Image from 1960 Feast of Will

OSF Traditions

A brief look at OSF traditions and how they were started

What's the history of the Elizabethan Closing Ceremony?

“…Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits and
Are melted into air, into thin air:
And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp'd towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep...”

Since 1952, the Festival has closed its outdoor season with these words from Prospero’s speech from Act IV of The Tempest. That year, The Tempest was the last play of the season, and H. Paul Kliss, seen above, was Prospero. What started as a one-time event has lasted for 60 years and evolved to include music and a candle-lit procession by Company members into the Allen Elizabethan Theatre. Judy Kennedy, longtime Company member, remembers the words to the special song (lyrics written by Ellen Kay, a member of the 1957 company), sung to the tune of Greensleeves:

“As all must pass into the night
We pause to sing one last refrain
To share the memory of delight
Till next year we meet again.
Farewell then till the seasons turn
And summer’s sun again greets ye
Met where the start with our lights shall burn
And we come again to please ye.”

Nowadays, we hum the song rather than sing, but the spirit remains the same. After the speech is done, the candles are blown out, and the Company files out of the house. The person chosen to don the Prospero robe 1970_Closing_Ceremonyand read the lines is usually someone who will not be returning to the Company the following season, though this too has been a product of evolution. For a long time the person chosen had been the Guest Equity artist for the season. In the early 1980s, during Jerry Turner’s tenure as the Artistic Director, the decision was made to change to our current policy. The selection of the speech-giver is kept secret until a few days before closing night, and through the years, non-actors such as Artistic Director Emerita Libby Appel in 2007 have also been chosen to give the speech. In some cases, the person does return to the Company later, and we are always happy to have them back with us!

We have a partial list of who has performed the closing speech over the years. If you can add any names to our list, please contact us at [email protected].

1952-1954 =H Paul Kliss
1957=Richard Graham
1961 =Elizabeth Huddle
1962 =Richard Graham
1969 = Mainer Patrick Hines 1971=Jim Baker
1974=Raye Birk
1975=Michael Kevin Moore
1981=Cal Winn
1982=Barry Kraft
1984=Mark Murphey
1986=Richard Elmore
1991=Jerry Turner, with wife Mary at his side
1992=Robynn Rodriguez
1993=Mimi Carr
1994=Michelle Morain on the Elizabethan, B. W. Gonzales on the Bowmer
1996=Cindy Basco
1997=Paul Vincent O’Connor 
1998=Clayton Corzatte
2000=Dan Donohue
2005=Sandy McCallum 
2006=Linda K. Morris
2007=Libby Appel
2008=Ray Porter
2009=Sarah Rutan
2010=J. P. Phillips
2011= James Edmondson
2012 = Paul NIcholson
2013 = Tony DeBruno

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How did the Green Show begin?

1963_DancersOriginally called The Mop Fair, thenTudor Faire, the Green Show has been a part of the Festival since at least the late 1940s. It began with strolling groups of madrigal singers performing inside the bowl of the Elizabethan before performances, as a way to entice the audience into arriving early. The show would begin when the house opened, about 45 minutes before show time. In approximately 1957, country dancing was added to the entertainment. In 1958 Marcia Thayer joined as choreographer, and brought with her carefully researched choreography. Actual “English country dances” from the period, Morris dances (energetic exhibition dances that appear often in English history) and choreographies based on the courtly dances, such as a pavane and, galliard were added to the repertoire. The dances were performed on the grass at the back of the bowl. The sprinklers tended to leak, and the grass was on a slope, so it was not an ideal performing space, although probably “authentic” in that the mud caused a number of dancers to slip and fall off and on. The costumes were basic: a heavy cotton vest and skirt (or “pumpkin pants”), with a striped blouse.

In 1959 the action was moved to the ‘blockhouse’ in front of the Tudor Guild and Soroptomist booths with the construction of our current Elizabethan Stagehouse (but before the Allen Pavilion). The musicians still sang and played down in front of the Elizabethan stage, doing the “five minute set” just before the play started.

Shirlee Dodge joined OSF as choreographer in 1963. She focused more on more modern dance choreography, although still using the OSF musicians. In her first year, for example, she planned a dance based on the pear industry of the Rogue Valley. Long-time Company member Judy Kennedy served as choreographer from 1970 to 1997. She did research on dances using primary sources, mostly from the Bailey Collection at the SOU Hannon Library. By 1975 the show was doing only dances from Renaissance sources. The music, under Todd Barton, also continued to grow in the direction of more accurate replicas of period instruments, and more sophisticated music research. They continued to perform on the blockhouse, and costuming became more appropriate to the period and the dances, with two sets of costumes “court and country” being pulled from costume stock.

Toward the end of the 70’s OSF realized that the standing room people didn’t get to see any of the show, so the dancers and musicians went outside the gate after the main Green Show was over, and did perhaps one dance and one or two pieces of music for the waiting crowd right outside the gates. This proved so popular that they started doing fifteen minutes or so of the show on the Bricks before moving in to the blockhouse. After the construction of the Pavilion, Richard Hay designed a platform outside that we are using today. In 1995 the music was slightly amplified to overcome street noise which made it very difficult to hear the soft instruments.

Costumes, again, improved with a beautiful new set of both court and country dance costumes designed by Jeannie Davidson, and a set of Baroque era costumes, when the Festival pushed out the boundaries of the material that was used, in 1995.

Over time, the Green Show changed to a more general program. With the advent of Libby Appel as Artistic Director the Green Show changed to the Dance Kaleidoscope troupe and Terra Nova consort. Finally, in 2008, it switched to our current system of varied entertainment, curated by Claudia Alick.

--Drawn in large measure from the memories of Judy Kennedy

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Was the Feast of Will always in Lithia Park?

1961_Feast_of_Will_1The Feast of the Tribe of Will (now Feast of Will) is a tradition dating back to the early 1950s, held in Lithia Park to celebrate the opening of the outdoor season. In the beginning, an opening night buffet was held indoors at Susanne Homes Hall on the Southern Oregon College of Education (now SOU) campus and later at the Tally Ho Restaurant in Ashland. The event, a chicken barbeque, moved to Lithia Park in 1956. Dr. Margery Bailey and Martha Dawkins, president of the Tudor Guild, are credited with giving the long running event its name that year through the hand-written invitations sent out by Dr. Bailey, which proclaimed:.

Oregon Shakespearean Festival Association and Tudor Guild of the Shakespearean Festival You are bidden to the feasting of the Tribe of Will, before the playing of Richard the Third, his Tragedy, on the first day of August, Anno Domini MDCDLVI. The gentlefolk are to come together in the wooded park at the town of Ashland at six of the clock before sundown. Good ale will be broached from the keg by Bardolph Host, and roasted meats served forth by the maids, with fruits of the year, and the new root from the Indies—piping hot & buttered. Steward William Patton must needs know the numbers of the company; so we pray you let him within the week know your mind on’t, and let him have a trifle of three crowns or so for each one of your following [$2.50] to reward the service withal.

By Martha Dawkins and & John Thompson [President of the Board of Directors]: for the adventurers herein.

In 1962, the Feast offered the lighthearted entertainment of The Maske of the Wood. Actors helped to affix pathway lamps, called ‘quainties,’ which led visitors to the theatre. The late Bill Patton, our former Executive Director and early Lighting Director, made many of these lights.

The event has been run as a fundraiser by the Ashland Lions Club for years now, with help from the Early Bird Club, the Ashland Garden Club, and the Boy Scouts, and has featured performances by the Southern Oregon Kilty Band, Jefferson Bag Pipe Band, Jefferson Baroque Orchestra and Choir, and the Siskiyou Singers.

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How and when did the Daedalus Project come to be?

1988_DaedalusOSF Artistic Associate James Edmondson had the original idea for an AIDS/HIV fundraiser in 1988, as a way to honor lost comrades, and provide funds to support organizations. This annual fundraiser has grown to include an afternoon play-reading, evening variety show, hat or underwear parade, concession sales, and many other events. Everything is directed or created by company members, which provides a great opportunity for cross department collaboration and great creativity.

The late OSF Artistic Director Emeritus Jerry Turner named the fundraiser ‘The Daedalus Project’ after the story of Daedalus from Greek mythology. Daedalus and his son, Icarus, were imprisoned in a labyrinth by King Minos, and by crafting wings from wax and feathers, Daedalus created a way out of the maze.

There should be no need for a reminder than any plague upon the land affects us all. John Donne’s superb eloquence that no man is an island, entire unto itself applies to all generations and for all time. Yet it is also true that the human mind has the capacity not only to realize its fate but also to act as if it did not acknowledge it. We all are inclined to feast in the midst of plague.

And yet, it is also true that the very size of our collective loss can be a reminder of the infinite value of our lives. The frustration of our efforts to find a cure need not lead to surrender and despair but to redoubled energy in pursuit of life-giving hope. The affirming flame that lies at the center of all creative effort is subject neither to death nor time, and while we mourn those cut off so young and so apparently senselessly we must also celebrate their courage and talent and the infinite value of their lives.

We can pay no greater tribute to our fallen brothers and sisters than to refuse to succumb to anger and futility in an assertion of our determination to prevail against the night. As living creatures we must affirm the worth of lives cut down amongst us. We must accept the darkness, yet seek for light. Only then can we as human beings share their trauma and their triumph.
--Speech by Jerry Turner at the first Daedalus, August 15, 1988

A benefit sale of T-shirts, baked goods, lemonade, and other concessions occurs on the bricks during the afternoon and early evening hours. At the same time, the Daedalus Art & Treasures Sale is held In the Angus Bowmer Theatre lobby. A beautiful handmade quilt designed and constructed by Ann Stephens, a 28-year member of the OSF Costume Shop is raffled off at the Daedalus event. Ann has created 11 Daedalus quilts on her own and collaborated on several others. The fabric pieces in the quilt represent costumes from that season’s plays.

The evening variety show, hosted since 2003 by Ray Porter, takes place in the Allen Elizabethan Theatre. The show features original dances, songs, poetry and skits performed by OSF actors, company members, and artists from the community. The finale of Act One is the ever-popular Underwear Parade (formerly the Hat Parade). Audience members vote with their dollars for their favorite underwear contestants during intermission. In 2013 the Project raised a record $133,300, with the underwear parade alone contributing $17,400.

Every year, the Daedalus Project concludes with a witnessing ceremony. At the end of the evening show, company members come on stage and name the people they have lost to AIDS. Because it is an emotional time, we list those we are witnessing for in advance, on the Daedalus Project board and in the program.

Following each year's benefit, OSF distributes the proceeds to local, regional, national and international HIV and AIDS charitable organizations. Since its inception, Daedalus has raised and dispersed approximately $1.5 million. As stated so eloquently on our Plays and Tickets page,

“For 25 years, OSF has held to the hope that this annual event would no longer be necessary — that a cure for AIDS/HIV would be found and the spread of this deadly disease would be halted. OSF will continue to hold these benefits as long as funds are needed for AIDS/HIV research and charitable support.”

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Why do you raise the flag before an Elizabethan show, and what's the design on the flag?

Flag-09The Festival's tradition of "raising the flag" above the Allen Elizabethan Theatre (formerly Elizabethan Stage/Allen Pavilion)before each performance dates back to the days of Shakespeare when it was the custom of the theatres on the south side of the Thames River to display a flag to alert theatre-goers on the London (north) side that there would be a play presented that afternoon. The Festival began this practice in 1959 upon the completion of the new Elizabethan Stage. A windowed gable was ex-tended from the center of the roof to cover and define the middle stage. Just before each performance, an actor or crew member opens the gable window, and in keeping with the Elizabethan tradition, runs a flag up the pole to the sound of a trumpet and doffs his cap to the audience.

flagOur flag (see left) consists of Shakespeare’s arms, or shield, reversed with a crest of a falcon holding a spear. The leaves are meant to be Ash leaves, signifying Ashland. We do have other banners around the Festival. According to our Resident Artist Richard L. Hay, “On the yellow and green Bowl banners: the ‘rose’ is a very simplification of the Tudor rose; the fleur de lis is the French heraldic symbol and is also on the English coat of arms; the cross is a ‘cross-crosslet’ with no particular significance for us—used for its design only. On the street banners, the ‘lion rampant’ (a vertical ‘pose’) is a popular heraldic figure and suggestive of strength, valor, or fierceness. The lion ‘passant-guardant’ is on the English coat of arms but it is in a horizontal ‘pose’.”

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Contact Information

Debra Griffith
Records and Reference Archivist
541-482-2111, ext. 266

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