Karis Walsh blogs:
Let me set the stage for you. The town is Ashland, home of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and one of my all-time favorite places to visit. The surrounding landscape is gorgeous, with lush farmland shifting into the evergreen-covered Siskiyou Mountains. The city’s vibe is open-minded and creative. Artisans, actors, and tourists are everywhere. I was in junior high when I made my first trip to Ashland with my friend and her mom, and I fell in love with the dramatic beauty I found there. My most recent visit was a few years ago, when I did research for Set the Stage and saw the amazing world premiere of Fingersmith by Sarah Waters.
Moving to Ashland and acting in the festival has always been high on my list of dream careers—I love the idea of doing the jobs on this list, but I’m not entirely suited for the reality of them. It’s never too late to pursue a dream, though, is it? Maybe I’ll follow in my character Emilie’s footsteps and give it a shot. I just need to find a way to stretch these high school acting experiences into a full résumé:
1. The Man Who Came to Dinner. I played a neighbor and carried a potted plant. My line was something like “I brought him a plant.” I’m pretty sure I got a standing ovation.
2. Up the Down Staircase. I think I was a teacher. Or a counselor? Either way, I had a pivotal role in the production. Without the flawless delivery of my two lines, the entire play would have disintegrated into senselessness.
Despite my unbearably awkward presence onstage (actually, let’s change that to endearingly awkward for the résumé), I loved being part of my high school’s theater group. We were working together to create something special, forging a sense of camaraderie and a spirit of collaboration. It was much like what I’ve experienced as a writer, with editors, publishers, readers, and other authors coming together through a love of books and stories.
I relished the chance to live out my passion for the theater, Ashland, and Shakespeare’s plays through Emilie and Arden. I hope I will inspire some of you to visit Ashland and see some plays, eat at a trendy restaurant, go geocaching in Lithia Park, and buy something handmade and one-of-a-kind. And if those reasons aren’t enough to send you to the airport, let me add another incentive when I assure you that the pear ice cream Emilie eats is absolutely real and every bit as delicious as it sounds in the book. Search the side streets and you’ll find it.