Oregon Shakespeare Festival Artistic Director Bill Rauch has announced the Festival’s 2018 lineup, which includes a same-sex staging of the classic Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II musical Oklahoma!
Opening in April, the production will celebrate the musical's 75th anniversary and will feature direction by Rauch. OSF will offer a 21st-century interpretation featuring same-sex couples while retaining the original 1906 Oklahoma territory setting. Rauch said, “Audiences will see beloved OSF acting company members in inspired casting that celebrates the original pioneering spirit of this musical.” OSF tweeted March 20 that the characters of Laurey and Curly will be played by women, while Ado Annie and Will Parker will be played by men.
The season will also include two world premieres: Mary Kathryn Nagle's Manhatta, directed by Laurie Woolery, and Idris Goodwin's The Way the Mountain Moved, directed by May Adrales. Nagle's play concerns Jane Snake, a brilliant young Native Lenape woman with a Stanford MBA, who "reconnects with her ancestral homeland, known as Manahatta, when she moves from her home with the Delaware Nation in Anadarko, Oklahoma to New York for a job at a major investment bank just before the financial crisis of 2008. Jane’s struggle to reconcile her new life with the expectations and traditions of the family she left behind is powerfully interwoven with the heartbreaking history of how the Lenape were forced from their land."
Goodwin's The Way the Mountain Moved, which was commissioned by OSF’s American Revolutions: the United States History Cycle, spotlights "African-American Mormons, Department of War surveyors, pioneer women, and a Mexican-American war veteran [who] lose their way and find each other in the starkly beautiful, pre-railroad American West. They are unknowingly watched by Native Americans who argue whether to befriend, fight, or flee the newcomers."
Also on the schedule is the U.S. premiere of Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig's Snow in Midsummer. Originally seen at the Royal Shakespeare Company, this new work is a contemporary re-imagining of the 13th-century Chinese Yuan dynasty ghost story by Guan Hanqing called The Injustice to Dou E. Cowhig’s adaptation tells of "the spirit of the wrongly executed Dou Yi wreaking havoc on the modern industrial village of New Harmony, bringing catastrophic drought and midsummer snow until her innocence is proclaimed."
In a statement about the forthcoming season Rauch said, "Using humor, passion, poetry, heartbreak, music, and much more, the playwrights, composers, and other creative artists of this season give us stories that help us discover our hidden past, our present selves, and our hopes for the future. The 2018 season will take us further into the Native American canon that we have begun to explore in 2017, and we will also see a newly adapted classic of ancient Chinese theatre that comes to OSF after its premiere at the Royal Shakespeare Company. Women playwrights created five of our plays for next season, a historic high for our classical theater. We will also continue our thrilling exploration of Shakespeare’s Henriad quartet in the most intimate way possible in the Thomas Theatre.
“I’m so proud to share this 2018 season with our OSF audiences as well as our colleagues in the theatre field," Rauch continues. "It is such an exciting, vitally important time to be working in and experiencing the American theatre. There’s never been a greater diversity of voices and artists whose work is being seen on stages all over our country. While there is still so much work to be done in achieving true equity and representation, there is also much to take joy in, including this fabulous lineup of 2018 plays at OSF.”
The complete season at a glance follows:
ANGUS BOWMER THEATRE
Othello by William Shakespeare
Directed by Bill Rauch
Sense and Sensibility by Kate Hamill
Based on the novel by Jane Austen
Directed by Hana S. Sharif
Destiny of Desire by Karen Zacarías
Directed by José Luis Valenzuela
Rodgers & Hammerstein's Oklahoma!
Music by Richard Rodgers, book and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II
Based on the play Green Grow the Lilacs by Lynn Riggs
Original dances by Agnes de Mille
Directed by Bill Rauch
Snow in Midsummer by Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig
Henry V by William Shakespeare
Directed by Rosa Joshi
Manahatta by Mary Kathryn Nagle
Directed by Laurie Woolery
The Way the Mountain Moved by Idris Goodwin
Directed by May Adrales
World Premiere / American Revolutions
ALLEN ELIZABETHAN THEATRE
Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare
Directed by Dámaso Rodríguez
The Book of Will by Lauren Gunderson
Directed by Christopher Liam Moore
Love’s Labor’s Lost by William Shakespeare
Directed by Amanda Dehnert