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Oregon Shakespeare Festival

OSF Actors Visit Schools in Western States

Oregon Shakespeare Festival logoThis autumn marks the 44th tour of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s School Visit Program (SVP), which sends OSF actors directly to schools throughout the Western United States. More than 80 schools will host actors this fall.

This month and next, teams of actors will tour schools throughout Oregon, Washington, California, and Kansas, engaging students from diverse backgrounds through live performances and active workshops.

OSF founder Angus Bowmer created the School Visit Program in 1971 as a way to reach a wider audience. Over the past 43 years, OSF has reached more than 2 million students in more than 7,000 schools in 12 western states. In addition, 12 schools from Oregon are part of the School Visit Partnership Program, which provides teachers with professional development and classroom lessons. Actors are also in residence at Partnership schools for two to five days depending on the size of the school.

“Behind the School Visit Program lies the belief that actors, great literature, and the imagination of the audience are all the ingredients needed to make captivating theatre,” Joan Langley, OSF director of education, said in a press release. “An essential goal of the program is to provide active and personal involvement in great literature that will excite, inspire, and even change the lives of students.”

Said OSF Teaching Artist Laura Montes: “I love it when students who had always thought of Shakespeare as incomprehensible and archaic have the realization that it can actually be clear, engaging, and remarkably relevant to their lives.”

Montes will be joined by Joe Wegner in touring Oregon schools this fall. Four other actor teams will tour the Western United States: Keith Leroyal and Eduardo Placer, Michael Gabriel Goodfriend and Juan Parada, Omoze Idehenre and Jeremy Thompson, and Erin O’Connor and Jason Sanford.

In addition to performing Shakespeare, the teams also offer a literature program. Three teams are taking out American Night High! The Ballad of an Immigrant Student Dreaming in the USA by Richard Montoya as their literature offering. This 35-minute play for student audiences is inspired by American Night: The Ballad of Juan José by Richard Montoya and Culture Clash. The play premiered at OSF in 2010 and was commissioned as part of the American Revolutions: The United States History Cycle, a 10-year program commissioning up to 37 new plays sprung from moments of change in U.S. history.

The 2014 School Visit Program and School Visit Partnership Program are funded by generous grants from the Bowmer Society, the Joseph R. Parker Foundation, Starseed Foundation, the Lamb-Baldwin Foundation, the Helen Clay Frick Foundation, and also the Oregon Arts Commission.

OSF offers many programs for students, including classes and workshops that introduce and explore the plays for visiting school groups; the Summer Seminar for High School Juniors, a two-week intensive theater camp for students between their junior and senior year; the Bowmer Project for Student Playgoers, providing support for local teachers through teacher training and curriculum support and free tickets for participating students to designated performances throughout the year.

For more information about OSF educational programs, contact Jay Shepherd at 541-482-2111, ext. 414, or jaysh@osfashland.org. To inquire about bringing SVP actors to your school in 2015, contact Katherine Gosnell at 541-482-2111, ext. 244, or kathg@osfashland.org.

November 17, 2014

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