Tales from the Vault: School Tour

Posted on Oct 4th, 2012 in OSF Archives

Same Time, Same Vocation

As the season draws to a close, the school visit program is about to take off. You may wonder how this terrific outreach program came about. It was all related to the opening of the Angus Bowmer Theatre, 35 years ago, and a multi-faceted approach to growing our audience. Here’s what Forbes (Buck) Rogers, education coordinator, had to say about the tour in the Fall/Winter 1971 OSFA Newsletter (now Prologue):

“With partial aid from the Oregon Arts Commission we have been able to actually send theatre artists to the schools in both urban and rural communities. This is the first time we have had the opportunity, and the response from the students and teachers has been overwhelming.

“Using a leased van provided by an Ashland auto dealer, actors Diana Bellamy, Philip Davidson, James Barton Hill, Will Huddleston, Elizabeth McAninch and Michael Winters visited more than 40 schools in many of the smallest, isolated towns in Oregon, where theatre is not an everyday item in the schools. They have worked on a face-to-face basis with more than 5,000 students—all in small groups.”

Over the years, the school visit program has increased in size (reaching over 77,000 at 124 schools in 2004 alone), actor/teachers have traveled from Alaska and Hawaii to Kansas, Butler Ford still provides cars, and we still visit rural, isolated towns in eastern Oregon, such as Paisley, La Grande and Hermiston where Danforth Comins and Jeff Cummings will visit this fall.

As Diana Bellamy once said, “That’s what it’s all about.”

Written originally for The Company Call, November 2005, by Kit Leary