Inspired acting

Jay Hill is currently in 'The Dining Room,' at the Slocum House

What: Slocum House Theatre production of "The Dining Room"

When: Feb. 11, 12, 17, 18, 19, 24, 25 and 26, at 8 p.m.,

and Feb. 13, 20 and 27, at 2 p.m.

Where: 605 Esther St,, Vancouver

Cost: $13 for adults and $11 for seniors (60 and older) and children (younger than 12)

Contact: Visit www.slocumhouse.com

What: Slocum House Theatre production of “The Dining Room”

When: Feb. 11, 12, 17, 18, 19, 24, 25 and 26, at 8 p.m.,

and Feb. 13, 20 and 27, at 2 p.m.

Where: 605 Esther St,, Vancouver

Cost: $13 for adults and $11 for seniors (60 and older) and children (younger than 12)

Contact: Visit www.slocumhouse.com

Jay Hill enjoys making connections – through teaching math at Clark College and acting at the Slocum House Theatre.

Hill, of Camas, is an adjunct professor at Clark, and he is among the featured actors in “The Dining Room,” at Slocum House.

The play, written by A.R. Gurney and directed by Rebecca Kramer, opened Friday night and will run for four weeks. It is described by Kramer as a “family-friendly dramedy,” that explores the joys, sorrows, love and sadness that accompany family life.

Each actor and actress portrays multiple characters in a series of vignettes. Hill’s characters range in age from 17 to 70. The play also includes music from the 1930s to the 1980s.

Rehearsals began in mid-December.

Hill, his wife Carrie and their two children moved from Indiana to Camas two years ago.

“I did a lot of performing in Chicago,” he said.

Hill attended the Second City Training Center, in Chicago.

“I love all forms of acting,” he said. “I love improv, theater and film.

“There is nothing like live theater,” Hill added. “As a character, there is a synergy with the audience – sort of a oneness.”

In February 2010, he was in “The Producers,” at Clark College. Hill saw one play at the Slocum House before being an actor in “Mrs. Rank’s Boarding House,” last fall. The original musical about Seattle in the 1920s was written by Royal and Ford and directed by Tony Bump.

That experience included working with Rebecca Ovall and Felipe Madrigal, who are also in “The Dining Room” cast.

“Every cast has its own personality,” Hill said “Theaters like Slocum House often bring together actors of varying experience levels and skill sets. We occasionally struggled to gel, but have certainly grown closer as opening night has approached.

“I have enjoyed everyone in the cast immensely,” he added. ” I had worked with both Felipe and Rebecca in “Mrs. Rank’s,” so I had a good idea of what to expect from them and already had a strong sense of trust with them on the stage. I have really had fun getting to know and building that same trust with Kurt, Cindy and Rosina, as well as our directors, Rebecca and Marcie. It’s always a pleasure to work with talented people who are also good people.”

The ornate architectural details include a chandelier in the 58-seat theater as well as an adjoining room. The intermission room also contains prints of Charles Wilbur Slocum and Laura Slocum. The Slocum House, which was built in 1867, was named to the Clark County Heritage Register in 1985.

While theatergoers enjoy refreshments, they can view a print of Hermine Duthie Decker located above a marble fireplace. She founded the Old Slocum House Theatre Company in 1965.

The theatre is located on the southwest corner of Esther Short Park.

“Slocum House is a very intimate theater,” Hill said. “It is unique. It is a historical building and an interesting space to work with.

“You can feel the audience,” Hill added. “It forces you to be on your game. It enables you to be more subtle in your acting because of the proximity of the audience.”

Rebecca Kramer, vice president of the theater company, is the director of “The Dining Room.” Marcie Laasch is the assistant director.

“It is all volunteer,” Kramer said. “Nobody gets paid.”

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