Closing Night Traditions

Posted on Oct 4th, 2012 in OSF Archives

Tales from the Vault

As the season draws to a close and the weather is cooler, it is certainly apparent why our outdoor season would not or could not be extended.

The tradition to close the outdoor theatre with the words of Prospero from Act IV actually began in 1952 when H. Paul Kiss had the role in The Tempest which concluded the season. A Medford Mail Tribune story on August 31, 1952 says “Thus the festival ends, and will lie sleeping until another group of actors returns to work to awaken it next June.”

Of course, as we approach our 75th anniversary year, our season is much longer than it once was and actors and crew will return to the rehearsal halls before we know it. The shops are already at work for the coming year, and the administrative staff works year round.

Over the years this fine tradition of the closing night ceremony has evolved, with a few different Prospero robes. The choice to make the closing night speech, normally made by an actor not returning the following year, now includes the time it doubled as Libby Appel’s valedictory address as Artistic Director. Yet, she didn’t melt into thin air, but returns again as a director. Some actors have returned after a few seasons, too.

The tradition here has been one of speech, candles and song. Judy Kennedy, longtime Green Show participant, remembers the words to the special song, sung to the tune of Greensleeves, thus:

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.

The Archives has never had a complete list of those giving the speech, so I have a request. If any of you actors have given the speech and recall the year, we’ll try to compile a list so we have it to celebrate our 75 years. Thanks, and ever thanks.