Chinook’s theatrical tradition resumes this week

The Angus Bowmer Stage at the Chinook Events Center comes to life with Shakespeare this week, with acting workshops for Pacific County students and a $10 professional theatrical performance for everyone, featuring actors from Ashland's acclaimed Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Bowmer, OSF's founder, began his career in Chinook, where the town built the stage in his honor.

CHINOOK — Continuing an event with roots in the 1930s, Chinook Event Center this week hosts a community celebration of live theater.

Chinook teacher Angus Bowmer went on to found the famous Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland. Friends of Chinook School, with financial help from Ocean Beach Education Foundation, is once again bringing OSF actors to south Pacific County, where performances will be anything but stodgy.

The actors, Christopher Salazar and Esther Williamson are coming from the festival’s School Visit Program in the Education Department. High school and middle school students will be attending workshops on Nov. 15 and 16.

Friday’s main event features highlights from “All’s Well That Ends Well,” “As You Like It” and “Macbeth” — two of Shakespeare’s most popular comedies and perhaps his most famous tragedy. All are on the playbill for the 2019 Ashland season, where tickets go for as much as $120 a seat. In Chinook, admission is only a $10 donation. Beverages and snacks will be available for purchase.

“Surely, Angus is looking down on us, pleased to know that his love of drama, writings of Shakespeare and others, is enhancing the education of our students and still confirming adult knowledge and understanding of our world,” event organizer Loma Billups said. “Angus came to teach in Chinook in the early ‘30s, was head teacher and basketball coach. His team, ‘the Yellow Jackets,’ needed uniforms. He took his team to the beach where they gathered driftwood to set up a stage in the gymnasium. He encouraged adults and students to take part in plays that he directed. The town of Chinook loved the entertainment and the team had uniforms. The school district, inspired by the enthusiasm for plays and performance, added a stage to the gymnasium.” As part of its remarkable restoration efforts, Friends of Chinook School in recent years has added to the stage and put in a dressing room.

Bowmer is regarded as the founding father of repertory theater on the West Coast, in which individual actors play several different roles in rotating performances.

A special added treat this year is historical dress lecturer, Tames Alan, who will present the “Blue and Gold Show” entitled “From the streets of Shakespeare,” showing how English residents dressed in the late 1500s when Shakespeare was alive.

OSF actors performing in Chinook are members of the festival’s top-flight professional company, who also participate in OSF’s robust secondary school education program in the winter months when plays aren’t being produced in Ashland.

The festival is beloved by actors throughout the nation for providing good money and working conditions, along with outstanding critical recognition.

The Wall Street Journal leads the list of major national media that consider OSF to be among the finest theatrical operations in the U.S.

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