After shutting down all of its productions for spring and summer due to the coronavirus outbreak, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival had hoped to return for a shortened fall season, but that will no longer happen.
Today, the renowned theater production company in Ashland announced it would have to leave its stages dark for the rest of the year, perhaps even longer, depending on if and when reliable treatment and prevention of the COVID-19 virus are developed.
The decision was prompted by Gov. Kate Brown's press conference yesterday, where she and the state's medical professionals stated that large gatherings, like sporting events, concerts and conventions, would not be held until at least the end of September.
"The health and safety of our entire Ashland community, including artists, staff, volunteers, patrons and Festival partners, is our highest priority," OSF's artistic director stated on the festival's website. "My primary goal is to protect the future of this celebrated 85-year-old organization and to bring great theater back to our stages in 2021."
The loss of an entire year of shows is a particularly hard blow for OSF since, in recent years, hazardous smoke from Southern Oregon wildfires forced multiple cancellations of plays held at its largest venue: the Allen Elizabethan Theatre, a three-story re-creation of London's famed Globe that's highly popular with attendees.
While the company adjusted and started hosting shows at Ashland High School when air quality was poor, only a fraction of ticketholders could fit in the smaller space.
Anyone who bought seats to shows this year is invited to donate those tickets or request vouchers to use in 2021. OSF says these options will help as it deals with critical financial losses.