1935 playbill or "cast flyer"

OSF Timeline

A quick tour of OSF history.

1935     Elizabethan Stage built in Chautauqua tabernacle shell. First Annual Shakespearean Festival opens  July 2nd with a production of Twelfth Night. 

1937    Oregon Shakespearean Festival Association is incorporated.

1939   The Festival takes a production of The Taming of the Shrew to the Golden Gate Exposition in San  Francisco. Angus L. Bowmer later credits the nationwide radio broadcast and resultant publicity for helping enable the Festival to resume production after World War II. 

1941-46    OSF closes during World War II.

1947    OSF resumes production as a new, larger Elizabethan Stage is built to replace the stage damaged by a 1940 fire. As the reputation and critical acclaim for the productions grows, so does the Festival; more performances are scheduled, and the company becomes larger.

1949    Stanford professor Dr. Margery Bailey becomes the Festival’s academic advisor as part of the “Shakespearean Summer School,” establishing the earliest incarnation of today’s Education department.

1951   King Lear becomes the first 30-minute adaptation of an OSF production broadcast nationally on NBC radio, live from the Elizabethan stage in collaboration with NBC Producer Andrew C. Love.  A show from each season was broadcast annually until 1974 and contributed to a longer Festival season and an increasingly geographically diverse audience.

1952   The Tudor Guild, the Festival's first volunteer organization, is incorporated.

1953    OSF hires its first, full-time, paid employee: General Manager William Patton, who later becomes Executive Director. Richard L. Hay is appointed Designer and Technical Director. The Institute of Renaissance Studies, (the forerunner of the current Education department) headed by Executive Director Dr. Margery Bailey, becomes a part of OSF.

1958  With its production of Troilus and Cressida, OSF completes the Shakespearean canon for the first  time. Following the season, the 1947 stagehouse — which had, for several years, barely met fire codes — is torn down.

1959  New Elizabethan Stage opens. Designed by Richard L. Hay (architect: Jack A. Edson; contractor: Frank Fairweather), the stagehouse is patterned on London's 1599 Fortune Theatre.

1960   OSF produces its first non-Shakespearean play, John Webster'sThe Duchess of Malfi.

1963   Attendance tops 50,000.

1966   OSF's Endowment Fund is established.  Festival uses Varsity Theatre to stage ballad operas.

1970  The 600-seat indoor Angus Bowmer Theatre, designed by Richard L. Hay (architects: Kirk, Wallace, McKinley, AIA & Associates, Seattle WA; contractor: Robert D. Morrow, Inc., Salem, OR), opens March 21 with Tom Stoppard's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. Completion of the theatre enables OSF to expand its season into the spring and fall; helps generate much-needed income; and accommodates more playgoers, many of whom were previously turned away due to a lack of seating.

1971  Angus Bowmer retires. Jerry Turner is appointed Producing Director. Attendance tops 150,000.

1977   A third theatre — the 140-seat Black Swan, designed by Richard L. Hay — opens February 11 with Shelagh Delaney's A Taste of Honey. This intimate theatre allows OSF's directors and actors to experiment with plays which cannot be sustained in the larger theatres, but are still worthy of serious production. OSF and Angus Bowmer receive the Oregon Arts Commission/Governor's Award for the Arts. 

1978    With Timon of Athens, the Festival completes the Shakespearean canon for the second time.  

1979    OSF founder Angus Bowmer dies on May 26 (1904-1979).

1983    Festival wins Antoinette Perry ("Tony") Award for outstanding achievement in regional theatre and National Governors' Association Award for distinguished service to the arts, the first ever awarded to a performing arts organization. Attendance tops 300,000. 

1984    OSF negotiates a special contract with Actors' Equity Association, thereby increasing the number of Equity actors in the company while continuing to give new actors the opportunity to accrue experience and professional credits.

1985    OSF celebrates its 50th anniversary.

1986    Festival volunteers receive the President's Volunteer Action Award at the White House.

1987    OSF welcomes its five millionth visitor. Board of Directors accepts invitation from the City of Portland to establish a resident theatre company in the new Portland Center for the Performing Arts.

1988    OSF Portland opens November 12 with a production of George Bernard Shaw's Heartbreak House. The expansion makes OSF the largest not-for-profit theatre in the country. The Oregon Shakespearean Festival changes its name to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.  

1989    Richard L. Hay, OSF's Principal Scenic and Theatre Designer, receives the Oregon Governor's Award for the Arts.

1990    OSF launches $5.2 million fund-raising campaign to build Elizabethan Theatre Seating Pavilion. Board of Directors refuses $49,500 grant from National Endowment for the Arts due to restrictive language. OSF subsequently receives 1990 American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Commendation and 1990 Open Book Award for First Amendment Courage from American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA).

1991    Jerry Turner — who receives the Oregon Arts Commission/Governor's Award for the Arts — retires and Henry Woronicz is appointed Artistic Director. Construction begins on the Allen Pavilion of the Elizabethan Theatre.

1992    The $7.6 million Allen Pavilion of the Elizabethan Theatre is completed in June. The Pavilion encircles the seating area and provides improved acoustics, sight-lines and technical capabilities. Vomitoria (entryways for the actors from under the seating area to the stage) are added, increasing staging possibilities. Seating capacity does not change, but several hundred seats are raised onto a roofed balcony. The theatre remains open to the sky.

1993    William Patton receives the Oregon Arts Commission/Governor's Award for the Arts. Board of Directors and Portland Advisory Council — who agree that the current arrangement is exhausting the artistic energies of both operations — announce the future independence of the Portland company, to which OSF will provide transitional support for a two-year period.

1994    The Festival's operation in Portland becomes an independent theatre company — Portland Center Stage — on July 1.

1995    William Patton announces his retirement in March after 47 years with OSF. Patton later receives the Mark R. Sumner Award for distinguished achievement from the Institute of Outdoor Drama. Henry Woronicz announces his resignation in June: Libby Appel, the Artistic Director at Indiana Repertory Theatre, is named Artistic Director; and OSF General Manager Paul E. Nicholson is named Executive Director.

1996    Artistic Director Emeritus Jerry Turner is presented the St. Olavs Medal by the Norwegian Consul General on behalf of King Harald of Norway. 

1997    OSF receives an invitation to bring its world premiere production of Lillian Garrett-Groag's The Magic Fire, commissioned by OSF, to the John F. Kennedy Center in Washington, DC in November 1998. Festival's third rotation through the Shakespeare canon is completed with Timon of Athens.

1998    The Festival celebrates Executive Director Emeritus Bill Patton's 50th year with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. OSF's production of Lorraine Hansberry's Les Blancs is videotaped for the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center's Theatre on Film and Tape Archives (TOFT), and the Festival's production of Lillian Garrett-Groag's The Magic Fire plays at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC from November 10 through December 6. It is selected by Time Magazine as one of the year's Ten Best Plays. 

1999    The season's productions of William Shakespeare's Pericles and Henrik Ibsen's Rosmersholm are videotaped for the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center's Theatre on Film and Tape Archives (TOFT).

2000    Season attendance sets a new record of 380,101 or 95 percent of capacity. The production of Euripides' The Trojan Women is videotaped for the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center's Theatre on Film and Tape Archives (TOFT). Groundbreaking for the New Theatre to replace the Black Swan occurs on November 17.

2001    10 millionth ticketholder welcomed in September. Black Swan closes its doors as a performance venue on October 28. New Theatre constructed, the product of a successful $21 million Capital Campaign. OSF hosts annual American Theatre Critics Association conference.

2002    New Theatre opens in March. Theatre space design: Richard L. Hay; architect: Thomas Hacker and Associates, Portland, OR; contractor: Emerick Construction, Portland, OR; acoustical engineer, Dohn and Associates, Morro Bay, CA. Space allows for flexible seating in arena, avenue and ¾ thrust. Total attendance reaches a record 399, 609. OSF receives the Gene Leo Rose City Award from the Portland Oregon Visitors Association, recognizing the Festival's significant contributions to the promotion of tourism in Oregon. OSF Scenic Designer William Bloodgood receives the Oregon Governor's Award for the Arts.

2003    OSF named one of America's top five regional theatres by Time magazine (6/2/03), and the OSF/Berkeley Repertory Theatre co-production of David Edgar's world premiere two-play cycle Continental Divide named by Time as the #1 American theatre experience for 2003 (12/22/03). OSF also premieres 2003 Pulitzer Prize-winner Nilo Cruz's Lorca in a Green Dress.

2004    Continental Divide tours for three weeks in England and then plays at La Jolla Playhouse for an eight week run. OSF premieres Frank Galati's Oedipus Complex. Artistic Director Emeritus Jerry Turner dies on September 2 (1927-2004). 

2005    OSF celebrates its 70th year and dedicates the season to Jerry Turner. World premieres of Robert Schenkkan's By the Waters of Babylon, and Octavio Solis' Gibraltar.

2006    Bill Rauch is named Artistic Director Designate to succeed Libby Appel in 2008.

2007    World premiere adaptation of Tracy’s Tiger by OSF artists Linda Alper, Douglas Langworthy, Penny Metropulos and Sterling Tinsley. Libby Appel retires after 12 years as Artistic Director.

2008    After working alongside Libby Appel throughout the 2007 season, Bill Rauch becomes Artistic Director. American Revolutions: the United States History Cycle, OSF’s 10-year program of commissioning up to 37 new plays about moments of change in United States history is established. The Green Show is reinvented to include local and national artists representing diverse cultural and artistic traditions. The world premiere of Julie Marie Myatt’s Welcome Home, Jenny Sutter tours to the Kennedy Center following its OSF run.

2009    The season is dedicated to Scenic Designer Richard Hay, his 53rd with the Festival. World premiere adaptation of Don Quixote by Octavio Solis. World premiere of Equivocation by Bill Cain moves to Seattle Repertory Theatre after its OSF run. Record attendance reaches 410,034.

2010    The Festival celebrates its 75th anniversary, and sets an attendance record of 414,783. The world premiere of American Night by Richard Montoya and Culture Clash becomes the first play produced as part of the American Revolutions commission. World premiere adaptation of Throne of Blood by Ping Chong moves to Brooklyn Academy of Music after its OSF run.

2011    General Manager (1953-1995) Bill Patton passes away in January and the season is dedicated to his memory and legacy. OSF faces one of its most significant challenges in its 76-year history when the main support beam of the Angus Bowmer Theatre cracks on June 18, forcing the closure of the theatre while extensive repairs were made. A temporary theatre seating 600 under a tent—called Bowmer in The Park—-opens on July 7, and the Angus Bowmer Theatre reopens on August 2. The Blackstone Audio recording of OSF’s 2010 production of Hamlet, directed by Bill Rauch, is nominated for a 2011 Grammy Award in the Best Spoken Word Album category. World premieres of Willful and Ghost Light. The 2009 production of Equivocation is remounted at Arena Stage November 2011–January 2012.

2012    The season is dedicated to Executive Director Paul Nicholson, who concludes his 33-year career with the Festival in December. A generous donation to the OSF Artistic Opportunity Fund supports the creation of a new rehearsal center to be named the Hay Patton Rehearsal Center in honor of Senior Scenic and Theatre Designer Richard L. Hay, and OSF’s first general manager and executive director William Patton. The gift also secures the naming rights of the New Theatre and the donors announce that it will officially become the Thomas Theatre (after OSF’s late Director of Development Peter Thomas) in the 2013 season. The 2010 production of American Night is remounted at La Jolla Playhouse and the Kirk Douglas Theatre; Ghost Light is remounted at Berkley Repertory Theatre. World premieres of Party People and All the Way

2013    The Elizabethan Stage/Allen Pavilion is renamed the Allen Elizabethan Theatre.