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The road to Shakespeare

LOHS and Lakeridge teens selected from applicants across the nation to participant in Ashland seminar


Photo Credit: SUBMITTED PHOTO: AMY HAROLDSON - Lakeridge students who auditioned in a state showcase at the Oregon Thespians were, from left: Daniel Barber, Christian Mitchell, Caroline Haroldson and Lucas Friedman. Friedman also walked away with first place for solo acting.All the world’s a stage — well, all of Ashland, at least — and Thomas Curran of Lake Oswego High School and Lucas Friedman of Lakeridge High are among the key players in a two-week workshop being hosted by the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

The incoming seniors are among 65 students chosen from 90 applicants from across the country for the 2014 Summer Seminar for High School Juniors. They’ll spend this week and next learning everything from Renaissance dance and stage combat to auditioning techniques. Attendees will also work together on a range of projects and attend nine OSF productions.

“It’s really across-the-board everything to do with Shakespeare, everything to do with theater,” says Friedman, 17, who learned in May that he had been accepted into the program.

“I was very, very happy,” he says. “I ran around telling everyone in my family as soon as I knew. It being a nationwide thing, I thought, ‘Wow, what are the chances?’”

Curran also was thrilled with the news. “It was kind of like getting a birthday present,” he says. “It was fantastic.”Photo Credit: SUBMITTED PHOTO: DAVID KINDER - Thomas Curran, incoming Lake Oswego High School senior, recently was the bullfrog in a school production of Honk! Curran is one of 65 students accepted into Oregon Shakespeare Festivals 2014 Summer Seminar for High School Juniors.

It isn’t easy to gain admittance to OSF’s intensive program. Students must submit an application that includes three letters of recommendation and thoughtful answers to some probing questions. Curran remembers answering one question about heroism with an anecdote that showed why bravery was important to him and his friends, who are a little different than the average high school kids.

“For a long time, we were not supported for our individualism,” says Curran, 17. “We had to stand up for each other.”

Curran and Friedman arrived Monday on the Southern Oregon University campus, where seminar attendees will stay during the two weeks of workshops and forums on topics such as costume construction, theater administration, marketing and voice for the stage. Curran was a tad worried about standing before his fellow theater buffs and delivering one of the titular character’s monologues in “Macbeth,” which begins: “Is this a dagger which I see before me, the handle toward my hand?”

“It’s about madness,” Curran says. “It’s about anxiety and going into the depths of murder. I’m a 17-year-old boy, and I have no idea what that means. I’d like to translate that onstage realistically.”Photo Credit: REVIEW FILE PHOTO: JILLIAN DALEY - Lakeridge High student Lucas Friedman was selected for an elite Shakespeare acting seminar. His resume includes a role in How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying. Actors in the show rode in the Lakeridge High parade last fall, including, from left: Abby Zink (Hedy LaRue), Lucas Friedman (J. Pierrepont Finch) and Caroline Haroldson (Rosemary Pilkington).

He hopes the seminar will help teach him how to do that, and that it will add new skills to what is already an impressive resume. Curran has played main characters in school productions such as “Honk!” and “Our Town,” and his letters of recommendation came from an English teacher, the choir teacher and drama teacher Bob McGranahan. McGranahan says Thomas he works hard at the craft of acting, not because he needs to, because he loves to.

Andy Ballnik, the drama teacher at Lakeridge, is among Friedman’s supporters. Friedman’s credits include the starring role in a Lakeridge production of “How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying” and a major role in another Pacer production, “The Nerd.”

“He is always doing something. He is definitely one of the hardest-working students that I have in theater,” Ballnik says.

Ballnik says Friedman dives into his characters. He performed Mercutio’s monologue in “Romeo and Juliet” during a recent state showcase, pocketing first place for solo acting.

“He’s very technical and cerebral about acting and loves the art, not just being onstage and the glitz and the glamor,” Ballnik says.

One way Friedman and Curran feel they can further hone their art is by meeting and working with other talented young actors.

“I love being out there and creating personal connections,” Curran says.

Talking with like-minded drama lovers — many of whom might just be individuals who are a little different — is a source of great excitement for Curran and Friedman.

Theater clubs and groups attract “people who are already individuating; they already have figured out a little bit about who they are, and it doesn’t necessarily fit stereotypical high school boxes,” McGranahan says. “Places like drama club really provide a landing place where you can find your people.”


By Jillian Daley
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