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Big Changes Ahead For Oregon Shakespeare Festival's 2018-19 Season

<p>Sketch comedy troupe the 1491s are featured in the OSF American Revolutions Commission, "Between Two Knees."</p>

Sketch comedy troupe the 1491s are featured in the OSF American Revolutions Commission, "Between Two Knees."

The Oregon Shakespeare Festival has announced its next season of plays. The year will mark a transition and a big change in scheduling.

The festival’s artistic director, Bill Rauch, is leaving for a job in New York.

His last season includes a traveling production of "The Comedy of Errors" in Spanish and English, a production of John Waters’ “Hairspray,” and premieres of three commissioned works: Octavio Solis' "Mother Road" (a LatinX take on "The Grapes of Wrath"), the Jewish-American love story "Indecent," and the comedic inter-generational story "Between Two Knees."

The 2018-19 season also brings a shift in the schedule. OSF usually runs some shows in winter through October. Others begin in late spring or summer and run through fall. This year, the company will do the same number of plays but take one production on the road. Compressing the remaining schedule will put more performances at times when audiences tend to show up in greater numbers: the middle of the season.

OSF executive director Cynthia Rider said there’s one other factor in play: wildfires.

“It was certainly one of the biggest impetuses for us," Rider said. "Four of the five last years we’ve had to cancel performances due to air quality. Opening the Elizabethan one week early and having the opportunity to have more shows in rep, we hope it gives audiences more chances to see things."

The new schedule gets audiences to shows earlier in fire season, hopefully meaning fewer cancellations.

The subsequent reshuffling will make it possible to see all the shows in the season in one visit, if you choose your dates carefully.

Amanda Sager, president of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Local 154, which represents many behind-the-scenes crew members at OSF, said the union’s leadership believes the adjusted schedule will not result in less work for staff. But she added the union is curious to see how the changes play out, and looks forward to budget information for 2019.

Copyright 2018 Oregon Public Broadcasting

April Baer