Oregon Shakespeare Festival
In the depths of the Great Depression, Oregon Shakespeare Festival founder Angus Bowmer conceived the outrageously impractical idea of producing two Shakespeare plays for the City of Ashland's 4th of July celebration. The company was officially born the weekend of July 2, 1935, and since its improbable beginning during a global economic crisis has grown into one of the largest theaters in the United States. Attendance for 2011 was 390,347. Producing plays in rotating repertory is Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s hallmark. With a 38-week season running from February through October and nine productions running concurrently, it is unusual in that it stages different plays twice daily in three separate theaters, with as many as five plays performed in a single day. In 2012, a resident company of 96 actors and 450 other artists and artisans presents 790 performances. Four plays by Shakespeare and seven plays by other classic and contemporary playwrights are performed on the outdoor Elizabethan Stage, which seats 1,200 and is the oldest existing full-scale Elizabethan stage in the Western Hemisphere; in the Angus Bowmer Theatre, which seats 601; and at the intimate and flexible New Theatre, which seats 270-360.
As part of Shakespeare for a New Generation, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival will present 250 performances of four Shakespeare plays: As You Like It, Troilus and Cressida, King Lear and The Taming of the Shrew, plus related classroom curricula and 69 actor workshops, post-show discussions, tours, Prologues, and teacher training classes for 25 underserved Oregon and California schools.