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Eugene Weekly : Theater : 3.10.11

 

Veteran OSF ActorFlies South

I was sure there must have been a misprint. Flipping through my program just minutes into my weekend at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, I couldnt find Dan Donohue listed among the company members. A staple on the Ashland Stage, Donohue is always in the best plays with some meaty, Shakespearean role to rock.

Dan "Hamlet-Iago-Henry V” Donohue? Gone? What the fair Ophelia is going on here?

I caught up by phone with the veteran OSF actor whos put down stakes in L.A., trying his luck in film and television.

"But why?” I ask, sounding not unlike Cindy-Lou Who. He laughs, joking, "I was ready to take a break from acting, so naturally I moved to L.A.” If the thought of OSFs best and brightest pounding the pavement beneath the Hollywood sign leaves you cold, fear not. This newly struggling actor shtick is all part of his plan.

"Ive been at OSF on and off since 1994,” Donohue says. "It is a very safe environment to work in. In some ways the safety fosters creativity, but there are dangers in becoming too complacent.” And complacency is not an option for a new actor in the City of Angels.

You cant get much further from the pleasantly tiny town of Ashland than the thudding, bright city of L.A. True, both are filled with Californians, but thats where the similarities end. In L.A., Donohue says, "you are forced to constantly work on new material. You have to jump at things quicker, work faster.” While no stranger to the city, Donohue has experienced a bit of culture shock. Los Angeles, he says, "rattles you and excites you in equal measure.”

Leaving Ashland was by no means a move motivated by dissatisfaction with the company. Donohue has the highest regard for Bill Rauch, now in his 5th year as OSF artistic director. "When I work with him, my work is better,” Donohue says. But year after year in Ashland had taken its toll on Donohue. He feared artistic atrophy, and a good workout in a different genre will certainly be preventative. At his core, Donohue identifies as a theater actor, but ultimately he wants to have a long career that crosses the gap between stage and screen.

When I ask about any future work at OSF, Donohue says that he will always consider Ashland an artistic home base. So does that mean hell be back? He is laughing again, saying, "Thats certainly a possibility.”

We at the Eugene Weekly wish him the best of luck. In the meantime you can keep up with the adventures of this talented fish as he negotiates new waters. His website is www.dandonohue.com ® Anna Grace