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Hells Canyon Journal
Halfway, Oregon
August 15, 2012     Hells Canyon Journal
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August 15, 2012

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Page 6 Hells Canyon Journal August 15, 2012 Liberty O'Dell." On Acting, Slamming Doors and Chance Encounters part.' But they wouldn't give me anything. That was my first 'you don't get this role' and my reaction was to do way better the next time." The next time MCT came to Halfway, determined young Liberty auditioned again, and finally landed the lead role. All through grade school and high school, Liberty was in every school play he could be, but at the time had no thoughts about it beyond hav- ing a good time. "I had done all of that and I loved it, but I don't think I realized I liked it so much," he said. "It was just one of those things that you were supposed to do and supposed to like." It wasn't until his junior year of high school that he considered acting seriously. Eastern Oregon University was offering a three-week summer program for high school students to take col- lege courses for credit. "I was in stage and set con- struction, acting and history, all of which I loved," said Lib- erty. But, it was his acting class with EOU professor April Curtis that would teach him just how much acting was a part of his life. "When I was up there [on stage] doing stuff it just made my day. I didn't care how much sleep I didn't get or how much homework I had ... I was fine," said Lib- erty. When he graduated from Pine-Eagle in 2007, he headed to EOU. He originally planned to get a degree in by Hayley Sanders of the Hells Canyon Journal A good play starts with a good story, and follows up with good acting. But some- times the best stories are the ones that happen offstage. Liberty O'Dell's ongoing jour- ney from playing Santa Claus in school plays to being an aspiring professional actor in New York City is one of those great offstage stories; full of drama, comedy and a few lucky breaks. Beginnings Liberty grew up in Half- way with his parents, Lester O'Dell and Dee Myers, and brother, Karmen. He got his first taste of acting on stage in his third grade Christmas program, when he got the role of Santa Claus. "I think I played that because I was the largest little round boy in the grade. It was totall type- cast," he said with a smile. Nevertheless, that experi- ence made him want to do more. Every time there was a school play or the Missoula Children's Theater came to town, Liberty was standing in line to get a part. "I wasn't cast in a Missoula Children's Theater show in the 7th grade, and it was the most traumatic experience of my young life," said Liberty. "I think those Missoula Children's Theater people had to hate me by the end of the show. I learned everybody's part. I was at every rehearsal. I was like, 'here I am if you want me, I've memorized everybody's Richland City Council Continued from page 1 tice Surveywas pertinent and that the Government Ethics Training was available online, and an instructor could also come in person to City Hall. Following discus- sion, Crews said she would call Halfway City Hall to see if they would like to collabo- rate on a training with the Richland City Council. Councilors' terms expiring this fall include Delores Den- nis, Ed Edwards and Debi Duggan. All three council members have agreed to run again. Acting Mayor Gloria Wilson announced she will run for Mayor of Richland. Adjournment was at 7:37 p.m. and deemed most likely one of the most expedient council meetings in years. The next meeting of the Richland City Council will be on Thursday September 13, 2012 at 7:00 p.m. The public is welcome and encouraged to attend. Freestone Peaches OPEN THURSDAY-SUNDAY 8AM-5PM 43479 Old Foothill Road Richland, Oregon 893-6790 Ge/-tit'Ted Ot-ganic Call for availability ELKHORN BOOT & SHOE REPAIR Photo courtesy of Liberty O'Dell LIBERTY O'DELL, a 2007 graduate of Pine Eagle High School, is living in New York City, where he is laying the groundwork for a career in the theatrical arts. chemistry and go into medi- prise. cine or forensic science, and "The guy opened the door acting was still just some- and says, 'Who are you?' and thing he did on the side. That I'm thinking 'This does not all changed when Liberty's bodewell.' I said,'I'm O'Dell, friend, Kenny, cast him in his Liberty.' He said, 'Oh, wrong senior production of Henrik O'Dell' and closed the door," Gibson's The Doll's House. said Liberty. "I got one au- "I never felt like I was to- dition, was really excited to tally or completely me until I go to my audition and I get was there on stage," said Lib- the door slammed in my erty. "There is something face." that is missing unless I am After walking dejectedly somebody else. I know that downstairs, he decided to sounds weird, but that's what audition at all the little play- it feels like. There are those houses where the conserva- times when everything feels tories and Master's programs as it should be, and those that weren'twithURTAheld times are when I am on their own, but equally com- stage." petitive, auditions. After his Liberty decided just to go resume failed to "win" an for it. He graduated Summa audition with anyofthe other Cum Laude from EOU in Master's programs, he 2011 with two degrees, The- headed toward the hotel ater Arts and Business Ad- where the conservatory au- ministration and Organiza- ditions were. tion, and 22 shows under his "I was walking in and try- belt. ing to figure out where I was Getting In The next step for Liberty was figuring out where to go from EOU. "If you want to act, you have two choices," said Lib- erty. 'You can either start and say 'Hi, I'm here' or you can say 'I should probably learn more.' Since I was from Eastern Oregon, I said, 'I should probably learn more.' So I decided I was going to audition for a Master's pro- gram." But getting into a Master's program for acting is a very difficult and competitive ven- ture. Liberty went through the United Regional Theater Association (URTA), which auditions potential acting students for 75 different col- leges across the U.S. After five months of preparing his monologues, he went to San Francisco in February 2011 for the audition process. Af- Photo courtesy of Liberty O'Dell ter all the auditions, he got LOOKING LIKE a charac- one call back to the Univer- terfrom one of Edgar Allen sity of Florida. When Liberty Poe's short stories, Liberty knocked on the door of the O'Dell contemplates a hu- audition room, he got a sur- man skull. Boot, Shoe, an Tack Repair J- done with I   I Quality and Care a, , 1603 10th Street 3.. Corner of_ lOth & Place 10AM - 4PM Gary & Cindy Johanson, Owners 541-403-0459 books, etc. -%l,i was almSton t. lab, raJIde, oreooon/963-52z going when I saw this nice looking, elderly gentlemen with a plaid, red checkered shirt, suspenders, and black pants on," said Liberty. "He looked like he was looking for something and I asked if I could help him. He said, 'I'm trying to find my briefcase have you seen it?' I look around, grab it for him and I introduce myself. He said 'I'm Mike White' and I asked him if he was here auditioning. He said, 'Oh no, I'm an auditioner'." Mike White turned out to be with the Stella Adler Con- servatory and just happened to know Kenny, Liberty's old college friend. White offered Liberty an audition the next morning, and before Liberty knew it, he had the choice of attending Stella Adler in New York or Los Angeles. He chose New York. Moving to New York - The Good, the Bad and the Not-So-Ugly Since Liberty had never been to New York, he decided to postpone his entrance to Stella Adler in favor of spend- ing a year getting his bear- ings. "I literally packed up my duffel bag, texted my friend to ask if he still had a floor, got on a plane and I was in New York," said Liberty. He used his business de- gree to get an accounting job with the Trump Hotels Orga- nization, and spent his spare time exploring the city. Between the subways, the notoriously expensive rent, and all the culture, there was a lot for Liberty to discover and adapt to. The crowds in particular took some getting used to. "In New York there are a lot of people," said Liberty. "In the beginning I could not handle that many people at once. It was overwhelming." Liberty compared the ex- perience of New York City crowds in tourist-packed places like Times Square to a real-life video game. "It's like a rage meter in a video game where you get so much damage and then you go crazy. I feel like I have a rage meter when I am walk- ing in a crowd. There are those people that don't move. They are in control of their space and if you are in front of them you are moving," said Liberty. "After a certain amount of those people, I start to turn into one of them." Crime was also something Liberty initially worried about. "We live in a scary part of Brooklyn called Bed-Stuy and it has the highest murder rate in New York," said Liberty. "But I have never felt threat- ened since I've been there. It really isn't that scary as long as you are smart about what you are doing. I have only heard of one person getting robbed and they were robbed in Alabama." Aside from missing easy access to nature and running into friends on the street, Lib- erty has found plenty to en- joy about New York. "My favorite thing about New York is the Met. When I got there, I set aside time to go to the Met and the Mu- seum of Natural History for a day apiece. I loved spending all day wandering around mummies, pyramids and the Egyptian temple," said Lib- erty. "Then two months ago I took someone there and I saw new stuff. They hadn't changed it, I just saw new stuff." Liberty also enjoys the variety the city offers: "In New York you can go down any block and explore it, then go down another block and it will be totally differ- ent," he said. "You can go from Chinatown to Little Italy in a block. There is a different feel every ten steps you take." Liberty is particularly fond of the SoHo District in Man- hattan where he works, which is known for its old brick buildings and cobblestone streets, fashion and excellent food. "New York breeds foodies," said Liberty. "In SoHo, there are all these tiny closet bak- eries. One may do just cook- ies and the next may do all scones. I went and did a cook- ing course in one of the build- ings and that was really fun." He finds New Yorkers themselves equally impres- sive. "I've noticed that every- body is pretty, nobody looks bad. They walk by and it makes you say, 'I should go work out' or 'my shoes are dirty' and you think about how good you do not look." The Next Stage Because New York is the place to be for aspiring stage actors and Broadway stars, Liberty is in good company. Although the competition for roles is fierce, he has already made a good start. He has worked in the Stella Adler studio on several shows and was in a production of King Lear with the YUNG Theater Company. He has also be- come part of a group of art- ists working on starting up The Secondhand Theater Company. The group's first endeavor was a show called How is Blue? "The whole goal was to explore that question. What does blue mean to us? How do we derive colors, and how do we portray that discussion or conversation with the audi- ence," said Liberty. The show was a menag- erie of music, movement ex- ercise, and one-act plays, one of which Liberty wrote and acted in. When the show pre- miered in February, 250 people turned out to see it, a huge success for the budding company. "We thought that was great, because this was anybody's first shot at trying to produce, create, act and put on a show by ourselves," he said. This fall, he will be work- ing on directing YouTube vid- cos for the theater company and starting his first year at the Stella Adler Conserva- tory. While he is early in his acting career, the future looks bright for Liberty and he en- courages others to follow their dreams as well. "Growing up here, I re- member thinking of myself as limited," said Liberty. "But you're not. You can do what you want and it is totally open. Don't ever limit your- self." Eight Towns Eight Bookstores Eight Events Eight Authors " zy E'ght " " "ty Cra 1 s Author Tour To Start m Baker C1 Anew Oregon author tour ing communities by connect- authors that has made it wherein the authors will in- willhit the road this fallafter ing them with readers, book- work. They are passionate teraet one-on-one with mem- under the banner of"Crazy sellers and libraries in an about supporting indepen- bers of the audience to dis- Eights Author Tour. From a exciting new way. dent bookstores, libraries and cuss their work and person- pool of 28 Oregon authors, Once the idea jelled, oureommunitie'sofreaders, ally sign books, will follow groups of eight will venture Wright was able to interest The Crazy Eights Author the rapid-fire presentations. out to eight bookstores in 28 of Oregon s award win- Tour willbelaunchedonFri- The SteeringCommitteefor ning authors, and eight inde- day, September 14 in Baker pendent bookstores, to par- City, 7:00p.m.,at Crossroads ticipateinanauthortourthat Carnegie Art Center, 2020 will bring eight authors at a Auburn Avenue. Betty's time to eight separate ven-. Books willhost the first event. ues across the state from mid- September to mid-November. He recruited a steering com- mittee to help advise him and in about two months had the tour tied down. "The tour is totally volun- teer," said Wright. "It has been the generosity of the The event format wilt be something akin to speed dat- ing only with authors. Each author will have five min- utes to address the audience about their life as a writer and introduce their latest book. It will be a fast-paced literary slam. A mixer, the Crazy Eights Author Tour is made up of Bill Cameron, mystery writer and designer of the Crazy Eights website (http://crazy8sauthor; Tom Booth, Asso- ciate Director, Oregon State University Press; Teri Gra- ham, Co-owner, Graham's Book & Stationery; R. Gregory Nokes, writer of historical non- fiction; and George Byron Wright, writer of Oregon- based fiction, C8 Coordinator. eight regions of the state starting in Baker Cit,y on September 14. Other (cities on the tour are Caanon Beach, Redmond, Portland, McMinnville, Hood liver, Lake Oswego, and The Dalles. Oregon author, George Byron Wright, said the idea came to him while on a recent road trip. The intention is to stimulate more interest in Oregon's writing and publish- i