ASHLAND, ORE.: Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF) has announced its 2019 season, with 11 productions, including a new translation of Comedy of Errors. This will also be longtime artistic director Bill Rauch’s final season at the theatre.
“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,” said Rauch in a statement. “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.”
One of the plays its presenting is the first production in its controversial Play on! Initiative, for which it commissioned playwrights to translate Shakespeare into modern vernacular. The inaugural production will be Shakespeare’s Comedy of Errors, adapted by Luis Alfaro into a bilingual text with both English and Spanish. The play will be presented at community venues throughout the region in the summer, as well as on the OSF campus throughout 2019. Rauch will direct.
The OSF campus contains three venues, and each is programmed with a series of productions rotating repertory. The season at the 601-seat Angus Browmer Theatre will start with Shakespeare’s As You Like It (March 1-Oct. 27). Rosa Joshi will direct.
Next up will be Hairspray (March 2-Oct. 27), with music and lyrics by Marc Shaiman and lyrics by Scott Wittman. The musical, based on the film written by John Waters, follows a teenager in 1960s Baltimore who dreams of dancing on TV and ending racial segregation. Christopher Liam Moore will direct.
Following will be the world premiere of Octavio Solis’s Mother Road (March 3-Oct. 26), inspired by John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, about a hardworking man with no blood kin to pass the family farm to, until he discovers an unexpected relation. Rauch will direct.
The Bowmer season will also include Paula Vogel’s Indecent (March 3-Oct. 26), a play with music about the controversial staging of Sholem Asch’s God of Vengeance. Shana Cooper will direct.
The programming at the 360-seat Thomas Theatre will begin with Lauren Yee’s Cambodian Rock Band (March 6-Oct. 27), with songs by Dengue Fever, about the legacy of the Khmer Rouge genocide through the music-filled story of a Cambodian American woman and her father, who return to the country he fled 30 years later. Chay Yew will direct.
Then OSF will premiere Between Two Knees (April 14-Oct. 27), by the sketch comedy group 1491s, as part of the American Revolutions project, of plays about American history. Between Two Knees, which was co-commissioned with New Native Theatre, is an intergenerational story about Native American history, starting from the massacre at Wounded Knee. Eric Ting will direct.
The third show at the Thomas will be Christina Anderson’s How to Catch Creation (July 23-Oct. 26), an exploration of the universal act of creation through the story of a black, queer feminist writer in the 1960s. Nataki Garrett will direct.
OSF’s season at the 1190-seat Allen Elizabethan Theatre will begin with Shakespeare’s tragedy Macbeth (May 28-Oct. 11), directed by José Luis Valenzuela.
Next will be Alice in Wonderland (May 29-Oct. 12), adapted by Eva Le Gallienne and Florida Friebus from Lewis Carroll, a present day retelling of the classic tale about Alice’s journeydown the rabbit hole. Sara Bruner will direct the production.
The final show to open at the Allen will be Shakespeare’s comedy All’s Well That Ends Well (May 30-Oct. 13), directed by Tracy Young.
Oregon Shakespeare Festival, founded in 1935, produces contemporary plays and musicals as well as Shakespeare and other classic works.