To Be a Fool

Eugene theater mavens bring new resident company to Springfield’s Wildish Theater

In the 1970s, The New Mime Circus Theater Ensemble was one of Eugene’s several cooperative community projects. Today, the company has been resurrected in a new form by co-founders Judith “Sparky” Roberts and fellow performer Joe Cronin.

Fools Haven, a nonprofit, launched its inaugural performance with a Shakespeare showcase at Springfield’s Wildish Community Theater in December 2014, and has since staged several showcases and other works at the Eugene Public Library, the Very Little Theatre and other public venues.

Roberts and Cronin recently announced that Fools Haven has been added as the newest resident company at the Wildish, alongside such regular acts as Amici Chamber Music, Rose Children’s Theatre and Swing Shift Jazz Orchestra.

In addition to the Wildish, the Florence Playhouse has been a popular spot for Fools Haven, earlier this year hosting a revival of Raw Canvas by Diane Barratt-Walton and featuring Nancy Hopps. The second show on the bill, Bits and Pieces, featured Roberts, Cronin and Chris White performing selections by Harold Pinter and Samuel Beckett as well as an original play by Roberts. Roberts and Cronin returned to Florence in late September in a variety show with audience participation.

Most recently, Fools Haven mounted a production of The New Shakespeare Showcase in November at Wildish Theater. Roberts, in the helm as director, compared the program to “a lavish feast, a bounty of riches with scenes from the bard, 20 fine actors and live music,” adding that the showcase has “tastes for every palate.”

Dan Egan, theater manager at Wildish, says that “even though he lived four centuries ago, Shakespeare’s characters and situations are timeless. We’re thrilled to welcome back Fools Haven and give our audience the opportunity to become friendly, once again, with William Shakespeare.”

Roberts adds: “We look forward to having a home base in this beautiful theater.”

Fools Haven’s upcoming projects include variety shows and original works. Currently in rehearsal is a production of Aladdin, an original English pantomime in two acts.

The company will also offer classes and workshops, utilizing members of the company along with the help of popular guest artists. Available to the community at large, Fools Haven will present open rehearsal classes, where participants can observe the rehearsals of plays in progress as well as participate. Performance workshops using a cross section of Shakespeare’s plays to explore themes of love, murder or revenge are also planned.

Fools Haven is inviting the public to help company members celebrate its new home by attending a reception 5 pm, Feb. 16, at Wildish. According to theater manager Dan Egan: “It is rumored that Will Shakespeare himself may make an appearance.” — Mary McCoy

For more information about the reception or other opportunities at the Wildish Community Theater, 630 Main Street, Spfd., contact Dan Egan at 868-0689 or visit If you’d like to get in on the fun or support Fools Haven, contact Roberts at or 868-4545.

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