Oregon Shakespeare Festival Announces New Commissions

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The Oregon Shakespeare Festival expands its ongoing commitment to the development and production of new work with five new commissions announced today. American Revolutions: the United States History Cycle adds Tanya Barfield, Bill Cain, and collaborators Rebecca Taichman and Paula Vogel to its roster, while The Edgerton Foundation will support works by Michael John LaChiusa and Shaina Taub.

"We are incredibly proud to support the work of these extraordinary artists," says Artistic Director Bill Rauch. "I am so glad to add these new American Revolutions and musical commissions to the growing family of dynamic projects that we are developing. Our commissioning efforts are bearing beautiful fruit." In 2012, the Festival is producing a record five OSF-commissioned works.

American Revolutions is supported by three-year grants from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation (its second grant to American Revolutions), and a two-year grant from The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Trust. The Edgerton Foundation of Los Angeles, California awarded a four-year grant in 2009 for the creation of five new American musicals.

Ms. Barfield is the writer of The Blue Door, Of Equal Measure, Dent and more. She is a recipient of the Helen Merrill Award for Emerging Playwrights, and has received commissions from numerous theaters, among them Playwrights Horizons and Center Theatre Group. Barfield is a native Oregonian and first became interested in theater when an OSF school tour visited her high school.

Mr. Cain is well known at OSF for his play, Equivocation, produced in 2009 at OSF and directed by Bill Rauch, who will remount the production at Arena Stage later this year. Mr. Cain is the winner of two Steinberg/ACTA New Play Awards for Equivocation and 9 Circles and he is the only writer to have the distinction of winning that prestigious award two years in a row. His new play How to Write a New Book for the Bible will premiere this coming season at Berkeley Rep and Seattle Rep.

Ms. Vogel is a winner of the Pulitzer Prize, the Lortel Prize, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle, and two Obie Awards; she has further been honored by having two awards named after her which support emerging playwrights. Her plays include The Baltimore Waltz, How I Learned to Drive, A Civil War Christmas, and more. She is the Playwright-in-Residence at the Yale Repertory Theatre. Ms. Taichman is an Obie and Barrymore Award winning director, whose work was seen here at OSF with 2010's She Loves Me. She has also directed world-premieres by Theresa Rebeck, Sarah Ruhl and others, and was co-creator and director of The Green Violin with Elise Thoron and Frank London. Ms. Vogel and Ms. Taichman's collaboration will chronicle the stormy journey of Sholem Asch's play, God of Vengeance. Continuing the OSF and American Revolutions commitment to partnering with other theaters, this project is a co-commission with the Yale Repertory Theatre.
Mr. LaChiusa is one of the "greats" in modern musical theatre. Past works include See What I Wanna See, Chronicle of the Death Foretold, and the Obie-award winning Hello Again and First Lady Suite. His musicals, The Wild Party and Marie Christine were represented on Broadway during the 1999-2000 season, both earning Tony nominations for Best Book and Best Original Score. His new musical adaptation of Edna Ferber's 1952 novel, Giant, recently had its world premiere at the Signature Theatre in Arlington, VA.

Ms. Taub is a thrilling new voice in musical theater. Her recent work, The Daughters, has been seen at The Public Theater's Joe's Pub, the Yale Institute for Music Theatre, CAP 21 (NYC), and the NAMT Festival of New Musicals. OSF will present Taub's The Daughters as an internal project.

American Revolutions: the United States History Cycle

The plays of American Revolutions look at moments of change in America's past, helping to establish a shared understanding of our national identity and illuminate the best paths for our nation's future.The three new commissions join the thirteen already announced: Culture Clash (Richard Montoya, Ric Salinas and Herbert Siguenza), Kristoffer Diaz, Michael Friedman, Frank Galati, David Henry Hwang, Lynn Nottage, Suzan-Lori Parks, Robert Schenkkan, Naomi Wallace, the team of Jonathan Moscone and Tony Taccone, Young Jean Lee, Universes (includes core performers Steven Sapp, Mildred Ruiz, Gamal A. Chasten, and William Ruiz), and Rhiana Yazzie. American Revolutions has created partnerships with Arena Stage, Steppenwolf Theatre Company, the Guthrie Theatre, Berkeley Rep, Seattle Rep, The Public Theatre, and the Playwrights Center. Mr. Friedman's commission is shared by American Revolutions and The Edgerton Fund for New Musicals.

Last season saw the inaugural production of the cycle, American Night: The Ballad of Juan José, written by Richard Montoya and Culture Clash, and closing at 100% of capacity. American Night will be seen this year at the Denver Center, CTG, and the LaJolla Playhouse. Ghost Light, by Tony Taccone and directed by Jonathan Moscone is premiering this summer. The play is inspired by the loss of Moscone's father, the mayor of San Francisco and will transfer to production partner Berkeley Rep in January. In 2012, two plays from the cycle are included in the OSF season: All the Way by Robert Schenkkan and Party People by Universes. In addition, The March by Frank Galati is in Steppenwolf's 2011-2012 season.

New American Musicals

The Edgerton Foundation is supporting the commissions of five new American musicals at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival over the next four years. Commissioned alreday are Tony award-winning artist Stew and Heidi Rodewald, as well as Obie award-winning Michael Friedman. Mr. Friedman's commission is shared between American Revolutions and The Edgerton Foundation grant. The four announced commissions represent not only outstanding American musical theater artists, but the thrilling breadth and diversity of the field. OSF continues its steady commitment to classic musicals (The Music Man, She Loves Me, and this season, The Pirates of Penzance), and with the support of this generous grant, is becoming a major center for the development and production of new musicals.

Biographies

Tanya Barfield: plays include: Of Equal Measure (Center Theatre Group), Blue Door (Playwrights Horizons, South Coast Repertory; Seattle Repertory, Berkeley Repertory and additional theaters), Dent, The Quick, The Houdini Act and 121º West. She wrote the book for the Theatreworks/USA children's musical: Civil War: The First Black Regiment. Blue Door is published by Dramatists Play Service. Tanya was a recipient of the 2003 Helen Merrill Award for Emerging Playwrights, 2005 Honorable Mention for the Kesselring Prize for Drama, a 2006 Lark Play Development/NYSCA grant, and she has been twice been a Finalist for the Princess Grace Award. She has been commissioned by Playwrights Horizons, Center Theatre Group, South Coast Repertory, Primary Stages and GeVa Theatre Center. She is a member of New Dramatists and the Dramatists Guild Council.

Bill Cain: Upcoming theater: World premiere of How to Write a New Book for the Bible to happen in the 2011 season at Berkeley Rep and Seattle Rep. Other plays include 9 Circles (Sky/Cooper Prize, 2011 Steinberg New Play Award), Equivocation (Ovation Award, 2010 Steinberg New Play Award), Stand-up Tragedy (six LA Critics Awards, four Helen Hayes Awards, Joe A. Callaway Playwriting Award), The Laying on of Hands. Hollywood: Nightjohn (Touchstone/Hallmark), named Best American Film 1996 by The New Yorker; Sounder (ABC), Clover (USA), Thicker Than Blood (TNT), NTSB (ABC), Papa's Angels (CBS), Nothing Sacred (ABC), George Foster Peabody Award for Outstanding Achievement. He is the founder of the Boston Shakespeare Company, where he was Artistic Director for seven seasons, directing most of the Shakespeare canon.

Rebecca Taichman: New York work: Playwrights' Horizons: Milk Like Sugar (upcoming) Second Stage: The Scene by Theresa Rebeck (starring Tony Shalhoub and Patricia Heaton); The Ohio Theatre: Menopausal Gentleman (Special Citation Obie Award). Regional: La Jolla Playhouse: Sleeping Beauty Wakes, Milk Like Sugar (upcoming); Oregon Shakespeare Festival: She Loves Me; Shakespeare Theater: Cymbeline, Twelfth Night & Taming of the Shrew; McCarter Theatre: Twelfth Night; world premiere musical Sleeping Beauty Wakes book by Rachel Sheinken, music and lyrics by Groove Lilly; ACT: At Home at the Zoo; Woolly Mammoth: Dead Man's Cell Phone by Sarah Ruhl (world premiere), The Velvet Sky by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa (world premiere), The Clean House; Yale Repertory: The Evildoers by David Adjmi (world premiere), Iphigenia at Aulis; The Huntington: Mauritius by Theresa Rebeck (world premiere); The Humana Festival: The Scene by Theresa Rebeck (world premiere); Round House Theatre: The Diary of Anne Frank, A Body of Water; The Prince Music Theatre: The Green Violin by Elise Thoron with music by Frank London (2003 Barrymore Award for Outstanding Direction of a Musical); The Market Theater: Swimming in March by Kate Robin; The Theatre Offensive: The People vs. The God of Vengeance.

Paula Vogel's play, How I Learned to Drive, received the 1998 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, the Lortel Prize, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle and New York Drama Critics Awards for Best Play, as well as winning her second OBIE. Other plays include A Civil War Christmas, The Long Christmas Ride Home, The Mineola Twins, The Baltimore Waltz, Hot'N'Throbbing, Desdemona, And Baby Makes Seven, and The Oldest Profession. In 2004-5 she was the playwright in residence at The Signature Theatre in New York which produced three of her works. She is playwright in residence at the Yale Repertory Theatre, as well as an artistic associate at Long Wharf Theatre. Work in progress includes a co-commission for Oregon Shakespeare Festival and Yale Repertory (based on The God of Vengeance), a work in collaboration with director Rebecca Taichman. Most recent awards include the 2010 William Inge Festival Distinguished Achievement in the American Theatre Award (past recipients include Arthur Miller, Horton Foote, Edward Albee, and August Wilson). She was inducted into the College of Fellows of the American Theatre at the Kennedy Center in April. Last year, she was awarded the Stephen and Christine Schwarzman Legacy Award for Excellence in Theatre for lifetime achievement and excellence in teaching. She is most honored to have two awards to emerging playwrights named after her: the Paula Vogel Award, created by the American College Theatre Festival in 2003, and the Paula Vogel Award in Playwriting is given annually by the Vineyard Theatre, since 2007: Ms. Vogel won the 2004 Award for Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the OBIE for Best Play in 1992, the Rhode Island Pell Award in the Arts, the Hull-Warriner Award, The Laura Pels Award, the Pew Charitable Trust Senior Award, a Guggenheim, an AT&T New Plays Award, the Fund for New American Plays, the Rockefeller Foundation's Bellagio Center Fellowship, several National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships, the McKnight Fellowship, the Bunting Fellowship, and the Governor's Award for the Arts. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She was recently awarded a Thirtini, a most coveted award, from 13P in New York. She has been a fellow at the MacDowell Colony, as well as Yaddo. Paula Vogel is the Eugene O'Neill Professor (adjunct) of Playwriting and Chair of the Playwriting Department at the Yale School of Drama.

Michael John LaChiusa: his most recent work includes the music and lyrics for Giant, (book by Sybille Pearson); Los Otros, (book by Ellen Fitzhugh); and the score for Maria Aitken's production of As You Like It at the Shakespeare Theatre, Washington D.C. As a composer, lyricist and librettist, his other works include Bernarda Alba, See What I Wanna See, The Highest Yellow (book by John Strand,) Little Fish, Hello Again, First Lady Suite, and Break/Agnes/Eulogy for Mister Hamm. He was represented on Broadway during the 1999-2000 season by The Wild Party and Marie Christine, receiving Tony nominations for Best Score and Best Book (with George C. Wolfe on The Wild Party) for each show and he received a Tony nomination for Best book (with Graciela Daniele and Jim Lewis) for Chronicle of a Death Foretold. His operas include Send (who are you? I love you) which premiered at the Houston Grand Opera, and Lovers and Friends (Chautauqua Variations) which premiered at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, where he was the Brena and Lee Freeman Composer-in-Residence. He is an Obie-Award winner (Hello Again and First Lady Suite) and the recipient of the Gilman-Gonzalez-Falla Musical Theatre Award. His scores for Nick Jr, The Wonder Pets, received two Emmy Awards. He is currently on the faculty of graduate Musical Theatre Writing program at New York University.

Shaina Taub is a Vermont-raised, Brooklyn-based singer, songwriter, actor and pianist. She performs on keys and lead vocals with her band, featuring drummer Hiroyuki Matsuura, bassist Justin Goldner and back-up vocalists Kate Ferber and Jo Lampert. She was classically schooled on the keys, trained vocally in musical theatre and jazz, raised on folk and blues, and remains deeply rooted in soul. Notable theater writer Seth Rudestky wrote in his column on Playbill.com, "Shaina has the coolest, soulful, smoky sound and I assumed she was a chanteuse that's been playing in all the coolest clubs in town for years." As a vocalist, composer, musical director, and arranger, her work has been performed at Joe's Pub, the Beacon Theater, Lincoln Center, Madison Square Garden, the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, the National Underground, Birdland, Ars Nova, The Duplex, Googie's Lounge, Spike Hill, The Bitter End, and Town Hall. While at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts, she directed and sang with the award-winning a cappella ensemble, the ‘NHarmonics, for four years. Her original musical, The Daughters, premiered with a sold-out show last summer at Joe's Pub, and was selected for a developmental workshop and staged reading at the Yale Institute for Music Theatre and was a part of the songwriters showcase at the NAMT (National Alliance for Musical Theatre) New Works Festival, fall 2010.

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