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OSF Reading of RADIO GOLF to Benefit Penumbra Theatre Company, 6/24

The Oregon Shakespeare Festival is pleased to produce a reading of August Wilson's Radio Golf in support of Penumbra Theatre Company in St. Paul, Minnesota. The reading will be held at 7:00 p.m. Monday, June 24 in the Angus Bowmer Theatre as part of OSF's Juneteenth Celebration.

The reading is "Donate What You Want." You can reserve a seat for $15 prior to the show by calling the Box Office at 541-482-4331 or going online Or you may donate at the event. Checks should be made out to Penumbra Theatre Company. No cash or credit cards will be accepted.

In 2012, due to an income shortfall, Penumbra Theatre Company, one of the largest and most significant African-American theatre companies in the United States, suspended its fall programming. In addition, its 2013 budget was reduced by $800,000, and the theatre cut six full-time staff positions. Through strong leadership, a committed board, and the generosity of donors from around the country, the theatre was able to open its doors in 2013 after the suspension.

Recognizing the national importance of Penumbra Theatre Company and OSF's collaborative relationship with artists from the Twin Cities area, OSF chose to join in the fund-raising effort.

"We find ourselves at a time and space wherein the diversification of major stages in the US threatens the health of culturally specific theater companies," said Lou Bellamy, founder and artistic director of Penumbra and director of this season's OSF production of August Wilson's Two Trains Running. "The threat is such that national foundations and theater networks (such as Theatre Communications Group) are focusing intently on developing strategies to ensure our survival.

"Partnerships such as this ensure a vibrant ecology for the American theater landscape, one that honors the pioneering role theater companies like Penumbra and so many others have played in diversifying the American theater landscape. We are proud to have given August Wilson his first professional production, and proud as well of Oregon Shakespeare Festival for valuing Penumbra's unique role in nurturing artists of color, many of whom go on to find careers throughout the United States."

Constanza Romero, August Wilson's widow, noted: "August's final play, Radio Golf, was written during the final months of his life. In 2005, before the play was to open in Los Angeles, he was diagnosed with a terminal illness, and was forced to face the fact that he could not usher this work to New York, as he had done all the other plays. I witnessed the Herculean determination, and the insurmountable courage he had to summon in order to finish the last installment of the American Century Cycle. I consider Radio Golf August's final gift to all of us, and we are all the richer for it."

The reading will be directed by Donya K. Washington. The cast features Rodney Gardiner as Harmon Wilkes, Christina Acosta Robinson as Meme Wilkes, Jerome Preston Bates as Roosevelt Hicks, Ken Robinson as Sterling Johnson, and Terry Bellamy as Elder Joseph Barlow. Bakesta King is providing stage directions.

Washington, in considering Wilson's work, said, "Radio Golf holds a special place for me. It's the part of the Century Cycle that I feel speaks most directly to my generation's experience-what gentrification has meant to me, what it means to navigate the old neighborhood and feel like an outsider, and what it means to feel like an outsider because of your ties to the old neighborhood."

OSF's Juneteenth Celebration is a free event, from 1:00 - 2:00 p.m. on the Courtyard Stage. This live performance will showcase the lives of pioneering black women, whose achievements have deeply impacted the world. Organized by company members, Juneteenth was first celebrated 15 years ago as a company event.

Juneteenth commemorates the announcement in Texas on June 19, 1865 of the abolition of slavery, two and one-half years after the effective date of the Emancipation Proclamation. Juneteenth is a holiday celebrated in 42 states.

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