Oregon Shakespeare Festival

Jenny Graham/OSF

The Oregon Shakespeare Festival has taught audiences about U.S. history, and entertained them at the same time, with plays it commissioned in recent years.  Now OSF announces six new commissions as part of its American Revolutions: the United States History Cycle

The commissioned playwrights are Zakiyyah Alexander, Jaclyn Backhaus, E. M. Lewis, Mary Katheryn Nagle, Sara Novic, and Sanaz Toossi.  They will add to a body of work that has produced critical and audience acclaim, and even a Tony Award (for "All the Way"), and a Pulitzer Prize (for "Sweat"). 


Just about every country on the planet has its own distinctive style of dance.  Charya Burt works in the style of her native country, Cambodia. 

Cambodian music and culture are presented at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival this year in the play "Cambodian Rock Band," and Charya Burt Cambodian Dance plays the Green Show stage at OSF July 4th and 6th. 

The piece to be presented honors the memory of the singer Ros Sereysothea, who died while the Khmer Rouge held power in Cambodia. 

Jenny Graham / Oregon Shakespeare Festival

The Oregon Shakespeare Festival play "Cambodian Rock Band" packs a lot into a single production: music, comedy, tragedy, even genocide.

The murders of more than a million Cambodians (closer to two million) by the Khmer Rouge is just one of the storylines in the play by Lauren Yee, with music by the band Dengue Fever.

Imagine the work it takes to pull it off on stage night after night.

The end of the road is in sight for Bill Rauch at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.  His successor as artistic director, Nataki Garrett, has been named, and the next season has been announced. 

But Rauch has more duties to attend to before he leaves Ashland for a new company in New York City in August.  One of them is to join ShakespeareAMERICA for an onstage retrospective at Southern Oregon University (Monday, May 6). 

Jirawat Ouicharoen

The Oregon Shakespeare Festival is a really big deal, not just in Southern Oregon, but nationally.

OSF Photo Illustration

The plays of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival show clearly the festival's commitment to diversity.  Characters of all colors and genders appear. 

And the work of OSF extends well beyond the boundaries of its stages.  The education department at the Festival reaches out to the community in a number of ways, including an upcoming project called "Take Them Into the Dirt."

It's an immersive experience--meaning audience involvement--that explores indigenous stories. 

Rob Goodwin, our host for "The Keenest Observers," is part of the project at OSF. 

Oregon Shakespeare Festival

The work of August Wilson has been staged on plays around the world. 

But his poetry takes center stage in a new work at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival called "UniSon."  It is a musical based on Wilson's work and shaped by the OSF company-within-the-company called Universes

They wrote and performed "Party People" at the festival a few years back, and that's when we first got to know Steven Sapp, Mildred Ruiz-Sapp, and William Ruiz, who goes by "Ninja." 

Shakespeare 2017 Season Draws Near

Feb 8, 2017
Oregon Shakespeare Festival

First comes Valentine's Day, then comes "Shakespeare in Love." 

A play based on the movie by that name is among the offerings at this year's season of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, fast approaching. 

Previews of the season's first plays begin on February 17th (""in Love"" on the 18th). 

It is another big and ambitious season at OSF; its director of literary development and dramaturgy, Amrita Ramanan, visits. 

A forest fire threatened the city of Ashland, Ore., and its historic Lithia Park on Aug. 8, 1959.  Steve Hess, son of Ashland’s Postmaster Parker Hess, was a 17-year-old junior at Ashland High.

Roe vs Wade Comes To the Shakespeare Stage

Apr 12, 2016
Oregon Shakespeare Festival

It might be the most famous lawsuit of all time: Roe vs Wade. 

You only have to say "Roe," and people instantly understand you mean the case that made abortion legal, with limitations,  in the United States, in 1973.  Which probably explains why the Oregon Shakespeare Festival's new play on the suit and its implications is called simply "Roe."

The play is the latest to premier in OSF's ongoing "American Revolutions" cycle of history plays. 

OSF Explores Economic Recovery Effects

Oct 9, 2015
Deviant Art/Wikimedia

The Oregon Shakespeare Festival is quite serious about extending discussions of its plays into the real world, the world beyond the stage. 

The world premiere play "Sweat" now playing at OSF is about the real-world issue of America's de-industrialization and the accompanying job loss. 

Now factor in the recent preliminary agreement on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, billed as a chance to spread the benefits of globalization around.  Will it? 

That is the central question in a panel discussion set for Saturday (Oct. 17) at OSF, titled "Does Economic Recovery Benefit Everyone?"

OSF Re-Writing Shakespeare For Our Time

Oct 5, 2015

Holy Shakespeare!  The Oregon Shakespeare Festival just announced a project to re-write the 39 plays attributed to William Shakespeare into modern English. 

People who insist that the strength of the plays is the quality of the language may burst a blood vessel. 

But OSF insists the translations--by 36 diverse playwrights paired with dramaturgs--are meant to complement Shakespeare, not replace his work. 

The idea is to make the great works accessible to broader audiences, with great respect for the original material.

OSF Fetes Latinos And Latinas

Sep 23, 2015
Oregon Shakespeare Festival

  Latinos make up the largest minority group in America, with great cultural and growing political power. 

The cultural end of that influence is reflected in the Oregon Shakespeare Festival's "Latino Play Project," September 25-27 in Ashland. 

The weekend highlights works by and about Latinos, in a couple of play readings and a panel discussion.


The Oregon Shakespeare Festival has made it clear for years that its work extends beyond the confines of its stages, to a real interest in people and the human condition. 

OSF's "Living Ideas" program brings conversations about issues raised in its plays to communities around the region. 

This year's world premier of "Sweat" shows the effect of industrial layoffs on people and communities, something the timber towns of our region know too well. 

Courtesy Oregon Shakespeare Festival

The Bard has been dead for 400 years, but the offerings of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival are hardly stuck in the past. Living playwrights also grace the stages of this Ashland institution.

JPR’s Geoffrey Riley sits down with playwright Quiara Alegria Hudes  whose play "The Happiest Song Plays Last" is now at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.



Putting Blood And Tears Into OSF's "Sweat"

Jul 29, 2015
Oregon Shakespeare Festival

The American Revolution, our war of independence, was a singular thing.

But American Revolutions, plural, is a cycle of several plays commissioned by the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, including the Tony-Winning "All The Way." 

The cycle continues with this week's opening of "Sweat," about the decline of industrial America and the way it plays out in individual lives. 

Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Lynn Nottage is the creator of the play. 

Oregon Shakespeare Festival

The long season at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival includes two plays opening this month, including "The Happiest Song Plays Last."

It is a sequel to "Water By The Spoonful," which played OSF just last year. 

Jenny Graham

Fingersmith breathes subterfuge.  Peopled by pickpockets and con artists, its action descends a rabbit hole of nefarious plotting.  The central characters are all involved in tricking each other, and although they continually break the fourth wall to address us, we can’t rely on them to speak the truth.

Gearing Up For Shakespeare Season

Feb 3, 2015
Oregon Shakespeare Festival

Sword fighters, craps players, and history's most famous queen will join many other characters on stage at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival during the coming season in Ashland. 

OSF plays hit the stages later in the month, and the company is cranking up to full speed to get ready. 

We visit with OSF reps Lydia Garcia and Julie Felise Dubiner to talk about the general challenges of running a professional theater company in a small town... and this year's crop of 11 plays. 

Oregon Shakespeare Celebrates CultureFest

Aug 29, 2014
Oregon Shakespeare Festival

CultureFest at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival is like the Olympics in one way: it only occurs every other year. 

So if this is 2014, it must be CultureFest time again. 

CultureFest is a celebration of multiethnic heritage, celebrated with plays and readings and programs that complement OSF's usual offerings.