Ashland more than a dramatic destination in Oregon

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by MOLLY GILMORE

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Photo from Alchemy Restaurant at The Winchester Inn

In Ashland, Oregon, the plays are the thing — with apologies to William Shakespeare — but they’re not the only thing.

The small Southern Oregon town is best known as the home of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, the nation’s largest and oldest professional regional rotating repertory theater.

The abundance of theater — which extends beyond the bard to include both contemporary and classic productions — is certainly the main reason to visit. The festival runs for nine months of the year and produces 11 plays on three stages.

You can’t see all of them in one visit, because most don’t run for the full season, but since the plays rotate, you can catch many of them if you stay long enough. And once you start hearing the buzz — you’re likely to find yourself dining near actors as well as enthusiastic theatergoers — you’re likely to wish you were seeing more than you’d planned to.

Catch at least one in the 1,190-seat Elizabethan Theatre, an outdoor theater inspired by London’s 1599 Fortune Theatre. The experience of being in the theater under the open sky, hearing the trumpet sound and watching the flag go up to mark the start of the show, is not to be missed.

And if theater ever becomes too much of a good thing (another phrase Will coined), there are lots of other adventures to be had.

Forthwith, here’s The Olympian’s handy guide to the top pastimes in the town where all the world’s a stage:

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