Ashland New Plays Festival 2015 brings winning playwrights to town

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Ashland New Plays Festival banner

Ashland New Plays Festival, an annual event that presents a unique and exciting form of theatre to the Rogue Valley, is bringing this year’s four winning playwrights to town for ANPF 2015, October 21 to 25. The winning playwrights will spend a week in Ashland, rehearsing with their casts and seeing their plays performed as staged readings by actors from the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and the community.

Three of the four playwrights—Skye Robinson Hillis, Beth Kander, and Meridith Friedman—are prolific women writers with impressive bodies of work; this is the first play written by Brian Mulholland. The winners were selected through a months-long process of reading 572 blinded submissions. Playwrights will hear their work in both rehearsal and live readings performed by some of our finest actors and observe an audience react to their work, often for the first time. Those famously discerning Ashland audiences provide insightful feedback during the talkbacks after each performance. Previous winning playwrights without exception have said they find this process to be invaluable in their creative efforts to bring their work to full production.

The staged readings are Wednesday through Sunday, October 21 to 25, with two readings of each winning play at 1:30 and 7:30 p.m. All performances are followed by a talkback moderated by ANPF 2008 winner and returning host playwright EM Lewis.


Go on a wild and scenic wine adventure tour with Rogue Wilderness Adventures

Rogue Wilderness Adventures logo

Rogue Wilderness Adventures

You can't do this in Napa

Rogue Wilderness Adventures, an award-winning river outfitter on Southern Oregon’s Rogue River is announcing brand new wine adventure tours in Southern Oregon’s pristine wilderness. Highlighting the best of Oregon’s flourishing wine industry, farm to table food offerings, and heart-pumping outdoor adventure, these trips offer travelers the chance to hike, fish and raft their way through the Rogue River corridor.

Taking cue from their popular Wiking (wine and hiking) trips, these trips are selected to highlight a beautiful time of year on the Rogue River during the months of August through October, and feature wine, food, and fun. Guests explore miles of whitewater and scenic trails by day and relaxing by night to try the best Oregon local vintages with guided tastings by resident wine sommelier Liz Wan. Guests can choose from a number of trip options:


Come for the plays, stay for the city

The Boston Globe


Ashland Artisans Market

When the Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s artistic director Bill Rauch isn’t curating seasons of classic and original theater, he’s on the Rogue River with his family, rafting.

“There’s such a strong culture of outdoors: You can hike, you can raft in the summer, you can ski in the winter,” Rauch, a Harvard alum and seasoned director, said in a phone interview. “Ashland, even though it’s a small town of only 20,000 people, has the cultural amenities of much larger cities in terms of extraordinary restaurants, bed-and-breakfasts, galleries, and art house movie theaters. It’s part of the reason I fell in love: the best of a small town with a lot of the culture of a large city.”

Read the full report in The Boston Globe >

A Facelift for Shakespeare

The Wall Street Journal



A new translation effort aims to make all of Shakespeare’s plays comprehensible to today’s audiences

The Oregon Shakespeare Festival will announce next week that it has commissioned translations of all 39 of the Bard’s plays into modern English, with the idea of having them ready to perform in three years. Yes, translations—because Shakespeare’s English is so far removed from the English of 2015 that it often interferes with our own comprehension.

Read the full report in the Wall Street Journal >

Britt Orchestra to perform at Crater Lake National Park's Centenial Celebration in 2016


Crater Lake National Park

In July 2016, members of the Britt Orchestra and Music Director Teddy Abrams will celebrate the unique majesty of Crater Lake with performances at the national park. Abrams will lead approximately 40 Britt Orchestra musicians in the performances, with the dramatic panorama of the entire lake as the backdrop. The musicians will perform a world premiere composition by New York-based composer Michael Gordon, commissioned by Britt and inspired by Crater Lake.


26th Annual Varsity World Film Festival Brings Intriguing International Films to Southern Oregon


Al Case, Ashland Daily Photo,

Films From Around the World Selected to Illuminate, Delight, Inspire
New Discount Film Week Passes Available

In his curatorial debut, Ashland Independent Film Festival Director of Programming Richard Herskowitz has assembled an intriguing and illuminating array of international films for the October 2-8 Varsity World Film Festival, co-sponsored by Coming Attractions Theatres. Tickets go on sale the afternoon of Tuesday, September 8.

Films range from a feature inspired and acted by rural Senegalese villagers, to a wordless animated film from Brazil, to an American “hybrid” feature that interweaves documentary footage of filmmaker Alex Sichel coping with cancer with a dramatized version of her life, starring actress Lili Taylor.

“I tried to gather extraordinary films from all over the globe - to give Ashland audiences the opportunity to go on twelve unforgettable voyages in one week,” Herskowitz said. “The films have all been acclaimed by critics and audiences at international festivals, and are best seen, I strongly believe, on a big screen, among other cinephiles. We will also provide viewers with the interactive experience festivals are known for, with three guest filmmakers holding Q&A’s and, on one night, live music in the house.”


Some of the greatest wines in the Northwest and the most idyllic locations to taste them




Southern Oregon is loaded with worthwhile wineries to visit, not only crafting some of the greatest wines in the Northwest, but also creating some of the most idyllic locations to taste them. Comprised of three distinct AVAs (American Viticultural Area), the Southern Oregon wine region can take up as much time as you’re willing to give. But for those on a schedule, try sticking to these three main wine treks (we suggest two to three wineries per AVA, but half the fun is discovering your own favorites).

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Meet the undiscovered wine country of your dreams



Even serious enophiles describe Oregon wines with one word: Willamette. And one grape: Pinot Noir. It’s understandable. The Pinots produced in places like McMinn­ville and Dundee are among the very best in the world. 

But another Oregon wine country is rising 230 miles to the south of the Willamette Valley. For the wine-minded traveler, this destination feels almost utopian. Here, tasting fees cost less than a latte; hotel rates are actually reasonable; wineries go way beyond water crackers (wood-fired fig and caramelized-onion pizza with a 92-point 2012 Syrah, anyone?). And, as in Santa Barbara County but unlike many other wine regions in the West—all kinds of grapes thrive. 

“We can ripen anything,” Southern Oregon winemakers joke, and judging from the wide array of varieties found here—in this sprawling land of 150 microclimates across three river valleys, high desert, and mountains—it’s true. Roam from the Rogue Valley to the Applegate Valley, all the way north up Interstate 5 to the Umpqua Valley, and you’ll find about as many types of good wine as you would in your beloved bottle shop. Good wine. Albariño, Tempranillo, Chardonnay, Syrah, Viognier, Cab Franc, Malbec, and yes, plenty of Pinot Noir too. 

What you won’t find are crowds. “We are the last undiscovered wine region in the world. Truly,” says Jamie McCleary of Jaxon Vineyards. The secret may not last, with tasting rooms opening all the time and 1,000 acres of grapes planted in a year alone. Talented winemakers like Stephen Hall from Napa, Scott O’Brien Kelley from Paso Robles, Jean-Michel Jussiaume from the Loire Valley, and Chris Graves from the Livermore Valley (who is heading up one of three custom-crush facilities) have moved to Southern Oregon, to be pioneers in a place where pioneering is still possible. 

Read the full report on >

DANCIN Vineyards one of five Oregon wineries with eateries profiled by Palate



Winemakers will often tell you that their wines are meant to be enjoyed with food. But how often does a winery have a chance to prove it to their guests? In the U.S. more wineries have begun incorporating food and wine pairings into their hospitality programs. However, few of them have gone beyond simple bites to build an actual sit-down restaurant on site.

In Oregon, strict land use laws have kept many owners from developing commercial kitchens. But things are changing and slowly wineries are developing full food programs to go alongside their wines.
In our continuing exploration of epicurean experiences at wineries, we are focusing on five Oregon producers that are shifting the paradigm. From southern Oregon all the way up to Portland, these wineries have gone beyond the typical cheese and charcuterie plate by offering a seat at their tables. Literally.

Offering a full spectrum food and wine experience to tasting room guests is certainly one way for a winery to stand out from the growing competition. But I discovered that standing out isn’t the reason these wineries decided to offer them.

“We never set out to be a restaurant,” explains Dan Marca of southern Oregon’s DANCIN Vineyards, “But I’m Italian. We are all about hospitality.”

Read the full report featuring DANCIN Vineyards on

The Oregon Shakespeare Festival Focuses on Diversity




ASHLAND, ORE. — A first-time visitor to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival might be struck by any number of things. The festival’s idyllic location in this small city surrounded by vistas of rolling hills. Or the splendid Tudor-style outdoor Elizabethan theater, just one of the three spaces where performances take place six days a week for more than seven months, for an impressive total of roughly 800 shows.

But even before visiting the festival, you might notice something unusual when you scan the website: It’s the rare theater site that you can navigate if your only language is Spanish.

Once settled in your seat, I suspect the first thing you’d notice would be the unusual ethnic and racial diversity onstage. The casting of men and women of color in prominent roles — whether it’s Nathan Detroit in “Guys and Dolls” or the titular prince in “Pericles,” both of which I saw this year portrayed (terrifically) by African-American men — is standard practice at the company and has been for many years.

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Camelot Theatre presents Jason Robert Brown’s “The Last 5 Years”


With a Book, Music and Lyrics by Tony Award Winner Jason Robert Brown (“Urban Cowboy,” “Bridges of Madison County,” “Honeymoon in Vegas”) “The Last Five Years” is an intensely personal look at the relationship between writer Jamie Wellerstein and struggling actress Cathy Hiatt. The show’s unconventional structure lets Cathy tell her story backwards while Jamie tells his story chronologically; the two characters only meeting once, at their engagement and wedding in the middle of the show. Told predominately through song and from both points of view, this gem of a musical is an emotionally powerful and intimate tale about two ambitious New Yorkers in their twenties who fall in and out of love over the course of five years.