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Separating the men from the guys

Tidings Correspondent

“The Wild Guys” opens this weekend at Ashland’s Oregon Stage Works. It is a revealing and comedic look at the men’s movement, written by the award-winning team of Andrew Wreggitt and Rebecca Shaw, and winner of the Solange Karsh award for best play in the 1992 National Playwriting Competition.

The play examines the kind of self-absorption that leads people to pour over self-help books, join encounter groups, and set out on the labyrinthian, de rigeuer journey to self that has so indelibly marked what is often referred to as the New Age.

In “The Wild Guys” four very different men head into the woods for a “wildman weekend” and some male bonding. They are four guys with nothing in common other than their wish to get in touch with their more primitive maleness, something made popular in the last decade by the likes of Robert Bly, bagpiper for the men’s movement. There is Andy, their leader, a men’s movement advocate who has a problem; Robin, a new age seeker never far from his crystal and drum; Randal, a fast-track corporate lawyer who joins them to avoid running a triathlon with is very young girlfriend; and Stewart whose idea of a man’s weekend involves telling tales while throwing back beers.

The men turn out to be more domesticated than wild and immediately get lost. The situations are endlessly comedic but with an edge, with jokes about what it means to be a man in an age of metrosexuals, male stereotypes, and the leaching demands of work and career.

“‘The Wild Guys’ is a perfect choice for Oregon Stage Works, and a perfect choice for this community,” says director Barbara Segal, who notes that Bill Kauth, cofounder of the nationwide New Warrior men’s movement, now makes its home in Ashland. “Watching the men grapple with challenging terrain and with their own fears — of water, bears and inadequacy — makes for an evening of fun and revelation.”

OSW’s Producing Artistic Director, Peter Alzado, adds “‘The Wild Guys’ may focus on men, but it’s also a wonderful date play. Women love it, too. They get to see men make fools of themselves and they get to see them grow. As we traipse, laughing, through the wilderness with these four I think we get to smile and to know and understand ourselves just a little bit better.”

The cast of “The Wild Guys” includes Darren Smith, formerly of The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, who returns to OSW after appearances in “Crossing Delancy” and “The Crucible.” Jameson Challis has performed in “Ebeneezer Who?”, “The Crucible,” and “Crossing Delancy” for Oregon Stage Works. Making his OSW debut is Sam King, whose acting credits include “Bullshot Crummond,” “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” and “Amoeba Concerto.” King was graduated from the School of Drama at the North Carolina School of the Arts. Terry Kolkey rounds out the cast and has appeared in “Gaslight” at Camelot Theatre and “The Price” at ACT.

Director Segal, founder and former Artistic Director of Stage — Theatre Company in Sonora, California, has also served as Artistic Director of Honolulu’s Kumu Kahua theatre company and Crested Butte Mountain Theatre. She holds an MFA in Directing from the University of Hawaii.

— “The Wild Guys” will run at 8 p.m. Mondays, Fridays and Saturdays and at 2 p.m. Sundays through August 20. There will be two performances on the play’s closing Sunday. Tickets are $17 ($10 for students) at Grocery Outlet in Medford and the Music Coop in Ashland. The theatre will also offer special Senior Night on Friday, July 28, when tickets will be $12 to all seniors 65 and over. Preview tickets, for Thursday, July 20, will be $10. For more information and reservations call 482-2334 or www.oregonstageworks.org. Oregon Stage Works is located in the A Street Market Place, Ashland.