The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

July 18, 2013

Feisty, flexible and fearless

View From Backstage

By Cindy Worley

— Some nights she gets shot. Other nights she is “liquidated.” To say an actor dies on stage is usually not a compliment. But in Pam Chabora’s case, it’s true.

The versatile actress is shot as Delia Morgan in “Honey in the Rock,” and melted as the Wicked Witch in “The Wizard of Oz.” In-between she is bludgeoned as Sarah McCoy. And she loves it.

Pam Chabora has traveled the country as a performer and master teacher, training young actors and establishing theater programs in more than one university. She is formally known as Dr. Chabora, earning her Ph.D. in theater performance from Michigan State University. But first and foremost, she is an actor.

“I am a professional actor who can teach,” Chabora explains.

Since coming to Beckley in 2008, she has played roles in the historical dramas, as well the musicals. She also brought one of her favorite roles, one in which she has toured nationally, that of poet Emily Dickenson in the one-woman production, “The Belle of Amherst.”

She says she is having a blast as the Wicked Witch in “Oz,” a role she has never played before. “It could be typecasting,” she laughs. “I may have found my calling.”

Although she has taught in colleges from North Dakota to New Hampshire, Chabora says she is concentrating on her love of performing at this stage in her life.

Before returning to Cliffside Amphitheatre this summer, she played the beloved Daisy Werthan in “Driving Miss Daisy,” and toured with a national production of “Fiddler on the Roof.” She leaves here to take on the role of “Miss Marple” in her newly adopted home state of Maine. But she still uses her skills as a master teacher to help young actors, including many working with TWV.

Upon joining TWV, she began establishing an intern program, first in conjunction with Mountain State University, and now in collaboration with the University of Charleston-Beckley. College students or recent graduates selected to be part of the program have the opportunity to play roles in TWV’s summer productions to earn college credit, either on the undergraduate or graduate level. They attend class sessions with Chabora.

“Interns in the program have to be a triple threat,” Chabora explained, meaning they are trained in acting, dance and voice. “We work hard to drum up 500 candidates, trim the number down to 50, and finally to 10 or 12.”

The interns not only have the chance to work in professional summer theater, but also participate in an open workshop (scheduled for July 27) where they perform in front of directors, casting directors and other theater professionals and are given honest evaluations of their work.

“I want them to leave here as fearless, confident actors,” Chabora says. “I want them be more open and daring, and go for it like they only have one life.”

That is probably a good description of how Chabora approaches her life and career. Or to quote her resumé — “a feisty, flexible, fierce triple threat with a knack for playing crotchety and loving old ladies.”

She can now add “looks good in green.”

— Cindy Worley is secretary of the Board of Directors and marketing representative for Theatre

West Virginia.