The Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF) will mount a concert reading of OSF Presents: Ameriville by UNIVERSES, in honor of the Festival's annual Juneteenth celebration, on Monday, June 23 at 12:00 p.m. in the Angus Bowmer Theatre. UNIVERSES is OSF's company-in-residence.

Using Hurricane Katrina as a jumping-off point, Ameriville fuses hip-hop, poetry, flamenco, standup comedy, music and spoken word. UNIVERSES weaves this electrifying 90-minute theatrical exploration of race, class, poverty, immigration and political awareness into a great adventure about what it means to be American. UNIVERSES consists of Steven Sapp, Mildred Ruiz-Sapp, Gamal Chasten and Ninja (aka William Ruiz). Chay Yew directed the original production at the Humana Festival in 2009.

Tickets are $25 for non-OSF members, $20 for members and $10 for youth. To purchase tickets or find out more information about Ameriville, please visit www.osfashland.org/osf-presents or call 800-219-8161.

A free, interactive, educational Juneteenth pre-show, directed by OSF actor Christiana Clark, will take place in the Festival courtyard an hour before the show. This family-friendly performance with OSF company members will involve live music, dance and physical art. Audiences should arrive at 11:00.

Juneteenth is the oldest-known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States. On June 19, 1865, Major-General Gordon Granger led his Union soldiers into Galveston, Texas with the news that the Civil War had ended and that the enslaved were now free. This was 2½ years after President Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation became official January 1, 1863. Today, Juneteenth commemorates African-American freedom and emphasizes education and achievement. In cities across the country, people of all races, nationalities and religions come together to acknowledge a period that shaped our history and continues to influence our society.

OSF has celebrated Juneteenth since 1998, when actor Aldo Billingslea, who was from Texas, hosted a fundraising barbecue to help African-American students attend the OSF Institute's annual Summer Seminar for High School Juniors. The Juneteenth Scholarship Fund was created for that purpose. A portion of every Ameriville tickets sold will go to the Scholarship Fund.

In its third year, OSF Presents is a program designed to give Oregon Shakespeare Festival artists an arena to share their art with the public on a larger scale than they may be able to do independently. The artists are a mix of company members and Green Show guest artists and playwrights. Proceeds from the shows are shared by the artists and OSF. This program is funded in part by the James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation.

For more information on UNIVERSES, visit http://www.universesonstage.com.

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