PUBLIC PROFILE: Susan Aversa Orrego, Managing Director, Collaborative Theatre Project
Rogue Valley Messenger: There is quite a robust lineup this year. What is the decision making process for determining what plays to present?
SAO: As our name implies, we meet together to discuss scripts and ideas for each season. In crafting the 2020 Season, we wanted fun, yet thought-provoking material to create a solid group of productions. For instance, Sherwood: The Adventures of Robin Hood is a true swashbuckling, fast-paced farce, yet at the heart of the work is the idea that we should fight injustice and work together for the common good. Our Town is more than an iconic piece of theatre. It still has the ability to make us laugh and cry because it is, at its core, about each and every one of us.
RVM: Currently, CTP is showing “Sherwood,” and the description playfully warns to “get ready to duck a few quarterstaff.” Is the play really interactive?
SAO: We’re truly enjoying Sherwood right now because it’s the first time we’ve done huge fight scenes and since our theatre is up close and intimate, the audience will feel as if it’s in the midst of all the action. When the swords swing and the quarterstaffs clash we’ve watched the audience react with surprise and total enjoyment of the experience.
RVM: Who is acting in the plays? Is it often the same actors?
SAO: We’re able to attract some of the area’s strongest directors and consequently we have a wonderful acting pool. Each director auditions separately and while many of the actors are cast in more than one play, you’ll find some great and familiar faces at CTP. Todd Nielsen has joined us as Associate Artistic Director and he brings a new dynamic to both the decision process and additional programming ideas. We’re really excited about our continuing relationship.
RVM: CTP is now several years old, and no longer a “new” theater. Do you feel established? What wisdom comes with age?
SAO: We’re beginning our fourth Season and while it may seem as if we’re no longer the “new” theatre, we are fully aware that in terms of growing audience share and attracting sponsors and supporters, we are still only in our infancy. It typically takes five or more years to really feel that you’ve “made it,” and even then wrong choices can turn back the clock in terms of support. So we’re always talking with our audience and supporters and always trying to learn from them how to improve things.
RVM: How has CTP changed over the years? Or, has it?
SAO: As we’ve gotten established, we’ve had some changes in personnel and we expect further changes to come. Nothing stays the same forever. We’re grateful to the folks that helped us begin and we’re excited about the people we are beginning now to work with. We’ve grown more confident in our abilities and have added some new technology to our productions that were available thanks to the growing base of supporters. As time passes, we’re working to provide the actors and technicians a bit more financial reward and recognize that their contribution of time and talent does deserve rewarding.
RVM: Any changes we should expect in the upcoming couple years?
SAO: Considering we’re moving forward at a solid pace, we expect to be a theatre company for Medford and the Rogue Valley for many years to come. We’ve got a wonderful, intimate theatre setting and we’d love to see more new faces! We’re expanding our outreach to the community with a new bi-lingual program for children. It’s currently in the developmental phase but we’ll be announcing soon. We’ve always believed that theatre is one of the first means of communication that humans developed to tell their stories, and we believe that in our modern society, which tends to isolate with devices, that theatre is still the most effective means of developing community. We have a simple slogan: “See you at CTP!” And we truly mean that we see and treasure all of our performers, technicians and audience members.