Following Jerry Turner's retirement as Artistic Director in 1991 The Oregon Shakespeare Festival seemed to be searching for its new identity through the mid '90's. They mounted many modernish productions that seemed to be different only for the sake of being different. Most worked fairly well, but there was that sense of searching, with no real direction. In the last two or three years that focus has gotten much sharper. The updated productions now have a theme that simplifies the action and gives it a modern sensibility that makes it much easier to follow, even for people, like my wife, who doesn't understand Shakespeare. No more do they simply put trenchcoats or World War I era uniforms on the players and have at it. "Coriolanus" of 1996, "Two Gentlemen of Verona" of 1997, and "Henry IV, Part 1," Measure for Measure," and "A Midsummer Night's Dream" this year have brought Shakespeare to the 1990's in culture as well as dress, while remaining faithful to the dialogue of the Great Master.
As Shakespeare's plays were produced for contemporary audiences in Elizabethan England, The Oregon Shakespeare Festival under Libby Appel seems to have found a group of people who work together to stage Shakespeare for the Information Age, while being faithful to the work. They use the symbols of the culture around us, like pop music, Mel's Diner, modern warfare and it's trappings. The scenes are familiar and the play and action become much easier to understand. It's an exciting new era taking shape in Ashland.
Oregon Shakespeare Festival 98
Henry IV Pt.1
| Comedy of Errors
| Measure for Measure
| Touch of the Poet
| Sailing to Byzantium
Midsummer Night's Dream | School for Scandal | Uncle Vanya | OSF Commentary