- Hours: Matinees and evening shows most days, dark (closed) Mondays
- Reservations: Highly recommended
- Cost: Ticket prices vary, with discounts for young people aged 6 through 17, and lower prices for previews
- Location: Downtown Ashland, Oregon, driving directions below
- How Long: Allow a half day to see one show, but many people spend several days here, watching a multi-part play or several individual performances
- Best Time to Visit: The season runs from late February through early November; you'll find more to do mid-June through September, but tickets are cheaper February through June and in the fall
Oregon Shakespeare Festival ReviewFounded in 1937 by a local drama professor, the festival has grown from a couple of shows to nine months of dramatic performances on three stages. The performance quality here rivals that anywhere in the country, and they won the Tony Award for Regional Theatre to prove it.
With a theater capacity of about 2,000 people, the festival doesn't stress this town of 20,000 as much as you might think, and things are quite calm even when it's almost showtime. However, it doesn't hurt to arrive early and make dinner reservations to ensure a trouble-free evening.
It's More Than Just ShakespeareIf you don't like Shakespeare but enjoy other forms of theater, don't dismiss the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. While half the shows are indeed Shakespeare's works, the other half encompass a wide range of works. The 2008 Oregon Shakespeare Festival season included August Wilson's Fences, A View From the Bridge and The Clay Cart. Online program notes for each play include age suitability if you're taking a young person along (who must be over 6 years old).
Performances are held in the 1,200-seat Elizabethan Open-Air Theater, the 600-seat Angus Bowmer Theater (named for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival founder) and New Theater, a configurable space of 250 to 350 seats.
Besides the plays, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival offers other activities, including Backstage Tours (reservations required), lectures, concerts, Q and A sessions with Oregon Shakespeare Festival performers. Check their schedule. The Green Show is a free, outdoor performance held before the evening show, mid-June through September in the Courtyard.
Buying Oregon Shakespeare Festival TicketsTicket sales for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival start in late January. Order online through their website, where you can select and pay for multiple performances all at once. A few hints about ordering tickets:
- Order as far ahead as you can.
- Check the location of the best available seats in each section. I saved $17 per ticket by doing this, snagging seats only 2 spots away from the more-expensive ones.
- When you order, ask for the tickets to be held at Will Call. That way you can't lose them or leave them at home. Print your reservation confirmation and carry identification with you, just in case you need them.
- What about rain for the outdoor performances? The show goes on, but you can get a voucher if you choose to leave because of rain during the first hour and 15 minutes of the performance. Just be sure you keep your ticket stub.
- If you need to exchange tickets, they must be received at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival Box Office at least 7 days before the performance. There is a $2 per ticket exchange fee.
Getting to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival
Oregon Shakespeare FestivalAshland is located on I-5, 350 miles north of San Francisco and 285 miles south of Portland, Oregon. You can find detailed driving directions at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival website.
15 South Pioneer Street
Oregon Shakespeare Festival website
You can find parking in a paid lot near the Oregon Shakespeare Festival entrance, or park in one of the public lots downtown, a few blocks away, with no time limit after 8:00 p.m.