ASHLAND — Following two years of uncertainty, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival is making plans to return to a full season of plays in 2022.
“Our 2022 season is dedicated to the artists, all of whom have so much to share after 18 months of crisis, closure, and now rebirth,” OSF Artistic Director Nataki Garrett said in announcing next year’s season “Each one of these plays and projects represents the desires, the voices, and the passions of truly gifted theater artists. In this moment of reemergence, I rely on artists because they have their ears to the ground and hearts in their communities. I trust them to reflect our joy, pain, survival and aspirations, both in our live spaces in Ashland as well as globally on O!”
Garrett said a goal for 2022 includes “emerging with an ambitious vision of theatre as an accessible art-form that can boldly meet our current moment. Along with new art offerings on its stages and on O!,OSF provides a sturdy foundation for these changes by making its programming economically accessible year-round with a new pricing and donor benefits model.”
The season’s in-person repertory, as described by Garrett, “approaches our current moment with urgency, juxtaposing groundbreaking new works and non-nostalgic visions of classics.”
Productions include a musical celebration of the Afro-Caribbean community and joy in “Once on This Island” the August Wilson autobiography “How I Learned What I Learned”; a hard-hitting contemporary work, Dominique Morisseau’s “Confederates”; Garrett and Mona Mansour’s “unseen”; a fun play with music that vivaciously revives and rewrites the legacy of a queer, transgressive 17th century figure in Qui Nguyen’s “Revenge Song”; and fresh visions of William Shakespeare’s revolutionary spirit “The Tempest” and “King John.” The 2022 in-person season will culminate in November with a re-imagining of a holiday classic, “It’s Christmas, Carol!”
On OSF’s digital stage O!, the 2022 season offers internationally-accessible work that Garrett said will continue to expand in the coming years. The Festival’s new Artistic Leadership structure has three associate artistic directors, of artistic programming. Quills Fest, which is starting this year and return in 2022 is described as “an immersive digital festival colliding theatre and extended reality. The 2022 season will also bring an unprecedented, episodic vision of Shakespeare’s late work “Cymbeline” and short films from Black Lives, Black Words International Project, “Films for the People.” Other works will be announced throughout 2022.
“This will be my first fully programmed season at OSF, and the diversity of styles, perspective and stories represented here is a true reflection of my artistic vision,” Garrett said. “As our field comes back to life, we must center the artists, nurture their perspectives, and amplify their voices. They will in turn, give us life.”
The 2022 season will also bring changes to OSF’s pricing and donor programs. From 2015 to 2020, the Festival adopted the industry practice of dynamic pricing, which spikes prices correlated to scarcity and popularity, and saw ticket prices increase 200% more than inflation. To create accessibility. OSF has cut its top ticket price from $132 to $75, with tickets ranging from $35-$75, along with simplifying seating zones and dropping dynamic pricing.
Garrett said Festival managers undertook a major study of past audience behavior and found that 88% of audiences see five plays or fewer, usually in one four-day visit. “This understanding, along with realities of wildfire smoke and the pandemic shut down, motivated the change to eight in-person productions in the new in-person season structure.”
“This is a moment to take bold action to make theatre accessible by lowering barriers for entry. We hope this move inspires people who have been coming to OSF for years and people who have never visited to join us as we create joyful and inclusive theatre in 2022,” said Executive Director David Schmitz.