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An important 50th birthday in Ashland.

It's birtday 50 for Ashland's famous Oregon Shakespearean Festival this year, an especiall exciting time for a theatrical vacation. The festival's indoor season, in the Angus Bowmer and Black Swan theaters, opened in February. Starting June 11, the outdoor elizabethan Stage presents The Merchant of Venice, which was also part of the original 1935 season.

Shakespeare's King John opens on the outdoors stage June 12, and All's Well That Ends Well phases in June 13.

Indoors in the Bowmer this month, you can see Beth Henley's Crimes of the Heart, arthur Wing Pinero's Trelawny of the Wells, Moss Hart's Light Up the Sky, and Shakespeare's King Lear. (August 3, Ibsen's An Enemy of the People (an adaptation by the festival's artistic director, Jerry Turner) joins the repertoire.

At the smaller-scale Black Swan, you can enjoy a superb production of a fine new play by Steve MEtcalfe, Strange Snow, until June 17. The Majestic Kid, by Mark Medoff (author of Children of a Lesser God), runs now through October 27. June 30 through October 26, Lizzie Borden in the Late Afternoon, by Cather MacCallum, also plays at the Swan.

How to get thickets

Because of a heavier performance schedule, the festival's audience capacity has increased to 351,000, but ticket availability, particularly for the modern plays, varies widely. For prices, schedules, reservations, and a 1985 information booklet, write to the box office at Box 158, Ashland 97520, or call (503) 482-4331. Have alternative dates in mind, if possible. But if the box office's initial report is discouraging, doin't give up.

This year, for the first time, fetival association members in the sponsor category ($50 and above) can be wait-listed for sold-out performances. And the public often can bu y canceled or unclaimed tickets at the box office the day of the show.

There are other ways to get thickets, too. One is to participate in "Wake Up With Shakespeare," a five-morning seminar series July 2 to August 31. Package price of $125 per person includes reserved tickets to seven different productsion; admission to a Sunday backstage tour, the Exhibit Center, and all noon events (details follow); and a discussion session conducted each morning by company members and accompanied by coffee and rolls.

For information, write to the Festival Education Office, Box 158, Ashland 97520, or call 482-2111, ext. 113 or 173. You cna also ask about the similar "Festival Round Table" serie ($175), in which you attend the eight plays currently in repertory and discuss them at a more scholarly level, plus enjoy the activities listed for "Wake Up."

Another sure-fire way to get tickets is through the Festival of Plays package offered by Southern Oregon Reservation Center (see page 42). It includes lodging and two plays, and you can add more.

In preparation for the plays, you might want to review Hilary Tate's program notes in The Stories of the Plays, a paperback guide that helps you sort out complex plots and establish who's who in the casts. You can pick it up ($3.50) at the Tudor Guild Gift Shop (across the plaza from the Bowmer) at the start of your visit and bone up before each curtain.

Special festivities for the 50th

The golden theme is everywhere: (otice landscaping on the festival grounds, with its emphasis on yellow-flowering plants of early summer: dwarf cannas, marigolds, nasturtiums, pansies, and zinnias.

Check with the festival box office for more on the following celebrations.

June 14, there will be special observances at the Feast of the Tribe of Will, a communal dinner served in nearby Lithia Park from 6 to 6:45 P.M. ($10).

On the festival's actual anniversary dates, July 2 and 3, there's a Renaissance Feast (Elizabethan recipes, with Renaissance music and dance) starting at 5:30 in Stevenson Union at Southern Oregon State College (in Ashland); $14.50.

The festival treats playgoers to cake and champagne after evening performances on the Elizabethan Stage July 2, 3, and 4.

And the Independence Da parade has an especially appropriate theme this year: "All the World's a Stage."

Ongoing festival offerings

Reserve these through the box office:

Backstage tours ($4, $2 for ages under 12). Given every performance day (except July 4) at 10, the 2-hour tours start from the Black Swan. You're guided through a world of specialized artisans honeycombed below the theaters; here are prop storage facilities (want to meet a severed head?), rehearsal rooms, costume workshops (hats, weapons, shoes--everything but make-up is crafted on the premises), even a dry cleaner.

The Exhibit Center (At Main and Pioneer streets), with its gallery of spectacular costumes, is included with a backstage tour. Otherwise, admission is $1 for adults, 50 cents for those under 12; get tickets at the festival box office or at the center.

Festival "noon." Park talks with company members occur every Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday at 12:15 at Bankside Park (outside Gate 1 of the Elizabeth Stage); free. Lectures by visiting scholars and theater artists are held Fridays from June 21 to August 30 and Wednesdays from June 19 to July 24 at Carpenter Hall. Admission i $2 for adults, $1 for children under 12. Concerts by festival musicians ($2 and $1) are given in Carpenter Hall Saturdays, July 27 to August 31, and Wednesdays, July 31 to August 28.

Is there room at the inn?

The festival's information booklet lists area hotels and motels. In summer, most Ashland u nits are full at any one time--but at on one time, last year, were they all full. Though there's no general referral number, hotel and motel managers will try to help lodge you elsewhere if their rooms are fully booked. In Medford, you'll be successful faster.

The booklet also lists many bed-and-breakfast houses. There is a clearinghouse numbr, but it's not generally available: you get it when y ou can an inn that can't accommodate you itself.

If you want someone else to do the calling, Southern Oregon Reservation Center can book plays (two or more) and lodging for you as part of a festival tour package; ask your travel aget or call (800) 547-8052; in Oregon, call 488-1011.

If you're based in Medford ...

A Medford motel may seem a long way from the actions in Ashland (actually, it's only 11 miles north on Interstate 5), but it can situate you more conveniently for other activities between show times.

JAcksonville, a pioneer settlement (and National Historic Landmark city) with about 80 structures from the mid 19th century, is only 5 miles west of Medford.

Your Jacksonville excursion might also include Peter Britt Park, with its gardens, usic festivals (bluegrass July 18 through 20, classical August 1 through 18, jazz August 22 through 24, theater August 29 through September 2, and dance July 23 through 27). Wire to Box 1124, Medford 97501, or call 773-6077.


Many campgrounds are at cooler elevation than Ashland's, and the drive back from a play can be a good time to reflect on what you've seen.

Two private campgrounds near the theater center are Jackson Hot Springs (482-3776) and Glenyan K.O.A. (482-4138).

Other campgrounds in Jackson County include Cantrall-Buckley, off State 238 on Hamilton road, miles southwest of Jacksonville, 776-7001; Emigrant Lake, 5 miles southeast of Ashland on State 66, 776-7001; Howard Prairie Lake (resort and various camps), 25 miles northeast of Ashland, off State 66 on Hyatt--Howard Prairie Road, 482-1979; Rogue Elk, 27 miles north of Medford on State 62, 776-7001; and Willow Lake, 7-1/2 miles southeast of Butte Falls off Butte Falls-Fish Lake Highway, 865-3229. For additional information, call 776-7001.
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Title Annotation:Oregon Shakespeare Festival
Date:Jun 1, 1985
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