Monday, April 22, 2013

S is for...Shakespeare Festival

Today we move closer to the end of our A-Z Blogging Challenge and encounter the letter S.  There are a lot of things in Oregon that could qualify for this letter, but I'm going with something that spreads a little culture to everyone...
 Shakespeare Festival

The Oregon Shakespeare Festival is renowned and awesome.  The festival takes place in Ashland, Oregon in the southern part of the state.   Originally conceived in 1893 as part of the Chautauqua adult education movement, the theater could accommodate up to 1500 spectators in an outdoor arena.  Soon, a domed stage was built on the site.  When the stage fell into disrepair, the Chautauqua movement faded away in Ashland.  However, in 1935 a drama professor, Angus Bowmer, at the Southern Oregon Normal School (today's Southern Oregon University) wished to use the location to present Shakespearean plays.  He was given limited funds ($400) to put on two plays as part of the city's Independence Day celebrations and required to add a boxing match to supplement the certain deficit of funds.  Bowmer agreed and production moved forward billed, optimistically, as "The First Annual Oregon Shakespearean Festival".  The first plays were Twelfth Night and The Merchant of Venice; Bowmer directed and played the lead in both plays.  The event was a huge success (the boxing matches weren't necessary, but still occurred) and the event has continued every year since that day, aside from 1941-1945 when Bowmer served in World War Two.
Today, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival occupies a four acre plot adjacent to Lithia Park and is comprised of three theaters and multiple support buildings.  Since its founding, the Festival has gone on to include other productions, but at least five Shakespeare plays are required to be performed every season; it has staged the complete canon of Shakespeare three times since 1935 (the first completion was in 1958, followed by 1978 and 1997).  Since 2000, the company has begun including one new play every season as well.  Running from February to early November, the company puts on between 700 and 800 productions of eleven plays in the three main theaters.  The company consists of about 325 full-time personnel, including over 100 actors, 175 part-time personnel, and nearly 700 volunteers.  Between 375,000 and 400,000 people attend the festival every year.

For this years lineup, go here :)

Happy Monday, fellow A-Zers!
 

2 comments:

  1. I've never seen a Shakespeare play live. Must do that one day.

    Been to Ashland once. Great town.

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    Replies
    1. Yes, you must! I've seen one, but never at the Shakespeare Festival...haha. Ashland is a wonderful town.

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