The Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF) in Ashland will be marking the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare's death next year by staging five Shakespeare plays, one from each genre (comedy, tragedy, history, and romance) and "our single most overdue Shakespeare title," Timon of Athens, said Artistic Director Bill Rauch.
“2016 marks the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare's death—the last major Shakespearean milestone many of us will experience in our lifetimes," Rauch said. "With Timon of Athens next season, OSF will have produced the entire 37-play canon a staggering four times, and our current Canon in a Decade project means that we hope to have completed the canon a fifth time by 2024.
The other plays by the festival's namesake playwright on the playbill are Twelfth Night, Richard II, Hamlet, and The Winter's Tale, the last presented through an Asian and Asian-American cultural lens.
OSF has also scheduled world premiere adaptations of Charles Dickens' Great Expectations (adapted by Penny Metropulos and Linda Alper, with Metropulos directing) and Gilbert and Sullivan's Yeoman of the Guard, directed by Sean Graney. The company continues its American Revolutions series with the world premiere of Roe by Lisa Loomer and directed by Bill Rauch about the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court case, and will also premier The River Bride by Marisela Treviño Orta, a play developed within AlterTheater Ensemble’s inaugural playwright residency program in San Rafael, California, and the co-winner of the National Latino Playwriting Award.
“Our commitment to new work remains a vital part of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in the 21st century," Rauch said. "With world-premiere adaptations of Charles Dickens and Gilbert and Sullivan alongside a thrilling new American Revolutions drama and the premiere of a lyrical fable from a rising Latina playwright, we will continue to contribute to the American canon of new plays that will go on to be produced by theaters nationwide."
Other titles in the season are Vietgone by Qui Nguyen, a fresh take on the Vietnam War from the perspective of Vietnamese refugees in the United States, and a rare, large-scale revival of the musical The Wiz.
“The 2016 season reaffirms our identity as a language-based, classical theater even as it continues to expand the boundaries of the types of artistic adventures that we will offer our ever-curious and passionate audiences,” Rauch said.
OSF will also host the fifth annual National Asian American Theater Conference and Festival from Sept. 29–Oct. 9, 2016. The conference will be presented by the Consortium of Asian American Theaters and Artists, with 200 to 300 Asian American and Pacific Islander theater makers sharing performance pieces and attending OSF productions.
The season will open in the Angus Bowmer Theatre with Twelfth Night, directed by Christopher Liam Moore, the 17th production of this play that launched the Festival’s inaugural year in 1935. Moore will be setting the play in 1930s Hollywood, where "what you will" is possible. Joining Twelfth Night in repertory will be Great Expectations, with Metropulos at the helm, a 20-year veteran with OSF and former associate artistic director under Libby Appel. Her co-adaptor, Alper, was a member of the OSF acting company for 24 seasons and co-adapted Tracy’s Tiger and The Three Musketeers with Metropulos. Also opening at the top of the season and playing through early July will be The River Bride. Roe opens in April, and the final show to open in Bowmer will be Timon of Athens, directed by Amanda Dehnert.
The Thomas Theatre season opens with Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Yeomen of the Guard, directed by Sean Graney, artistic director of The Hypocrites (Chicago). Joining it in the Thomas repertory in March is Vietgone directed by May Adrales, who has collaborated on the project since it was commissioned as part of South Coast Repertory’s CrossRoads Initiative. In July, Richard II opens, directed by Bill Rauch.
Hamlet opens the outdoor Allen Elizabethan Theatre season in June, to be joined by The Wiz and The Winter's Tale, the last directed by Desdemona Chiang and set in Dynastic China and the American Old West. Chiang, a stage director based in Seattle and San Francisco, was previously at OSF in 2011 as an assistant dramaturg on Measure for Measure, and in 2013 as the Sir John Gielgud Directing Fellow and assistant director of King Lear.
The 2016 season is sponsored by U.S. Bank.
August 18, 2015