After In-House Development, Solis' Gibraltar Premieres at Oregon Shakespeare Festival July 5

News   After In-House Development, Solis' Gibraltar Premieres at Oregon Shakespeare Festival July 5 The experience of love and lost love is explored in the world premiere production of Octavio Solis' Gibraltar, commissioned by the Oregon Shakespeare Festival for a July 5 start in Ashland, Oregon.
Octavio Solis
Octavio Solis

The play by San-Francisco-based Chicano writer Solis continues in repertory at OSF's New Theatre through Oct. 30. Opening is July 9.

In, Gibraltar "chance brings together Palo, a traveler searching for his runaway wife, and Amy, a widow whose husband disappeared in a boating accident," according to OSF. "Sharing their stories invites in other tales of love in our times, played out on the stage of memory: an improbable reunion of an artist and a dock worker, a bruising breakup of a policeman and his angry wife, a marriage irrevocably altered but not ended by Alzheimer's. In this dreamlike landscape, Amy and Palo come at last to accept their own losses."

Vilma Silva will play Amy, and René Millán plays Palo. Actress Silva in her 11th season at OSF. Millán is making his debut at OSF.

Joining them in Gibraltar are OSF veteran actors Kevin Kenerly, Dee Maaske, U. Jonathan Toppo, Julie Oda, Bill Geisslinger and Judith-Marie Bergan.

The evolution of this project began in 2000 when OSF and Solis were awarded $100,000 (OSF received $40,000 and Solis received $60,000) from the National Theatre Artist Residency Program, jointly developed by The Pew Charitable Trusts and Theatre Communications Group (TCG) with major funding from the Trusts. "The grant enabled Solis to employ an actor-centered playmaking model involving a series of improvisational laboratories with seven OSF actors," according to ODF. "He wanted to allow actors into his process before he had put pen to paper and to discover what the alchemy between actor, writer and play would generate. The laboratory period, which took place in rehearsal halls at OSF, ended in the fall of 2001."

Solis stated, "The alchemical process that happened in the room with the actors was beautiful and produced the first draft of the play. It took me almost a full year to realize that it had to go through another fermentation process to produce this play. When I finally knew what the story wanted to become, I asked the Festival to bring me back for a month and let me write it here."

According to OSF, his writing that month was the basis for the play that will be staged, although it has gone through rewrites since the actors, director, playwright and dramaturg have been in rehearsals since early June.

Liz Diamond, the Resident Director of Yale Repertory Theatre, directs Gibraltar. She directed the 2000 OSF production of The Trojan Women. Douglas Langworthy is dramaturg and has been part of the Solis project since the beginning.

Designers are Richard L. Hay (set), Deborah M. Dryden (costumes), Robert Peterson (lighting) and Jeremy J. Lee (sound). Scott Kaiser is voice and text director.

"Bringing in a contemporary playwright to write for and with this classic repertory company has long been an OSF goal," dramaturg Langworthy said. "Octavio shares OSF's commitment to a text-based aesthetic and a deep love of Shakespeare; his plays have a scope of language and richness of theme that allow them to hold their own alongside the great classics. In three years of working with Octavio on the play reading and production of his El Paso Blue (1997 and 1999) and the five years Gibraltar has been in process, we have seen his fresh, original voice invigorate our company and audience."

For information or tickets, visit www.osfashland.org or call the box office at (541) 482-4331.

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