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Camas, WA — The historic Liberty Theatre turns 91 on June 14, and the operators are having a low-key celebration with a special showing of Steven Spielberg’s “Raiders of the Lost Ark.”

“This isn’t a benchmark year, so we’re not not having all the hoopla and swag bags like we did last year,” said the theatre’s operator, Rand Thornsley. “We’re having a 6 pm special showing of ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark,’ which is a community pick. We put out a poll and that was the top pick of our customers. Last year was very successful.”

For the record, “Wizard of Oz” placed second in the poll.

Thornsley’s group took over theatre operations in 2011 on St. Patrick’s Day, which is their operational anniversary, but the community is more in tune with the historic anniversary — and its opening in 1927.

This summer, the Liberty will present a Drones concert, as well as some “Beatles” programs. And, they have a few anniversary classics coming: such as “American Graffiti” to coincide with the downtown Camas Car Show in July; Alfred Hitchcock’s “Vertigo” celebrate its 6oth anniversary in July; and “Treasure of Sierra Madre,” which celebrates its 70th anniversary.

Liberty

The theatre opened in 1927.

A few fun Liberty facts:

  • It’s classic vintage, not a multiplex. “We don’t do things like Regal does. We show a lot of different movies at a lot of different times,” says Thornsley.
  • Prices are more family friendly. General admission is $4.50 and $5.50 for adults. Tuesdays are $4.50.
  • Concessions are at a price point that’s affordable.
  • The big theatre seats 300. The little theatre has 29 seats.
  • They make it all happen with a staff of five.
  • Concessions — popcorn is simple, with no artificial ingredients. It’s quality popcorn, made with sea salt, and canola oil, plus butter if you want it.

To learn more, visit www.CamasLiberty.com

Camas, WA — When Camas High School senior, Omar Shafiuzzaman, walks into the doors of London’s Royal Central School of Speech and Drama this October, he’ll be living his dream.

After attending a workshop last summer at London’s Globe Theatre, he knew he wanted to attend school in the United Kingdom. So, he applied to four schools in the area, and ended up being one of nine young men from all over the world to receive an unconditional offer to enter the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama’s acting program. The school has a one percent acceptance rate.

Shafiuzzaman, known for his work in Camas Theatre productions over the past few years, says the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama is the top-ranked acting school in the United Kingdom, one of the top 10 in the world, and boasts of several prestigious graduates: Dame Judi Dench, Sir Laurence Olivier, Andrew Garfield (of the “Spider-Man” movies), and Sonia Friedman, among others.

“This is everything I ever wanted,” said Shafiuzzaman. “This is the best possible outcome for me.”

Shafiuzzaman has been gaining local attention for his work in plays such as “Brigadoom,” “The Laramie Project,” and most recently, “Little Shop of Horrors,” for which he has received a 5th Avenue Award nomination for Best Supporting Role. 5th Avenue is the top Washington state acting honor a student can receive.

So, how did he get here? His acting journey started in 6th grade, but it didn’t become a passion until years later.

“It was a gradual realization to want to be an actor,” he said. “I was in 6th grade (in Las Vegas) — in my first play, which was ‘Peter Pan’. I played Mr. Darling, Wendy’s dad. Then I moved to Camas in 8th grade and started doing it more, and researched how to get the best training. Mr. Kelly at Camas has been a huge help.”

Following his year at Skyridge, he enrolled in Drama 1 Class at CHS, which is taught by Sean Kelly.

“He teaches you how to memorize lines, basic acting techniques, movements, blocking, how to connect with partners,” said Shafiuzzaman. “He teaches vocabulary for theater. For my sophomore year, I enrolled in Advanced Drama, which is independent, and you get to write your own work. You work on more advanced skills.”

Initially, he didn’t find his strengths.

Omar

At the close of “Little Shop of Horrors.”

“His first year as a freshman, he was emotionally closed off and was pretty quiet in my class, oddly enough,” said Kelly. “He didn’t take a lot of risks at first, so I think for Omar his biggest victory was overcoming this idea that he is not good enough at this, and he had major breakthroughs last year that have put him where he’s at. He has confidence in his craft. He’s meticulous. He likes to have a lot of tools at his disposal. He can really embrace the sloppiness of being human. He has the confidence and comfort level to do so. I told him to stop playing it safe, because the risks are where you have growth. He also started taking acting lessons outside of class, which I highly recommend.”

His family is very supportive, but they also keep him grounded — and he needs to find a summer job before heading to London.

“We never really had this planned for Omar,” said his mother, Kylee. “We told him to follow his dreams. And this is what he’s super passionate about. It’s exciting to see opportunities come. He’s really worked hard.”

Omar loves his craft because each acting experience is different.

“Actors are very lucky because they get to experience everything they could ever want to in life,” said Shafiuzzaman. “They can learn how to be a doctor, then they study and pretend to play a doctor. You can be a king. It’s a dream job. You can do what you want as an actor. You get to meet really smart people. You can’t just really feel emotions — there’s an intellectual side to it, as well. You have to get other people to believe you, you have to know how the world works, and be very knowledgeable about the world. You have to talk to a lot of people.”

Omar has been in six main stage productions, and two student productions, which are one acts. Plus, he did two other shows in Drama class.

“My mom helped put them up, which were cancer fundraiser shows,” he said. “We raised $6,000 last year, and $2,000 this year. One was ‘Chemo Girl’ and this year we did ‘Sillyheart.’ My favorite play was ‘Musical Comedy Murders of the 1940s.’ That was the first time I’d done a show since 6th grade. When I finally got to perform again it was exhilarating. It introduced me into the whole world of theatre. It was just amazing. I played Eddie and he was the hero of the show. He had the most lines. Ended up saving all the people at the end. My favorite character that I played was Jeff Douglas, an alcoholic man who went to Scotland with his best friend, in ’Brigadoom.’

“It’s exhausting at times because everything is out in the open. We talk about what we feel isn’t right. Theatre is the best way to express yourself. It’s a way to spur change or make a statement. There’s also the entertainment side, as well. It’s mostly a good thing that all these things are coming to light, and then we can talk and solve problems.

Omar

Omar in a scene from Camas Theatre’s “Little Shop of Horrors.”

“My friends are very, very happy for me. I live in a very supportive community of kids in the theatre group. They’re all really nice about it.”

Kelly said memorization is essential to being a good actor.

“At first, it’s very hard, and it’s really the donkey work of acting,” he said. “You just repeat the lines over and over again. And, then repeat them without looking at script. You just have to memorize it. You either do it, or you don’t. It gets easier as you do it more and more. After memorizing so many lines, then once the show is done, they go away really quickly.”

Entertainment is becoming part of the family business. He has an older sister, Sophia, attending Northern Colorado University, working on light and set design. And, Omar’s younger brother, Aiden, is involved with the Skyridge Middle School choir, and he also appeared in “Alice in Wonderland.”

During summer break, Shafiuzzaman will play a Pakistani teenager in a short film called “Death from Above.” The film talks about the Middle East.

It’s great that he’s attending such a prestigious acting school in London,” said Kelly. “The British approach is much more technical, and I think this will be a good fit for him.”

Omar

Camas Theatre director, Sean Kelly, has high praise for Omar.

 

WASHOUGAL, WA – Journey Theater Arts Group presents “Fiddler on the Roof.”

Winner of nine Tony Awards when it debuted in 1964, Fiddler on the Roof is the brainchild of Broadway legends, Jerome Robbins and Harold Prince; songwriters, Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick; and bookwriter, Joseph Stein. Touching audiences worldwide with its humor, warmth and honesty, this universal show is a staple of the musical theatre canon.

Set in the little village of Anatevka, the story centers on Tevye, a poor milkman, and his five daughters. With the help of a colorful and tight-knit Jewish community, Tevye tries to protect his daughters and instill them with traditional values in the face of changing social mores and the growing anti-Semitism of Czarist Russia. Rich in historical and ethnic detail, Fiddler on the Roof‘s universal theme of tradition cuts across barriers of race, class, nationality and religion, leaving audiences crying tears of laughter, joy and sadness.  Recommended for ages 7 and up.

Performances are May 18-27, 2018 at Washburn Performing Arts Center at Washougal High School, 1201 39th Street, Washougal WA, 98671.   Tickets are on sale now at journeytheater.org or by calling 360.750.8550.  Pre-sale adult tickets are $12.  Youth and senior tickets are $10.   Our “family day” performance is May 19 at 7:00 pm with all tickets $10 in advance.  Tickets for all performances are $4 more at the door.

Public Performances

Friday, May 18th – 7:00 pm

Saturday, May 19th – 7:00 pm

Sunday, May 20th – 2:00 pm

Friday, May 25th – 7:00 pm

Saturday, May 26th – 2:00 pm

Sunday, May 27th – 2:00 pm

About Journey Theater Arts Group

Their mission: “Growing youth in character, confidence and creativity, in a Christ centered community.”  Throughout the Portland/Vancouver area, Journey offers dozens of classes for ages 6-18, in drama, dance, voice and more.   In addition, we produce 12 Broadway-style shows in four locations during the school year, improv competitions, multiple summer camps and professional-level community theater musicals for all ages in summer.  Journey is a nonprofit educational organization, with offices located at 1400 NE 136th Ave, Suite 201, Vancouver WA, 98684.  Contact at 360.750.8550 or www.journeytheater.org

Fiddler

Playing the violin.

This afternoon, a few protesters gathered in front of Camas High School to protest the current production of “The Laramie Project” by the school’s drama department. Some students interacted with the protestors, and security was called to the scene.

CHS Principal Liza Sejkora issued the following statement:

CHS Families,

This afternoon there were two individuals expressing their religious beliefs, via signs and a bullhorn, across from the Camas High School bus parking area as students were leaving for the day. This event created a commotion and, unfortunately, some strong feelings and expletives were expressed.

The CHS security team, administrators, and the School Resource Officer were on site ensuring the visitors stayed on the public sidewalk away from students. The visitors left after the CHS students departed.

This protest was likely brought to our campus in response to the CHS drama department’s presentation of The Laramie Project—the story of Matthew Shepard, a homosexual student from the University of Wyoming, who was brutally murdered in 1998. To learn more about why we selected The Laramie Project, read Director Sean Kelly’s notes.

We want you to have context about the incident today in case your student(s) have questions.

Sincerely,

Liza Sejkora
Principal

Director Sean Kelly’s Statement

I have had a difficult time trying to decide what needs to be written about this show. I suppose I need to start with a few assertions that I believe to be true: opposition to prejudice should not be a political issue, but these days it seems to be. Opposition to those who would commit violence should not be a political issue, but these days it seems to be. And most importantly, this: we desperately need to start listening to one another.

Empathy is a skill that must be practiced. The best way to practice it, in my opinion, is to listen to the stories of others’ struggles. If we consciously practice empathy while doing so, we begin to discover that we have a lot more in common than we ever imagined. It’s a lot harder to hate someone once you get to know them and what they are up against. Matthew Shepard was brutally beaten and murdered because he was gay. His story sparked a national conversation that we are still having today.

When I was a young man, I was harassed and threatened, shunned and whispered about in my hometown. Once, a couple of men in a pickup threw a 32-ounce soda at me as they drove past and yelled “faggot”. They circled the block a few times and shouted obscenities and threatened to assault me. I can’t claim to fully understand the challenges that a member of the LGBTQ community faces because I am not a member of that community, except as an ally. But my experiences as someone who was targeted by hatred based on what other people thought they saw was a revelation. How must it be to fear this every day of one’s life?

When I visited Laramie a few years ago, years after the death of Matthew Shepard, what struck me the most was how much like my hometown it appeared to be. It seemed a place that was idyllic and easy, with a beautiful view. There were places that were rough around the edges, and it seemed in every way like it could be any town in the USA. And that, I suppose, is what troubled me the most. The stories of the people in this play sounded far too familiar.

Hate groups have been reawakened. Violence and harassment have never gone away, but there has been an increase in violence targeted at minorities and LGBTQ people. We feel it everywhere we go: our relationships are strained and uneasy. Everyone is on edge about something. It has been 19 years since Matthew Shepard died, and it seems tensions around this topic are only more strained than ever. But I reassert these things that I hold true:

Opposition to prejudice should not be a political issue.

Opposition to those who would commit violence should not be a political issue.

We desperately need to start listening to one another.

Father Roger Schmitt:  “When you are called a fag, and you are called… a dyke, that is the seed of violence.”

Perfomances

“The Laramie Project” continues its performances this Friday at 7 pm, and Saturday at 2 and 7 pm.

To learn more, visit www.chs.camas.wednet.edu

Laramie

The simple set allowed free flow of discussion.

Laramie

On Saturday, November 4, 2017, the Camas High School Theatre group performed “The Laramie Project”, I attended the matinee at 2:00 pm.

There are many specific reasons that individuals join together to share in a common interaction with the arts. Be it music, painting, sculpture, film, photography, dance, theatre or other forms. Generally, the reason is the same, we expect the art to affect us emotionally. Sometimes the emotion is joy, perhaps happiness, or simply to be entertained through humor or wit. The best art tells a story about real or fictional characters, their motivations, their joys and pains, to be revealed through the senses—sound, light, color, speech, smell, taste, or form.

In the case of exceptional art, that story aspires to more than just someone else’s journey discovered through an artist’s medium. Art can attain a higher level, where if the subject is willing, the story unfolds around you in such a compelling narrative that the story is no longer a foreign entity, it enters you and demands that you become part of it. “The Laramie Project” is such an opportunity. If you let it in, you become part of the story. If you let it in, and apply introspection to the experience, you will learn about yourself. In you let it in, and act on what you learned about yourself, it will change you.

Laramie

Actor Forest Myers-Power.

“The Laramie Project” is challenging, raw, emotional material. With data, quotes, and experiences gathered over significant amount of time through observation, interview, and research. The material is then presented in a narrative that depicts just not the journey of those directly involved in Laramie and surrounding locations, but the journey of the playwrights themselves as they interact directly with the setting in space and time. Slowly building the pieces of the puzzle, and then putting those pieces into the larger tapestry of the events surrounding the life and death of Matthew Shepard.

Occasional reexamination of one’s beliefs, prejudices, and biases is a critical component to human progression. Art is often the catalyst allowing one to sort through many attributes of the human condition in rapid succession. Hate, love, guilt, passion, judgement, compassion, anger, disgust, fear, charity, hope, and forgiveness may all run their course through you in the span of just a few hours’ time.

While there are moments of humor, this is not easy or light material. Your experience with it will vary greatly dependent on your willingness to engage it and especially to honestly engage yourself. If you let it in, you will leave with a greater desire for compassion and tolerance. Even towards those things which you don’t believe and for people and cultures that you don’t understand. If we are to heal our world, our nation, our community, even our families—it will take a little more of such desire.

There will be three more showings: This Friday at 7; Saturday matinee at 2, and a final showing this Saturday at 7 pm — all at Camas Theatre (at Camas High School).

To learn more, visit www.chs.camas.wednet.edu

— by Jon Pugmire

“The Laramie Project” Image Gallery

Photos by Jon Pugmire

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Camas Theatre students are in the middle of daily rehearsals for “The Laramie Project,” which director Sean Kelly says is the “most in-depth play we’ve ever produced here.”

The play, written by Moises Kaufman, and members of the Tectonic Theatre Project, is about the reaction to the 1998 murder of University of Wyoming gay student, Matthew Shepard, in Laramie, Wyoming. The three-act play is based on hundreds of interviews conducted by the theatre company with inhabitants of the town, interviewer journal entries, and published news reports.

The cast of 19, each of whom takes on multiple characters, spends their afternoons rehearsing their lines, and preparing themselves for a play that is causing most of them to look deep into human nature and behavior. We spent 90 minutes with the actors as they listened closely to instruction, and then had their own in-depth discussion about what causes people to behave badly.

“The play is about how people can rationalize, in general,” says Kelly. “The students are taking on some really deep material. It’s stretching them.”

Armita Aziza, who plays Zubaida Ula, among other characters, says the play addressed how the incident affected the town.

“Our characters address prejudice, hatred, and community,” she says.

Omar Shafiuzzaman is playing four characters: Dennis Shepard (Matthew’s father), police detective, Rob Debree, a news reporter, and playwright, Moises Kaufman.

“We’re all on stage for the whole show,” says Shafiuzzaman. “It’s very challenging to switch between these characters, and we’re learning a lot.”

Skylar Derthick plays Jeddidiah Schultz, Dr. Castaway (who operates on Matthew), and Reverend Fred Phelps, of the Westboro Baptist Church, who lead a protest at Shepard’s funeral.

“It’s tough to play all these roles,” says Derthick, who appreciates the work going into this production.

Kelly encourages the local community to turn out for their play, and welcomes a broader discussion about prejudices and attitudes. Following the play, there will be an open question-and-answer period. And, it should be known the play does contain profanity, as it reflects on real-life accounts and interviews.

“It’s easy to hate an idea,” says Kelly. “But, it’s a lot harder to hate a person once you get to know them.”

The Laramie Project Play Dates

  • November 3 @ 7 pm
  • November 4 @ 2 pm (matinee) and 7 pm
  • November 10 @ 7 pm
  • November 11 @ 2 pm (matinee) and 7 pm

Location: Camas High School Theatre

To learn more, visit www.chs.camas.wednet.edu

Photo Gallery

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Camas, WA — In collaboration with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and Compass Oncology, the award-winning Camas High School Theater Department is preparing for their premiere of “Sillyheart,” which is a 40-minute play about a young person’s cancer journey.

“It’s a play about an 8-year-old girl with leukemia that’s been in remission, but then the cancer becomes more aggressive,” says the play’s director, Sean Kelly. “The play is about how she maintains hope through her connections to a fairy tale called ‘Sillyheart.'”

Kelly explains it’s about how this princess uses courage and good will to deal with this terrible time. “It’s how the family stays afloat,” says Kelly.

All proceeds go to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Light the Night walk to help support research for blood cancers.

The Camas Theatre is located at Camas High School Auditorium, 26900 SE 15th Street — South Entrance, Camas, WA

House opens at 6:30 pm, Curtain at 7:30 pm
$10 Suggested Donation
http://tinyurl.com/LTNsillyheart

View Flyer

Upcoming Sillyheart Occurrences:

  • Wednesday, October 11, 2017 at 6:30pm
  • Thursday, October 12, 2017 at 6:30pm
Sillyheart

CHS Theatre actor signatures on the stage wall.

Camas, WA — Liberty Theatre fans packed the house Wednesday night as the historic venue celebrated its 90th birthday with a special 30th anniversary showing of the pop culture classic, “The Princess Bride.”

Moviegoers waited out into the sidewalk to get in as many reminisced about going to see movies there as kids. Many came to celebrate both anniversaries.

“We’re really big fans of ‘The Princess Bride,'” said Adam Corey, who brought his wife, Kati, and two sons, Jacob and Will, to celebrate. “We love the comedy, the characters, Andre the Giant. Plus, the Liberty is small, intimate, they have great service, and they serve beer here!”

Corey said they come when it fits their active schedule, and they always try to come here first — before going to other theaters.

“And we love Rand (Thornsley) the owner,” Corey added.

Liberty

The Corey family at the 90th birthday of the Liberty Theatre. From left: Katie, Jacob, Will, and Adam Corey.

 

Liberty

The concession stand was super busy.

On this day in 1927, the Liberty Theatre first opened its doors. At that time, it was called The Granada. Local leaders and several investors raised the money needed to build the structure, which cost $75,000. That was an incredibly large sum of money in 1927.

The first film at the theatre was “Lost at the Front.”

Since then, the theatre has changed hands many times, and went into disrepair. Previous operator, Greg Wood, did a lot of renovations in the 2000s, bringing some state-of-the-art sound equipment and a new screen. When he tried to purchase the historic theatre, negotiations failed, and he left to operate a theatre in Portland.

The Liberty closed in 2009, and remained dark for nearly two years — until Thornsley reopened its doors, breathing new life into the downtown marquee.

The first 100 guests at Wednesday’s event received a special commemorative poster for the occasion.

To learn more, visit www.camasliberty.com

LibertyMoviegoers wait in line for concessions. Gotta have popcorn!

Showtimes!