News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Local theater artists hit the boards

Three actors and their director took to a back porch overlooking Whychus Creek last week to rehearse a miniature one-act play. Wind rustled through the treetops. Birds chirped.

"I will be playing a hypochondriac named Helen who is in the emergency room, waiting to be seen," actor Kathy Mahony explained.

The play is part of an evening of short one-acts called "Now You're Talking," taking place June 20–23. Sisters-based nonprofit organization Silent Echo Theater Company is creating a local tradition with the "Now You're Talking" one-act series.

Marla Manning, producing artistic director, sat in on the porch run-through. In a statement this spring, Manning wrote that Silent Echo had received more than 200 submissions from playwrights hoping to be included in the 2024 show. Some of the plays selected were crafted by local and regional writers.

As the rehearsal progressed, robins swooped through the scene. A neighboring dog burst out with a volley of barks. The scent of petunias wafted nearby.

"You could have Ebola!" Mahony's character exclaimed to her hapless fellow ER patient, played by Doug Kaufman.

After the run-through, director Kim Hapke gave notes.

"That was a nice little freakout," she complimented Mahony.

Mahony acted in plays throughout high school and portrayed the plum role of Stella in "A Streetcar Named Desire" at Oregon State University.

"I didn't do any theater after that because I was raising kids and teaching," she said.

After she retired from teaching high school in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Mahony moved to Sisters to be closer to family.

"It's such a small town, that was kind of a shock for me," she said. "People here in Sisters are very friendly. There's a lot of things to do here. There's a homey atmosphere here and I appreciate that."

Seeing audition notices for Silent Echo's one-act plays last year, Mahony thought, "Maybe I could do that."

She found the auditions "nerve-wracking," not entirely sure what Silent Echo was or what the one-act plays were about. She landed a small part, then returned for this spring's auditions.

Director Kim Hapke is also coming back to theater after a break for work and parenting a young child. Her son, Everett, now in middle school, accompanied her to the rehearsal; he sat indoors watching football.

"When I first moved to Sisters, my son was 2," said Hapke, "and it was my first time doing theater in eons. It was a murder mystery and I was killed off rather quickly." She paused, then specified: "Strangled."

Last year, she landed a part in the Silent Echo one-acts shows. Now she is acting in one mini-play while directing another.

"I'm tiptoeing back into theater," she described, "being more involved with Silent Echo Theater Company, while being a single mom and working full-time."

She has been driving to a library in Bend to rehearse "A Perfect Moon," by Central Oregon playwright and director Susan Raley.

"She has a vision" exclaimed Hapke, who is pleased that the three actors for the piece she's directing are all based in Sisters.

Hapke has approached theater from a variety of angles throughout her life. Thanks to her singing ability, she was encouraged to audition for the musical "The Fantasticks" in high school. She landed the lead role.

"My first play was also my first kiss," she said. "I was trying to be cool, like, I've done this a million times before." Laughing, she described preparing for the kissing scene: "I was drinking water and eating mints. The lead guy was chowing through bags of nacho cheese Doritos."

In last year's "Now You're Talking" experience, Hapke was excited to see how many regional residents "were into theater, and how many people were coming all the way to Sisters to be part of it."

She drove to Redmond for rehearsals. In the end, it was worth it to see "everyone coming together and having this wide variety of one-acts from humorous to poignant. It was a really well-balanced, fun evening."

Mahony, too, appreciated the Central-Oregon-wide camaraderie and opportunity to make theater.

"Silent Echo has been awesome," she enthused. "Last year, the people were a lot of fun, I had an absolute blast doing it, great audiences, and I hope we have the same again this year."

Directors of "Now You're Talking..." include Hapke, Raley, Kathryn Amstutz, Laura Lee Coffman, Steve Herron, Jeremy Hipps, Tracy Miller, and Matt Wilson. The playwrights are Raley and Sara Freedman, both from Bend, along with Alan Hall, Ryan Kaminski, David Lewison, Barbara Lindsay, Scott Mullen, and Margie Semilof.

Evening performances take place June 20, 21, and 22 at 7:30 p.m. at Sisters Middle School, with matinées at 2 p.m. on the weekend. Admission is $25. Advance tickets and additional information can be found at


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