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'State of Emergency' revisits 2020 wildfires on stage

Photo provided by Kris Seibel, Springfield Public Schools
A scene from 'State of Emergency'

An original theater work based on the experiences of 2020 wildfire survivors in Oregon premieres tomorrow (11/18) in Springfield.

The Academy of Arts and Academics developed “State of Emergency”, way back in January 2021, developing the script through interviews with 16 people affected by what’s been deemed the worst wildfire season in Oregon history.

“It’s kind of a gift back to that community, a way to celebrate the resiliency that they demonstrate,” director Andy Hock told KLCC. “To celebrate both the challenge that they have but also all of the work the community has done to preserve itself, to rebuild itself, to find its way through this.”

“State of Emergency” actors Addy Di Marco and Josh Shepler are both A3 students who recently moved to Oregon. They say they’ve worked to relate to the characters, who are based on real people that will likely be in the audience.

“It’s strange because it’s not fiction, because most plays that I’ve been in have been fiction plays,” said DiMarco. “But here, all the lines are verbatim what people said and you’re also given a lot of power that you have to use well when playing a real person. You decide how you portray them, and how the audience might see them.”

“Some of the emotional parts are a little hard,” said Sheppler, who’s not taken acting courses until this production. “I envision leaving my old house in my head for those scenes.”

“That’s what I do!” laughed DiMarco.

Zoom screen shot
(From L to R:) Andy Hock (director), Josh Shepler, and Addy Di Marco (actors)

There’s no ticket fee, but donations are encouraged, and will be accepted on behalf of the McKenzie Valley Long Term Recovery Group.

“State of Emergency” opens the first of four performances Thursday night at the Wildish Theater, and ends Sunday afternoon. Evening performances are at 7:30pm, with the matinee show at 2:00, Sunday. Tickets can be purchased here.

Copyright 2021, KLCC.

Brian Bull joined the KLCC News Team in June 2016. In his 25+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (19 regional), the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.