ASHLAND, Ore. — After a 2020 season curtailed by the coronavirus pandemic, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival has adapted. The 2021 line-up, announced on Wednesday, reflects the sort of contingencies that come from successive years of wildfire smoke impacts and the ongoing impact of COVID-19 closures.
This year, OSF has a range of options on offer — including the traditional live performances, new pieces tailored for digital viewing, and on-demand recordings of some classic shows.
It is with great joy that we share our 2021 season—the first combined OSF season of digital & onstage offerings! https://t.co/AxGpPYW5ua#OSF2021 promises to be a year of spectacular artistry, featuring classics & new works presented both digitally & live on our stages. pic.twitter.com/roiMytyF5D— Oregon Shakespeare osfashland.org (@osfashland) February 17, 2021
Photo by Jenny Graham, courtesy OSF.
OSF's live season has been shifted to Fall and will extend into January, though the organization cautioned that these performances will be subject to public health guidelines and restrictions that may linger.
“2020 marked a paradigm shift in which OSF was catapulted into different ways of creating and supporting artists and art-making. In launching our digital platform, O!, nearly a year ago, the initial goal was to provide an exploratory space to intersect theatre with other forms of media,” said Nataki Garrett, OSF artistic director. “Now joined together with a compelling schedule of Fall and Winter onstage programming, O! has evolved into a marquee fourth stage, where new and innovative projects will play alongside some of OSF’s most beloved and well-known productions.”
OSF said that it will not announce specific dates or make ticket sales available for on-stage productions until there is more clarity on the impacts of COVID-19 into this Fall.
In the meantime, some of the past productions will be streaming on OSF's digital platform, O!, as early as March and extending well into Spring. The timeline for streaming new work on the platform is still developing.
“I could not be more excited and honored in partnering with Nataki to introduce this extraordinary combination of digital and onstage programming as the OSF 2021 season,” said David Schmitz, OSF executive director. “This unique first-ever multiformat season reflects OSF’s commitment to innovation, agility, and progress throughout the most extraordinary global circumstances we are all facing. And we are eager to get back to creating live performances when the health authority and governmental restrictions allow us to do so.”
Without further ado, here's the lineup that OSF has announced so far:
Past performances streaming on O!
Watch beloved productions from OSF’s archives in high-quality video. Three shows are on sale now, and more titles will be announced soon.
- By William Shakespeare
- Directed by Shana Cooper
- This muscular 2017 production features the signature physical storytelling of director Shana Cooper and choreographer Erika Chong Shuch. Shakespeare’s political thriller shows what happens to powerbrokers—honorable and not—when their motives and means lead to unexpected consequences they cannot control. (streaming March 1 through 27, 2021)
- By Mary Kathryn Nagle
- Directed by Laurie Woolery
- This 2018 world premiere by celebrated playwright, activist, and attorney Mary Kathryn Nagle illuminates the tragic consequences of commercial exploits, including the removal of the Lenape people and the attempted eradication of their culture that gave rise to the America we know today. This brilliant production, directed by Laurie Woolery, defiantly demonstrates that the Lenape are still here. (streaming March 29 through April 24, 2021)
SNOW IN MIDSUMMER
- By Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig
- Based on the classical Chinese drama The Injustice to Dou Yi That Moved Heaven and Earth by Guan Hanqing
- Directed by Justin Audibert
- This 2018 U.S. premiere production interweaves two stories—of a young woman who curses her city from beyond the grave, and of a wealthy businesswoman who must face the parched, locust-plagued city. This modern ghost story beautifully reimagines a classic myth and explores the legacy of trauma, the heart of injustice, and the lengths to which we go for love. (streaming May 3 through May 29)
OSF on-stage performances
(All onstage performances will be subject to health department guidelines and government restrictions on large gatherings.)
AUGUST WILSON’S HOW I LEARNED WHAT I LEARNED
- Directed by Tim Bond
- Featuring Steven Anthony Jones
- Dates TBD
- Originally performed by Wilson himself, How I Learned What I Learned is a heartfelt theatrical memoir charting one man’s journey of self-discovery through adversity, and what it means to be a Black artist in America.
West Coast Premiere UNSEEN
- By Mona Mansour
- Directed by Evren Odcikin
- Dates TBD
- Mia, an American conflict photographer, wakes up at the site of a massacre in Syria, not sure how she got there. With her Turkish girlfriend Derya and her Californian mother Jane, Mia must slowly and painfully piece together the details of her past to find out what happened. An amazing showcase for three actresses, unseen asks what it would mean for our souls—personally and as a nation—if we were to see the impact of our actions.
World Premiere CONFEDERATES
- By Dominique Morisseau
- Directed by Nataki Garrett
- American Revolutions Co-commission with Penumbra Theatre
- Dates TBD
- Sara, an enslaved woman turned Union spy, and Sandra, a brilliant professor in a modern-day private university, are facing similar struggles, though they live over a century apart. This play leaps through time to trace the identities of these two Black American women and explore the reins that racial and gender bias still hold on American systems today.
IT’S CHRISTMAS, CAROL!
- By Mark Bedard, Brent Hinkley, and John Tufts
- Dates TBD
- OSF’S first-ever Winter season production
- On Christmas Eve, three ghosts take miserly theatre producer Carol Scroogenhouse through time and space to reckon with how she’s abandoned artistry for hollow commerciality. Whisked to Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, her cousin Fred’s swinging party, and a pandemic Zombie future, will Carol find her soul with the help of these apparitions? From the twisted minds of your favorite OSF clowns, this showcase of the OSF Acting Company promises to be a silly and uplifting way to mark the holidays and celebrate OSF’s return to live performance.
THE GREEN SHOW
- The Green Show stage comes back to life with concerts, dance, and community performances, on a schedule to be announced in the coming weeks—and, as always, free and open to the public.
Streaming new work on O!
Led by our best artists, OSF’s brilliant artmaking continues to expand into the digital sphere. These virtual productions, concerts, films, readings, and a brand-new commissioning initiative continue to blossom on the O!
THE CYMBELINE PROJECT
- By William Shakespeare
- Conceived by Nataki Garrett Created and directed by Scarlett Kim
- This rarely performed exploration of power and jealousy comes to life in a multi-episode digital production by award-winning immersive artist Scarlett Kim. Released over two years with a collage-like visual approach, Kim’s vision mines Shakespeare’s text to explore the deceit and the violence of the play within today’s aesthetic and political realities.
YOU GO GIRL! (working title)
- A new short film directed by Shariffa Ali
- Written by Zoey Martinson O!
- Resident Artist Shariffa Ali (Ash Land, The Copper Children at OSF) brings her second short film to OSF's digital platform. In You Go Girl!, a Black stand-up comedian finds herself in the beautiful forests of Southern Oregon to distribute the ashes of her late mother. Can this city woman overcome her fear of stillness, and in the process take control of her own healing? You Go Girl! is created in partnership with producers Adrian Alea (ALIALEA Productions), Kamilah Long (The Black Whole, Inc.), and Courtney Williams, and is made possible, in part, by an “Outdoor Adventure Grant” from the Oregon Made Creative Foundation, Travel Oregon and Oregon Film.
- OSF has invited artists from a wide range of disciplines to create a short piece of digital art in response to themes drawn from the acronym of C.O.V.I.D.: Community, Offering, Vitality, Identity, Determination. These digital art commissions will start to bear fruit through 2021 on O! Artists commissioned for “19” include Christina Anderson; Scenic G/Gabriel Barrera; Kit Yan and Melissa Yi; Erika Chong Shuch, Rowena Richie, and Ryan Tacata.
THE VISUAL SOVEREIGNTY PROJECT
- Curated by Chava Florendo
- Recognizing that Indigenous people have a story to tell, “for us, by us, now us,” this new digital series asks Indigenous artists to visually express their sovereignty—tribal and personal. The Visual Sovereignty Project will capture a small cross-section of the diversity of Indigenous people in the way they choose to share their gifts with the world.