Here's what the Oregon Shakespeare Festival has planned for 2021

Bill Choy
Mount Shasta Herald
OSF announced its 2021 season on Wednesday.

The beloved Oregon Shakespeare Festival, located just over the border in Ashland, Ore., announced early Wednesday morning there would be a 2021 season after COVID-19 cut the season short last year. 

The festival said in a release that they will launch a combined digital and live season starting with online programming March 1. 

The stages at OSF have been dark since last March, after COVID-19 restrictions caused theatres around the country to close. OSF had just started their season with five plays in early March before they had to stop the season a few weeks into performances in front of live audiences.

There will be a Fall 2021 live season on OSF’s campus extending into January for the first time, the festival said. All live performances will be subject to health department guidelines and government restrictions on large gatherings. 

“2020 marked a paradigm shift in which OSF was catapulted into different ways of creating and supporting artists and art-making," said Nataki Garrett, OSF artistic director in the release. "In launching our digital platform, O!, nearly a year ago, the initial goal was to provide an exploratory space to intersect theatre with other forms of media. Now joined together with a compelling schedule of Fall and Winter onstage programming, O! has evolved into a marquee fourth stage, where new and innovative projects will play alongside some of OSF’s most beloved and well-known productions.” 

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The four 2021 productions announced Wednesday will be: "August Wilson’s How I Learned What I Learned," featuring Steven Anthony Jones and directed by Tim Bond; the West Coast premiere of "unseen," by Mona Mansour, directed by Evren Odcikin; the American Revolutions world premiere of "Confederates" by Dominique Morisseau, directed by Nataki Garrett; and the season will culminate in OSF’s first winter special, "It’s Christmas, Carol!" by beloved OSF actors Mark Bedard, Brent Hinkley, and John Tufts. 

“Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and uncertainties associated with it, OSF will hold off announcing specific dates and ticket sales for onstage productions until there is more clarity around reopening, gathering, and social distancing guidelines,” the press release said. All onstage events are subject to change. While the dates of plays performed live will be announced at a later date, OSF did stated there will be four productions performed live on OSF stages. 

The Green Show will return this season with free concerts, dance and community performances, which will be held as it normally is, outdoors in the festival courtyard. The schedule will be announced in the coming weeks. 

OSF will be streaming favorites from OSF’s archives, and original works on digital platform O! The 2021 digital on-demand streaming season includes a limited-run schedule for favorites from the OSF archives beginning with "Julius Caesar" by William Shakespeare, directed by Shana Cooper; "Manahatta" by Mary Kathryn Nagle, directed by Laurie Woolery; and "Snow in Midsummer" by Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig, based on the classical Chinese drama "The Injustice to Dou Yi That Moved Heaven and Earth" and directed by Justin Audibert.  

Tickets are now available for all three productions at More streaming productions curated from OSF’s digital archives will be announced in the coming months. 

“I could not be more excited and honored in partnering with Nataki to introduce this extraordinary combination of digital and onstage programming as the OSF 2021 season,” said David Schmitz, OSF executive director. “This unique first-ever multiformat season reflects OSF’s commitment to innovation, agility, and progress throughout the most extraordinary global circumstances we are all facing. And we are eager to get back to creating live performances when the health authority and governmental restrictions allow us to do so.” 

Below is an overview of the offerings for 2021. 


Watch beloved productions from OSF’s archives in high-quality video. Three shows are on sale now, and more titles will be announced soon. 


By William Shakespeare 

Directed by Shana Cooper  

This muscular 2017 production features the signature physical storytelling of director Shana Cooper and choreographer Erika Chong Shuch. Shakespeare’s political thriller shows what happens to powerbrokers—honorable and not—when their motives and means lead to unexpected consequences they cannot control. Reviewer Bill Choy of the Siskiyou Daily News/ Mount Shasta Herald called the production “One of the most brilliantly staged productions of a Shakespeare play I’ve ever seen. It’s that good. What is so impressive is how clear and concise the language is, so the audience knows what’s going on, and the motivations of these characters, as the words of the Bard come vividly to life.” 

(streaming March 1 through 27, 2021) 


By Mary Kathryn Nagle 

Directed by Laurie Woolery 

This 2018 world premiere by celebrated playwright, activist, and attorney Mary Kathryn Nagle illuminates the tragic consequences of commercial exploits, including the removal of the Lenape people and the attempted eradication of their culture that gave rise to the America we know today. This brilliant production, directed by Laurie Woolery, defiantly demonstrates that the Lenape are still here.

In his review, Choy called this production, “A stunning new play that challenges and enlightens in a way that only great theatre can.” 

(streaming March 29 through April 24, 2021) 


By Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig 

Based on the classical Chinese drama The Injustice to Dou Yi That Moved Heaven and Earth by Guan Hanqing   

Directed by Justin Audibert 

This 2018 U.S. premiere production interweaves two stories—of a young woman who curses her city from beyond the grave, and of a wealthy businesswoman who must face the parched, locust-plagued city. This modern ghost story beautifully reimagines a classic myth and explores the legacy of trauma, the heart of injustice, and the lengths to which we go for love. 

“Snow In Midsummer” is a horror story, but also a thriller and a mystery – a haunting human drama and social statement. It is impressive how all these different genres work so well together,” Choy wrote in his review on the production. 

(streaming May 3 through May 29) 


(All onstage performances will be subject to health department guidelines and government restrictions on large gatherings.)   


Directed by Tim Bond 

Featuring Steven Anthony Jones 

Dates TBD 

Originally performed by Wilson himself, How I Learned What I Learned is a heartfelt theatrical memoir charting one man’s journey of self-discovery through adversity, and what it means to be a Black artist in America.  


West Coast Premiere

By Mona Mansour 

Directed by Evren Odcikin 

Dates TBD 

Mia, an American conflict photographer, wakes up at the site of a massacre in Syria, not sure how she got there. With her Turkish girlfriend Derya and her Californian mother Jane, Mia must slowly and painfully piece together the details of her past to find out what happened. An amazing showcase for three actresses, unseen asks what it would mean for our souls—personally and as a nation—if we were to see the impact of our actions. 


World Premiere

By Dominique Morisseau 

Directed by Nataki Garrett 

American Revolutions 

Co-commission with Penumbra Theatre 

Dates TBD 

Sara, an enslaved woman turned Union spy, and Sandra, a brilliant professor in a modern-day private university, are facing similar struggles, though they live over a century apart. This play leaps through time to trace the identities of these two Black American women and explore the reins that racial and gender bias still hold on American systems today. 


By Mark Bedard, Brent Hinkley, and John Tufts 



On Christmas Eve, three ghosts take miserly theatre producer Carol Scroogenhouse through time and space to reckon with how she’s abandoned artistry for hollow commerciality. Whisked to Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, her cousin Fred’s swinging party, and a pandemic Zombie future, will Carol find her soul with the help of these apparitions? From the twisted minds of your favorite OSF clowns, this showcase of the OSF Acting Company promises to be a silly and uplifting way to mark the holidays and celebrate OSF’s return to live performance. 



By William Shakespeare 

Conceived by Nataki Garrett 

Created and directed by Scarlett Kim 

This rarely performed exploration of power and jealousy comes to life in a multi-episode digital production by award-winning immersive artist Scarlett Kim. Released over two years with a collage-like visual approach, Kim’s vision mines Shakespeare’s text to explore the deceit and the violence of the play within today’s aesthetic and political realities. 

YOU GO GIRL! (working title) 

A new short film directed by Shariffa Ali 

Written by Zoey Martinson  

O! Resident Artist Shariffa Ali (Ash Land, The Copper Children at OSF) brings her second short film to OSF's digital platform. In You Go Girl!, a Black stand-up comedian finds herself in the beautiful forests of Southern Oregon to distribute the ashes of her late mother. Can this city woman overcome her fear of stillness, and in the process take control of her own healing? You Go Girl! is created in partnership with producers Adrian Alea (ALIALEA Productions), Kamilah Long (The Black Whole, Inc.), and Courtney Williams, and is made possible, in part, by an “Outdoor Adventure Grant” from the Oregon Made Creative Foundation, Travel Oregon and Oregon Film. 


OSF has invited artists from a wide range of disciplines to create a short piece of digital art in response to themes drawn from the acronym of C.O.V.I.D.: Community, Offering, Vitality, Identity, Determination. These digital art commissions will start to bear fruit through 2021 on O! Artists commissioned for “19” include Christina Anderson; Scenic G/Gabriel Barrera; Kit Yan and Melissa Yi; Erika Chong Shuch, Rowena Richie, and Ryan Tacata. 


Curated by Chava Florendo 

Recognizing that Indigenous people have a story to tell, “for us, by us, now us,” this new digital series asks Indigenous artists to visually express their sovereignty—tribal and personal. The Visual Sovereignty Project will capture a small cross-section of the diversity of Indigenous people in the way they choose to share their gifts with the world.