OFF THE RAILS Opens 7/30 at The Oregon Shakespeare Festival
The Oregon Shakespeare Festival will reach a long-overdue milestone this month with the opening of the world-premiere production of Off the Rails, the 82-year-old Festival's first play by a Native writer. Playwright Randy Reinholz's irreverent and subversive adaptation of Shakespeare's Measure for Measure, directed by OSF Artistic Director Bill Rauch, previews July 27, 28 and 29, opens July 30 and runs in the Angus Bowmer Theatre through the end of the 2017 season.
Described by Reinholz as "Blazing Saddles meets Shakespeare-with Native Americans taking the reins," Off the Rails explores the painful legacy of Indian boarding schools in part through music and a surprising dose of humor.
"Why humor? It's an Indian trait," says Reinholz, who is an enrolled member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. "We often deal with pain through humor. I think that's true for a lot of communities, actually. We've heard a lot of victimization stories, so where's the power? In Off the Rails we use nostalgia for old Westerns and turn it on its head to hook the people who should learn this story, enfranchise and empower the tellers and tell a multidimensional point-of-view Native American story."
Reinholz adds: "What is America but this clash or this coming together sometimes in a kind, loving way-people fall in love-and sometimes in a really brutal way? How do we reconcile that as a country? First, I would say we have to learn our history, and then we can start to address some of the residual problems."
In the play, the arrival of Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show coincides with the sentencing of a Pawnee teenager named Momaday, who is to hang for his forbidden love affair with an Irish-American girl. The harsh judgment and strict law-and-order attitude of presiding officer Captain Angelo are put to the test by Momaday's sister, Isabel.
The cast, which includes seven Native performers, features Lily Gladstone as Isabel; Shaun Taylor-Corbett as Momaday; Barret O'Brien as Angelo; Truett Felt as Caitlin; Brent Florendo as Grandfather; David Kelly as General Gatt, Elbow and Abhorson; Christopher Salazar as James McDonald; Nancy Rodriguez as Mariana; Sheila Tousey as Madame Overdone; Román Zaragoza as Alexie; Cedric Lamar as Cowboy; Stephen Michael Spencer as Pryor; Jen Olivares as Saloon Girl and Librarian; Steven Sapp as Sheriff and Matt Goodrich as Musician. All actors also play Ensemble roles.
The scenic designer is Richard L. Hay, costumes are by E.B. Brooks (Sami/Abenaki/Wampanoag), lighting design is by Christopher Akerlind and projections are by Tom Ontiveros. The composer and sound designer is Ed Littlefield (Tlingit), original music and lyrics are by Nick Spear, music direction is by Matt Goodrich and Duane Minard (Yurok) and choreography is by Sarah Lozoff and Duane Minard. The dramaturgs are Alison Carey and Waylon Lenk (Karuk), voice and text director is David Carey, Olivia Espinosa is the Phil Killian Directing Fellow, fight director is U. Jonathan Toppo and Jean Bruce Scott is creative consultant. D. Christian Bolender is the production stage manager and Mary Meagan Smith is assistant stage manager.
Lead Sponsor for Off the Rails is the Fred W. Fields Fund of the Oregon Community Foundation. The Goatie Foundation is Producing Sponsor. Partners are the Oregon Cultural Trust, Sandy Farewell, Henderson-Sonna Family, Pamela Howard and Thomas Castle, The Teel Family Foundation, Ted Wobber and Linda M. DeMelis, Kate and Jim Wolf-Pizor, the Jacobs Family, and Diane C. Yu and Michael J. Delaney. U.S. Bank is Season Sponsor of the 2017 season.
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."