Ashland’s Oregon Shakespeare Festival was founded by an enthusiastic young teacher named Angus L. Bowmer, and was officially born on July 2, 1935 with a production of Twelfth Night. Since then the enterprise has grown considerably, and currently employs approximately 500 people.
It has also changed direction significantly in recent years. Although it is still named after the Bard of Avon, only a relatively small percentage of its performance art now consists of plays written by him, and even those few, with rare exception, have been reinvented with novel interpretations and, of course, the nontraditional costumes and sets that have become de rigueur for such productions. The 2020 season, already announced, promises to provide even greater departure from tradition.
The venue has also grown, from one stage to three (the outdoor Elizabethan Stage and the indoor Angus Bowmer Theatre and Thomas Theatre). The festival itself, originally a 4th of July event, is now an entire season that runs from February through November, with the outdoor Elizabethan Stage open June through October.