company that cast him as Aaron the Moor. So, it was an all-black cast and he was the white boy that was in it. It had been done before and had been done with an Othello at the arena stage when you know Star Trek, what's his name? A great actor who played Captain Picard. Captain Picard played Othello-

Audience Member: Patrick Stewart.

CH: Yeah, Patrick Stewart and all the rest of the cast was black. A historic production. So, Scott's back. We're doing outdoor Shakespeare. It's been... audiences have loved it. I think if you've gone to the outdoor Shakespeare, you know, I think now they're telling people please be careful. Don't bring wine or beer, but people did it and the university looked the other way. Don't tell them! I think we've never had a problem. People picked up their trash and it's now a well-oiled machine. Let us still continue on in peace and love and that comes from Henry VI, Part 1. So, where we have it. Here's the list: In 2008, okay we started with Romeo & Juliet, then we go on to A Midsummer Night's Dream, silent moving [?]. In the spring of 2009, I directed a Shakespeare play on the main stage called Shakespeare's Journey, by Leroy Clark, and Leroy was a guest here and it had been produced several times and he said he liked our production the best and especially the set design. In the summer of 2009, Elizabeth Helman started her long run with the Bard. She directed Twelfth Night, then she directed a Macbeth in a New Orleans setting. In 2011, former student Sheila Daniels, who I just saw Shelia's fantastic production in Seattle of Indecent by Paula Vogel. Wonderful. I would classify it as a Holocaust play now. It was at the Rep, one of the three professional companies in Seattle. Just brilliant. I saw it the weekend before last.


When Shelia came back in 2011 she had already built this huge reputation in Seattle to direct As You Like It. Instead of using the steps, she put it in the trees. So, that big cluster of trees that's over in the corner of the quad she set the play there. I was going off to London and she said "why don't you audition?" I said, "I'm going to London." She said, "no, audition. You're going to play Duke Senior." I went, "okay, fine." She told me that she was going to have Duke Senior be a momma. I said, oh that's great. They did this last summer. Duke Senior was a momma at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Came back and she said you know I've been thinking about this and she said the relationship between fathers and daughters are really important. You're going to be a daddy. So, this is what you do for your former students, you cross dress for them [audience laughs]. So, I did. They had set this at a late '60s kind of psychedelic. You can see the poster over there, gives you some idea of setting and I was costumed as Ken Kesey, and in fact my costume had "furthur" on the back of it, my jacket. I had my cap. Anyhow, so, then George Caldwell in 2012 directed Taming of the Shrew of the steps and he didn't have a senior Baptisa, a father for the daughters. He had a momma. So, I played Madame Baptisa. At least this time George let me play the role as a woman. I had a blast because I asked the costume designer and I cleared this with George, I said, you know I want to do something funny with her. Every time she came on the stage and it was a different scene she had a different hat. You know, you play to the smartest person in the audience. Several people caught that, that every time I came on the stage I had on a different hat and that was great fun. You could tell the passing time and different scene by watching my hats. George Caldwell in 2013 was Comedy of Errors directed by Helman and then George in 2014, George Caldwell directed Julius Caesar. That year he went around asking the faculty what do you think we should do? I went, "George those steps are calling for Julius Caesar." So, they did Julius Caesar on the steps. Helman took up the reins again in 2015 and she has continued on. She directed Midsummer Night's Dream in 2016, Love's Labour's Lost, 2017 Two Gentlemen of Verona, 2018 The Tempest, and this past summer Romeo & Juliet.

I want to back track just a little bit, in 2015 and 2016 we did another version of Shakespeare with a twist, a Shakespeare season. George Caldwell opened the season with Romeo & Juliet. I did the choreography and then I directed Kiss Me, Kate. In the Lab Theater there was a production Desdemona, a play about a handkerchief by Paula Vogel, and then the season ended with Tom Stoppard's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, directed by Elizabeth Helman and then she went on to direct the 2018 Tempest. That was the last play that Robert Iltis was in, he was in Rosencrantz, just wonderful. I directed Kiss Me, Kate, and for those of you who are not familiar with Kiss Me, Kate, there are whole chunks of Shakespeare that are in Kiss Me, Kate. They do Petruchio and Kate coming back, that scene post wedding. I had taught the actors, some of them had never been in a musical, some of them had never been on a stage, much less doing Shakespeare. So, we did that. I'll just tell these stories now. I had a leading lady who came up to me who said, I mean we had been in rehearsal for weeks because we rehearsed in the fall and then we took a break for Christmas and came back in January. She came back to me, she says, "I can't kiss him. I can't kiss my leading man." She was married. She says my husband will have a fit. He's already upset about this. I'm going, the name of the play is Kiss Me, Kate. I came up with really creative ways to hide the kissing.

Hopefully the audience never knew, but then the other couple, they made up for it, you know. They may still be dating. I don't know. I had so many music majors in the production. It was a great production, but the music majors hated me. They really did hate me. I think maybe they'd been out of a few years they'd look back and go, oh that's what that means. Yes, it was good. But I did not have a complete cast, Mike will understand this, until four days before we opened, because there was so many commitments the music majors had to go, they had to go, they had to go. I'm going, alright, I'm going to take deep breaths and we're going to roll with this. We got the show up. The power of Shakespeare continues. To illustrate I wanted to end with a poem, and this is where my Georgia connections comes through. The poem is by Bettie Sellers, and she was the poet laureate at the state of Georgia and I was on the faculty at Young Harris College with her for many years.


I could not find-I have a volume of poetry, several volumes she gave me, signed, and I knew this poem was in one of those volumes. I still have boxes packed from when I moved out of my office in 2016, so yeah. I couldn't find it, so I called my friends Stella at the college and they tracked down the poem for me. This is-so, I leave you with, "The Day Dick and Jane Bit the Dust." It must have been written around 1971.

"I must have been ten the spring a traveling troop came to tread creaking boards at Oars Elementary. The Merchant of Venice it was. And the country girl soared off, brief at hand, into a grease paint world. No more cowboy aiming stick rifles at the wily sue and plum thicket behind the school. I glided down dirt paths to Belmont and beyond, pleading my case with maidenly conviction or walking as the Cayman queen on the arm of my Lord Bassanio. It dropped again, that gentle rain, when my cousin, grown up with his newest hobby, covered the complete plays in white leather for my birthday. Portia had come to my house to stay, daily expounding the quality of mercy to bless Lou and Bess in the pasture. Are the crayfish stirring up the mud in the bottom of Shoal Creek? All the world's a stage and all the men and women merely players and one man in his time plays many parts."

So, to end, the 2019 Bard in the Quad with Romeo & Juliet, and now we're starting off the university season with Shakespeare in Love. Elizabeth Hellman is directing it. Fourteen years after Palmer founded the Bard in the Quad but almost 100 years, over 100 years, after the first Shakespeare play that we know of here at OSU. Finally, lines from Twelfth Night, play on.

We have a little time. Be glad to answer any kind of-what, yes?

Audience Member 1: I know Scott Palmer from back in Bag & Baggage-

CH: Yes.

Audience Member 1: My son was an intern with him, and I know he's left there now. I'm just curious if you're keeping in touch with him, what he's doing, how he's doing?

CH: Yeah, he is in Sun Valley, Idaho with a company there in Sun Valley. He's there doing work and I think he comes back, I think he came back to see their last production. So that's what he's doing. I'd like to think that he was off on an entirely different trajectory. He went to Glasgow to do a Ph.D. at the University of Glasgow. He wanted to do Queer Theory, and the University of Glasgow kept saying we don't do Queer Theory. You need to go to Warwick. He says I don't want to go to Warwick. Then he, being Scott, he got himself into the theater scene in Glasgow and was there a mover and a shaker. Doing that. He is a powerhouse, and then he's always wanted to establish his own company. He did that. They got a building and everything. Just amazing. I'd like to think since I lured him back to play Titus that he came back to his first love. He did theater at the U of O, but he did his master's degree here. Yes, Anita?

Anita Guerrini: So, Titus Andronicus was the most violent play ever. I mean everybody dies horribly.

CH: Bob Schwartz referred to it as the Texas Chainsaw Massacre of Shakespeare.

AG: It's pretty bad. How did you stage that? Is there just gallons of blood everywhere?

CH: Well, some people do gallons of blood and they want gallons of blood and Rebecca Olson is writing an essay on it, and Rebecca says that when she saw the Titus at the Globe she saw the remounting, I saw it the first time they did it. I don't remember-I knew about all the blood and everything. It didn't affect me. She said there were people who were getting sick around her in the audience. I did stylized blood. I stole this. We did the red kabuki streamers coming out and coming out of the hands and all of this. Every time there was violence we did kabuki blood and then we did, I had this soundtrack that we did that had this kind of, I wouldn't say fingers over chalkboard but close, and this kind of keening sound that came out every time that the violence-and I did it in slow motion. I referred to it as the Sam Peckinpah slow-mo violence.


I stole from several sources to do it. That's how we did it here at OSU. I cast some women in men's roles, but yeah. That wasn't as hard to do as Henry. I had a lot of women who were just, you know, playing roles in the bard.

Michael Dicianna: Is that a problem here at the university? Tons of women but you can't get men?

CH: Sometimes. Sometimes. You don't get a lot of men. I know there's only, like, in Shakespeare in Love, there's only four women's roles. A lot of men's roles and I know that at least in one situation one of the characters is being played by a woman as a man. Yes, Mike.

Mike Osborne: When you played the Ken Kesey-esque figure, was that a negotiation between you and the director or how did that arise? Then, finally, did you spell it further or father on the back?

CH: She was my director. She told me to do this. Furthur.

MO: Oh, good. Very good. Historically accurate.

CH: Yeah. You know what's on the bus, that was-she took the bus and put further, you know, on the back of my jacket that I wore. Shelia's, you know you trust your director. I just had lunch with her when I was in Seattle, and I looked at her and said, first you make me sing in Yiddish for a play called [inaudible]. I had to learn this whole lullaby in Yiddish and sing it off play. Thank you very much, three years of college German, but you know it's still Yiddish, it's not quite-then she made me cross dress. She's a good director. I trust her. You do what your director asks you to do. It wasn't a negotiation in this case. My getting my five hats was a negotiation. I asked the director and costumer if I could do it and they said oh yeah, fine. Because you're supposed to clear those things with your director.

MD: You would hope, yeah.

CH: In the best of all possible worlds. Anybody else have a question or comment?

Chris Petersen: Can you talk about the new performing arts building and the implications for University Theater?

CH: From what I understand, and that's just from what I understand, the new building is all about music. It's not about theater. That's what I've said. I'm sure somebody will contradict me somewhere along the way, but that's my impression. But I haven't really studied the plans, so I haven't done that. I know they have a space. I'm not sure what kind of space it is. We have a perfectly usable black box in Withycombe. We have two theaters there. I don't, from what I understand they keep referring to in the new space that it's a black box theater. That's not going to be adding a third space, you know, to what we have. It's about music.

Anybody else? I'd like to thank Larry. I'd like to thank Karl, Hayden who's downstairs for helping, you know it takes a village to do this because I don't do PowerPoint. Hayden's an ace and we gave him all the materials and put these together. I kept saying we don't want words and so he put, he said you know we need labels. This is A Midsummer Night's Dream. It just gives you some idea if you haven't seen Shakespeare. If you haven't seen Bard in the Quad, again, Scott came up with that. He had Bard in the Botanics and we have Bard in the Quad now. Then, this is from Romeo & Juliet that season that I talked about where it ended with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern at the end.

Karl McCreary: I just wish we had a picture of the chickens.

MD: Yeah, I've had dogs and I've had cats but never chickens.

CH: You know, that's the old adage. Don't get on stage with an animal. It's true. Because animals are-I used my own cat in a production of Stop Kiss, and he had a line in the program. This was Bubba and he was playing Caesar, orange. At one point she had him, holding him. She made a comment, something like well, he doesn't like being in that box. It was like on cue.


Bubba turned to the audience and [hissed]. We had that on tape and you know the audience went nuts, and the actress was so upset because the cat was getting more attention than she was.

MD: The old adage was right.

CH: He did that the last two nights of the performance, like he was over being on stage. Somebody wrote me and said that's cruelty to that animal. That's cruelty. He had his own dressing room. He had his own litter box. He had food. He had water. He had his blankie. Right outside my office. He was my cat. Somebody in the post-show discussion said "I've seen Stop Kiss three times. This is the first time I've ever seen a live cat." I went I could do that. But you know because they're natural. They tell the story about The Two Gentlemen of Verona, this actually happened, at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. This was an all-female Two Gentlemen of Verona, and we used a rescue great Pyrenees. Some great Pyrenees slobber. Mine does not, as Anita and Mike can testify. But some slobber. And he's playing Crab the Dog. The woman is playing her heart out and the audience is dying with laughter and she's thinking what I'm saying is not funny. Then she looked down and there's drool coming out of the great Pyrenees. She had a handkerchief. She whipped out the handkerchief. She wiped the dog's mouth. Got another huge reaction from the audience. It can work in your favor. Thank you for being a nice audience. I appreciate this and sharing with this. Please come buy your season tickets. They're selling season tickets right now. Go see Shakespeare in Love. And Karl gotten to see the speech.



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