Education Workshop 2013. Photo by Jenny Graham

Play Suitability Suggestions & Study Guides

Suitability suggestions provide details about play content and are available for each of the season's productions. Study guides are also available for each of the season's productions, as well as Shakespeare's entire play canon.

Each school and community is unique, so please read carefully to determine what is appropriate for your students. These materials also offer teaching suggestions, discussion questions, research topics, related websites and additional resources for each production.

Be aware that these suggestions are made before rehearsals begin, and sometimes decisions are made before a show opens that change the suitability of a production. In this event the Education department publishes updates to our website and makes every effort contact group leaders.

All downloads are in PDF format and require Adobe Reader to view and print.

Antony and Cleopatra

Antony and Cleopatra

by William Shakespeare
June 2 – October 9

Suitability Suggestion

A legendary love affair reshapes the ancient world when the great Roman warrior Mark Antony, like Caesar before him, becomes enamored of the incomparable Cleopatra, Queen of the Nile. His devotion to desire rather than duty is the beginning of a downward spiral for him, the Republic and Cleopatra, the last in her bloodline. The play chronicles Antony's relationship with Cleopatra, their rule of Egypt together, the growing separation between Antony and Octavius Caesar, and his final defeat by Octavius who becomes sole ruler of Rome. Shakespeare gives us a complex and very human look at the realities of love, lust, politics and ambition. The play is a vast sprawling tapestry that leaps back and forth from the lushness of Egypt to the military rigidity of Rome. The play is sensual but not overtly sexual, and there is little violence, although suicide is a theme at the end. Antony and Cleopatra is a complicated play in both its language and its themes. It may be best enjoyed by well-prepared high school students. Prologue recommended.

Study Guide

*Available in June*

The Count of Monte Cristo

The Count of Monte Cristo

by Alexandre Dumas; adapted by Charles Fechter
June 4 – October 11

Suitability Suggestion

France, 1815. Edmund Dantès is about to have it all: promotion to captain of his ship and marriage to the woman of his dreams. But instead, a fateful and unfortunate encounter with the exiled Napoleon, coupled with the jealous conniving of a romantic rival, send him wrongfully to a dank prison cell. Years later, fate gives him freedom, wealth and a new identity: the Count of Monte Cristo. Bent on vengeance, he sets traps to ensnare the villains who wronged him. Will he succeed in taking his revenge, be foiled in the attempt, or discover instead the need for compassion and mercy? Adapted from the classic novel by Alexandre Dumas, The Count of Monte Cristo is an action-packed tale with a sharp comedic edge and a romantic heart that plays out with panache and style. With some preparation on the intricacies of the plot, it is suitable for the entire family. Prologue recommended.

Study Guide

*Available in June*

Fingersmith | Study Guide now available!

Fingersmith

Adapted by Alexa Junge from the book by Sarah Waters
February 21 – July 9

Suitability Suggestion (updated 2/2/2015)

Sue Trinder has become the most talented pick-pocket in Mrs. Sucksby's employ, earning her the nickname, fingersmith. Mrs. Sucksby's acquaintance, Gentleman Rivers, wants to borrow Sue to assist in an elaborate scheme to cheat a gullible young heiress named Maud out of her fortune. But nothing is quite what it seems in this gritty, wild ride of a crime thriller set in Victorian England. Maud is the ward of a man who collects erotic literature from all over the world and holds private readings to the "discerning gentlemen" who visit his country estate. As the twisting story sends Sue spiraling through squalid London streets, madhouses and a stifling mansion, it leads her to the most dangerous landscape of all: love and betrayal.This world premiere adaptation of Sarah Waters' celebrated novel is a psychologically rich and intriguing mystery. The play contains an instance of rear female nudity and three sex scenes in which the characters are clothed; two between the play’s heroines and one between a man and a woman. Brief snippets of 19th century erotica are read, there is occasional strong profanity, as well as physical and emotional violence inflicted in a madhouse. Mature high school students who are prepared to handle the play’s content will enjoy this literate and thrilling look at Victorian England through the lens of Waters' 21st-century feminist point of view. Prologue recommended.

Study Guide

2015 Study Guide for Fingersmith

Guys and Dolls | Study Guide now available!

Guys and Dolls

Music and Lyrics by Frank Loesser; book by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows
February 22 – November 1

Suitability Suggestion

Nathan Detroit runs the oldest established permanent floating crap game in New York. The "floating" part is all about staying one step ahead of the police, who would love to close down his illegal gambling operation. Nathan is desperate for $1,000 to secure his next dice game's location, so he bets high-roller Sky Masterson that Masterson cannot convince a straight-laced Salvation Army doll named Sarah, to go on a date. To add to the pressure, Nathan’s fiancé of 14 years, a nightclub performer named Adelaide, will walk out if she doesn’t walk down the aisle soon. Guys and Dolls is a delightful musical based on Damon Runyon's fond stories of gamblers and showgirls. The bad guys aren't really dangerous, the dolls have superhuman patience, and what everybody wants deep down inside is to reform and lead respectable lives. Classic songs and great comedy make Guys and Dolls an odds-on favorite to please the entire family.

Study Guide

2015 Study Guide for Guys and Dolls

The Happiest Song Plays Last

The Happiest Song Plays Last

by Quiara Alegría Hudes
July 7 – November 1

Suitability Suggestion

Iraq War vet Elliot Ortiz has a bright new career: movie star. But shooting a film on location in Jordan with the tumultuous Arab Spring rumbling nearby, he finds that his wartime nightmares have followed him into his new life. Meanwhile his cousin Yazmin, having purchased the old family home in North Philadelphia, spends her nights cooking food for the needy members of her community. As Elliot and his friends on the film crew watch the Arab Spring unfold on the news, Yazmin tries to keep her beloved community from crumbling and finds herself drawn to an older musician friend. This powerful sequel to Quiara Alegría Hudes' Water by the Spoonful explores the places we live our lives, and the places we can't forget. The Happiest Song Plays Last contains frequent strong profanity and deals with themes of PTSD and stories of the horrors of war. Mature high school students will find it both moving and thought-provoking. Prologue recommended.

Study Guide

This production is an original work commissioned by and developed at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. The script will be being revised right up to and in some cases beyond opening day. We will post a study guide as soon as possible, but it might not be available until after the play has opened.

Head Over Heels

Head Over Heels

Script by Jeff Whitty; music and lyrics by the Go Go's
June 3 – October 10

Suitability Suggestion

Basilius, the Duke of Arcadia, goes to visit the Oracle, hoping to hear nothing but good prophecies for himself and his family. Instead, he is told that his oldest daughter will never have a relationship with a man, his youngest daughter will defy him and marry beneath her station, he will commit adultery with his own wife, and within a year another man will be Duke instead of him. Indeed, his youngest daughter Philoclea is already starting to realize that she is in love with the shepherd Musidorus. It takes a while longer for his oldest daughter Pamela to realize that it is the maid Mopsa who sets her heart aflutter. As for Basilius committing adultery with his own wife? Well…never mind. It has to be seen to be believed. Jeff Whitty's bawdy adaptation of Sir Philip Sidney's pastoral romance Arcadia plays out to the music and lyrics of the Go Go's, blending Elizabethan adventure with an '80s beat. The play may contain some risqué components; there is a great deal of clever dialogue that is laced with sexual punning and innuendo. Teenagers who can handle these elements will enjoy this high energy musical romp. As Head Over Heels is still in development, check back closer to opening for possible updates. Prologue recommended.

Study Guide

This production is an original work developed at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. The script will be being revised right up to and in some cases beyond opening day. We will post a study guide as soon as possible, but it might not be available until after the play has opened.

Long Day's Journey into Night | Study Guide now available!

Long Day's Journey into Night

by Eugene O'Neill
March 25 – October 31

Suitability Suggestion

The year is 1912. Actor James Tyrone’s summer home is haunted by alcohol, addiction, failed dreams and ghosts of resentments gone but hardly forgotten. Tyrone wrestles with his guilt over what his traveling-actor lifestyle has done to his family. His delicate wife Mary lives with a morphine addiction and clings to an idealized past. Their oldest son Jamie struggles with the guilt of throwing away his promising acting career on a dissipated life of expensive drink and cheap women. Their youngest son Edmund, who spent years running away from his family by traveling the world on merchant ships, contends with tuberculosis. Over the course of a single day, recriminations and guilt lead the family to a harrowing examination of their love and anger toward each other. Eugene O'Neill's autobiographical masterpiece is a journey into the heart of addiction and family dynamics. There is no overt sexuality or physical violence, but there is great emotional violence. It may be best suited to older high school students who are prepared to handle the mature themes and a language-driven drama. Prologue recommended.

Study Guide

2015 Study Guide for Long Day's Journey into Night

Much Ado about Nothing | Study Guides now available!

Much Ado about Nothing

by William Shakespeare 
February 20 – November 1

Suitability Suggestion

Don Pedro and his soldiers, drunk with victory from the war, arrive in Messina to visit his friend Leonato. Traveling with Don Pedro are his two finest officers: the quick-witted, cynical Benedick and his earnest young friend Claudio. In Leonato’s household are two women: his earnest young daughter Hero (whom Claudio wishes to marry) and his quick-witted, cynical niece Beatrice. Benedick and Beatrice have long waged a “merry war” of clever insults. It’s clear to everyone but the two combatants that the battle of words is their way of disguising their feelings for each other. It will take a monumental comic deception to make them realize and admit the truth. But Messina’s peace is shattered when Claudio, influenced by a scheming malcontent, levels a shocking accusation at Hero that brings the play perilously close to tragedy. This sophisticated and witty battle of the sexes, set in modern Italy, will also explore jealousy and rage, leaving one couple's happiness still in doubt at the play's end. Exuberant, passionate and complex, Much Ado about Nothing may be best suited for well-prepared middle and high school students. Prologue recommended.

Study Guide

2015 Study Guide for Much Ado about Nothing

2015 Spanish Guide for Much Ado about Nothing

Pericles | Study Guide now available!

Pericles

by William Shakespeare
February 26 – November 1

Suitability Suggestion

Pericles, Prince of Tyre, sets out to woo a princess and sails headlong into a harrowing odyssey. Fleeing the wrath of the King of Antioch, Pericles embarks on a series of adventures that carry him all over the Aegean. With jousts, shipwrecks, encounters with pirates, finding the love of his life and losing her and his infant daughter in a storm-tossed sea, this sprawling Shakespearean romance follows Pericles from a youth to maturity. In true storybook fashion, the lost are reunited with those who love them, finding joy and safe harbor at last. This story of good and evil includes an incestuous relationship, scenes in a brothel with dialogue about the trade, and an attempted rape. However at the play’s end, good triumphs with the help of divine intervention. Middle and high school students who are prepared to handle these aspects of the play will find Pericles a delightful and moving tale. Prologue recommended.

Study Guide

2015 Study Guide for Pericles

Secret Love in Peach Blossom Land | Study Guide now available!

Secret Love in Peach Blossom Land

by Stan Lai
April 15 – October 31

Suitability Suggestion

Two theatre companies have accidentally been booked into the same theatre for the same day. One company is rehearsing Secret Love, a tender tale of Jiang and Yun, two young lovers who lose track of each other during the Communist takeover of China in 1949. Decades later, as death nears for Jiang, he makes a last attempt to track down the woman he lost so many years before. The other company is rehearsing Peach Blossom Land, a bawdy retelling of an ancient Chinese fable about a lost fisherman who finds himself in a utopian land. Amid the chaos, squabbles and humorous jabs at theatre life, the two plays unfold and mysteriously intertwine, their epic themes calling to each other across the centuries. Since its premiere in 1986, Secret Love in Peach Blossom Land is regarded as a masterwork of modern theatre in China and Taiwan. The play is at times raucous, at times heartbreaking and romantic. It contains occasional profanity, a love triangle, farcical sexual situations and bawdy talk about size and fertility. Well prepared teenagers who can handle these elements will enjoy this funny, profound work and gain historical insight into the plight of thousands of Chinese forced to flee to Taiwan in 1949. Prologue recommended.

Study Guide

2015 Study Guide for Secret Love in Peach Blossom Land

Sweat

Sweat

by Lynn Nottage
July 29 – October 31

Suitability Suggestion

A group of close friends shares everything: drinks, secrets and laughs. But their world is overturned when a shake-up disrupts the factory where they work, and a horrific crime sends shock waves across two generations. This powerful world premiere by acclaimed playwright Lynn Nottage explores America’s industrial decline of the 1990s with a look inside a Pennsylvania community whose people struggle to reclaim what’s lost, find redemption and redefine themselves in a new century. Sweat is a timely and thought-provoking look at contemporary American life. It explores the effects of recent economic and trade policies and how a close community responds to devastating change. The play contains frequent strong profanity and occasional racial epithets. An act of violence will be shown or described. It may be best suited for well-prepared high school students who are able to handle the play’s content. As Sweat is still in development, check back closer to opening for possible updates. Prologue recommended.

Study Guide 

This production is an original work commissioned by and developed at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. The script will be being revised right up to and in some cases beyond opening day. We will post a study guide as soon as possible, but it might not be available until after the play has opened.

Shakespeare Study Guides Archive

Each season, the OSF Education department archives study guides from the most recent OSF productions as a resource for anyone studying the plays. Students and teachers may use the guides to add to their classroom discussions or to prepare for a performance of the plays. Each study guide contains pre- and post-reading/viewing discussion questions with additional resources to explore.


All's Well That Ends Well
As You Like It
Antony and Cleopatra
The Comedy of Errors
Coriolanus
Cymbeline
Hamlet
Henry IV, Part One
Henry IV, Part Two
Henry V
Henry VI, Part One
Henry VI, Part Two
Henry VI, Part Three
Henry VIII
Julius Caesar
King John
King Lear
Love's Labor's Lost
Macbeth
Measure for Measure 
The Merchant of Venice
The Merry Wives of Windsor
A Midsummer Night's Dream
Much Ado about Nothing
Othello
Pericles, Prince of Tyre
Richard II
Richard III
Romeo and Juliet
The Taming of the Shrew
The Tempest
Timon of Athens
Titus Andronicus
Troilus and Cressida
Twelfth Night
The Two Gentlemen of Verona
The Two Noble Kinsmen
The Winter's Tale