Oct 19, 2006
Costumes, props, sets, Shakespeare. What goes into putting together the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland? We tell you some of what we learned on the backstage tour at the Festival (a tour conducted by veteran Festival actor Rex Young), including an inside glimpse of the Elizabethan Stage (America's first Elizabethan theatre), the Angus Bowmer Theatre (named after the Festival's founder) and the New Theatre.
Begun in 1935, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival runs 11 shows in three theatres from February through October every year. This year 82 actors protrayed 195 characters in close to 800 shows. Each actor plays 2 to 3 roles and understudies one to two other parts. And for every actor that you see on stage there are 4 people working backstage designing and building the costumes, sets, lights, and making the magic happen.
Science Works Museum in Ashland offers hands-on educational (and fun!) exhibits for children, including the paper airplane launcher for flying airplanes they have been taught to make. A special exhibit of toys and games is coming soon, as is a Halloween haunted house which Zephyr helped design - having recently contributed his talents to a much larger attraction called Twilight's Terror in Tumwater, Washington.
William Shakespeare's classic tragedy about star-crossed lovers from dueling clans has roots in the Greek legend "Pyramus and Thisbe" (which he also invoked in "A Midsummer Night's Dream") and has inspired books, plays, movies and tv shows throughout the ages. Variations of this tale exist in many other cultures as well; a hit song on the radio in the Sixties called "Running Bear and Little White Dove" related a similar story involving Native Americans from warring tribes. "Romeo and Juliet" illustrates Shakespeare's extraordinary ability to transform a borrowed plot into something wholly original, and uniquely his own.
And coming up for 2007 our own national tour of "Shakespeare Shazam", an introduction to the Bard's work. We act out passages from such Shakespearean masterpieces as "Romeo and Juliet", "Macbeth", and "Hamlet", in both the original version and modern English.
Dennis, Kimberly and Zephyr