Shawn Ramagos is Camelot Theatre's new artistic director, officially taking over the role from Roy Von Rains, Jr., in April 2018. Ramagos has a long history in the theater world, and I chatted with him to see how he might be feeling about his relocation to the Rogue Valley.
JG: Shawn, welcome to the Rogue Valley! What is your creative and artistic history?
SR: My first love for theater started in high school. While attending a school completely focused on sports, I started the drama club. I chose, directed, designed, and constructed the sets for all of our shows during my junior and senior years. I then went on to act at local community theaters as well as participated backstage. The only one from my school to take and pass the creative scholars test, I was invited to attend a conservatory program for musical theater performance at Northwestern State University in Louisiana and then to an acting and directing program with Louisiana State University. I then applied for and was accepted to a work study program with Disney Entertainment where I specialized in theater technology, pyrotechnics, and design. I worked for Disney for seven years and was part of the lead opening crew of the grand opening of Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park. I left Disney and became a production manager, artistic director, and other positions within the entertainment industry. In my 20-year history in the industry I have been honored with awards for acting and directing as well as for some of my design work.
JG: How did you come to be involved with Camelot?
SR: I applied for the artistic director position with Camelot through a nation-wide search for which they posted. When Roy von Rains, Jr. decided to move on after he completes his contract at the end of March, I will take over.
JG: What excites you about the future for Camelot and your role in it?
SR: I am extremely excited about this opportunity with Camelot. Working with all of the talented staff, volunteers and cast in a brand-new beautiful theater is something that drew me to the position and area. I feel the most exciting thing for me as the new Artistic Director, is that everyone at Camelot from the board to the staff is completely committed to elevating the product we are offering our patrons. As a designer and director in one, I am thrilled to be allowed to be as creative as possible to produce the best version of the author’s vision for all of our shows. I’m calling it great design in an intimate space. This includes live musicians for all of our musicals and keeping an eye on and embracing emerging technologies. I hope by doing so we entice people to audition, volunteer, become donors and become season ticket subscribers. I am also excited about meeting and auditioning the talent we have in the Rouge Valley and will be committed to having all roles available for every production. Being new to the area I’d love to invite all to audition for us at Camelot and especially invite new people we haven’t seen before to come out to our auditions. I am also committed to redesigning and enhancing our Youth Conservatory Program and would love to concentrate not only on the production we do with the kids but provide a greater focus on arts education in a multi-level and multi-faceted program where kids can graduate from level to level, thus grooming them for our main-stage productions. It is very important to train the next generation of young actors and to provide creative outlets for young people whose voices, talents and skills need to be expressed in a creative and safe environment. I would like to thank everyone in the community who have said hello who have been so nice and welcoming. Good things are ahead for Camelot.
—Ashland resident Jeffrey Gillespie is a Tidings columnist and freelance writer. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.