OSF Closes its 2016 Season

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The Oregon Shakespeare Festival wrapped up the 2016 season on October 30 with the final performances of Great Expectations, Richard II, Twelfth Night and The Yeomen of the Guard. Preparations for the 2017 season and 2017 member ticket sales are already underway. The 2017 opening weekend is February 24-26; preview performances begin February 17.

The season closed with attendance of 397,304-86% of capacity. Ticket revenue was $22 million, a 4% increase from 2015. This season included 11 productions, with a total of 807 performances-a higher number than originally planned because performances of Vietgone andRichard II were added due to strong patron demand. Student attendance was close to 65,000, and about 24,000 tickets were processed for educational events, generating approximately $450,000 in revenue.

"I could not be prouder of the accomplishments of the OSF company this year," OSF Artistic Director Bill Rauch said. "We knew going in that it was a very ambitious season, and our success in so many areas is both humbling and tremendously gratifying. Our audiences, who consistently remain amongst the most ardent and knowledgeable theatre audiences anywhere, responded with passion and multiple return visits to their favorite shows."

2016 Season Sponsor U.S. Bank's Gloria Schell, region president of U.S. Bank for Southern Oregon and Northern California, said, "We are proud to be an Oregon Shakespeare Festival partner for nearly 40 years. It is an honor to participate in connecting our community to the arts and supporting OSF's mission of inspiring, educating and entertaining. The 2016 season was packed with magnificent theatre. It was wonderful to see audiences responding with such enthusiasm that performances were added to keep up with demand."

The 2016 playbill included Twelfth Night, Great Expectations, The River Bride, Roe, Timon of Athens, The Yeomen of the Guard, Vietgone, Richard II, Hamlet, The Wiz and The Winter's Tale.

The season was dedicated to 22-season OSF actor Catherine E. Coulson, who passed away in September of 2015. OSF lost another beloved longtime Acting Company member, Judith-Marie Bergan, in August of 2016, and the 2017 season will be dedicated to her memory.

This year OSF also marked the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare's death, the 45th anniversary of the School Visit Program, the second year of its commitment to producing Shakespeare's entire Canon in a Decade and the first time people of color comprised a majority of the Acting Company.

OSF and the Consortium of Asian American Theatres and Artists (CAATA) made history in October when OSF became the first non-Asian-specific theatre to host CAATA's National Asian American Conference and Festival (ConFest), held in partnership with OSF's biannual CultureFest. "The events of these 10 days is going to be on the very, very short list of things I've been most proud to have had happen when I was artistic director," Rauch said of ConFest in American Theatre magazine.

Another major milestone achieved this season was a $5 million gift-among the largest individual donations in OSF history-from Roberta and David Elliott to endow the Festival's Artistic Opportunity Fund (AOF), which allows the Festival to pursue significant artistic opportunities.

OSF Campus
The 2016 season was bookended by the dedication of the new Hay-Patton Rehearsal Center-honoring the formative leadership of Richard L Hay and Bill Patton-and the naming of the James M. Collier Box Office in recognition of Collier's decades of OSF support and attendance.

OSF completed Phase One-installation of the Angus Bowmer Theatre elevator, the Allen Elizabethan Theatre wheelchair lift and the loading dock materials lift-of the ambitious Access for All renovation project just before the season opened in February. Construction of Phase Two, during which the main brick courtyard and Green Show performance areas will be renovated for greater accessibility, safety and audience comfort, kicked off immediately after the season closed.

New work at OSF and beyond

OSF's American Revolutions: the United States History Cycle announced eight new commissions this year-bringing the number of plays commissioned thus far to 32 out of the 37-play goal. The last five plays will be commissioned in 2017, with the writing and development of the works expected to last at least through 2027.

American Revolutions commissions continue to find audiences at OSF and throughout the United States. Lisa Loomer's Roe had its world premiere here in 2016 and next heads to Arena Stage in January and Berkeley Repertory Theatre in March. Sweat, by Lynn Nottage, also toured to Arena Stage in early 2016 and is currently enjoying an extended run-as is UNIVERSES' Party People-at The Public Theater in New York. The reach of Robert Schenkkan's LBJ plays, the Tony Award-winning and HBO-adapted All the Way and its follow-up, The Great Society, continues to grow. All the Way is being staged at multiple theatres nationwide-ranging from South Coast Repertory in Southern California to Gibbs High School in Florida-while OSF veteran Jack Willis will reprise the role of LBJ in The Great Society at Asolo Repertory Theatre January 11 to April 2.

OSF's production of Qui Nguyen's Vietgone, possibly the most difficult ticket to score in OSF's 2016 season, will travel to Seattle Repertory Theatre for performances December 2-January 1. Audiences at The American Repertory Theatre will experience the second professional production of Fingersmith-a hit world premiere in OSF's 2015 season-directed by Bill Rauch. The production runs December 4-January 8 in Cambridge.

In September Play on! 36 playwrights translate Shakespeare hosted its first of three annual convenings here in Ashland. Playwrights and dramaturgs spent the weekend seeing OSF plays, discussing the project and presenting samples of their work. New York Times writer Jennifer Schuessler attended the convening, resulting in this Times report on the project's progress. Since its 2015 launch, Play on! has enlisted more than 250 actors, directors, stage managers and producers on 27 readings, workshops, productions and demonstrations in 10 different cities collaborating with 17 different theaters and academic institutions all over the country. The official deadline for the first drafts was October 31, and Play on! Director Lue Douthit and Assistant Director Taylor Bailey have begun to read through these exciting first passes in anticipation of beginning the process of developing the 39 plays in 2017 and 2018.

In October OSF joined over 65 arts organizations engaging with The Every 28 Hours Plays-an OSF- produced project led by OSF Community Producer Claudia Alick that consists of works by 72 playwrights from across the United States responding to this moment in Civil Rights history. The Oct. 10 engagement filled the Angus Bowmer Theatre to capacity, and many engagements across the country have also seen sold-out performances.

2017 Season
The 2017 season will open on Friday night, February 24, with Shakespeare's Julius Caesar in the Angus Bowmer Theatre, directed by Shana Cooper. Henry IV, Part One-also by Shakespeare and directed by Lileana Blain-Cruz-will open in the Thomas Theatre on Saturdayafternoon, February 25. Joining the rep that evening is the U.S. premiere of Shakespeare in Love in the Bowmer Theatre, based on the screenplay by Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard, adapted for the stage by Lee Hall and directed by Christopher Liam Moore. Opening Sundayafternoon, February 26, in the Bowmer Theatre is Mojada: A Medea in Los Angeles by OSF Playwright-in-Residence Luis Alfaro and directed by Juliette Carillo.

On April 2, the world premiere of Jiehae Park's Hannah and the Dread Gazebo comes to the Thomas Theatre under the direction of Chay Yew, and April 23 a new musical by OSF ensemble-in-residence UNIVERSES-August Wilson's poetry in UniSon-will have its world premiere in the Bowmer Theatre under the direction of Robert O'Hara.

The outdoor Allen Elizabethan Theatre opens the weekend of June 16-18 with Shakespeare's The Merry Wives of Windsor (directed by Dawn Monique Williams), The Odyssey (adapted and directed by Mary Zimmerman, from the translation by Robert Fitzgerald) and an innovative take on Disney's Beauty and the Beast (music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Howard Ashman & Tim Rice, book by Linda Woolverton and directed by Eric Tucker).

Opening Saturday, July 9 in the Thomas Theatre is Shakespeare's Henry IV, Part Two (directed by Carl Cofield), and the final show to join the 2017 rep is the world premiere of Randy Reinholz's Off the Rails (directed by Bill Rauch) on July 30 in the Bowmer Theatre.

Previews begin on February 17, and the season runs through October 29.

2017 Presale for membership began November 3, and general ticket sales for the 2016 season start November 28. For information call (800) 219-8161 or visit www.osfashland.org.
The 2017 season is sponsored by U.S. Bank.

Founded by Angus Bowmer in 1935 and winner of a 1983 Tony Award for outstanding achievement in regional theatre, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival presents an eight-month season of 11 plays that include works by Shakespeare as well as a mix of classics, musicals, and new works. The Festival also draws attendance of more than 400,000 to almost 800 performances every year and employs approximately 575 theatre professionals. In 2008, OSF launched American Revolutions: the United States History Cycle, a 10-year cycle of commissioning new plays that has already resulted in several OSF commissions finding success nationwide.

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