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Oregon Shakespeare relieved to be done

November 7, 2011



Closure of Angus Bowmer Theatre for six weeks flattens season momentum 

ASHLAND, ORE.—The Oregon Shakespeare Festival closed its 76th season with a collective sigh of relief last night.

On the heels of a record-breaking 2010 75th anniversary season, OSF was confident that the 2011 season might be as successful. By March, the 47 performances of To Kill a Mockingbird were almost sold out, and the season looked to be heading into record territory. By June 12 attendance to date was at 93% of capacity. Then on Saturday, June 18, the 70 feet long main supporting beam in the Angus Bowmer Theatre cracked from end to end, and the theatre was closed for 62 performances.

Immediately after the closure, OSF offered 31 free restaged versions of the productions in alternate venues in Ashland. Seeking a more stable, temporary home for the Bowmer shows, OSF worked with the community and various companies to erect a large tent in Lithia Park adjacent to the Festival grounds. Named Bowmer in the Park, the tent opened on July 7 and closed Sunday, July 31.The Bowmer Theatre re-opened on August 2. The shut down resulted in more than $1,000,000 in lost revenue from ticket returns, as well as the additional costs of $330,000 for repair of the cracked beam and $800,000 for the tent and alternate venues.


To present more theatre-going opportunities for patrons and raise additional revenues, OSF added four performances of Julius Caesar in the New Theatre, five performances of The Pirates of Penzance on the Elizabethan Stage (all on Monday evenings), and toured six more performances of To Kill a Mockingbirdto the Craterian Ginger Rogers Theater in Medford, following its OSF closing date of July 3.


After presenting 839 performances (including added and re-staged performances) in 2011, OSF had an attendance of 391,542 (86% of capacity) and revenues of $17,007,406. The numbers dim in comparison to the 2010’s attendance of 414,783 tickets (94% of capacity), and revenues of $18,473,563, but given the magnitude of the crisis, the Festival leadership and Board of Directors remain positive about final numbers. In addition, helping to offset the loss of box office revenue, OSF members and business, foundation and government donors contributed generously in 2011, helping to achieve over 100% of fundraising goals in almost every category.


Executive Director Paul Nicholson commented, “The Bowmer beam catastrophe was undoubtedly the biggest crisis the Festival has ever faced.  While it obviously impacted attendance in a significant way, it also revealed the resiliency of the company, the widespread support of the community and the constant loyalty of our audience. We did lose momentum and our audience numbers reflect that. But the Festival remains strong and proud of what we collectively accomplished this season. ”


Artistic Director Bill Rauch said, “In the past season, we were able to offer gorgeously realized full productions AND, with the closure of the Bowmer, some of those same stories distilled to their essence: actors, words and audience. I have never been so proud to be part of OSF as in 2011. We have a company, community and audience united in their passion for the work of this organization.”


As noted, plays staged in the Angus Bowmer Theatre included the wildly popular To Kill a Mockingbird (closed at 100% of capacity), Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure, directed by Rauch with a bold, fresh vision (81%), an inventive new adaptation of Moliere’s The Imaginary Invalid(95%), Tracy Letts’ powerful ensemble piece, August: Osage County (83%), and Carlyle Brown’s historical look at a Black theatre company in 1821, The African Company Presents Richard III (76%).


In the New Theatre, OSF staged Shakespeare’s timely and politically relevant Julius Caesar (94%) and The Language Archive, Julia Cho’s new play about love and estrangement (92%). The final play to open in the New Theatre was Ghost Light (91%), a world premiere co-production with Berkeley Repertory Theatre and part of OSF’s American Revolutions series. Written by Tony Taccone and directed by Jonathan Moscone, the play looks at the tragedy of Mayor George Moscone’s assassination and its life-long effects on his son. The play and cast tour the production to Berkeley Repertory Theatre for a run from January 6 to February 19, 2012.


Outdoors on the Elizabethan Stage, The Pirates of Penzance was clearly the hit of the season, closing at 101% of capacity. The two Shakespeare plays, Henry IV, Part Two and Love’s Labor’s Lostclosed at 54% and 83%, respectively.


WillFul, OSF’s first site-specific theatre experience that played from August 7 through October 9, closed at 95% of capacity.


OSF is pleased to note that the 2011 Daedalus Project, held August 22, raised $90,000 for HIV and AIDS organizations. The following organizations received funding: OnTrack, Inc. – Alan F. Collins AIDS Project ($55,000), HIV Alliance (Josephine, Douglas, Coos and Curry Counties) ($15,000); Siskiyou County HIV/AIDS Foundation (SCHAF) ($10,000); Africare ($4,000); G.R.A.C.E. USA ($6,000). And $5,000 was transferred to OSF’s Rex Rabold Fund.


In addition to the tour of Ghost Light to Berkeley Rep at the close of the season, two of OSF’s 2009 productions will be remounted and tour to other regional stages. Bill Cain’s award-winningEquivocation, directed by Bill Rauch, will tour to Arena Stage in Washington D.C., running from November 18, 2011 to January 1, 2012. American Night, written by Richard Montoya and Culture Clash, and directed by Jo Bonney, will tour to La Jolla Theatre and run January 27 to February 26, 2012 then move to the Center Theatre Group’s Kirk Douglas Theatre in Los Angeles and play from March 9 to April 1.


The 2011 OSF season was dedicated to William Patton, OSF’s executive director from 1953-1995, who died January 13, shortly after 2011 rehearsals had begun.


The development of new work continues to gather momentum and earn national recognition. Since the 2008 launch of American Revolutions: the United States History Cycle, 16 commissions have been announced. Commissions and productions are supported by major grants from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Paul G. Allen Family Foundation and The Mimi and Harold Steinberg Charitable Trust. Four American musical commissions are underway with support from the Edgerton Foundation of Los Angeles, and Robert Schenkkan’s  All the Way, which will premiere at OSF in July 2012, was the recipient of the 2011 Edgerton Foundation New American Plays Award.


OSF continues work in the Black Swan Lab, which provides approximately 350 hours of play development time each season. The Lab was launched in 2009 and provides an opportunity to support commissioned projects as well as to serve as an incubator for new ideas. Key to its operation is its integration with current programming and scheduling.


“Congratulations to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival for delivering a successful season,” said Malia Wasson, president of U.S. Bank in Oregon, and OSF’s 2011 season sponsor. “U.S. Bank has supported OSF since 1979, and we’ve long believed in OSF’s vision and are proud to have partnered as they collaborated with the community to ensure a solid season during challenging times.”


The 2012 season, also sponsored by U.S. Bank, will open on Friday night, February 24 in the Angus Bowmer Theatre with Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Saturday OSF will open The White Snake, a world premiere adapted and directed by Mary Zimmerman, and that evening Kaufman and Ryskind’s Animal Crackers. Opening Sunday in the New Theatre is a new adaptation by Libby Appel of Chekhov’s Seagull. In March Shakespeare’s Troilus and Cressida opens in the New Theatre and in April the highly theatrical new work, Medea/Macbeth/Cinderella adapted and directed by Bill Rauch and Tracy Young will open on the Bowmer stage.


The outdoor Elizabethan Stage will open June 15-17 with Shakespeare’s Henry V and As You Like It, and a world premiere adaptation by Alison Carey, The Very Merry Wives of Windsor, Iowa, based on the Shakespeare play.


Joining the repertory in July in the New Theatre is the world premiere commission by Universes,Party People, a mix of theatre, poetry, jazz, blues, hip-hop and salsa that digs into the legacy of the Black Panthers and Young Lords. Opening in the Bowmer later in July is Robert Schenkkan’s world premiere All the Way, a vivid dramatization of LBJ’s first year in office. Both productions are part ofAmerican Revolutions.


Previews begin on February 17 and the season runs through November 4.


2012 Presale for membership begins November 11, and general ticket sales for the 2012 season begin November 28. Visit the web site to learn about membership presale.


The Box Office will be closed November 7 and reopens November 11 for premier presale. For information, call (800) 219-8161 or (541) 482-4331, or visit

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