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Bill Rauch announces OSF’s 2019 season


Rauch’s final season as AD features classics and new plays in equal numbers, plus
a pilot bilingual Community Visit Project

Ashland, Ore.— Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF) Artistic Director Bill Rauch announced the Festival’s 2019 playbill today. The season, which will be Rauch’s last at the artistic helm, celebrates Shakespeare, classics and new plays, including two American Revolutions commissions and a pilot Community Visit Project that will take a bilingual Play on! translation into community venues throughout the region.

“The process of season selection has never felt more challenging nor the final result more emotional and bittersweet as with this, my final season as artistic director of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival,” Rauch said. “We always want the best theatre audience in the world to have the most exciting, vital mix of plays possible, and at the end of our eight-month selection process we have arrived at an equal number of classics and new work that epitomize our mission to reveal our collective humanity.”

Previews will begin March 1 and the season will officially open March 8 and continue through Oct. 27, 2019.

In 2019, 10 mainstage shows will be joined by a pilot Community Visit Project production of a bilingual Play on! translation of Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors. The production will travel to regional venues beginning in the summer, and performances will be held on campus later in the season.

The 2019 season includes some changes to the production schedule—including a slightly later season opening and earlier starts for some other shows—in response to patterns of patron demand and to adjust to the potential effects of wildfire smoke. The production slot that has typically closed in July will run all season, providing audiences something previously impossible: opportunities to see the entire lineup in just one visit.

Four plays 2019 Season will open earlier, including the three outdoor Allen Elizabethan Theatre productions. Not opening a show in April means the Angus Bowmer Theatre will not have to close for tech rehearsals during a peak time for school group visits.

“This adjustment to the 11-play model that has become common here in recent decades is one that allows us to focus on building a strong and sustainable future for OSF that is rooted in equity and engagement across the organization and with our audience,” said Executive Director Cynthia Rider. “This change will allow access to more of our plays for more of the season, will increase the number of outdoor performances, and we anticipate will help make workloads more manageable for our staff at peak times in the season.”

In the Angus Bowmer Theatre:

“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.” The 2019 season will open in March with one of Shakespeare’s most beloved comedies, AS YOU LIKE IT, directed by Rosa Joshi, returning after her widely praised OSF debut helming 2018’s Henry V. Joshi, who has a great passion for Shakespeare, looks forward to joining Rosalind and company in the Forest of Arden on a comedic journey laced with themes of female strength and empowerment, love and gender in their myriad complex manifestations, and exile vs. refuge.

Running all season alongside As You Like It is the musical HAIRSPRAY, directed by Christopher Liam Moore (The Book of Will, Shakespeare in Love, Twelfth Night). A joyful affirmation of self-expression and one’s ability to turn dreams into reality, the 2003 Broadway production of Hairspray—based on the film written and directed by John Waters—nabbed eight Tony Awards and earned praise from the New York Times for being “above all, Nice. This may be regarded as faint praise in New York, capital of Type A personalities. But Nice, in this
instance, doesn't mean bland. Think of it spelled out in neon, perhaps in letters of purple and fuchsia. That's the kind of Nice that Hairspray is selling. And it feels awfully good to pretend, for as long as the cast keeps singing, that the world really is that way.”

Also running all season is the world premiere of Octavio Solis’s MOTHER ROAD, directed by Bill Rauch. Experienced as a staged reading by attendees of our 2017 Latinx Play Project, the play is inspired by John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath and finds hardworking and hard-living William Joad with no blood kin to pass the family farm down to. No one, that is, until a private detective uncovers an unexpected relation: Martín Jodes—a young Mexican-American man descended from Steinbeck’s protagonist Tom Joad. The two men meet
up at the site of the former government work camp that was once home to Steinbeck’s Joads and is now home to migrant workers like Martín’s mother, who lived and died laboring in the fields. Together they travel from California back to Oklahoma, reversing the Joads’ mythic journey in an epic story about land, family and survival. Solis—a Southern Oregon-based playwright, author, director, educator and, most recently, cultural consultant for Disney-Pixar’s Coco—returns to an OSF playbill for the fourth time after previous stagings of El Paso Blue (1999), Gibraltar (2005) and his Don Quixote adaptation (2009).

The final show to open in the Angus Bowmer Theatre is Paula Vogel’s INDECENT—the first American Revolutions play to return home to its commissioning theatre after lauded and award-winning productions across the country, including a Tony-nominated run on Broadway and a nationwide PBS Great Performances broadcast.

Indecent is a love story, a celebration of the Yiddish language and literature and the way art can change lives, a glimpse at Jewish American history in the first half of the 20th century and an examination of what is “Jewish” and what is “American”—all inspired by the real-life controversy surrounding the play God of Vengeance by Sholem Asch, which was produced on Broadway in 1923 and led to the original cast being arrested for obscenity. Indecent will be directed by Shana Cooper (Julius Caesar, The Unfortunates).

In the Thomas Theatre:

The first show to open in the Thomas Theatre and running the entire season will be Lauren Yee’s CAMBODIAN ROCK BAND, directed by Chay Yew (Hannah and the Dread Gazebo, Our Town), who recently helmed the runaway hit world-premiere of the musical at South Coast Repertory Theatre. With songs by Dengue Fever, this comedy-mystery-rock concert hybrid explores the legacy of the Khmer Rouge genocide through the music-filled story of a Cambodian American woman and her father, who for the first time in 30 years returns to the country he fled. “I think this play is representative of my larger body of work," Yee told the Los Angeles Times. "They're stories of ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances that skate the line between humor and heartbreak. I think once I figured out that, at its heart, this is the story of a father and a daughter searching for one another, the tone of the play came quite naturally to me."

Opening in early April and running through October is the world premiere of BETWEEN TWO KNEES, an American Revolutions co-commission with New Native Theatre by sketch comedy group the 1491s, directed by first-time OSF director Eric Ting. For their American Revolutions commission, the troupe— Bobby Wilson, a Sisseton-Wahpeton Dakota artist and educator; Migizi Pensoneau, an Ojibwe and Ponca writer and producer; Ryan RedCorn, an Osage portrait photographer and graphic designer from Oklahoma; Dallas Goldtooth, a Dakota
and Navajo comedian and environmental organizer; and Sterlin Harjo, a Creek and Seminole filmmaker from Oklahoma—chose to tell an intergenerational story of familial love, loss,  connection… and how life begins “between two knees.” The story spans historical events like the massacre at Wounded Knee, forced reeducation via boarding schools, all of the World Wars so far, the Civil Rights Movement, the terror that was Lawrence Welk, Vietnam (the war, not just the country) and of course, is bookended by the takeover at Wounded Knee.
Also, it’s funny. That the 1491s gave their play about such weighty events the suggestive title Between Two Knees aligns with their subversive approach to comedic storytelling. In a recent American Theatre article, Wilson shared: “There’s so much expectation put on indigenous people in the arts, especially in the media. It comes from a longstanding tradition of non-Native people, most often white men, writing stories for Hollywood and the stage. We’re fighting those tropes. If they show up in our work, it’s just to lampoon them.” Also, there will be ninjas.

The final show to open in the Thomas Theatre will be the West Coast premiere of HOW TO CATCH CREATION by Christina Anderson, winner of the Lorraine Hansberry Award. In Anderson’s poetic exploration of the universal act of creation—of life, of family, of art—a black, queer, feminist writer’s life is changed in the 1960s when her girlfriend tells her some unexpected news. Decades later, the implications of that moment still echo in the lives of four individuals in this new play exploring family, connection, parenthood and the right to
start over. “With my work, right now, I usually focus on black American stories. I usually deal with race, gender, and class. I’m really interested in geography and landscapes and cities, and that’s usually been a general theme,”

Anderson said of her writing style in The Interval. “Every time I start a play it sort of comes from a theme or a question or something that kind of pisses me off, and then I build from there and think about how a piece can live on stage.”

Allen Elizabethan Theatre:

“By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes.” Shakespeare’s evocative tragedy MACBETH will inaugurate the Allen Elizabethan Theatre season in late spring, directed by José Luis Valenzuela, who helmed this season’s uproarious, much-buzzed-about Destiny of Desire. While Valenzuela, a giant in the theatre field, has become well-known in the U.S. for directing Karen Zacaraías’s subversive homage to the telenovela at multiple theatres, he’s a popular classics director in Europe renowned for making the epic feel operatic. He’s eager to tackle Shakespeare in our flagship outdoor theatre, and will do so with “the Scottish play”
that plumbs the depths of human psychology and the pitfalls of unchecked ambition and violence. 

Also opening on the outdoor stage is ALICE IN WONDERLAND, an adaptation by Eva Le Gallienne and Florida Friebus that honors Lewis Carroll’s classic text while introducing us to an Alice for the present day. Popular OSF actor Sara Bruner, who helmed 2017’s Daedalus Project reading of Cabaret, will bring her strong visual sensibility and desire to explore every nook and cranny of our outdoor stage as we go down the rabbit hole for a production that will appeal to audiences of multiple generations.

The third show to open outside will be Shakespeare’s ALL’S WELL THAT ENDS WELL,  irected by Tracy Young (A Wrinkle in Time, The Imaginary Invalid, The Servant of Two Masters), who returns to OSF with her knack for bittersweeet comedy and uncannily deep connection with actors. When Helena cures the King of a deadly illness, he says she may have the husband of her choosing. She only has eyes for Bertram, but the young man does not return her love. What will become of clever Helena as she navigates this complex comedy of
courtships, class, mistaken identities, pain, loss, war and love?

Community Visit Project:

The 11th production of the 2019 season will be a bilingual (Spanish and English) adaptation of THE COMEDY OF ERRORS by OSF Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Playwright in Residence Luis Alfaro, commissioned as part of the Play on! Shakespeare translation program. This Community Visit Program pilot production will be the final project Bill Rauch will direct as OSF's artistic director, and the first Play on! translation to be produced atthe Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

The Comedy of Errors marks a pilot of multiple initiatives: OSF’s first-ever Community Visit Project, a pairing of a new work and a Shakespeare play, and OSF’s first-ever fully bilingual work of art that can be experienced and enjoyed by monolingual Spanish-speaking, monolingual English-speaking and bilingual audience members.

The cast of The Comedy of Errors, which will be shared with the world premiere of Octavio Solis's Mother Road, will perform Alfaro’s bilingual adaptation without sets and with minimal costuming and props at community venues throughout the region in the summer, and performances will be held on the OSF campus later in theseason. Further details of the program will be announced this spring.

"It feels so right to be sharing our resident playwright's bilingual adaptation, and our first full production to have emerged from our Play on! program, as my final project as OSF's artistic director,” Rauch said. “Our theater was born as a courageous community effort in 1935, and I could not be more proud that we will develop and then share this vibrant new version with our community partners."

Play on! and the Community Visit Project pilot are supported by the Hitz Foundation.

The 2019 season will begin previews on March 1 and open the weekend of March 8-10. The official opening weekend in the Allen Elizabethan Theatre will be June 8-9. The season will run through October 27. Tickets for the 2019 season will go on sale in November 2018 for members, and general sales will begin in early December.

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 and musicals. 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.”
2019 SEASON AT A GLANCE (preview performances to closing dates)

ANGUS BOWMER THEATRE

As You Like It by William Shakespeare March 1 – October 27
Directed by Rosa Joshi
#AsYouLikeItOSF

Hairspray – The Broadway Musical March 2 – October 27
Music by Marc Shaiman
Lyrics by Scott Wittman and Marc Shaiman
Based on the New Line Cinema film written and directed by John Waters
Directed by Christopher Liam Moore
#HairsprayOSF

Mother Road by Octavio Solis March 3 – October 26
Directed by Bill Rauch World Premiere
#MotherRoadOSF

Indecent by Paula Vogel July 4 – October 26
Directed by Shana Cooper American Revolutions
#IndecentOSF

THOMAS THEATRE

Cambodian Rock Band by Lauren Yee March 6 – October 27
Songs by Dengue Fever
Directed by Chay Yew
#CambodianRockBandOSF

Between Two Knees by 1491s April 3 – October 27
Directed by Eric Ting World Premiere/American Revolutions
#BetweenTwoKneesOSF

How to Catch Creation by Christina Anderson July 23– October 26
Director TBA West Coast Premiere
#HowToCatchCreationOSF

ALLEN ELIZABETHAN THEATRE

Macbeth by William Shakespeare May 28 – October 11
Directed by José Luis Valenzuela
#MacbethOSF

Alice in Wonderland by Eva Le Gallienne and Florida Friebus May 29 – October 12
Adapted from Lewis Carroll
Directed by Sara Bruner
#AliceInWonderlandOSF

All’s Well That Ends Well by William Shakespeare May 30 – October 13
Directed by Tracy Young
#AllsWellOSF

COMMUNITY VISIT PROJECT PILOT

The Comedy of Errors Dates TBA
A bilingual Play on! adaptation and translation by Luis Alfaro
Directed by Bill Rauch World Premiere
#ComedyOfErrorsOSF

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