One of the reasons we love to go to Ashland, Oregon is the Oregon Shakespeare Festival which makes its home there. We love to watch live theater, and OSF is definitely a place you must discover if you’re a regular theater-goer — and one you should experience even if you’re not! The performances they put on are always top notch, and all of the theaters are centrally located in picturesque downtown Ashland.
The 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,” seems to us a fancy way of saying we do Shakespeare and lots of other plays to bring people together and show how we’re all human. What a great concept!
OSF began as an all-Shakespeare company, and every season still includes works by Shakespeare — sometimes done traditionally or sometimes adapted in a new way. Currently OSF is in the third year of a ten year plan to produce the entire canon of Shakespeare’s plays. This is a giant undertaking, but if anyone can pull it off, it’s OSF. This year’s Shakespeare offerings include The Merry Wives of Windsor, Julius Caesar, and Henry IV, Parts 1 and 2.
With its humble beginnings in 1935, OSF is one of the longest running professional, non-profit theater groups in the country. At that time they had only one outdoor theater space. Since then, they’ve added several performance spaces to their original outdoor space, and this allows them to produce many plays every season, including several non-Shakespeare plays.
This season there are eleven plays being performed, including Beauty and the Beast, for those of you traveling with young children, and an adaptation of the movie Shakespeare in Love for those of you who aren’t. We saw a preview of Shakespeare in Love thanks to the kind folks at OSF and we thoroughly enjoyed it — amazing costumes, a talented cast, creative sets, and a range of emotions sprinkled in amidst lots of laughs.
Those of you traveling with children between the ages of 6-17 may want to look into special tickets for OSF Family Days which include informative prologue talks with the OSF education outreach folks and special ticket pricing. Everyone is welcome at the evening Green Shows which take place in the main OSF courtyard and feature free outdoor entertainment. The Green Show is offered six nights a week (Tuesday through Sunday) at 6:45 p.m. from June through October.
The Oregon Shakespeare Festival performs from mid-February through the end of October, but not all plays run the full season. If you are planning a visit in summer, do not miss seeing a play in the outdoor Allen Elizabethan Theatre. One of Erin’s favorite places to spend a summer’s evening is in that theater with the bats flitting above her head and the actors performing on the stage in front of her. It’s pure magic. Go and see!
Wherever you go, and whatever you see, we hope that you enjoy Ashland — and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival — as much as we always do, whether it’s for a week or a weekend!
This post was sponsored by the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. All opinions are our own.