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Oregon Shakespeare Festival announces plays for its 2013 season

Classics such as "King Lear" and "A Streetcar Named Desire" anchor a typically wide-ranging slate of plays next year in Ashland.

X00234_9.JPGThe last time the Oregon Shakespeare Festival staged “King Lear” in 2004, Kenneth Albers (left, with Ray Porter) played the title role. The mighty tragedy returns to the stage next year, for the first time in Ashland’s intimate New Theatre.

A list of plays each year at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival is, in a certain sense, like the menu at one of those seasonally attuned restaurants so popular in the Northwest. Even though every season brings a different set of recipes, there’s a comforting familiarity to the mix of options.

Your hearty entrees, in this analogy, are the Shakespeare plays, whether tragedy (red meat) or comedy (fish and fowl). For pastas and side dishes, how about the comfort food of classic American drama? Appetizers? Those would be your fresh, world premieres plays. Desserts, of course, are the musicals.

OSF has just announced next year’s season — six weeks earlier than it usually does, and even a few weeks before the 2012 season gets underway — and it contains mouth-watering choices of all sorts, in the expected proportions (four Shakespeare, two 20th-century American classics, etc.).

Among the Shakespeare plays, of particular interest could be “Cymbeline,” which OSF previously has staged just five times, the last in 1998. Bill Rauch will direct that relatively lesser-known Romance, as well as scale the tragic heights of the famous “King Lear.” (Interestingly, both those plays will be presented in Portland this year in heavily adapted form: Portland Center Stage opens “Shakespeare’s Amazing Cymbeline,” by Chris Coleman, on Friday, and Portland Shakespeare Project plans to stage C.S. Whitcomb’s “Lear’s Follies” this summer.)

Also especially promising is “A Streetcar Named Desire,” to be directed by Christopher Liam Moore, whose production of another Tennessee Williams masterpiece, “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” was a standout amid the generally magnificent 75th anniversary season in 2010.

“American Revolutions: the United States History Cycle,” the festival’s ambitious commissioning project, continues to bear fruit with Naomi Wallace’s “The Liquid Plain,” a tale of runaway slaves in 18th-century Rhode Island.

Below is the full schedule — categorized by venue, not menu — and further information on the plays and the artists involved can be found in a press release on the festival website.

(Note: Dates below include preview performances.)

2013 SEASON AT A GLANCE

ANGUS BOWMER THEATRE

“The Taming of the Shrew” by William Shakespeare  (February 15 – November 3).   Director: David Ivers

“My Fair Lady” Book & lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner; music by Frederick Loewe (February 17 – November 3). Director: Amanda Dehnert

“Two Trains Running” by August Wilson (February 16 – July 7). Director: Lou Bellamy

“A Streetcar Named Desire” by Tennessee Williams (April 17 – November 2). Director: Christopher Liam Moore

“Dreams of the Muse” (working title) by Tanya Saracho, world premiere (July 24 – November 2). Director: TBA

NEW THEATRE

“King Lear” by William Shakespeare (February 21 – November 3). Director: Bill Rauch

“The Unfortunates” book, music, and lyrics by 3 Blind Mice (Jon Beavers, Ian Merrigan, Ramiz Monsef) and Casey Hurt, world premiere (March 27 – November 2).
Director: Shana Cooper

“The Liquid Plain” by Naomi Wallace, world premiere (July 2 – November 3). Director: Kwame Kwei-Armah

ELIZABETHAN STAGE/ALLEN PAVILION

“Cymbeline” by William Shakespeare (June 4 – October 11). Director: Bill Rauch

“The Heart of Robin Hood” by David Farr U.S. Premiere (June 5 – October 12).
Director: Joel Sass

“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” by William Shakespeare (June 6 – October 13).
Director: Christopher Liam Moore

Marty Hughley

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