by Amber Allen
Immersed in the lush green mountains of Oregon is the site of the 60th annual Oregon Shakespeare Festival and the location of the University of La Verne’s summer English course.
Dr. Rhoda Kachuck, professor of English, has been venturing to the site with a ULV group for 16 years. Dr. Kachuck was so impressed by the festival the first year she went that she came back and vowed to take a group of La Verne students with her.
“Ashland is the Mecca of theater actors,” said Kachuck.
Students can sign up for the Ashland trip as an upper division Theater or English class for two, three or four units.
Students who do so are required to write a 15-page paper within the following year to receive credit for the class. The cost of the trip is $466, which includes tickets to all the plays, lodging, backstage tours, lectures and visits with the actors. Participants who attend simply to see the performances, not for units, pay $130.
Not all the plays at the Shakespeare Festival are by Shakespeare. Plays by modern writers such as Thorton Wilder are shown. Five of the nine plays the group will see are by contemporary playwrights.
“There is something special about a group of 20 people experiencing this together. Part of the pleasure is having the variety of points of view. It’s exciting for me to see it come alive for them,” said Dr. Kachuck.
She explains that while she is working in the class, she is also having fun and experiencing the psychological pleasure of teaching through theater.
“It’s a great vacation. The real world fades away.”
Besides seeing all the various performances, students have free time to explore the Ashland area and do things like whitewater river rafting, hiking, swimming, horseback riding and shopping.
Last summer, senior Sophia Vivar joined the ULV group as a vacation for herself.
“I enjoyed the quiet small town. I met all kinds of different people. For the money it was worth it for me.”
Vivar explained that she was a novice in regards to Shakespearean theater, but she learned a lot in the discussion groups.
“I loved ‘The Tempest.’ The special effects and costumes were great. I couldn’t believe how good our seats were either,” said Vivar.
Senior Julie Bent went to Ashland last year and found the drive up to be one of the highlights of the trip.
“The drive up was fun. I went and saw my family and caught a Grateful Dead concert,” she said.
Bent decided to go on the Ashland trip because she needed the credit for a literature class and did not have enough time or room in her schedule during the year for one.
She listed her favorite plays as “The 5th of July,” “Pool of Bethesda” and the interpretation she saw of “Hamlet.”
“The costuming and set design for ‘Hamlet’ were unusual. Hamlet was dressed in black jeans, a black turtleneck and a black shirt and the Queen was dressed like a Stepford wife. I liked the fact it was subject to your interpretation and your imagination.”
This year a group of 10 people are accompanying Dr. Kachuck on the Ashland trip, which begins on July 4 and runs through July 12.
Even though she has been to the festival 17 times now, Dr. Kachuck remains enthusiastic and thrilled at the prospect of the upcoming trip.
“I hope to be doing this for many more years,” said Dr. Kachuck.
Seven spaces are still available for the trip. Those interested in participating in the trip can contact Dr. Kachuck at ext. 4351.