Students travel to Ashland to watch performances of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival


Kathy Fang

Joel Morel (12), Esha Deokar (‘19), Richard Wang (‘19), Anjali Sheth (12), and Katrina Ipser (‘19) participate in a theater workshop led by cast members of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival on last year’s trip. This year, 23 students and three teachers from the upper school traveled to Ashland to visit the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and see plays like “Macbeth,” “As You Like It,” “All’s Well That Ends Well” and “La Comedia of Errors.”

by Nicole Tian, Winged Post Co-Lifestyle Editor

Against a background of paper notes strung between colorful beams dappled with blue light, two men dressed in blazers and trousers wheel a third cast member wearing a gray waistcoat across the stage on a towering ladder. He hurriedly jumps off, and the rest of the crew scatter as a lady in a sleeveless cardigan rushes onto the stage. This YouTube video of “As You Like It” from the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF) is just one of the multiple productions by the OSF, a Shakespeare repertory theater based in the city of Ashland, Oregon.

This weekend, leaving on Friday and returning on Sunday, 23 students and three teachers from the upper school traveled to Ashland by bus to experience their world of theater, which featured productions of “Macbeth,” “As You Like It,” “All’s Well That Ends Well” and “La Comedia of Errors,” a modern, bilingual adaptation of the traditional Shakespeare play “A Comedy of Errors.”

The Oregon Shakespeare Festival offers performances in the Angus Bowman Theatre, the Thomas Theatre and the Allen Elizabethan Theatre, which combined can seat up to 2,151 audience members.

Upon arrival on Friday, the group watched “Macbeth” followed by two more plays yesterday and a final play today. Apart from seeing the productions, students and faculty attended acting workshops, discussion groups and introductions to the plays. Theater student Maya Franz (11), who has participated in the trip since her sophomore year, values the quality of the productions with “phenomenal” acting and creative direction.

“[Friday night] we saw Macbeth, and it was a really spectacular production,” Maya said. “The acting was brilliant, and the technical aspects were so smoothly integrated that it made the show incredibly intense and immersive.”

While not watching plays or touring the stages, students explored the city of Ashland. Actors often are residents, living there to rehearse for months. Since actors also perform in multiple pieces, audiences are able to experience multiple facets of their skills. 

Senior Jai Bahri, who has participated in the trip since freshman year, recalls meeting members of the company around the town.

“I ran into [an actor] at Starbucks. It was just really fun getting to talk to them [and] tell them about how much we love their performances,” Jai said.

The Oregon Shakespeare Festival also offers students a chance to watch plays outside of the traditional setting of an English classroom, whether it be an adaptation of “The Merry Wives of Windsor” accompanied by eighties’ music or “Twelfth Night” set in the 1930s to original jazz music. 

Not only does the festival stage productions from Shakespeare, but they also bring in performances from other writers, such as “Snow in Midsummer,” a ghost story based on a Chinese play written during the 14th century.

“This is just wonderful, because we watch different productions [in class], students act things out, because I keep trying to remind them that reading them is really artificial, and it’s meant to be seen,” upper school English teacher Dr. Beth Wahl, who has chaperoned the trip for multiple years, said. “It’s really exciting for me to see students get engaged.