SVP takes two actors to Chinook, WA, where Angus Bowmer taught 86 years ago.
School Visit Program actors, Jeremy Peter Johnson and Christiana Clark, have been on the road for the last four weeks, teaching and performing at schools in Oregon and Washington. A typical week on the road usually involves a visit to one school per day, where they perform two 35-minute programs and teach two 60-minute workshops. Then it’s off to the next school to do it all over again. Sometimes, though, there are special performance opportunities. Here, Jeremy reflects on a particularly unique experience they had in November:
For our third stop on the 2013 School Visit Program, we made our way north across the Columbia River to Chinook, WA, population 466. We were invited to a dedication of the recently rebuilt high school, where Angus Bowmer had taught 86 years prior. Our 35-minute, two-person "Tempest" and our combination program, “Real Love,” were the final segment of an evening full of performances from the community, including a jazz band, a choir, and a marimba band - as well as remarks by Paul Nicholson, who attended with his wife Cathy. Standing on their Angus Bowmer Stage, Paul spoke of Bowmer's legacy as a teacher in Chinook dating back to 1928, well before he founded OSF. He also acknowledged that the stage was now dedicated to the community; minutes later we stepped onstage as the first people to perform there following its dedication.
This community had already welcomed us, and fed us ("Bard Bones" - delicious ribs - were on the menu, among other treats) and we couldn't have had a better audience. People of all ages, young children to seniors, were in the seats. After telling Prospero's story of forgiveness, we took a break and then dove into "Real Love." This second show is comprised of scenes that tell of the journey of love from youth to old age. It ends with Shakespeare's Sonnet 116.
After a kind ovation, we got to spend a few moments talking with more members of this great community, including our contact Loma Billups and her husband John, while others bundled up their kids and made their way out into the cool ocean air. We were excited to come back the next day to perform once more and lead some workshops with local high school students, proud and happy to continue Bowmer's magnificent tradition of arts in education.