Oregon Shakespeare Festival is back

Resident Artist, Amelia Acosta Powell, shared with me insights into the 2019 Season at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

EH: What’s new and exciting for next season?

AAP: They all are. Octovio Solis’ play “Mother Road” which is inspired by “The Grapes of Wrath” is so beautiful. It is a beautiful play, and he’s a beautiful poet. It’s incredibly timely. It is a journey in the American West from California back to Oklahoma, which I think Oregon audiences will appreciate. I’m thrilled about that play.

I’m super excited about Lauren Yee’s “Cambodian Rock Band.” I don’t know how familiar folks are, especially the younger folks that come to OSF, with the Khmer Rouge or the history of Cambodian genocide. The way that Lauren has found to present that story is so exciting because: You can imagine a lot of people wouldn’t want to come watch a play about such a dark topic, but it is funny. There is fantastic music. She has found a way to welcome you in, break down those barriers of feeling uncomfortable, or feeling guilt, or feeling just overwhelming grief about it. A lot of resiliency, a lot of power and agency, which I think is a beautiful way in.

And then, “Between Two Knees” which is the world premier American Revolutions play. For people who were excited about “Sweat” and “Roe,” I look forward to sharing this. As to the question about how artists are in the political conversation, this play will be one answer to that.

EH: What’s the image, “Between Two Knees”?

AAP: The two battles of Wounded Knee. It spans many years from Wounded Knee massacre to Wounded Knee Massacre, with lots of history of Native American people in the United States between. There’s a lot of dark time in history there, but there’s also a lot of comedy; there’s a lot of frankness. I think there’s a lot of storytelling that, as someone outside of the Native American Community, I was not familiar with.

EH: Are there any new directors coming next season?

AAP: There are, yes, though we do have a lot of returnees. I’m really excited to have Nataki Garrett to have her directing debut at OSF. She’s directing “How to Catch Creation,” which is a beautiful play by Christina Anderson. That play is a meditation on art, parenthood, and starting over. It centers on a man who has been released from prison, who wants to be a father. It’s a beautiful, very moving story. It will be in the Thomas Theatre, which will be a very intimate and an emotional experience.

New, as a director, but not new to OSF audiences, will be Sara Bruner, who is currently in the acting company. She will be directing “Alice in Wonderland.” She is not new to directing plays, but for the OSF audience to meet an artist they know and love in a whole new way will be really exciting. This adaptation is by Eva Le Gallienne and Florida Friebus.

EH: What part does the audience play in all of this?

AAP: The most key part of all. For everyone producing theater, we have to be incredibly mindful of who’s in the audience currently. A lot of OSF audience members have come from far away. They come year after year. They’re tracking the history of the plays. They’re tracking the different productions of the same Shakespeare titles. They’ve been tracking the actors who are in the company for decades. That brings with it a certain commitment to storytelling, to language. They’re great listeners; they’re observant. The audiences that come to OSF are passionate theater lovers.

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