Oregon Shakespeare Festival Announces 2015 Season
Artistic Director Bill Rauch announced the Oregon Shakespeare Festival's 2015 playbill today. The 2015 season is sponsored by U.S. Bank.
"2015 is the 80th anniversary year of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival," Rauch noted. "In honor of this milestone, we have a season that is bursting with adventure from all over the world: Shakespeare journeys that take us to Egypt, Italy and mythical lands, a searing American masterpiece, the quintessential French revenge tale, a fascinating contemporary classic from China, a new mystery set in Dickensian England, an innovative take on a Golden Age musical indoors and an outrageously fun world premiere musical comedy outdoors, plus a new American Revolutions play from master playwright Lynn Nottage. The energy of this particular combination of plays makes my head spin and heart beat faster than I thought possible, even here on our campus where mind-blowing theatrical juxtapositions are the coin of the realm."
In this anniversary year and as an expression of OSF's ongoing commitment to its namesake playwright, Rauch is also announcing a plan to produce all 37 plays in Shakespeare's canon over a ten-year period, from 2015 to 2024. To launch this initiative, the 2015 season includes Shakespeare in all three of the Festival's dynamically different theater spaces.
"Although OSF has completed the canon three times since our founding in 1935," observes Rauch, "it has taken 19 years or more each time. I am thrilled to allow ongoing and new generations of OSF audience members the opportunity to see Shakespeare's entire body of work-in robust American interpretations by some of our nation's most exciting artists, including the largest and most gifted acting company in the country-within the relatively short span of a decade."
In the Angus Bowmer Theatre
The season opens with William Shakespeare's sharply witty comedy that features Beatrice and Benedick in MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING. Like many of Shakespeare's comedies, the play is filled with dark overtones of false accusations, rejections, insults and villainies, but in the end justice and love prevail. This production, the 13th in OSF's history, is the first to be performed in an indoor venue. Director TBA.
Running all season alongside MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING will be the classic American musical GUYS AND DOLLS, with music and lyrics by Frank Loesser and book by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows. A tale of gamblers, gangsters, and the Save-a-Soul Mission, this Pulitzer Prize-winner had its premiere on Broadway in 1950 and was adapted for film in 1955. Mary Zimmerman, who wrote and directed audience favorite THE WHITE SNAKE (2012), will once again bring her innovative and creative directorial eye to this production.
Also opening at the top of the season and playing through early July is a new adaptation by Alexa Junge of the 2002 Victorian-inspired crime fiction novel by Sarah Waters, FINGERSMITH. Bill Rauch will direct the world premiere of this thriller and love story-what the New York Times Book Review called "Oliver Twist with a twist...an absorbing tale that withholds as much as it discloses."
Waters, in a recent email wrote, "I am incredibly excited by the prospect of seeing FINGERSMITH brought to life on the stage and thrilled that it will be happening at such an inspirational venue as the Oregon Shakespeare Festival."
In April a world classic, SECRET LOVE IN PEACH BLOSSOM LAND, comes to the stage. Written and directed by prominent international artist Stan Lai, this mix of tragedy and comedy has become one of the most popular plays in modern China since its debut in 1986. OSF is thrilled to welcome Lai in his United States professional premiere, as director of this production in the Angus Bowmer Theatre. The play tells the tale of two drama troupes who happen to reserve the same rehearsal space at the same time. One group is rehearsing a 20th-century romantic tragedy, SECRET LOVE, while the other company is rehearsing a period comedy, THE PEACH BLOSSOM LAND. The juxtaposition of the two worlds creates innumerable opportunities for comedic and enchanting theatre.
The final show to open in the Bowmer is SWEAT, a world premiere by Lynn Nottage (director TBA). A co-commission with Arena Stage through American Revolutions: the United States History Cycle, this play is set at the end of the last millennium. A group of close friends share everything: drinks, secrets, love and laughter. But their world is upended by a shake-up at the steel plant where they work and an unspeakable act that has repercussions over two generations.
"I am truly excited to return to OSF with the world premiere of my new play, SWEAT," Nottage said recently. "With the outstanding support of OSF, I have spent the last two years visiting Reading, Pennsylvania, examining how the de-industrial revolution of the late 20th and early 21st century is reshaping the American narrative. The play is inspired by interviews that I conducted and my observations of a once thriving city that is now grappling with how to reclaim its lost identity."
OSF has produced three plays by the Pulitzer Prize-winning author: RUINED (2010), INTIMATE APPAREL (2006) and CRUMBS FROM THE TABLE OF JOY (2000).
In the Thomas Theatre
Running all season long, OSF will stage William Shakespeare's luminous romance PERICLES. Last produced at OSF in 1999, the play embraces joy and sorrow, loss and reunion and the timely intervention of heavenly grace. This production will be directed by Joseph Haj, director of OSF's celebrated 2012 staging of HENRY V.
The second play to open in the intimacy of the Thomas is Eugene O'Neill's classic tale of the Tyrone family, LONG DAY'S JOURNEY INTO NIGHT. O'Neill's masterpiece, while autobiographical, is also a work of mythic proportion. As the playwright faced his own ghosts through the exploration of the private demons and family conflicts of these characters, he lifted them to an amazing level of art and theatricality. OSF veteran Christopher Liam Moore will direct this award-winning play. OSF last staged LONG DAY'S JOURNEY INTO NIGHT in 1975 in the Angus Bowmer Theatre. A more recent O'Neill, A TOUCH OF THE POET, was produced at OSF in 1998.
The final play to open in the Thomas Theatre will be announced later this spring. Artistic Director Bill Rauch is considering several options for the perfect complement to the rest of OSF's 80th anniversary year.
Allen Elizabethan Theatre
ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA, Shakespeare's sweeping saga of tragedy and romance, will be directed by Bill Rauch and staged under the stars in the Allen Elizabethan Theatre. Last produced at OSF in 2003 in the intimate Thomas Theatre, this epic saga will fill the Allen Elizabethan with spectacle, pageantry and famous characters: the seasoned warrior Antony-the "triple pillar of the world"--and the Egyptian Queen Cleopatra, the "Eastern Star."
Also opening outside is a world premiere musical HEAD OVER HEELS, with book by Jeff Whitty and music and lyrics from the catalog of the Go-Go's. Inspired by Philip Sidney's ARCADIA, this rollicking, comedic adventure tale, set in the Elizabethan period, will be directed by Ed Sylvanus Iskandar. OSF audiences appreciated Mr. Whitty's quirky and quick sense of humor in THE FURTHER ADVENTURES OF HEDDA GABLER, directed by Rauch in his inaugural season as artistic director. Iskandar, the second youngest person ever nominated for a Drama Desk award in direction for his work on Amy Freed's RESTORATION COMEDY, has been called "THE emerging directorial talent of American theatre" (SFGate.com). Put all these talents together with a terrific cast on the Allen Elizabethan outdoor stage, and this surely promises to be an unforgettable evening.
In commenting on the project, the Go-Go's recently said: "We've been huge fans of Jeff Whitty's work since AVENUE Q. We fell in love with Jeff's hilarious script from the first time we read it-it's so unexpected and perfect for the joyful spirit of our band! We are thrilled and honored that our music will be a part of this Oregon Shakespeare Festival world premiere."
The final show to open in the Allen Elizabethan Theatre will be THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO, adapted from the book by Alexandre Dumas. This classic adventure tale is about a man wrongfully imprisoned, who after escaping and acquiring a fortune, sets about to exact his revenge. OSF will be staging the 19th-century script used by Eugene O'Neill's father, the actor James O'Neill, in what was once one of the most widely-performed plays at the end of the 19th century in America. OSF performed an adaptation of Alexandre Dumas's THE THREE MUSKETEERS in 1999. Director TBA.
The 2015 season will begin previews on February 20 and open the weekend of February 27. The opening performances on the Elizabethan Stage will be the weekend of June 12-14. The season will run through November 1. Ticket sales will being in November 2014 for members and open to general sales in early December.