Just a few weeks ago WOU’s freshman Honors Program theatre students were able to spend a night in Ashland. This small town in southern Oregon, just north of the border of California, experienced an invasion of WOU students all hyped up to see three plays performed by the annual Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF). With expenses paid (with exception of food) the students were able to spend Thursday and Friday in the quaint town with a number of small mom and pop shops and restaurants.
Ashland is a tourist town, drawing thousands of people every year for OSF. They have a variety of parks and theatres to entertain tourists and hometown folks. It’s a beautiful little town. One such attraction is their famous water fountain of Lithia water, upon which the city was founded. As one WOU student, Laura White noted, “Don’t drink it. It’s like liquid eggs.”
Apart from the tourism, Ashland hosted us Wolves in order for an academic purpose: to view three plays: A Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window by Lorraine Hansberry, The Tempest by William Shakespeare, and Water by the Spoonful by Quiara Alegría Hudes. The honors class had previously read and studied A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry, The Tempest by William Shakespeare, and Elliot: A Soldier’s Fugue by Quiara Alegría Hudes prior to attending OSF. They were familiar with the subject matter and authors’ styles by the time they reached Ashland. Celia Johnson, one member of the trip remarked “My favorite thing on the Ashland trip was being able to see Water by the Spoonful. I thought it was a really amazing play. I thought it was really well done, and I’m very thankful we were able to go on this trip.” Clarissa Toplar commented, “I really enjoyed the plays. A Sign in Sidney Brunstein’s Window being my favorite. I loved exploring the town; there are a lot of hidden treasures there” and Tricia Desrosiers said her favorite part of the trip was bonding with the honors troupe and exploring the quaint town, particularly enjoying Water by the Spoonful. One of the theatre teachers, Dr. Kent Neely, commented on the trip, expressing that his favorite part of the trip was “seeing the plays with students and hearing their comments about the experience because it was like having a fresh experience through other people’s eyes. Lots of great conversations.” Dr. Gavin Keulks, director of the honors program here at WOU said “The Honors Ashland trip is the culminating experience of the first year in Honors. We’ve been going for over twenty years, and every year it seems to keep getting better. Few people can claim to have seen three plays in less than 30 hours, but every Honors student can!”
Aside from the plays, the Ashland trip was a great bonding experience for the honors students. They had to share four 12 passenger vans for over eight cumulative hours. “My favorite part of Ashland was getting to know people in my classes, especially on the van rides,” remarked Sydney Culpepper. It was an uninterrupted time frame for students to converse and have fun with each other unimpeded by school work or class time. I personally slept on the way there. We departed at 7am Thursday morning. Those are still glorious slumbering hours.
One thing is for sure: the Ashland trip as another success! New experiences, new friends, and new memories to be cherished and shared for years to come.