Westwood students and chaperones gather on the theater grounds of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival where they were able to attend several plays the first weekend in June. Photo submitted

Westwood students attend Oregon Shakespeare Festival

Students from Westwood High School were immersed in theater the first weekend in June when they traveled to Ashland for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

The fieldtrip was organized by Cecilia Allin, the high school English and drama teacher. Funds were raised in March at a dinner theater billed as “A Night of Laugh Out Loud Comedy Skits!”

Students and their chaperones left Westwood Friday morning, May 31, and went immediately to a prologue on the play “As You Like It,” upon their arrival in Ashland. A prologue familiarizes an audience with the plot of a play and the main characters.

“As You Like It,” one of Shakespeare’s few comedies, was performed in the Angus Bowmer Theatre, which is the largest of the three theaters in which the group went to plays.

According to Carol Ross, a Westwood High teacher and chaperone, “the acoustics were spot on. Even though we sat up near the top, we could hear everything, which was amazing since the actors do not wear mics. We really enjoyed all 3 1/2 hours of it, but afterward we were pretty hungry.”

However, the schedule was tight so there was only time for a quick bite before a scheduled prologue on Macbeth. This play was at the Allen Elizabethan Theatre, which has no ceiling so people are essentially outdoors. Although the theater has four tiers of seats, Westwood’s group was seated on the ground floor. Ross said everyone was engaged in the play even though it was four hours long.

Saturday a modern play called “Mother Road” was on the agenda. It was written by Octavio Solis and inspired by John Steinbeck’s novel, “The Grapes of Wrath.”

“It’s a journey home, of sorts, of the Joad family, back to their roots. The play was raw and pulled us right in. “Grapes of Wrath” fans would love the resolution to the first story,” said Ross.

That night at 8 p.m. the group saw “Alice in Wonderland” at the Allen Elizabethan Theatre. Most of the students read the book by Lewis Carroll before the Ashland trip, either to refresh their memories or for the first time.

“The actors were colorful and funny. This is quite opposite of the Shakespearean plays where most costumes are mute to match the darkness of the play, but here it was a pageant of riot of colors,” said Ross.

Sunday, June 2, some went to a skate park after breakfast and others went to see “Aladdin” before returning to Westwood.

The students who went to the Shakespeare Festival were Austin Heffley, German Holguin, Tyler Melendrez, Isaiah Halcrow, Dayton Duerksen, Justin Boyd, Amelia Peters, Keyonna Walker, Cleta Tirey, Megan Fletcher, Claudia Herman, Haleigh Meeks and Brianna Ortlieb. Chaperones were Allin, Ross, Pam Pettengill, a member of the board of trustees for the Westwood Unified School District, and Joe Johnstun, a parent.