Olympians at Oregon Shakespeare Festival

by Kelli Samson for OLY ARTS

Shakespeare famously wrote, “To be, or not to be? That is the question.” In theater as in life, this line from Hamlet always applies. Opportunities to grow in the craft present themselves to those actors passionate enough to heed their calling. Thus, under the dedicated artistic direction of Kathy Dorgan, Olympia High School’s theater department develops serious talent — so impressive, in fact, that this summer marks the fourth time an OHS student is making her way to Summer Seminar at Oregon Shakespeare Festival. The seminar is an exclusive, educational experience open to 65 impending high-school seniors. The seminar provides a two-week intensive that encapsulates opportunities to learn about the many facets of theater, from acting to casting to tech crew.

Kate Hayes will attend Summer Seminar from July 31 through August 12. She’s been involved in numerous shows at Capital Playhouse, Olympia Family Theater and, recently, as Sala in OHS’s Letters to Sala. Says Hayes, “I am looking forward to the people I will meet in Ashland. Theater has never been about how amazing I can make a show or how perfectly I can say my lines. It’s about the people and relationships that I can create.”

The application process to Summer Seminar involves essay questions not unlike those on a college application. Admits Hayes, “I think I really learned a lot about myself just answering these kinds of questions.” She currently holds a coveted spot as an intern in Creative Theater Experience. Though she doesn’t want to be a career actress, she does want to stay involved in the craft. “Whatever I end up doing, I know I will always have a hand in the theater cookie jar. I can’t imagine my life without it,” she shares.

Past OHS attendees have been Miranda Waldron, who was selected as a seminar participant in 2011, Erin Snodgrass, who attended in 2015, and Rachel Hodes, a participant last year.

Hodes credits Summer Seminar as one of the best experiences of her life. “I felt like I came away with actual industry experience and a renewed commitment to participating in theater,” she said. “The ability to spend time with other kids who are passionate about the same things as me in a really enclosed, camp-like environment was invaluable.” Hodes is a 2017 OHS graduate and has acted with both Olympia Family Theater and on stage at OHS. Like Hayes, she’s currently serving as an intern at CTE. In the fall, she’ll attend Wellesley College.

Snodgrass said, “The most enriching part of that experience for me was just being introduced to all the different aspects of theater: technical theater, dramaturgy, plawriting and all the many different ways of making a living in theater.”

After her time as a Summer Seminar participant, Waldron went on to work for OSF as both a casting assistant and a stage management intern. Currently, she works as the assistant master electrician at the California Shakespeare Theater.

OSF, one of the nation’s oldest and largest nonprofit theaters, is a six-and-a-quarter-hour drive south on Interstate 5. OSF regularly premieres new theater productions that are transferred to national stages including theaters on Broadway in New York. The OSF season runs from February through October.

What: Oregon Shakespeare Festival 2017 season

Where: Oregon Shakespeare Festival,
15 S. Pioneer St., Ashland, Oregon

The Merry Wives of Windsor through October 13
The Odyssey through October 14
Disney’s Beauty and the Beast through October 15
Hannah and the Dread Gazebo through October 28
Henry IV, Part I through October 28
Off the Rails through October 28
UniSon through October 28
Julius Caesar through October 29
Shakespeare in Love through October 29
Henry IV, Part II through October 29

How much: $30-$110

Learn more: 800-219-8161 | OSF

(Disclosure: Kate Hayes is the daughter of OLY ARTS publisher Ned Hayes.)

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