Ashland 2017: Off the Rails

The advance descriptions of Off the Rails stress three points: the author is Native American, the script loosely adapts Shakespeare’s often-criticized “problem” play, Measure for Measure, and the story’s major concern involves boarding schools that Native American children were forced to attend in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. One of these is inaccurate, or at …

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Ashland 2016: The Winter’s Tale

Winter’s Tale has always been one of my favorite Shakespeare plays.  I look at its peculiar structure as a challenge rather than an obstacle, and when it’s well-executed, the finale involving Hermione’s “statue” strikes me as one of the most dramatically satisfying scenes in all Shakespeare.  And of course there’s that famous stage direction…. I’ve …

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Ashland 2016: Twelfth Night

Ninety-nine percent of this year’s production of Twelfth Night at OSF is sheer genius.  The set design for its nominal 1930s Hollywood transposition is clever in all the right ways, nearly all the performances are exceptional, and the comic swordfight between Sir Andrew and Viola-as-Cesario gets the single funniest execution I’ve seen in the 40+ …

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Ashland 2015: Shakespeare, Sweat, and Singing

Five plays in three days — that’s the schedule for my annual visit to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, hosted by the Whitman College alumni office (which books the rooms and the tickets) and curated by our designated Whitman English professor (who picks the plays).  This latter job is a perennial challenge, as there are usually …

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Ashland 2014: 3 Bards, a President and a Tesseract

Back from our annual pilgrimage to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival — as usual, well-stuffed with (mostly) very good theater. First up this year was Richard III, a solid traditional production on the Elizabethan outdoor stage, with the bonus that Richard was/is played by fellow Whitman College graduate Dan Donohue. Dan graciously appeared after the performance …

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