I wanted to write in reaction to Mr. Rothschild’s criticism of OSF, but I concur in the observation that he offers no evidence or examples — so I don’t really know what I am arguing against. But the premise that the Oregon Shakespeare Festival does not do enough Shakespeare, and does not “trust” Shakespeare, is hard for me to accept.
Let me first say that the Shakespeare offerings of the current season are marvelous.
They absolutely sparkle, they couldn’t be better, and they in no way show a lack of respect for the Bard. As far as new plays go, OSF devotes enormous amounts of money, effort, and talent on nurturing and presenting new work, with new points of view, new kinds of artists, new themes and messages. Surely this is important to theater in general, and to the development and maintenance of audiences.
A great example is this season’s “Revenge Song,” which has been reviled by traditionalists and others (you don’t have to like it, after all) but young audiences love it enthusiastically and noisily. Isn’t that an achievement?
Shakespeare doesn’t really need OSF to maintain his popularity. Plenty of other theaters are doing that. But when OSF does present Shakespeare, which it does every season, it makes a serious artistic contribution to contemporary audiences and their understanding of the canon.