'Taking Sides' and play readings

Ashland Community Theatre will present British playwright Ronald Harwood's 1995 play "Taking Sides." Performances will take place at 8 p.m. Saturdays and Mondays and 2 p.m. Sundays Oct. 13-29, at The Elks Club, 255 E. Main St., Ashland.

"Taking Sides" was made into a movie in 2001. Harwood also wrote "The Dresser" and "The Pianist," both of which have become movies. The theater version of "Taking Sides" had a 10-week run on Broadway in 1966 and was presented as a play reading in November 2005 by Ashland Community Theatre.

In the play, U.S. Army Maj. Steve Arnold is in Berlin in 1946 at the end of World War II preparing for the Nazi trials. Arnold has been sent to pursue U.S. accusations against Wilhelm Furtwangler, the renowned conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, for staying in Germany after Hitler came to power and serving the Nazi regime. Furtwangler believes that as an artist he was completely independent of politics and served his country by staying and contributing the uplifting power of great music. Arnold steadfastly maintains that the politics of Nazism colored all of Furtwangler's actions, and by staying he was complicit.

In the Ashland Community Theatre production of "Taking Sides," David Dials plays Furtwangler with ACT artistic director Michael Meyer as Maj. Arnold. Bob Brazeau plays Helmuth Rode, the second violinist; MiLisa Cleo plays Emmi Straube, Arnold's secretary; Caleb Brumley plays U.S. Army Lt. David Wills, and Victoria Stewart plays Tamara Sachs.

Jeannine Grizzard directs. She was drawn to "Taking Sides" in her first reading.

"Like a good book, it grabbed me with its powerful themes," she said in a press release. "It is an insightful study of how people can build cases from the seed of one legitimate perception. Then all new information is filtered to serve an agenda. In this play, both sides are eloquently presented, but it is basically a metaphor for a witch hunt. It raises some important questions. One such issue: Are the great excused from corruption by virtue of their genius?"

Grizzard, from Atlanta, Ga., has worked in theater from 1992 through 1997. She founded the touring company Georgia Mountain Theatre, serving as its associate artistic director, managing director and producer. With five shows per year the company produced Shakespeare and original children's musicals as well as classics such as "The Glass Menagerie."

For five years Grizzard toured a one-woman show as Virginia Woolf in "A Room of One's Own." She holds a master's degree in Shakespeare from the University of Warwick, England, and an MA in philosophy from Georgia State. Her most recent work was as an instructor in philosophy at Georgia Highlands College.

Tickets are $15 general admission and $12 for students and seniors. Tickets are available at Paddington Station, Ashland, and Grocery Outlet, Medford.

Call 840-1527.

Ashland Community Theatre will produce another two evenings of local dramatists' short play readings at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 12 and Saturday, Oct. 13, at Paschal Winery, 1122 Suncrest Rd., Talent.

The readings will be directed by Paul Roland with scripts drawn mostly from Dave Hill's Ashland Playwrights' Project, and two from Oregon Stage Works' Playwrights' Unit. The plays are from five to 15 minutes in length. There will be two short intermissions.

The plays include: "Woman's Prerogative" by Darlene Ensor, "Trading Up" by Roy Glassberg, "The Acceptance" by Dave Hill, "Sadie and Morris" by Phil Loveless, "The Robbery" by Catherine Noah, "A Lousy Tip" by Cynthia Rogan, and "The Ezha Bubby" by Ruth Wire. Audience discussion is encouraged after the reading.

Cast members scheduled to participate include Brandy Carson, Jamison Challeen, Victoria King, Virginia King, Urban Kohler, Dee Maaske, Hardy Pinnell, and Barbara Rosen.

Wine by the glass or bottle is available as well as cracker and cheese plates.

Tickets are $10 at the door or call for reservations, 840-1527.

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