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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

2011 has arrived! OSF and AIFF

On the main drag in downtown Ashland, banners are flying for both the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and the Ashland Independent Film Festival. The new year has begun!

The 2011 season of the reliably fabulous Oregon Shakespeare Festival  (check out this traveller's blog) is well underway with several plays in repertory (so far, I've seen three). Meanwhile, we're gearing up for the 2011 Ashland Independent Film Festival April 7-11. Again this year, the Academy has given AIFF a grant to help in bringing even more of the filmmakers here for their screenings (it's already a festival they like to come to, so we always get a good number) so it should be a boffo festival once more. Ashland crazy!

The three OSF plays I've seen so far are Measure for Measure, The Language Archive, and To Kill a Mockingbird. In the wings are tickets to Julius Caesar, The Imaginary Invalid, and Ghost Light, and several lectures, and I hope to see most if not all of the 11 or 12 (depending on how you look at it) plays at least once before the year is out. And of course I look forward to many Green Shows other special events once the season goes into high gear in June, with the opening of the third theatre, the Elizabethan, and its plays.

At this point my hands-down favorite is Measure for Measure, no surprise since Bill Rauch directed it and I don't think that man can put a foot wrong. Here, he takes yet another play I've never warmed to, and (with dramaturg Barry Kraft) pulls many rabbits out of his hat and finds in it Shakespeare's full measure of humanity (I also saw a very entertaining and enlightening noon lecture by Barry Kraft and I definitely want to see this play again). The Mariachi music alone, performed by Mary M. Alfaro, Vaneza M. Calderon, and Susie Garcia, is worth the price of a ticket.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Language Archive too, as well as a very fine lecture by the dramaturg (whose name I'll add here when I can find it) but wasn't too crazy about To Kill a Mockingbird , which seemed tired to me. However, some friends here who have seen other productions of the same adaptation said it was the best they'd seen, and thought it was very fine. Imaginary Invalid is getting great word-of-mouth and so I broke down and bought a ticket to that too. We'll see! As far as August: Osage County goes, I'm not sure. Just not that fond of modern dysfunctional-family plays and will await reports.

And on to...

From the delightful blog Only in Ashland, this photo shows the Columbia Hotel, the Ashland Springs Hotel in recent snow. The Varsity Theatre, below, is a little further down the street.
Meanwhile, emails are flying back and forth like crazy the last few days, between two out of town friends and me, planning an epic, all-out Ashland Independent Film Festival bash for 2011. Columbia Hotel room is reserved, airline tickets bought, and the AIFF website has posted the daily schedule of films a couple of days early. Peggy already has all her films picked out! Jeanie and I are a little slower but before we know it, the box office will open and April will be here. I can't wait!

This post is just a teaser. Last year I really enjoyed writing about both festivals and hope to have that pleasure again this year. Now that I've been blogging for more than a year, the shape of the year repeats -- but, like the mountain weather here, never in the same way twice. 

From the blog Only in Ashland, this great photo shows the deco Varsity Theater in recent snow, but gearing up for the film festival: 
The Deco-style Varsity Theatre was built in 1937. Photo from http://traveljapanblog.com/ashland/category/only-in-ashland/
Update: tickets bought. Can't wait!

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