Festival’s 2023 schedule includes ‘Rent,’ ‘Romeo and Juliet,’ ‘Three Musketeers’
This time next year, Oregon Shakespeare Festival playgoers can plan to immerse themselves in the theatrical scenery of places like fair Verona and the big city high rises of New York City.
Thursday morning, the festival announced a “reinvigorated” 2023 season, featuring “stirring” works, including “Rent,” “Romeo and Juliet,” “The Three Musketeers,” and “Twelfth Night.” The schedule showcases an expansive spectrum of stylistic approaches and creative voices, including award-winning playwrights Candrice Jones, Kirsten Childs, Madeline Sayet and Caridad Svich; directors Kent Gash, Tiffany Nichole Greene, Delicia Turner Sonnenberg and Dawn Monique Williams; and multi-hyphenate artists and cultural luminaries, including Troy Anthony, adrienne maree brown and Chava Florendo, as well as members of the OSF artistic leadership team, such as Nataki Garrett.
Play-goers can enjoy a signature mix of new plays and musicals from OSF, as well as reinvented classics and immersive technology projects that embody what Garrett envisions for the future of the 87-year-old organization.
“The 2022 season was about recovery and rebuilding,” OSF Artistic Director Garrett said in a news release. “The 2023 season is about reimagining, revitalizing, and reinvigorating. We are reimagining the future of theatre. We are revitalizing the art form by centering artists and their work. We are reinvigorating the intersection between artist and audience by empowering the artist to create transformative experiences and by providing access for audiences to engage with powerful storytelling both in person and through our O! Digital Stage. This is my vision for OSF.”
The 2023 play season, with nine live stage shows and four productions on OSF’s O! Digital Stage, offers incisive looks at contemporary America with an eye towards themes of possibility and healing. Throughout the season, artists take on classic works in unprecedented ways, such as Garrett’s debut Shakespeare production for OSF: “Romeo and Juliet” (April 4–Oct. 29).
Garrett will direct one of the most famous stories of young love of all time, a piece that “explodes with intense passion in this contemporary production,” according to an OSF news release.
OSF will bring to life the timeless tale of two star-crossed lovers from two different families and backgrounds, sacrificing all to be together. Garrett sets the scene on the West Coast and explores the financial and class divisions of our current time through this beloved, though heart-wrenching, tale. The play will consider seething divisions through the lens of class in America.
Also opening in 2023 in the Thomas Theatre is “Flex” by Candrice Jones, directed by Delicia Turner Sonnenberg. The play, which will be the West Coast premiere, is set to run from April 4 to July 30, 2023.
The play is set in 1997 when the Women’s National Basketball Association was changing the game. Every player on Plainnole’s Lady Train basketball team now dreams of going pro — but first, they’ll have to navigate the pressures of being young, Black and female in rural Arkansas.
With all of the adrenaline of a four-quarter game, Jones’s powerful and poetic play celebrates the fierce athleticism of women’s basketball.
Director Tiffany Nichole Greene takes audiences to the jagged heart of Jonathan Larson’s vision of poverty, artistry, marginality, and the HIV/AIDS pandemic in 1980s New York in “Rent” (April 5–Oct. 29).
Mohegan theater-maker Madeline Sayet’s “Where We Belong” (Aug. 29–Oct. 29, presented by OSF and Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company in association with Folger Shakespeare Library) marks the OSF directing debut of Associate Artistic Director and Director of New Work Mei Ann Teo. Sayet’s solo work stems from her journey to pursue a doctorate degree in Shakespeare in England, and considers how it parallels the journeys of her Mohegan ancestors crossing the ocean across time.
Also coming to the stage in 2023 is a jazz- and blues-inspired version of Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night” that accentuates the comedy’s moodier, melancholy edges (May 30–Oct. 15). Dawn Monique Williams (“Merry Wives of Windsor”) directs this reimagined take on a classical tale.
Presented in association with The Acting Company, Kirsten Childs’ raucous “The Three Musketeers” (May 31–Oct. 15) draws on Alexandre Dumas’ seldom-cited French-Haitian heritage and the idea that, as director Kent Gash (“Comedy of Errors”) describes, “it springs from a Black imagination.”
OSF Associate Artistic Director and Director of Artistic Programming Evren Odcikin highlights the “poetic and queer theatricality” of Federico García Lorca’s “Yerma” with songs, puppets, and epic storytelling in a world premiere of adaptation by Caridad Svich (Aug. 29–Oct. 29).
In Fall 2023, OSF premieres a groundbreaking “To Feel A Thing — A Ritual for Emergence,”
commissioned by OSF and The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis Rep. Created by globally-renowned author and poet adrienne maree brown (Emergent Strategy, Pleasure Activism) in collaboration with composer and Fire Ensemble Artistic Director Troy Anthony, and presented at OSF’s Allen Elizabethan Theatre with Extended Reality (XR) integrations, these songs and sacred acts inspired by Emergent Strategy feature a choir and live band, and invite audiences to explore how to be in “right relationship to change.”
Multimodal, mixed-discipline projects and the development of new work are central to Garrett’s vision for the future of OSF, the theater field, and the cultural landscape at large.
Garrett believes OSF’s O! Digital Stage celebrates innovation and intersectionality through immersive technology projects that elasticize the definition of theatre and radically broaden access to its transformational power.
Closing the in-person season is the return of OSF’s new holiday tradition, “It’s Christmas, Carol!,” a hilarious play with lots of songs by Mark Bedard, Brent Hinkley and John Tufts that’s directed by Pirronne Yousefzadeh. The celebration takes over the Bowmer stage in November and December 2023.
In fall 2023, OSF presents the third annual edition of Quills Fest, a festival exploring the intersection of live performance and Extended Reality, featuring world-premiere commissions created by interdisciplinary teams of theatremakers and creative technologists.
OSF’s O! Digital Stage continues to serve as a public central space for ongoing commissioning projects and strategic partnerships. Artist, curator and creative producer Chava Florendo leads “Visual Sovereignty Project,” a digital commissioning initiative that centers the artistic, personal, and tribal sovereignty of Indigenous artists, transcending normative expectations about “what is native work.”
OSF also welcomes global audiences into the organization’s celebrated artistry through live-hosted screenings, on the O! Digital Stage, of cinematic captures of select in-person repertory productions. The series will continue throughout 2023.
OSF’s two-year partnership with Black Lives Black Words International Project (Simeilia Hodge-Dallaway and Reginald Edmund) will culminate in a hybrid in-person-and-digital screening event celebrating the two films in the Films for the People series, created by groundbreaking Black writers and creatives filmed in beloved Black-owned businesses in San Francisco/Bay Area and Houston.
With the Theatre on Film initiative, whose inaugural, 2022 edition launches this summer, OSF welcomes global audiences into the organization’s celebrated artistry through live-hosted screenings on the O! Digital Stage of cinematic captures of select in-person repertory productions. The series will continue throughout 2023.
OSF will also bring back its annual Green Show in summer and fall 2023, featuring free live music, dance, and other performances on the Bricks in Ashland. Programming will be announced as the series approaches.
The full 2023 season announcement and schedule is available online here.