ashland.news
June 13, 2024

Rogue Theater Company helps young playgoers dig deeper

Tyrone Wilson, right, Rogue Theater Company education director, leads a preface for students from Logos Public Charter School to the play "Off Peak" at Grizzly Peak Winery. Jim Flint photo
March 22, 2024

Tyrone Wilson, an OSF star and educator, conducts a series of prefaces to RTC plays; they’re offered free to high schoolers and college students

By Jim Flint for Ashland.news

Rogue Theater Company is hoping that free tickets and enlightening prefaces will captivate young audiences and help create future playgoers and supporters of the arts.

The first in its series of special prefaces for students was held March 13, opening day of “Off Peak,” a play about two old lovers who bump into each other on an evening commuter train.

Students from Medford’s Logos Public Charter School, accompanied by some parents and staff, were treated to a slide show presentation about the play and its characters by Tyrone Wilson, RTC’s new education director. The preface was followed by lunch and a performance of the play.

Prefaces open to the public

Although prefaces are open to the public, students and educators are given preference for those scheduled the first Wednesday, the second Friday and the third Saturday of every full play production RTC will mount this year.

Logos School administrative assistant Emily Honer confers with Tyrone Wilson prior to a preface for RTC’s production of “Off Peak.” Jim Flint photo

RTC Artistic Director Jessica Sage launched the outreach program for the 2024 season.

“Our education assistant, Amy MacLennan, has reached out to educators at high schools and colleges in Jackson, Josephine and Klamath counties in Oregon and Siskiyou County in California,” she said. “We’re offering complimentary tickets and prefaces to students and teachers at all high schools and colleges in those counties, including private, charter and alternative schools, as well as the homeschooled.”

Accompanying students from Logos was Emily Honer, an administrative assistant and college and careers coordinator for the school.

“We also organize tours of local businesses to help acquaint students with career opportunities,” Honer said.

She said the RTC preface not only appealed to students interested in attending the play, but also to those interested in possible careers in theater arts.

Students Julia Schreiber and Haley Rosamund said Logos puts on plays during the school year, but they were looking forward to seeing a professional production the day of the preface.

Wilson an OSF mainstay

In addition to acting 29 seasons with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Tyrone Wilson has a strong background in theater education and a passion for fostering creativity in young performers. He holds an MFA from the Yale School of Drama.

Wilson will appear with OSF this season as Borachio in “Much Ado About Nothing” and as John Thornfield and Mr. Wood in “Jane Eyre.” He’s also starring through March 31 in Collaborative Theatre Project’s production of “Lettice and Lovage.”

During the preface, Wilson talked about how a company chooses plays for a season, noting that relatability is a prime factor.

“I love funny plays about serious stuff,” he told the students. “A good tragic comedy blends aspects of both.”

Tyrone Wilson leads a preface to “Off Peak” with a group from the Logos School. Jim Flint photo

He illustrated his point by discussing the plot of “Off Peak.” The two characters, who haven’t seen each other in 17 years, try to reconnect when they bump into each other on the commuter train.

“In the process, there are going to be successes and failures,” Wilson said.

Questioning life choices, especially in matters of love, can lead to discomfort, irritation and pain, he said. But serious situations can lead to comical moments as well.

“At first, things seem to be going well,” Wilson said of the characters’ reconnection. “But in time, the conversations become more honest and serious … and run the gamut of emotions.”

Wilson told the students that every life has its disappointments, and that the characters in “Off Peak” learn about the power of time in forgetting, forgiving and healing.

Also involved in the educational outreach program in addition to Wilson and MacLennan are Kathleen Woods and Cyndy Spear.

The power of theater

Sage believes live theater can be a transformative experience for younger audiences.

“It can help them develop empathy, critical thinking skills, and lead to a lifelong appreciation for the arts,” she said.

Prefaces are held in the tasting room of Grizzly Peak Winery from 11:30 a.m. to noon. Plays are presented at 1 p.m. in the same building in a storeroom transformed into a theater for RTC productions and other events at the winery, located at 1600 E. Nevada St., Ashland.

For more information about RTC plays and prefaces, and to purchase tickets, go to roguetheatercompany.com.

Reach writer Jim Flint at jimflint.ashland@yahoo.com.

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Jim

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