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Insider’s Guide to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival

by Eileen Garvin

The 2019 OSF Season kicks off on March 1 and will delight theater goers through the last weekend in October. Each year the festival features 11 plays, including classic Shakespeare, revivals of popular musicals and world-premiers from contemporary playwrights. Plays unfold in multiple theaters, and in summer that includes the dramatic outdoor Allen Elizabethan Theatre.

A Midsummer Night's Dream, by William Shakespeare, directed by Christopher Liam Moore
OSF 6/5/13
LD: David Weiner
SD: Michael Ganio
CD:Linda Cho
Photograph © T Charles Erickson _K9A2829 A Midsummer Night’s Dream, by William Shakespeare, directed by Christopher Liam Moore OSF 6/5/13 LD: David Weiner SD: Michael Ganio CD:Linda Cho Photograph © T Charles Erickson

Offstage, Ashland has much to offer — fine cuisine, craft beer, a walkable shopping scene and more. Come for the festival and stay for the rest. Here’s what you need to know to plan to your trip to this year’s Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

OSF Eizabethan Theatre sign OSF Eizabethan Theatre sign OSF Green Show Stage OSF Green Show Stage

Center stage: For loyal Shakespeare fans, the 2019 season will not disappoint. The lineup includes such classics as the tragedy of Macbeth and two romantic comedies featuring brave heroines — As You Like It and All’s Well That Ends Well. Innovating on tradition, one of the Bard’s most popular comedies finds new translation in a bi-lingual Spanish-English production called La Comedia of Errors. This season OSF also revives the musical Hairspray and brings an adaptation of Alice in Wonderland to the stage along with the Tony-award winning play Indecent. OSF has pre-sale tickets for members as well as special rates for school and adult groups.

Backstage: In addition to the plays themselves, OSF stages a rich series of programs to help audiences deepen their understanding of individual productions, theatrical traditions and Shakespeare. At Post Matinee Discussions, OSF staff facilitate conversations between the audience and company members. Festival Noons bring actors, playwrights and visiting scholars together for discussions about the season’s plays. The Living Ideas: Art and Community Dialogue Series studies the intersection of art and community through interactive discussions and workshops. Preface sessions explore the background of individual plays so people can learn about them before attending. OSF also offers in-depth classes throughout out the season, including a comprehensive session on Shakespeare and weekend classes on specific productions. And all summer long the Green Show delights patrons daily with an eclectic program of free music and entertainment.

Dining scene: A taste for world-class theater can inspire a healthy appetite for good food and drink, and Ashland delivers with many options in the charming, walkable downtown. Oregon’s culinary tradition is well represented with offerings like modern Mexican from Plancha, farm-to-table fare at Amuse Restaurant, Hearsay’s craft cocktails and hearty sandwiches from Sammich. Craft beer lovers find award-winning pours at Caldera Brewing Company, Standing Stone Brewing Company and others along the Southern Oregon Ale Trail. Many Southern Oregon’s wineries and tasting rooms are located within an easy drive, allowing visitors to explore of one of the state’s oldest wine regions.

Calle Gunajuato along Ashland Creek, Ashland Oregon Calle Gunajuato along Ashland Creek, Ashland Oregon

Beyond the theater: Located in Oregon’s sunny south, Ashland’s wide range of non-theater activities entertains visitors throughout the season. Browse boutiques and bookstores or linger over a cup of coffee at a friendly cafe. Take a stroll through 100-acre Lithia Park, which was named one of the Great Places in American in 2014, or walk the dog at petite Bluebird Park. Get your heart pumping on local mountain biking trails, or lose yourself on the hiking trails at the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument.

Lithia Park and Ashland Creek in Ashland, Oregon Lithia Park and Ashland Creek in Ashland, Oregon

Where to stay: Ashland’s lodging includes everything from upscale hotels to rustic campgrounds. The elegant Ashland Springs Hotel graces the downtown skyline and the historic Peerless Hotel is tucked away in the Railroad District. Centrally located Ashland Hostel has affordable private rooms, family rooms and dorms in a historic house that’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Just 2.5 miles north of town, Jackson Wellsprings offers tent camping, teepee rental, car camping and RV hookups on its 30-acre campus, which includes an 80,000-gallon swimming pool and spa amenities. Five miles south of downtown, Emigrant Lake County Park has year-round RV camping and seasonal tent camping.

Ashland Springs Hotel Ashland Springs Hotel


Eileen Garvin

Eileen Garvin lives and writes in Hood River. When she’s not hunched over her keyboard or digging in the garden, you can find her mountain biking, kiteboarding, hiking, skiing or camping somewhere in Oregon.