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Oregon Shakespeare Festival Premiers Three New Plays

Fingersmith
Fingersmith

Just a few hours south on I-5 exists a dulcet community that my family has re-named “The Magical Twinkly Fairyland.” For the uninitiated, the village I’m referring to is Ashland, where good restaurants abound, creeks babble, deer wander and, from February through November, some of the finest theater glimmers across the stages of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. 

Celebrating its 80th year, OSF’s 2015 season features three world premieres: 

Set in 19th-century England, Fingersmith — written by Alexa Junge and directed by OSF artistic director Bill Rauch — is based on the 2002 novel of the same name by Sarah Waters. This gritty mystery sends orphaned pickpocket Sue Trinder on an odyssey of awakening and she moves from the streets, to the asylum, to the upper echelons of London society. The play runs Feb. 21 through July 9 in the Angus Bowmer Theatre. 

At the Allen Elizabethan Theatre, playwright Jeff Whitty (of Avenue Q fame) mixes things up with Head Over Heels, an Elizabethan love story turned on its head with music by the — wait for it — ’80s band The Go-Go’s! Inspired by Sir Philip Sidney’s 16th-century pastoral romance Arcadia, this zany musical, directed by Sylvanus Iskandar, runs June 3 through Oct. 10. 

Changing gears again, director Kate Whoriskey tackles America’s industrial decline in Sweat by playwright Lynn Nottage. Peering inside a close-knit group of friends, the play examines the community splintering brought on by a factory closure, as once-intimate bonds are strained by stress and crime. The play runs July 29 through Oct. 31 in the Bowmer. 

This season also features one U.S. premiere, Secret Love in Peach Blossom Land, written and directed by Stan Lai. A unique collision of two plays in one, the piece combines a bawdy retelling of a classic Chinese fable and a moving account of familial separation in the wake of the 1949 Chinese revolution. Under the ruse that the theater meant to present the plays has somehow made a mistake, double-booking their performances, playwright Lai explores what might happen when they are forced to share the stage. Pirandello himself would be pleased to see the result, April 15 through Oct. 31. 

The season also includes Guys and Dolls, Pericles, Long Day’s Journey into Night, Antony and Cleopatra, The Count of Monte Cristo, Much Ado About Nothing and The Happiest Song Plays Last

Whether you turn up when the flag is raised for comedy, tragedy or even history, OSF and Ashland won’t disappoint.  

Find a complete listing of plays as well as information about purchasing tickets by visiting osfashland.org.