Ashland acting troupe plans unique chess game

An independent Ashland acting troupe is redefining what it means to "play" chess.

The unnamed group is planning a human chess game to be battled out between 32 actors beneath the expansive cover of a horse arena outside Ashland.

"We've been trying to find a venue for years," said Michael Meyer, artistic director of the first Rogue Valley Living Chess Game. "The arena is absolutely wonderful "… it's huge, and the acoustics are amazing."

The black and white sides will be the Addams Family versus a band of famous pirates, said Niki Potter, Equamore Foundation volunteer event coordinator and chess game organizer.

Kings from each side, Gomez Addams and the Pirate King will be calling the moves over the board.

As the pieces meet through predetermined advances, an "epic" choreographed battle will ensue before the trumping chess piece eventually wins, said Potter "There will be swords, and a few other surprises "… poison, magic hexes; it can be just about anything," said Meyer. "The players will taunt each other before moves, and ad lib. It will be a lot of fun."

Potter, who owns three horses and is a longtime performing arts fan, started Rogue Valley Living Chess Game 2012 at www.kickstarter.com, to help raise money for the troupe and the chess game.

The group hopes to reach the $5,000 mark, she said, but, regardless, the show will go on.

"Whether or not we have a budget, this thing is going to go off well," she said.

The large-as-life match still needs actors, stage combatants, fencers, street performers, comedians, or anyone interested, young or old, to fill the squares, she said.

"It'll be a good way for so many independent and young actors to get a bit of improv experience," said Potter.

The event will be hosted by, and is a fundraiser for, the Equamore Foundation, a horse sanctuary at Eden Farm, about two-and-a-half miles outside Ashland, at 4723 Highway 66.

Once selected, the chess people will rehearse for six to eight weeks before the opening match, Aug. 18, and the following shows Aug. 19, 25, and 26.

Admission to the human chess game will likely be $10-$15, said Potter, although, that price hasn't been finalized.

There will be bleacher seating, and the chess board will be raised off the dirt-floor arena, said Meyer.

All of the admission money will be donated to the Equamore Foundation, which takes in abandoned, aged, unfortunate and abused horses from Oregon and Northern California, said Potter.

The registered nonprofit and tax-exempt foundation is 100 percent supported by donations, she said.

"It's going to be homegrown," said Meyer. "We hope that it can attract enough talent and audience members that we can have it next year and beyond."

Reach reporter Sam Wheeler at 541-499-1470 or email swheeler@dailytidings.com.

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