Oregon Shakespeare Festival Delays Summer Season; Lays Off 80% of Staff

Regional News   Oregon Shakespeare Festival Delays Summer Season; Lays Off 80% of Staff
The 85th season, under the leadership of Nataki Garrett, will now kick off after Labor Day with a little over half of its original programming.
Oregon Shakespeare Festival
Oregon Shakespeare Festival

The 2020 Oregon Shakespeare Festival will further delay its 85th season until September 8 due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. The regional organization—which has served as a launching pad for Paula Vogel’s Indecent and Lynn Nottage’s Pulitzer Prize–winning Sweat—had originally announced it was canceling events through March 12 as the COVID-19 outbreak made its way across the country.

Additionally, OSF has announced that it has been forced to lay off approximately 80 percent of its full-time staff, artists, and seasonal workers in order to mitigate additional losses. All laid-off company members with current OSF health benefits will have them fully paid for two additional months, with many expected to return to OSF when programming resumes.

Nataki Garrett
Nataki Garrett Kim Budd

Beginning September 8 and running through November 1, OSF will present a six-production schedule: Bring Down the House, Parts I and II; The Copper Children; A Midsummer Night’s Dream; and Peter and the Starcatcher, with The Tempest opening in the Festival’s outdoor Allen Elizabethan Theatre.

Nearly one half of the season’s original programming, Confederates, Bernhardt/Hamlet, black odyssey, Everything That Never Happened, and Poor Yella Rednecks, are canceled. In addition to these plays, the Green Show is canceled for 2020.

“It is with great sadness that we are making these announcements today. The resulting delay in the reopening of our 2020 season has very real financial consequences not only for this organization and our family of staff, artists, and volunteers, but for the city of Ashland, its restaurants, hotels, retail, and other businesses, and the entire Rogue Valley region,” said Nataki Garrett, OSF’s artistic director. “In unprecedented circumstances like this, when all communities are feeling the impact of a global pandemic, it is important to be grounded in our compassion for one another. I know that our community will see OSF through and help us return as soon as possible to the celebration of art we’re known for.”

While preparing to reopen in the Fall, OSF will be mounting a $5 million Emergency Funding Campaign to address immediate cash-flow relief due to lost revenue, and to grow digital infrastructure and content.

Garrett assumed leadership of the organization in August 2019. Read about her groundbreaking vision for OSF here.

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