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Gearing up for OSF's 83rd Season

OSF’s 2018 season runs Feb. 16-Oct. 28.

Posted: Dec 12, 2017 4:05 PM
Updated: Dec 13, 2017 11:43 AM

From Oregon Shakespeare Festival: 
Ashland, Ore. -- General ticket sales are underway for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s (OSF) 83rd season, which begins with the first preview on Feb. 16 and continues through Oct. 28. The 2018 season features four plays by William Shakespeare, a re-imagined classic musical, two West Coast premieres, one U.S. premiere and two world premieres—as well as a host of events and opportunities to further engage with the onstage works.

“Using humor, passion, poetry, heartbreak, music and much more, the playwrights, composers and other creative artists of this season give us stories that help us discover our hidden past, our present selves and our hopes for the future,” said Artistic Director Bill Rauch.

The 2018 playbill includes Othello, Sense and Sensibility, Destiny of Desire, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! and Snow in Midsummer in the Angus Bowmer Theatre; Henry V, Manahatta and The Way the Mountain Moved in the intimate Thomas Theatre; and Romeo and Juliet, The Book of Will and Love’s Labor’s Lost in the outdoor Allen Elizabethan Theatre.

Tickets are for sale at or by calling the Box Office at 800-219-8161. High demand during Member Presale has already led to the addition of six bonus performances: Manahatta on July 29; The Way the Mountain Moved on Sept. 20, Sept. 26 and Oct. 11; and Rodger and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! on Aug. 27 and Oct. 1. All of these added performances are at 8 p.m., and the Oklahoma! dates are both on Mondays—the one day of the week on which the Festival does not typically perform.

In addition to the 11 plays, the 2018 season includes annual events and programming such as the Green Show—free outdoor entertainment, six nights a week in the summer and fall—a Juneteenth celebration on June 18, the Daedalus Project to raise funds for HIV/AIDS organizations on Aug. 20, an intensive Summer Seminar for High School Juniors, and the School Visit Program in fall and winter.

The 2018 season is sponsored by U.S. Bank, which has been supporting the Festival since 1978.

Engagement and Accessibility

OSF audiences can deepen the theatre-going experience by attending a backstage tour or any of a number of Festival Noons talks, demonstrations, prefaces and conversations with playwrights, directors, scholars, actors, designers and other theatre practitioners. The spring series of Festival Noons begins on March 3 and runs every Saturday through May 12; summer Festival Noons will be held six days a week, June 19-Sept. 2.

Entering its fourth season, Living Ideas: Art and Community Dialogue Series creates contextualized programming that is both thought- and heart-provoking and lives in the intersection of art and community. The 2018 series will focus on Othello and Manahatta, and the schedule will be announced early next year.

For those wishing to further immerse themselves, three sessions of OSF’s Shakespeare Comprehensive classes in July and August will provide an in-depth study of three of the season’s Shakespeare plays: Othello, Romeo and Juliet and Henry V, while in September Unfolding Snow in Midsummer offers a weekend-long examination of Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig’s new play.

For more information about opportunities for engagement, visit

OSF’s Cultural Connections program will provide customized events for ethnic-specific and multicultural groups throughout the year, including events and information to welcome first-time visitors to OSF, post-show discussions with cast members and bilingual Spanish-language Prologues for select plays. To learn more, call 541-482-2111, ext. 295, or visit

The season includes three sign-interpreted weekends, with ASL interpreters provided for eight performances: Oklahoma! (May 25), Manahatta (May 26), Othello (May 27), Romeo and Juliet (July 6), The Book of Will (July 7), Destiny of Desire (July 8), Snow in Midsummer (Sept. 14) and Henry V (Sept. 15). Tickets in the Deaf Community section for these performances can be purchased by contacting the Box Office at 800-219-8161 or For information on additional deaf and hard-of-hearing, blind and visually impaired, and mobility accommodations, visit

Phase III of OSF’s Access for All project began in early November 2017. This phase will add four more wheelchair seats to the Angus Bowmer Theatre, bringing the total to seven seats. Construction is expected to be completed by the beginning of the 2018 season. Supported by Lead Donors Joel Axelrod and Dr. Judy Yin Shih, Access for All was launched in November 2016 to improve OSF’s campus and create a more welcoming and accessible space. The first two phases added an elevator in the Angus Bowmer Theatre and eased the central courtyard’s steep grades, making the Bricks more mobility friendly and easier to navigate. A new Green Show stage was installed with improved lighting and sound, and seating was added for Green Show audiences. New lighting was installed to increase safety, and signage was placed to assist in way-finding.

Artistic Development

The last five commissions of American Revolutions: the United States History Cycle will be announced in 2018. Launched in 2008, American Revolutions is OSF’s multi-decade program of commissioning and developing 37 new plays sprung from moments of change in United States history. The writing and development of the plays is expected to last at least through 2027. Of the 32 commissions to date—among them All the Way, Sweat, Roe, Indecent and Party People—eight will have been produced at OSF with the 2018 season’s world-premiere production of Idris Goodwin’s The Way the Mountain Moved.

The playwrights and dramaturgs of Play on!—OSF’s Shakespeare translation project—will submit their final drafts in 2018 as the project races to its finish line with workshops, readings and an annual convening. Productions of Play on! translations will also continue being staged around the globe. Supported by the Hitz Foundation, Play on! has commissioned 36 playwrights paired with dramaturgs to translate 39 plays attributed to Shakespeare into contemporary modern English, with the intention of bringing fresh voices and perspectives to the rigorous work of translation and the goal of generating unique side-by-side companion translations of Shakespeare’s plays that are both performable and useful reference texts for both classrooms and productions.

Following the success of OSF’s 2017 Latinx Play Project and with the ongoing support of the Time Warner Foundation, LxPP in 2018 will be anchored by the LxPP Lab. Patterned after the Black Swan Lab for New Work—OSF’s primary play development incubator and the 12th slot in the season’s 11-show production schedule—an ensemble of actors from OSF’s company will engage in a series of table readings and dialogues with writers about plays in an early stage of development. Under the Black Swan Lab model, Ashland’s rural location and beautiful setting create a retreat-like environment for each play’s team—its playwright, a mentor/writer, a dramaturg, and the actors—in which the playwright uses notes from daily table readings and discussions to support the journey of their play into its next phase.

Curated by Mellon Playwright-in-Residence Luis Alfaro, Associate Artistic Director Christopher Acebo and Director of Literary Development and Dramaturgy Amrita Ramanan, the 2018 LxPP Lab will take place Aug. 22-Sept. 2 and bring together a cohort of six playwrights to experience readings of their new plays in development and engage in collaborative peer-to-peer exchanges. In addition to the LxPP Lab, one to three works-in-progress by the Latinx writers currently under commission by OSF will receive individual development workshops and/or public readings in 2018. Exact dates to be announced.

2018 Productions

In the Angus Bowmer Theatre

The 2018 season will open in February with OTHELLO, directed by Bill Rauch, marking the 11th time in OSF’s history that this tragedy has been produced. In addition to the title character, the play—which explores racism, religious bias, xenophobia and the more disturbing aspects of relationships—contains one of Shakespeare’s most memorable villains, Iago, as well as two of his most nuanced, compelling female characters, Desdemona and Emilia. This will be director Rauch’s first time helming the play, and he observes: “This is Shakespeare's most intimate tragedy, and his searing indictment of a society negotiating with difference could not be a more urgent story for our times.”

The cast includes Chris Butler as Othello, Alejandra Escalante as Desdemona, Danforth Comins as Iago and Amy Kim Waschke as Emilia. Full cast list and more information:

Running all season alongside Othello is a lively adaptation of Jane Austen’s enchanting romantic tale SENSE AND SENSIBILITY, directed by Hana S. Sharif and adapted by Kate Hamill. This adaptation— full of comedic surprises and deliciously wicked social commentary—first debuted at Bedlam Theatre in New York City, directed by Eric Tucker (director of OSF’s 2017 production of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast) in a widely praised and often-extended production that The New York Times praised as “a troupe’s triumphant joy in giving defiantly theatrical form to a literary narrative.” Director Hana S. Sharif is the associate artistic director at Baltimore Center Stage.

The cast includes Nancy Rodriguez as Elinor Dashwood. Emily Ota as Marianne Dashwood, Kate Mulligan as Mrs. Dashwood, Kevin Kenerly as Col. Brandon, Armando McClain as Edward Ferrars and Nate Cheeseman as John Willoughby. Full cast list and more information:

Also opening at the top of the season, and playing through July 12, is the delicious and provocative comedy DESTINY OF DESIRE by Karen Zacarías, directed by José Luis Valenzuela. Zacarías supercharges the standard telenovela genre in this smart, sizzling, music-filled romp that follows the adventures of two girls secretly switched at birth one stormy night in small-town Mexico. Love and betrayal overflow amid a vibrant cast of classic Mexican telenovela characters, with nods to Shakespeare’s comedies and Brecht’s epic theatre. The Los Angeles Times praised Destiny of Desire as a “terrifically entertaining theatrical roller-coaster” that “shimmers…with majestic theatrical artistry.” Director Valenzuela is the artistic director of the Los Angeles Theatre Center, an award-winning theatre and film director and a tenured professor at the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television.

The cast includes Armando Durán as Armando Castillo, Vilma Silva as Fabiola Castillo, Adriana Sevahn Nichols as Hortencia del Rio, Esperanza America as Pilar Esperanza Castillo, Catherine Castellanos as Sister Sonia, Eddie Lopez as Ernesto Del Rio and Al Espinosa as Dr. Jorge Ramiro Mendoza. Full cast list and more information:

Opening April 22 and running through the end of the season is Rodgers and Hammerstein’s OKLAHOMA! directed by Bill Rauch. With the blessing of the Rodgers and Hammerstein Organization, the OSF production will celebrate this groundbreaking musical’s 75th anniversary by offering a uniquely 21st-century interpretation featuring same-sex couples and other LGBTQ2+ casting, while retaining the original 1906 Oklahoma territory setting. Rauch says, “Audiences will see beloved OSF acting company members in inspired casting that celebrates the original pioneering spirit of this musical.” When Oklahoma! first opened on Broadway in 1943, Brooks Atkinson wrote in The New York Times that the show’s opening number, "Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin’,” changed the history of musical theatre, saying, “After a verse like that, sung to a buoyant melody, the banalities of the old musical stage became intolerable.”

The cast features Tatiana Wechsler as Curly, Royer Bockus as Laurey, Jordan Barbour as Will Parker, Jonathan Luke Stevens as Ado Andy, Michael Sharon as Jud Fry, Barzin Akhavan as Ali Hakim and Bobbi Charlton as Aunt Eller. Full cast list and more information:

The final show to open in the Angus Bowmer Theatre on Aug. 5 is the U.S. premiere of SNOW IN MIDSUMMER by Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig. Debuting in Ashland after the play’s widely acclaimed world premiere at the Royal Shakespeare Company, Snow in Midsummer is a contemporary re-imagining of the 13th-century Chinese Yuan dynasty ghost story by Guan Hanqing called The Injustice to Dou E. In Cowhig’s thrilling adaptation, a young woman named Dou Yi is sentenced to death for murder and swears vengeance before her execution, cursing her city from beyond the grave to a catastrophic drought and midsummer snow and forcing locals to face a past that no one wants to remember. The Evening Standard praised the RSC production as “a beguiling and unexpected evening” that has “an unusual and most particular sense of grace and beauty.” Snow in Midsummer will be directed by Justin Audibert, who also served as director of the RSC production.

The cast features Jessica Ko as Dou Yi, Amy Kim Waschke as Tianyun, Daisuke Tsuji as Handsome Zhang, Will Dao as Rocket Wu, Cristofer Jean as Judge Wu and James Ryen as Master Zhang. Full cast list and more information:

In the Thomas Theatre

The first show to open in the Thomas Theatre will be Shakespeare’s HENRY V, opening Feb. 24 and running through Oct. 27. Audiences will see Daniel José Molina complete his immersive three-play journey in the title role following 2017’s productions of Henry IV, Parts One and Two. Henry V, one of Shakespeare’s most popular and oft-quoted history plays, will be directed by first-time OSF director Rosa Joshi, a Seattle-based director and co-founder of upstart crow collective. Joshi says “Shakespeare is my great passion. I’m always looking for what is relevant, fresh and immediate in the plays for a contemporary audience. As a director who loves classical work, I’m obsessive about asking ‘why this play, why now?’”
Each actor plays a variety of roles, and the cast includes Daniel José Molina, Jessica Ko, Michele Mais, Rex Young, Moses Villarama, Robert Vincent Frank and Tyrone Wilson. Full cast list and more information:
Opening April 1 and running through Oct. 27 is the world premiere of MANAHATTA by Mary Kathryn Nagle, directed by Laurie Woolery. Nagle is a playwright, attorney, activist and citizen of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, as well as the executive director for the Yale Indigenous Performing Arts Program. Woolery has previously directed The Language Archive and the world premieres of The Tenth Muse and The River Bride at OSF. Manahatta tells the story of Jane Snake, a brilliant young Native Lenape woman with a Stanford MBA. Jane reconnects with her ancestral homeland, known as Manahatta, when she moves from her home with the Delaware Nation in Anadarko, Oklahoma, to New York for a job at a major investment bank just before the financial crisis of 2008. Jane’s struggle to reconcile her new life with the expectations and traditions of the family she left behind is powerfully interwoven with the heartbreaking history of how the Lenape were forced from their land. Both old and new Manahatta converge in a brutal lesson about the dangers of living in a society where there’s no such thing as enough.
The cast features Tanis Parenteau as Jane/Le-le-wa’-you, Rainbow Dickerson as Debra/Toosh-ki-pa-kwis-i, Sheila Tousey as Mother/Bobbie, Steven Flores as Luke/Se-ket-tu-may-qua, Jeffrey King as Peter Minuit/Peter Stuyvesant/Dick, Danforth Comins as Joe/Jakob and David Kelly as Michael/Jonas Michaelius. Full cast list and more information:
The final show to open in the Thomas Theatre on July 14 will be the world premiere of THE WAY THE MOUNTAIN MOVED by Idris Goodwin, commissioned by OSF’s American Revolutions: the United States History Cycle. This powerful journey into the genesis of the Transcontinental Railroad explores the often untold perspectives of an iconic chapter in American History and the events that shaped the country’s moral and environmental future. In a remote desert in the 1850s, four men—a U.S. Army lieutenant, a sharpshooter, a botanist and an artist—set out to survey a route for the new continent-spanning railroad. After being scattered on separate odysseys, they cross paths with lost pioneers, cautious Native Americans and an African-American Mormon couple unsure whether to befriend, fight or flee the newcomers. Whose dreams will prevail? The director of The Way the Mountain Moved is May Adrales, who directed the wildly popular Vietgone in OSF’s 2016 season.

The cast includes Al Espinosa as Luis Núñez Arista, Rex Young as George Harris, Julian Remulla as Jonathan Handle, Michael Gabriel Goodfriend as Lt. Gerald Smith, Christopher Salazar as Shippah, Rodney Gardiner as Orson, Christiana Clark as Martha and Sara Bruner as Phyllis Cooke. Full cast list and more information:

Allen Elizabethan Theatre

The open-air Allen Elizabethan Theatre season will begin with previews on June 5, and outdoor productions will run though Oct. 14. The official opening weekend is June 15-17.

Shakespeare’s tragedy ROMEO AND JULIET will open first in the Allen Elizabethan Theatre. Inspired by the natural mirror of the play’s progression from light to darkness, the production is directed by Dámaso Rodríguez, artistic director of Portland’s Artists Repertory Theatre. Rodríguez says, “Audiences will see a production steeped in lush period detail and historical context that considers the effects of the religious and social order of the time as the source of the ancient grudge between Montague and Capulet. This look to a century far in the past will echo our polarized present.” In addition to his four years leading Artists Rep, Rodríguez’s directing credits include work at Playwrights’ Center, Pasadena Playhouse, Intiman Theatre, South Coast Repertory, Laguna Playhouse, A Noise Within, The Theatre@Boston Court, Naked Angels and Furious Theatre, which he co-founded and co-artistic directed.

Playing the title roles are William Thomas Hodgson and Emily Ota. Others in the cast include Sara Bruner as Mercutio, Derek Garza as Tybalt, Robin Goodrin Nordli as Nurse, G. Valmont as Capulet, Kate Hurster as Lady Capulet, Richard Elmore as Montague and Monique Holt as Lady Montague, Michael J. Hume as Friar Laurence, Christiana Clark as Prince Escalus, Armando McClain as Paris and Julian Remulla as Benvolio. Full cast list and more information:

Opening June 16 on the outdoor stage is THE BOOK OF WILL, playwright Lauren Gunderson’s lively, funny and poignant comedy about the creation of Shakespeare’s First Folio that feels tailor-made for the OSF acting company. The Book of Will, to be directed by Christopher Liam Moore, centers on the efforts of Henry Condell and John Heminges, two members of Shakespeare’s theatre company, to bring his plays to publication against seemingly insurmountable odds. The Boulder Weekly praised the 2017 world premiere of The Book of Will as a “thoughtful rumination on mortality, a touching ode to the power of love and a laugh-out-loud comedy,” adding “Shakespeare lovers will kick themselves, hard, if they don’t get to a performance of The Book of Will.” Lauren Gunderson will be the first female playwright with a completely original play on OSF’s Allen Elizabethan stage in its 83-year history. Director Christopher Liam Moore is in his eighth season as an actor and director with OSF and was the director of 2017’s Shakespeare in Love.

The cast features David Kelly as Henry Condell, Kevin Kenerly as Richard Burbage, Catherine Castellanos as Elizabeth Condell, Jeffrey King as John Heminges, Kate Mulligan as Rebecca Heminges, Cristofer Jean as Ralph Crane, Kate Hurster as Alice, Jordan Barbour as Ed Knight, Jonathan Luke Stevens as Marcus and Daniel T. Parker as Ben Jonson. Full cast list and more information:

Shakespeare’s LOVE’S LABOR’S LOST, directed by Amanda Dehnert, opens June 17. Instinct does battle with intellect in this charming and linguistically nimble, music-filled comedy about a group of young male scholars, led by King Ferdinand of Navarre, who swear themselves to three years of chastity, contemplation and scholarship. That plan is quickly derailed when a group of lovely, witty and playful ladies arrive on the scene. Linguistic and physical hijinks abound in Shakespeare’s delicious comedy with a cast of indelible supporting characters and a surprising twist of an ending. Festival audiences have previously been treated to director Dehnert’s inventive and provocative stagings of My Fair Lady, Into the Woods and 2011’s Julius Caesar, among others.

The cast includes Daniel José Molina as King of Navarre, Alejandra Escalante as Princess of France, Stephen Michael Spencer as Berowne, Jennie Greenberry as Rosaline, Dan Poppen as Dumaine, Jeremy Gallardo as Longaville, Richard Howard as Don Armando, Vilma Silva as Boyet, Cedric Lamar as Costard and Robin Goodrin Nordli as Holofernes. Full cast list and more information:

2018 Dates to Remember

Season opening weekend: Feb. 23-25
Sign Interpreted Performance Weekends: May 25-27, July 6-8, Sept. 14, 15
Allen Elizabethan Theatre opening weekend: June 15-17
Green Show performances: June 15-Oct. 14
Daedalus Project Variety Show and Play Reading: Monday, Aug. 20
Allen Elizabethan Theatre closing weekend: Oct. 12-14
Angus Bowmer Theatre and Thomas Theatre closing weekend: Oct. 27-28

2018 SEASON AT A GLANCE (preview performances to closing dates)

Othello by William Shakespeare
February 16 – October 28
Opens February 23
Directed by Bill Rauch
Sense and Sensibility by Kate Hamill
February 17 – October 28
Opens February 24
Based on the novel by Jane Austen
Directed by Hana S. Sharif
West Coast Premiere
Destiny of Desire by Karen Zacarías
February 18 – July 12
Opens February 25
Directed by José Luis Valenzuela
Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!
April 18 - October 27
Opens April 22
Music by Richard Rodgers, book and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II
Based on the play Green Grow the Lilacs by Lynn Riggs
Original dances by Agnes de Mille
Directed by Bill Rauch
Snow in Midsummer by Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig
August 2 – October 27
Opens August 5
Directed by Justin Audibert
U.S. Premiere
Henry V by William Shakespeare
February 21 – October 27
Opens Feb. 24
Directed by Rosa Joshi
Manahatta by Mary Kathryn Nagle
March 28 – October 27
Opens April 1
Directed by Laurie Woolery
World Premiere
The Way the Mountain Moved by Idris Goodwin
July 10 – October 28
Opens July 14
Directed by May Adrales
World Premiere/American Revolutions
Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare
June 5 – October 12
Opens June 15
Directed by Dámaso Rodríguez
The Book of Will by Lauren Gunderson
June 6 – October 13
Opens June 16
Directed by Christopher Liam Moore
West Coast Premiere
Love’s Labor’s Lost by William Shakespeare
June 7 – October 14
Opens June 17
Directed by Amanda Dehnert

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.”

The Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s 2018 season runs from Feb. 16 through Oct. 28. For more information and to purchase tickets visit or call 1-800-219-8161.

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