The two parts of William Shakespeare's Henry IV in the small-space highlights the Oregon Shakespeare Festival's 2017 playbill, which also includes a Native American playwright's work, an adaptation of Measure for Measure, for the first time in the Ashland, Oregon, company's history.
"The 2017 season represents our ever-growing passion and dedication to represent voices and stories that reflect the cultural richness, and at times the painful legacy, of our country," Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF) Artistic Director Bill Rauch said in an announcement of the 2017 season. "The season also takes us deeper into our commitment to our namesake playwright and the exciting Canon-in-a-Decade project, with a particularly enticing opportunity in our most intimate theater space. Patrons will have the rare opportunity to see both parts of Henry IV in the Thomas Theatre, perhaps as part of a same-day marathon.”
Other Shakespeare-penned plays on tap for 2017 are the Merry Wives of Windsor in the outdoor Allen Elizabethan Theatre and Julius Caesar in the proscenium arch Angus Bowmer Theatre, where the musical version of the Oscar-winning film Shakespeare in Love will also play, making its West Coast premiere.
The company's sixth Shakespearean offering is the world premiere of Randy Reinholz's Off the Rails, also in the Angus Bowmer Theatre. The play is "freely adapted from Shakespeare's Measure for Measure and set in Buffalo Bill's Wild West," according to the company's press release, which goes on to say that the Native American playwright Reinholz describes it as "Blazing Saddles meets Shakespeare—with Native Americans taking the reins." Though a comedy, the play tackles the controversial issue of Native American boarding schools in the 19th century.
Another world premiere at Angus Bowmer will be UniSon, a new musical featuring August Wilson's poetry. OSF's dedication to diversity in its programs (as well as its company) continues with Mojada, also at Angus Bowmer, by resident playwright Luis Alfaro, who has applied the tale of Euripides's Medea to the American immigrant experience.
Joining Henry IV, Part One and Part Two in the Thomas Theatre repertoire will be the world premiere of Hanna and the Dread Gazebo by Jiehae Park about a Korean family dealing with its heritage in a divided homeland.
Along with Merry Wives, the repertoire in the Allen Elizabethan Theatre includes Homer's The Odyssey and the Disney musical Beauty and the Beast, directed by Eric Tucker, artistic director of the brilliant theater-bending company Bedlam.
“We have such a gorgeous variety of voices in 2017," Rauch said in the announcement. "I’m thrilled that, for the first time in our history, we’ll be presenting a play by a Native American writer with Randy Reinholz’s Off The Rails. And what an extraordinary opportunity we’ve been given to present a new work based on the poetry of August Wilson, UniSon, created by our ensemble-in-residence UNIVERSES. Our resident playwright Luis Alfaro also graces our stages with Mojada, one of his most powerful works, and audiences get to meet one of the American theater’s most thrilling new playwrights, Jiehae Park, in Hannah and The Dread Gazebo."
The 2017 season will begin previews on Feb. 17 and open the weekend of Feb. 24-26. The opening performances in the Allen Elizabethan Theatre will be the weekend of June 16-18. The season will run through Oct. 29. For run dates of specific shows, see Bard on the Boards.
Tickets for the 2017 season will go on sale in November 2016 for members, and general sales will begin in early December.
April 7, 2016