JULIUS CAESAR, SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE Set for Oregon Shakespeare Festival in 2017
The Tony Award-winning Oregon Shakespeare Festival will launch its 82nd year with preview performances beginning on February 17, and the season officially kicks off Friday night, February 24, in the Angus Bowmer Theatre with Shakespeare's Julius Caesar (director, Shana Cooper).
On Saturday afternoon, Shakespeare's Henry IV, Part One (director, Lileana Blain-Cruz) opens in the Thomas Theatre, while Lee Hall's adaptation of Shakespeare in Love (director, Christopher Liam Moore) has its U.S. premiere in the Angus Bowmer Theatre that evening. On Sunday afternoon, OSF resident playwright Luis Alfaro's Mojada: A Medea in Los Angeles (director, Juliette Carrillo) opens in the Angus Bowmer Theatre.
The 2017 season is dedicated to the memory of beloved actor and longtime company member Judith-Marie Bergan, who passed away last August. "Judith was a vital, treasured part of this company for 16 brilliant seasons," said OSF Artistic Director Bill Rauch. "Her dedication to the craft of acting, and the joy with which she partook in it, was an inspiration to everyone she came into contact with. She is truly and deeply missed, and our art this season will honor her unforgettable, bright spirit."
OSF's namesake playwright shines particularly bright in 2017 with four plays by the Bard (the second part of Henry IV and The Merry Wives of Windsor open later in the year), the rollicking Shakespeare in Love, a fictionalized account of young Will's early misadventures in playwriting and courtship, and the July-opening Off the Rails, an irreverent, subversive adaptation of Shakespeare's Measure for Measure. Fans of a certain larger-than-life Sir John Falstaff will note they get a triple helping of this legendary comic creation this season.
Artistic director Rauch praises the continued relevance of this season's Shakespeare selections. "We knew when we picked the season early last year that we'd be coming off a hotly contested presidential election," said Rauch, "but I don't think any of us could have predicted just how timely and necessary Julius Caesar and both parts of Henry IV feel right now. I can't wait to see how audiences engage with these perennially potent stories in 2017. And I am thrilled we have The Merry Wives of Windsor and Shakespeare in Love to bring us the joy and laughter that feel just as necessary right now."
The remaining shows in OSF's 2017 season offer an irresistible mix of world premieres, a classic musical and compelling takes on ancient Greek stories. World premieres include the comic, surreal Hannah and the Dread Gazebo by Jiehae Park, the musical "August Wilson's poetry in UniSon" from OSF's ensemble-in-residence UNIVERSES, and Randy Reinholz's aforementioned Off the Rails, the first play OSF has produced by a Native American playwright.
OSF's resident playwright Luis Alfaro brings his bracing modern adaptation of the Medea story, Mojada: A Medea in Los Angeles, to the Angus Bowmer Theatre in February, while frequent OSF guest artist Mary Zimmerman continues the classic Greek storytelling with her adaptation and direction of The Odyssey, debuting in June in the Allen Elizabethan Theatre. The classic musical Disney's Beauty and the Beast will also delight audiences young and old under the stars all summer long with an original, innovative production directed by Eric Tucker from New York's acclaimed Bedlam Theatre.
"The 2017 season is going to be tremendously exciting and entertaining," says Rauch. "It will also be the embodiment of the core values of this company, as our art illuminates our collective humanity from as diverse an array of perspectives as possible."
U.S. Bank is the 2017 Season Sponsor. "For nearly four decades we've been honored to participate in celebrating the arts with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival," said Gloria Schell, U.S. Bank region president for southern Oregon and northern California. "We are excited for the 2017 season as OSF continues their mission to provide an exquisite lineup of performances."
Lead Sponsor: U.S. Bank; Producing Sponsor: The Robert and Star Pepper Foundation; Production Sponsor: Jim Collier
"The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings," whispers Cassius to his friend and fellow conspirator Brutus, thus setting in motion the assassination of Julius Caesar and launching one of the most thrilling and oft-quoted plays in the Shakespearean canon.
Director Shana Cooper, who previously directed Love's Labor's Lost (2011) and The Unfortunates (2013) at OSF, easily sees the parallels between Shakespeare's Rome and 2017 America. "Both worlds are going through a period of intense political transition which is causing a sense of unrest and dis-ease," she observes, "and it's often difficult to tell the difference between a passion for leadership and a passion for power. I've heard many people describe the recent U.S. election results as a waking nightmare, which is what the citizens of Rome are experiencing with the omens, ghosts, soothsayers and unruliness of nature surrounding Caesar's assassination."
Cooper is particularly interested in investigating the perpetual cycles of violence that have historically plagued political transitions. "Both through the masterful, exquisite language of Shakespeare and the movement vocabulary the cast is developing with choreographer Erika Chong Shuch, we are exploring the cost of this seemingly unending violence-physically, emotionally and psychologically. I hope the play can be a powerful call to action, particularly to students, about the kind of world they would like to see."
The cast features Danforth Comins as Brutus, Rodney Gardiner as Cassius, Armando Durán as Julius Caesar, Jordan Barbour as Mark Antony, Barret O'Brien as Decius Brutus, Jon Cates as Trebonius, Stephen Michael Spencer as Caska, Ted Deasy as Metellus Cimber, Richard Howard as Caius Ligarius and Lepidus, Armando McClain as Cinna the Conspirator, Sheila Tousey as Cicero, Benjamin Bonenfant as Octavius Caesar, Julian Remulla as Lucius, Kate Hurster as Portia, Amy Kim Waschke as Calpurnia, Cindy Im as Artemidorus, Galen Molk as Cinna the Poet and Callan Skuratowicz and Brooklyn Williams sharing the role of Soothsayer.
Scenic design is by Sibyl Wickersheimer; costumes by Raquel Barreto; lighting by James F. Ingalls; music composition and sound design by Paul James Prendergast and choreography by Erika Chong Shuch. Barry Kraft is dramaturg, Michelle Lopez-Rios is voice & text director; U. Jonathan Toppo is fight director and Moira Gleason is stage manager.
Producing Sponsor: The Pigott Family; Sponsor: Hitz Foundation; Partners: The Dauer Family in Memory of Art Dauer, Wally and Sheila Weisman
OSF's journey through Shakespeare's history tetralogy continues after 2016's acclaimed sold-out run of Richard II. Once again, the Festival's intimate Thomas Theatre will play host to the political intrigues, machinations and battles of early 15th-century England, with a healthy dose of Falstaffian comedy thrown in. Henry Bolingbroke endures an uneasy reign as king, while his wayward son Prince Hal has fallen under the spell of Sir John Falstaff and his merry band of hooligans at the Boar's Head Tavern. Rebel forces are threatening King Henry's rule, and Prince Hal's time to prove himself worthy of the crown is nigh.
Director Lileana Blain-Cruz, director of OSF's Much Ado about Nothing in 2015, returns for her first foray into a Shakespeare history play. "I'm very excited about how we make a Shakespeare history play feel vibrant and alive to us right now in America," she said. "There's something about where we are as a country that feels like something is failing. Something is falling apart. And so we're interested in finding a way to have this play live inside of that. I love that we get to do this play in the Thomas Theatre, with a playing space that is so intimate and personal. Everything feels visceral because we are so close."
The cast features Jeffrey King as King Henry IV; Daniel José Molina as Prince Hal; G. Valmont Thomas as Sir John Falstaff; Tyrone Wilson as Northumberland and Sheriff; Michael Gabriel Goodfriend as Poins, Mortimer and Douglas; Robert Vincent Frank as Westmoreland and Bardolph; Jeremy Gallardo as Prince John and Francis; Lauren Modica as Peto and Glendower; Nemuna Ceesay as Lady Percy and Vernon; Michele Mais as Mistress Quickly; Alejandra Escalante as Hotspur; Kimberly Scott as Worcester, Vintner and Chamberlain; Moses Villarama as Sir Walter Blunt and Gadshill; and Rachel Kostrna as Lady Mortimer.
The scenic designer is Adam Rigg, costumes are by Dede M. Ayite, and lighting design is by Yi Zhao. The composer and Sound Designer is Palmer Hefferan, and dramaturgs are Lydia G. Garcia and Amrita Ramanan. Voice and text director is Rebecca Clark Carey; fight director is Christopher Duval and Jill Rendall is stage manager.
Lead Sponsor: Roberta and David Elliott/Buffett Fund of the Community Foundation for Monterey County; Sponsors: Brad and Louise Edgerton, Amy and Mort Friedkin; Partners: The Birrell Family, Peter and Jane Carpenter, The Collonge Family, Carole Howard, Jerry and Jeanne Taylor Family Foundation
Young playwright Will Shakespeare is stuck. He's overdue with his new play-a half-baked mess called Romeo and Ethel, the Pirate's Daughter-and he's having a colossal case of writer's block. His patrons want a comedy, but he hungers for something more. Enter Viola de Lesseps, a smart beauty who loves his work and ignites his creative flame, and also possesses quite a secret. This witty, warm, music-filled adventure is full of uproarious theatre in-jokes and thought-provoking takes on the origins of several Shakespeare characters, told through a fictional lens.
Director Christopher Liam Moore says, "This play is delightfully funny and very witty, as you would expect from a script that Tom Stoppard co-authored. It's also quite touching and romantic, and is a beautiful testament to the power of company and ensemble. There's something very appealing to me about the central love story, and how the journey of these two souls is intimately wrapped up in the creation of a particular work of art."
The cast features William DeMeritt as Will Shakespeare; Ted Deasy as Kit Marlowe; Brent Hinkley as Henslowe; Tony DeBruno as Fennyman; Al Espinosa as Wessex; Kevin Kenerly as Burbage; U. Jonathan Toppo as Tilney; Kate Mulligan as Queen Elizabeth; Jamie Ann Romero as Viola de Lesseps; K.T. Vogt as Nurse; James Ryen as Ned Alleyn; Michael J. Hume as Ralph and Juliet's Nurse; Cristofer Jean as Actor, Robin, Boatman and Lady Capulet; Jacob W. Phillips as Proteus, Nol, Guard and Benvolio; Russell Lloyd as Lambert, Sir Robert de Lesseps, Burbage's Heavy and Abraham; Will Dao as Sam and Juliet; Jonathan Luke Stevens as Valentine, Guard, Gregory, Tybalt, Adam and Peter; Preston Mead as John Webster; Rex Young as Frees, Wabash and Prince; Asia Mark as Mistress Quickly, Molly and Lady; and Brianca Knight as Kate and Lady. Austin Comfort will perform vocals, Mark Eliot Jacobs will play lute and guitar, and Michal Palzewicz will play cello, viola da gamba and violin. The role of Dog will be shared by Candy and El.
Scenic design is by Rachel Hauck; costume designer is Susan Tsu; lighting designer is Xavier Pierce; the composer is David Reiffel and Sound Designer is Amadon Jaeger. The video designer is Shawn Duan, and the choreographer is Jaclyn Miller. Martine Kei Green-Rogers is dramaturg; David Carey is voice & text director; U. Jonathan Toppo is fight director and Mandy Younger is stage manager.
Sponsor: The Goatie Foundation; Partners: Sid and Karen DeBoer, Claudette and George Paige
Playwright Luis Alfaro's powerful, poetic adaptation of the classic Greek story of Medea has proven to be an award-winning juggernaut in its two previous productions, winning the "Jeff" Best New Play Award in Chicago in 2013 and three Los Angeles Drama Critics' Circle Awards (adaptation, direction and lead performance) for the 2015 Getty Villa version. Alfaro has continued to refine the script for its OSF debut, which features two actors-Sabina Zuniga Varela as Medea and VIVIS as Tita-from the Los Angeles production. Juliette Carrillo directs.
Alfaro is often drawn to the Greek classics in his playwriting, having also authored Electricidad, based on Sophocles' Electra, and Oedipus El Rey. "The reason I adapt the Greeks is to re-interpret them to say something important about the time we're in right now," he states. "In this case, it's the ongoing immigration debate in this country."
"Medea embodies the immigrant experience," continues Alfaro. "What is the price we pay when we come to a new country? The story may not have a happy ending, but we should not hate Medea-we should like and understand her when the play begins. She is a whole class of people-extraordinary people who work very, very hard to hold on to who they are as they navigate the waters of immigrating to America. The experience of trying to make it, to fit in, is a universally American experience."
Scenic and costume design is by OSF Associate Artistic Director Christopher Acebo, with lighting by Lonnie Rafael Alcaraz. The composer and Sound Designer is David Molina, and video design is by Kaitlyn Pietras. The dramaturg is Tiffany Ana López; Michelle Lopez-Rios is voice & text director; Christopher Duval is fight director and D. Christian Bolender is stage manager.
Biographies of directors, designers and actors for the 2017 season can all be found at www.osfashland.org.
Tickets remain available to previews and most opening performances. Patrons can save 15 percent on preview tickets. Please check ticket availability at www.osfashland.org or call the Box Office at 800-219-8161.
Preview and opening times and dates are as follows:
Julius Caesar Friday, Feb. 17, 8 p.m. (preview)
Julius Caesar Tuesday, Feb. 21, 8 p.m. (preview)
Julius Caesar Friday, Feb. 24, 8 p.m. (opening)
Henry IV, Part One Wednesday, Feb. 22, 8 p.m. (preview)
Henry IV, Part One Thursday, Feb. 23, 8 p.m. (preview)
Henry IV, Part One Friday, Feb. 24, 8 p.m. (preview)
Henry IV, Part One Saturday, Feb. 25, 1:30 p.m. (opening)
Shakespeare in Love Saturday, Feb. 18, 8 p.m. (preview)
Shakespeare in Love Wednesday, Feb. 22, 8 p.m. (preview)
Shakespeare in Love Saturday, Feb. 25, 8 p.m. (opening)
Mojada: A Medea in Los Angeles Sunday, Feb. 19, 8 p.m. (preview)
Mojada: A Medea in Los Angeles Thursday, Feb. 23, 8 p.m. (preview)
Mojada: A Medea in Los Angeles Sunday, Feb. 26, 1:30 p.m. (opening)
Founded by Angus Bowmer in 1935, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF) has grown from a three-day festival of two plays to a nationally renowned theatre arts organization that presents an eight-month season of up to 11 plays that include works by Shakespeare as well as a mix of classics, musicals, and world-premiere plays and musicals. OSF's play commissioning programs, which include American Revolutions: the United States History Cycle, have generated works that have been produced on Broadway, throughout the American regional theatre, and in high schools and community theatres across the country. The Festival draws attendance of more than 400,000 to approximately 800 performances every year and employs approximately 575 theatre professionals.
OSF invites and welcomes everyone, and believes the inclusion of diverse people, ideas, cultures and traditions enriches both our insights into the work we present on stage and our relationships with each other. OSF is committed to equity and diversity in all areas of our work and in our audiences.
OSF's mission statement: "Inspired by Shakespeare's work and the cultural richness of the United States, we reveal our collective humanity through illuminating interpretations of new and classic plays, deepened by the kaleidoscope of rotating repertory."