If you’re like most teens, then you probably don’t know much (if anything) about the small, picturesque town of Ashland, Oregon. I myself hadn’t even heard of it until a few years ago, when I learned about the town’s number one attraction: the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. “What’s that?” you might ask. In a nutshell, OSF is a permanent theatre festival in downtown Ashland that puts on eleven plays annually to an audience of almost 400,000 people. Want some more numbers? Then check these out:
- OSF is the #1 largest regional theatre in North America.
- This year is the festival’s 75th anniversary.
- OSF has 3 different theatres: the outdoor Elizabethan Theatre, the traditional Angus Bowmer Theatre, and the modern New Theatre.
- The festival runs for 8 ½ months every year, from February through October.
- 80% of OSF’s attendees travel at least 125 miles to the festival.
- The festival operates on a budget of over $26 million annually.
- OSF employs around 550 theatre professionals, including over 100 actors.
- The festival puts on about 780 performances every year.
Impressive, right? But don’t think that OSF only does Shakespeare – in fact, Shakespearean plays only account for about 4 of the 11 productions every year. As an example, the 2010 season includes Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, Hamlet, Henry IV Part One, and The Merchant of Venice, plus Jane Austen’s classic Pride and Prejudice, an adaptation of Akira Kurosawa’s film Throne of Blood, the musical She Loves Me, Pulitzer-winning Ruined (which is just finishing its run at our own Intiman Theatre), and more. And if the plays aren’t enough for you, OSF also hosts various musicians and performers at its free outdoor Green Show almost every night.
For any theatre lover, OSF is truly a dream. Many fans visit the festival year after year, and some even see the plays more than once. I myself have visited the festival twice, and both times I found the productions to be top-notch and highly entertaining. Yet many still do not know about this jewel of a festival that is practically located in our own backyard! It’s true that Ashland is about a 7-8 hour drive from Seattle, but believe me, OSF is well worth it. If you appreciate great theatre in a beautiful, quaint setting, be sure to check out the Oregon Shakespeare Festival – you won’t be disappointed.
–Post by Callan, teen blogger