Oregon Shakespeare Festival Oregon – Top USA Festivals

Ashland Shakespeare

Angus Bowmer Theatre, Thomas Theatre, Festival.

And Allen Elizabethan Theatre February through October www.osfashland.org

The most majestic performing arts festival in the Northwest, the widely lauded Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF) presents nearly a dozen different plays and a host of related events ongoing from February into late October. The productions feature acclaimed directors and dozens of award-winning actors. “Inspired by Shakespeare’s work and the cultural richness of the United States,” says the OSF mission statement, “we reveal our collective humanity through illuminating interpretations of new and classic plays, deepened by the kaleidoscope of rotating repertory.”

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Each play is performed in rotating repertory throughout the festival months, and this world-class event includes several of Shakespeare’s works, plays by other classic writers, as well as modern works and world premieres. The lineup for the following year’s season is announced each winter. Performances are staged at three venues in Ashland—two indoor stages (Angus Bowmer Theatre and the Thomas Theatre), and the intricately adorned flagship outdoor Allen Elizabethan Theatre, which opens in early June and runs through mid-October. Tickets to plays and special events (such as backstage tours) are available on the festival website, with a range of pricing that allows plenty of affordable options, as well as lots of seating choices. Many showings and events sell out in the weeks leading up to them, but OSF offers so many shows (up to five per day) that finding prime seating, even on short notice, is generally unproblematic.

In addition to the plays themselves, attendees can immerse themselves in a host of educational activities, including park talks, lectures, classes and workshops, and pre- and post-show conversations. Moreover, from June through October, the free evening Green Show offers an incredible lineup of talented performing artists representing many disciplines—dance, music, theater, martial arts, acrobatics, lectures, and more. The Green Shows are held six nights a week.

The theater experience at OSF is essentially casual and always convivial—a social scene on the bricks outside the theaters, along the city streets, in the lobby, and at the pre- and post-performance events. Attire is casual for most attendees, but dress warm for the outdoor theater and bring an extra layer for the air-conditioned indoor venues. At the plays, a few basic rules apply. Use of cameras or recording devices (including cell phones) is prohibited, and all shows begin promptly as scheduled, so there is no late seating. No outside food or beverages are allowed into the theaters, which have their own concessions, including local beers, wines, and ciders, which patrons 21 and over can enjoy in the lobby or in the theater seats. Children under the age of 6 are not allowed in the performances.

The culturally rich city of Ashland offers many diversions, both indoors and out: elegant and excellent high-end restaurants, diverse casual eateries and fun bars, numerous local wineries and several craft breweries, beautiful parks and many nearby hiking and biking trails, rafting plus world-class autumn fly fishing on the Rogue River, and many other options. Accommodations range from rustic to rarified, and OSF attendees should my blog lodging well in advance, especially during the busy summer season.

The OSF website offers everything needed to plan a visit, with copious information about every conceivable necessity and eventuality; further help is available through the always congenial Ashland Chamber of Commerce, www. ashlandchamber.com.

Oregon Shakespeare Festival stages plays from February through October in the thriving community of Ashland.

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