OSF's Allen Elizabethan Theatre Opens June 15-17
The Oregon Shakespeare Festival invites audiences to enjoy two plays by William Shakespeare-plus one about saving his words and securing his legacy-under the stars when its flagship outdoor theatre opens the weekend of June 15-17, 2018. The Allen Elizabethan Theatre will feature Romeo and Juliet, directed by Dámaso Rodríguez; Lauren Gunderson's The Book of Will, directed by Christopher Liam Moore; and Love's Labor's Lost, directed by Amanda Dehnert. Previews begin June 5, and all three shows will run through the weekend of October 12-14.
OSF's popular Green Show, featuring free live entertainment on the Courtyard Stage six nights a week at 6:45 p.m. throughout the run of the Allen Elizabethan Theatre productions, will return on June 15 and continue through Oct. 14. The 2018 Green Show schedule is available at osfashland.org/GreenShow. This summer's lineup includes singer-songwriter and activist Raye Zaragoza, Bay Area interdisciplinary arts collective Jazz Mafia Kinesthesia, collaborations with the Britt Festival and Southern Oregon University, a number of returning favorites such as Phoenix and Four Directions and the international award-winning Taiwanese musical group A Moving Sound, and many more.
The Ashland Lions Club will celebrate the opening of the Allen Elizabethan Theatre on Friday, June 15 at 6:00 p.m. with its Feast of Will, an evening of food and entertainment featuring a full dinner of BBQ chicken or vegetarian lasagna, coupled with music by the Jefferson Bag Pipers and Siskiyou Singers. The Lions Club donates profits to projects benefiting Lithia Park and many other organizations. Tickets are $15, and are available online, at the OSF Box Office or by phone at 800-219-8161.
The weekend's activities continue on Monday, June 18, as OSF invites the community to a celebration of Juneteenth, the oldest-known commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. This year's theme is Activate: A Roll Call & Response, and the day's activities will include a pay-what-you-can play reading at 1 p.m. in the BLACK SWAN Theatre and the Juneteenth Celebration Main Event on the Courtyard Stage at 5:30 p.m. More details and events will be announced soon.
The 2018 season is dedicated to the memory of beloved actor and 14-season company member G. Valmont (G. Val) Thomas, who passed away in December after battling with cancer. Thomas was to perform in Romeo and Juliet this year.
Romeo and Juliet opens at 8:00 p.m. Friday, June 15. Inspired by the natural mirror of the play's progression from light to darkness and steeped in lush period detail and historical context, the production is directed by Dámaso Rodríguez, artistic director of Portland's Artists Repertory Theatre.
"I love the idea of performing outside and I've been thinking a lot about when the suns sets [in the summer]," Rodríguez says. "I like how that mirrors the course of the action in the play, which starts light and optimistic and funny and then grows ever darker. I can only imagine-as Shakespeare knew himself-that being outside must support and maybe even add to the experience of the story."
As Rodríguez shared in OSF's 2018 Illuminations magazine, "Shakespeare's 16th-century tragedy of young love thwarted by a community's long-standing prejudice continues to be universally resonant and alarmingly relevant to our ever-polarized 21st-century society," he said. "We continue to live in a world where hate and bias are taught and passed on to the subsequent generation. Shakespeare brilliantly left the reasons for the divide between Capulet and Montague unspecified, giving the play endless universal resonance."
In addition to his five years leading Artists Rep, Rodríguez's directing credits include work at Playwrights' Center, Pasadena Playhouse, Intiman Theatre, South Coast Repertory, Laguna Playhouse, A Noise Within, The Theatre@Boston Court, Naked Angels and Furious Theatre, which he co-founded and co-artistic directed.
The Romeo and Juliet creative team includes Efren Delgadillo (scenic design), Leah Piehl (costumes), Tom Ontiveros (lighting), Rodolfo Ortega (composer and sound designer), Tiffany Ana López (production dramaturg), Rebecca Clark Carey (voice and text director), Kalen Feeney (sign coach/VGC adaptor), Sarah Lozoff (movement and intimacy director), Cherelle D. Guyton (wig designer) and U. Jonathan Toppo (fight director). D. Christian Bolender is production stage manager.
Playing the title roles are William Thomas Hodgson and Emily Ota. Others in the cast include Sara Bruner as Mercutio, Derek Garza as Tybalt, Robin Goodrin Nordli as Nurse, Kevin Kenerly as Capulet, Kate Hurster as Lady Capulet, Richard Elmore as Montague and Monique Holt as Lady Montague, Michael J. Hume as Friar Laurence, Christiana Clark as Prince Escalus, Armando McClain as Paris, Julian Remulla as Benvolio, Brent Hinkley as Peter and Friar John, Ethan Hennes as Balthazar, Lauren Modica as Gregory, Jennie Greenberry as Rosaline, Kyle Sanderson as Abram, and Sarah Glasgow, Hayley Thirlwall and Alex Magni as Ensemble.
Romeo and Juliet is supported by Partners Sandy Farewell and Ann P. Wyckoff. Development of Romeo and Juliet was supported by a grant from the James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation, and the production is part of Shakespeare in American Communities, a national program of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest.
Opening the following night, Saturday, June 16 at 8:00 p.m., is The Book of Will, playwright Lauren Gunderson's lively, funny and poignant comedy about the creation of Shakespeare's First Folio that feels tailor-made for the OSF acting company. The Book of Will, to be directed by Christopher Liam Moore (Shakespeare in Love, Twelfth Night, Long Day's Journey into Night), centers on the efforts of Henry Condell and John Heminges, two members of Shakespeare's theatre company, to bring his plays to publication against seemingly insurmountable odds. The Boulder Weekly praised the 2017 world premiere of The Book of Will as a "thoughtful rumination on mortality, a touching ode to the power of love and a laugh-out-loud comedy," adding "Shakespeare lovers will kick themselves, hard, if they don't get to a performance of The Book of Will." Lauren Gunderson will be the first female playwright with a completely original play on OSF's Allen Elizabethan stage in its 83-year history. Director Christopher Liam Moore is in his ninth season as an actor and director with OSF and will also direct Hairspray in 2019.
"The fact is we know that Shakespeare's friends collected his plays and published them in the First Folio," Gunderson says. "But most of us don't really know how that came to be and how complicated and exacting and surprising and riveting the process actually was. And in many ways, the events that unfolded to make the First Folio possible were like a great Shakespeare play. You've got villains, you've got love stories, you've got losses, you've got stakes that are really high. So in looking at the history and in looking at what I know about a life in the theatre and a life working with actors and storytellers, it felt like a perfect story for now and for the ages."
The Book of Will creative team includes Christopher Acebo (scenic design), Susan Tsu (costumes), Japhy Weideman (lighting), Paul James Prendergast (composer and sound designer), Shawn Duan (projections), Martine Kei Green-Rogers (production dramaturg), David Carey and Rebecca Clark Carey (voice and text directors) and U. Jonathan Toppo (fight director). Karl Alphonso is production stage manager.
The cast includes David Kelly as Henry Condell; Kevin Kenerly as Richard Burbage and William; Catherine Castellanos as Elizabeth Condell, Emilia Bassano Lanier, Fruit Seller and Marcellus; Kate Mulligan as Rebecca Heminges and Anne Hathaway; Cristofer Jean as Ralph Crane, Barman, Compositor and Francisco; Jeffrey King as John Heminges; Kate Hurster as Alice and Susannah Shakespeare; Jordan Barbour as Ed Knight and Isaac; Jonathan Luke Stevens as Marcus, Boy Hamlet, Crier and Horatio; and Daniel T. Parker as Ben Jonson, Barman 2, Dering and Bernardo.
The Book of Will is supported by Sponsors Pamela Howard and Thomas Castle, The Chautauqua Guild and the Hitz Foundation; and Partners Nancy and Donald de Brier, Brad and Louise Edgerton, Henderson-Sonna Family, Kevin and Suzanne Kahn, Trine Sorensen and Michael Jacobson, and the Jerry and Jeanne Taylor Family Foundation.
The final opening-weekend show at 8:00 p.m. on Sunday, June 17 is Love's Labor's Lost, directed by Amanda Dehnert (Into the Woods, My Fair Lady), a frequent OSF guest artist known for her inventive and provocative stagings. Instinct does battle with intellect in this charming, music-filled comedy about a group of young male scholars, led by King Ferdinand of Navarre, who swear themselves to three years of chastity, contemplation and scholarship. That plan is quickly derailed when a group of lovely, witty and playful ladies arrive on the scene. Linguistic and physical hijinks abound in Shakespeare's nimble comedy with a cast of indelible supporting characters and a surprising twist of an ending.
"The thing I love the most about Love's Labor's Lost is how honest it is about the human condition," Dehnert says. "It is a real journey of innocence to experience, and it works the way life works, which isn't always the way we think of Shakespeare plays working, which makes it incredibly unique. And I really, really find it funny and moving and compelling and smart and just kind of brilliant in all sorts of ways."
The Love's Labor's Lost creative team includes Daniel Ostling (scenic design), Mara Blumenfeld (costumes), Japhy Weideman (lighting), Amanda Dehnert and Andre J. Pluess (composers and sound designers), David Carey and Rebecca Clark Carey (voice and text directors), Melissa Torchia (associate costume designer) and U. Jonathan Toppo (fight director). Gwen Turos is production stage manager.
The cast features Daniel José Molina as Ferdinand, Alejandra Escalante as Princess of France, Stephen Michael Spencer as Berowne, Jennie Greenberry as Rosaline, William Thomas Hodgson as Dumain, Tatiana Wechsler as Katharine, Jeremy Gallardo as Longaville, Niani Feelings as Maria, Richard Howard as Sir Adrian O. Dearmaddow, Vilma Silva as Boyet, Cedric Lamar as Costard, Shaun Taylor-Corbett as Moth, Robin Goodrin Nordli as Holofernes, Chris Butler as Sir Nathaniel, Royer Bockus as Jaquenetta, Armando Durán as Anthony Dull, Bobbi Charlton as the Forester, Rachel Crowl as Marcade and Dan Poppen as a Lord. Musicians include Dan Poppen (violin), Michal Palzewicz (cello), Alex Magni (guitar), Rachel Crowl (guitar and keyboards) and Reed Bentley (drums).
Love's Labor's Lost is supported by Partner Kelly Bulkeley and Hilary Krane. Development of Love's Labor's Lost was supported by a grant from the James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation.
Love's Labor's Lost runs through Oct. 14, 2018. More information is available at osfashland.org/LovesLaborsLost.
The three Allen Elizabethan Theatre plays join six productions already running in the Angus Bowmer and Thomas Theatres: Othello, Sense and Sensibility, Destiny of Desire, Rodgers and Hammerstein's Oklahoma!, Henry V and Manahatta. Still to come in the 2018 season are Idris Goodwin's world-premiere American Revolutions commission The Way the Mountain Moved, and the U.S. premiere of Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig's Snow in Midsummer.
The 2018 season, which continues through Oct. 28, is sponsored by U.S. Bank.
Tickets are available online at www.osfashland.org or via the Box Office at 800-219-8161.
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. 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."