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OSF Living Ideas Series Kicks Off With "Sweat" Dialogues

{Pictures used in story courtesy of the Southern Oregon Historical Society} ASHLAND, Ore. -- People are coming together Wednesday night to open up the conversation about the timber industry in southern

Posted: Oct. 30, 2017 6:05 AM
Updated: Oct. 30, 2017 6:05 AM

{Pictures used in story courtesy of the Southern Oregon Historical Society}

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ASHLAND, Ore. -- People are coming together Wednesday night to open up the conversation about the timber industry in southern Oregon. The discussion is inspired by the world premiere of the show "Sweat" being performed at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

"Back in the 50s and 60s Ashland was a really a big timber town,” said David Schott, former employee at McGrew Brothers Sawmill Inc. in Ashland. Schott is now the Executive Vice President of the Southern Oregon Timber Industries Alliance. He remembers Ashland back to a time that looks a lot different from where it is now. He worked at just one of the mills in town, supporting a booming timber industry. However, with changes in technology and computerization, changes were also felt among the workforce.

“It became a matter of did you want to spend the money and do it or just take whatever you had and run. That took place to a fairly large degree,” said Schott.

It's these topics that are the central focus of the play “Sweat” at OSF.

Pulitzer prize-winning playwright Lynn Nottage shares a look inside a Pennsylvania town at the turn of the millennium, showing the struggle of American workers during a time of industrial decline. The play follows the lives of two generations of employees working at a plant going through layoffs and an ultimate shutdown as a result of displacement and outsourcing.

"Sweat" is opening in southern Oregon and is already planning to move on to other cities. The show is making its mark here by sharing ideas about how to make Oregon more sustainable and successful in the long run.

"The timber is still out there. We've got a billion…4 billion 5 billion growing every year and we're squandering it. There is a reason we're having these fires,” said Schott.

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