Oregon Shakespeare Festival

Ashland, OR
Oregon Shakespeare Festival logo

At the depths of the Great Depression, Founder Angus Bowmer conceived the outrageously impractical idea of producing two Shakespearean plays for the City of Ashland's 4th of July celebration. Oregon Shakespeare Festival was officially born the weekend of July 2, 1935. Since its improbable beginning, the company has grown into one of the largest theaters in the United States with attendance for 2012 at 392,430 people. Producing plays in rotating repertory is the company’s hallmark. With a 38-week season running from February through October and nine productions running concurrently, they are unusual in that they stage different plays twice daily in three separate theaters, with as many as five plays performed in a single day. In 2013, a resident company of 109 actors and 450 other artists and artisans will present more than 800 performances. Four plays by Shakespeare and seven plays by other classic and contemporary playwrights are performed on the outdoor Elizabethan Stage/Allen Pavilion, which seats 1,200; in the Angus Bowmer Theatre, which seats 601; and in the intimate and flexible Thomas Theatre (formerly New Theatre), which seats 270 to 360. They will present 237 performances of six Shakespeare plays: The Taming of the Shrew, King Lear, Cymbeline, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Tempest and The Comedy of Errors, plus related classroom curricula and actor workshops, post-show discussions, tours, Prologues and teacher training classes for underserved schools in Oregon and California.  

For Shakespeare in American Communities, Oregon Shakespeare Festival will present student matinees and evening performances of A Comedy of Errors, Cymbeline, King Lear, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Taming of the Shrew, and The Tempest, as part of their three core programs: The Bowmer Project for Student Playgoers, School Visit Partnerships, and Ashland Schools Project. The company will provide related educational activities, including teacher training, workshops, backstage tours, post-show discussions. They anticipate reaching 15 schools from Oregon and California.