ashland.news
June 14, 2024

OSF announces 2025 season: Variety colors “Homecoming” 90th season

New OSF Artistic Director Tim Bond in the Allen Elizabethan Theatre. Bob Palermini photo
May 21, 2024

Theater to bring back rotating repertory to Oregon’s premiere Shakespearian stage

By Holly Dillemuth, Ashland.news

Nine plays will take center stage during the 90th anniversary season of Oregon Shakespeare Festival in 2025. Artistic Director Tim Bond reveled in the excitement about the lineup following the Tuesday afternoon announcement, sharing his hope that the season will be a rebirth for the nonprofit theater following a tumultuous few years.

Bond, who took the reins as artistic director at OSF in fall 2023, told Ashland.news at the time he was already starting to brainstorm what would be included in the play schedule for 2025, as plans for the announcement of the 2024 season were still in the works. 

Bond noted in an interview with Ashland.news on Tuesday that he wanted a season with enough variety to provide “something for everybody,” and that’s exactly what play-goers can expect next season.

“That’s what I was dreaming about,” Bond told Ashland.news, “and dreaming of artists that I wanted to work with and who I wanted to welcome back as directors, as playwrights, as actors, into the company. 

“My dream is coming true,” he added, noting the 2025 season as intentionally “family friendly.”

“Next season is built very much to welcome folks from all ages and all backgrounds.”

The 90th anniversary season will showcase the following shows:

  • “Julius Caesar,” by William Shakespeare. Directed by Rosa Joshi; Produced in association with upstart crow collective. March 7 – Oct. 26, 2025, Angus Bowmer Theatre
  • “The Importance of Being Earnest,” by Oscar Wilde. Directed by Desdemona Chiang. March 8 – Oct. 25, 2025, Angus Bowmer Theatre
  • “Jitney,” by August Wilson. Directed by Tim Bond. March 9 – July 20, 2025, Angus Bowmer Theatre
  • “Shane,” (a West Coast premiere) by Karen Zacarías; Adapted from the novel by Jack Schaefer. Directed by Blake Robison. July 31 – Oct. 25, 2025, Angus Bowmer Theatre
  • “Fat Ham,” by James Ijames. Directed by Elizabeth Carter. March 11 – June 27, 2025, Thomas Theatre
  • “As You Like It,” by William Shakespeare. Directed by Lisa Peterson. April 16 – Oct. 25, 2025, Thomas Theatre
  • “Quixote Nuevo,” By Octavio Solis. Directed by Lisa Portes. July 9 – Oct. 24, 2025, Thomas Theatre
  • “The Merry Wives of Windsor,” By William Shakespeare. Directed by Terri McMahon. May 30 – Oct. 12, 2025, Allen Elizabethan Theatre
  • “Into the Woods,” Music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, book by James Lapine. Originally directed on Broadway by James Lapine. Orchestrations by Jonathan Tunick. Directed by Amanda Dehnert. May 31 – Oct. 11, 2025, Allen Elizabethan Theatre

Bond will make his directorial debut as artistic director directing “Jitney,” what he believes is August Wilson’s most hopeful play. He said the addition of an August Wilson play in 2025 represents OSF’s renewed commitment to completing the last three plays of Wilson’s 10-play Century Cycle.

The 2025 productions overall will return OSF to a much more robust lineup than in previous years, although not quite to a full 11-play showcase.

“We feel like the trend is moving us in a direction that it’s time for us to dig deeper,” Bond said.

“We hope that our donors will get inspired by our attempt to get back closer to what we used to be in total size and scope that they will continue to be generous in their support of us.”

When he came back to OSF last fall, Bond told Ashland.news he would like to implement Shakespeare plays into 30% of the lineup. 

“We’ve hit that on the nose,” he said, with three of the nine productions Shakespeare.

“We really needed to get back to the rotating repertory model where we had enough plays with enough variety … and the opportunity to see actors in multiple productions, which is part of the secret sauce that makes OSF experience so special for people.”

As for the increase in overall shows, it was necessary, according to Bond, to expand the lineup despite any risks.

“It’s a big lift for us,” Bond said, “but it’s an important one.

“I believe in the axiom, ‘If you build it, they will come’,” he added.

“We’re taking the leap forward to create that opportunity for our audiences and our artists again.”

For anyone who has been waiting for rotating repertory to return, he said, “We’re doing it, so c’mon back.”

Elizabethan Theatre OSF
A full house at Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s Allen Elizabethan Theatre. Kim Budd photo
A ‘Homecoming’ season

The theme of homecoming permeates the lineup, echoing the sentiment he has felt since returning to OSF in 2023.

“Thinking about the 90th anniversary season and how we could celebrate this momentous occasion … it led me eventually to this feeling that I was getting not only personally at coming back to OSF, but to what I wanted it to feel like for our audience, and for our donors, and for our artists in the 2025 season, which was the season of homecoming. That was designed really to welcome back our unique producing model of rotating repertory,” Bond said.

The 2025 season takes audiences into the forest, out to the frontier, and into their dreams, celebrating the freedom to live each individual truth and rediscover themselves, according to Bond. 

“These nine productions brilliantly highlight the pivotal moments when we face life-changing decisions and the importance of listening to our hearts,” Bond said in a news release.

He noted themes of freedom in expression and self-actualization as well as adventure, redemption and the human condition.

“It’s the wonderful feeling of having a second chance or rebirth, not unlike the Oregon Shakespeare Festival,” Bond said. “We’ve been through nine decades of many transformations through the last 90 years and I think we’re constantly rebirthing as a company. It’s what keeps us fresh and being able to produce world class theater and stay relevant.”

Bond reminds the public that coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic has been a “wild ride” for theaters like OSF.

‘We’re the oldest startup’

“It does feel like we’re the oldest startup,” he said with a laugh, “as we imagine ourselves again.”

That may be, but part of that reimagining is returning to what once was, in a new and improved way. 

The organization just reopened its gift shop on Friday and is renewing efforts to return to offering educational opportunities as well.

Actors will visit up to 40 schools this fall, from San Diego to Port Angeles, to increase youth outreach in schools, especially in rural areas without arts education opportunities.

During Bond’s 11-year tenure as associate artistic director in the mid-1990s and early 2000s, he created FAIR (Fellowships, Assistantships, Internships, and Residencies), which provides opportunities for the next generation of theater practitioners to learn from experienced arts professionals, as noted in the news release. That program is returning as well.

“We’re trying to put all those pieces back in place that fit again,” Bond said.

After a short hiatus from holding an OSF gala, Bond also said the theater will host one again this fall.

Applications for select programs in the 2025 season will be available in the coming weeks.

“Angus Bowmer’s dream must have seemed impossible in 1935, but for nine decades our artistic home has defied all logic and gone through many incredible transformations,” Bond said in a news release. “What I love most about this company is that it celebrates our collective humanity, cultivates collaboration, creates community, and actually is ‘company.’ Cheers to this new season and the next 90!” Bond said.

Tickets for the 2025 season will go on sale in the fall, with OSF members receiving presale access, followed by general ticket sales. 

Learn more at osfashland.org.

Reach Ashland.news reporter Holly Dillemuth at hollyd@ashland.news.

Picture of Bert Etling

Bert Etling

Bert Etling is the executive editor of Ashland.news. Email him at betling@ashland.news.

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