Oregon Shakespeare Festival
The set and cast of Titus Andronicus on the Elizabethan Stage 2002. Photo by David Cooper.
A visit to Ashland would be incomplete without seeing a performance at the world-renown Oregon Shakespeare Festival (www.orshakes.org). The 68-year-old Festival is the primary attraction for thousands of visitors annually. Over the course of the 2002 season, the Tony Award-winning Festival entertained nearly 400,000 people, most of them from out of the area.
OSF is one of the country’s oldest professional regional repertory companies, and one of the largest, employing approximately 450 theatre professionals from around the United States. During the 2003 season they will present a total of 778 performances.
Centrally located downtown, OSF is within walking distance from a number of lodging choices and eateries. The flower-filled grounds cover a two-block area on either side of Pioneer St. and along the west side of North Main St. Short trails lead down to Lithia Park and the Bill Patton Garden. The imposing walls of the Elizabethan Stage tower over the garden and adjacent duck pond; at night, walkers can often hear the voices of the actors.
The grounds at OSF contain three separate theatres, each offering a unique experience. The largest and oldest theatre is the Elizabethan Stage. Built on the site of the original Chautauqua Theatre (established in 1893), the current rendition is something to behold and a memorable place to watch a performance. The 1,190 seats in the open-air pavilion fan away from the stage at a sharp incline rising up to balcony level, assuring a clear view for all. Looming above the stage is a massive Tudor faï¿½ade, a replica of London’s 1599 Fortune Theatre. The hills east of Ashland lie beyond the stage house. Patrons are often treated to spectacular sunsets and occasionally to exiting lightning displays. Be sure to dress warmly, as even during summer the evenings can turn cool.
Nestled against the Elizabethan Stage, the spacious and versatile Angus Bowmer Theatre annually offers a diverse mix of plays appealing to a variety of tastes. The ability to house multiple sets simultaneously gives the theatre a chameleon-like quality; patrons who watch a matinee will scarcely recognize the theatre when they return for an evening performance.
The New Theatre is the polar opposite of its two larger siblings. An intimate setting, the theatre can comfortably seat between 270 and 360 people. Cleverly designed seating can be arranged in three different configurations to best suit a specific performance. The New Theatre was built to replace the older Black Swan theatre, which is currently used as a rehearsal area.
Those short on time or cash should consider catching the Green Show. These free performances, presented outside in the central courtyard, feature lively dance and musical pieces. Get there 15 to 20 minutes early for an excellent spot on the grass right up front. Shows begin at 7:15pm, June 10 – August 31, and 6:45pm September 2 – October 12. Performances run approximately 45 minutes.
If time allows, a tour of the theatre is highly recommended. Informative and fun the tours explore the Festival’s backstage environment. From props to the Green Room to secret tunnels, participants get a rare glimpse behind the scenes. The tour culminates with a walk onto the Elizabethan Stage and an actor’s-eye-view of the Allen Pavilion. Price of the tour is $11, June 10 – October 5, and slightly less during the "value seasons." Contact the box office for times.
Juliet (Nancy Rodriguez) at the Capulet dance. Photo by Jennifer Reiley.
Facing the courtyard is the Tudor Guild gift shop (www.tudorguild.com). An eclectic collection of t-shirts, books and neat can’t-do-withouts, it is worth a walk-through. The shop stocks a decent selection of hard candies, some quite rare, good for those long stretches between intermissions.
During the eight-month 2003 season, the Festival will present 11 plays. Four of the plays will be Shakespearean and seven by classic and contemporary playwrights. The line-up looks fantastic and promises to be an excellent season.
Among the performances scheduled for the 2003 season are four world premieres: Daughters of the Revolution and Mothers Against comprise a two-play cycle under the name Continental Divide, written by Tony Award winning playwright David Edgar, Lorca in a Green Dress, by Nilo Cruz and a new translation of Henrik Ibsen’s "Hedda Gabler."
Tips for First-Timers
- Stage right and stage left are always oriented from the actors’ point of view.
- Always unwrap candy prior to the performance (cellophane becomes louder in theatres for reasons unknown).
- Leave cell phone in car, it will ring at a very unfortunate moment.
- Turn off watch alarm (see above).
- William Shakespeare and "The Bard" are the same person.
- When referring to the play "Macbeth" in a theatre, always call it "the Scottish Play." Uttering Macbeth beckons extreme bad luck and will likely send actors within earshot into a panic.
- Eat dinner early then take a leisurely walk in Lithia Park. Countless playgoers suffer indigestion after rushing through dinner.
- Be on time! Once the doors close no amount of groveling will get you in.
Ticket Sales +1 (541) 482 4331
Group Sales +1 (541) 488 5406
FAX +1 (541) 482 8045
Angus Bowmer and Elizabethan Stage $63 – $29, June 10 – October 5
New Theatre $53 – $36.75, June 10 – October 5
Non-member prices are discounted 25%t during the "value seasons" February 21 – June 8 and October 7 – November 2. Perfectly aligned with spring and fall, which many believe are the nicest times to visit Ashland. The town is quieter during these months, and lodging tends to be less expensive too!
To become a member contact the membership department at +1 (541) 482 8621.
College students can see a performance for the incredibly low price of $8! This low price is limited to certain performances, which must be ascertained by contacting the box office, additional plays may be offered up to the last minute, depending on capacity. OSF offers this deal only during the school year, which they determine ends the first week of June. Students must have proof of registration in the form of a school ID.
June 10 – August 31. Matinees begin at 2pm; Evening performances begin at 8:30pm
February 21 – June 8 and September 2 – November 2; Matinees begin at 1:30pm; Evening performances begin at 8pm
Oregon Shakespeare Festival is very helpful to playgoers with access or other special needs.
Access Coordinator +1 (541) 482 2111 ext. 425
Dance Kaleidoscope and the Terra Nova Consort perform in The Judgment of Paris in the Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s 2001 Green Show. Photo by Jennifer Donahoe.
2003 Season Overview
Angus Bowmer Theatre
- Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare February 21 – November 2. Director: Loretta Greco.
- Present Laughter by Noï¿½l Coward February 23 – November 1. Director: Peter Amster.
- Daughters of the Revolution (Continental Divide) by David Edgar. February 22 – July 13. Director: Tony Taccone.
- Hedda Gabler by Henrik Ibsen, translated by Jerry Turner April 23 – November 2. Director: Bill Rauch.
- The Piano Lesson by August Wilson July 30 – November 1. Director: Timothy Bond.
- Mothers Against ("Continental Divide") by David Edgar February 27 – June 27
Director: Tony Taccone.
- Antony and Cleopatra by William Shakespeare April 2 – November 2
Director: Penny Metropulos.
- Lorca in a Green Dress by Nilo Cruz July 8 – November 2
Director: Penny Metropulos.
- Richard II by William Shakespeare June 10 – October 10. Director: Libby Appel.
- Wild Oats by John O’Keeffe June 11 – October 11. Director: James Edmondson.
- A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare June 12 – October 12. Director: Kenneth Albers.