Play Development

OSF is committed to new play development and has established various programs to meet its goals in this area.

Besides American Revolutions: the United States History Cycle commissioning program, OSF also commissions other works for possible production.

There are four additional programs: a Shakespeare translation/adaptation project, a musical commissioning program, the Nexthetics initiative, as well as commissions of adaptations, translations and new plays.


We have received funding to commission five writers to translate and/or adapt five Shakespeare plays. This idea was proposed by a long-time patron and so far we have completed a literal translation of Timon of Athens. We are in negotiation to commission two more literary translations as well as two adaptations.

Recently we have joined the bandwagon to develop musicals for season consideration. We received a grant to pay for five commissions and we currently have four in process.


20110903_Full_Circle_0002In order to explore the intersection of nexthetics (the term for hip-hop and spoken word aesthetics created at 2003 Ford Foundation Future Aesthetics conference) and classical theatre, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival brings together expert practitioners and connects with community based performers. We produce yearly intensives such as Hip-hop Boot Camp (2007) and Mixing Texts (2008, 2009, 2010, 2011) where we devise original work, workshop scripts, hold round table discussions, and present the work of guest artists. We also hold educational lectures and workshops, program nexthetics based performers in the Green Show, and sponsor spoken word events. Click here to find out more about the many programs we produce.

These received their name because these are the ones that cross different categories. We often need a translation of a classical play, for instance. Sometimes we want an adaptation of a novel. And just because a play may be based on American history, it may not fall in the American Revolutions program. Just as not every musical is only through our musical commission program. Sometimes we commission playwrights to write their next play for us. 

For further information, contact Claudia Alick at [email protected] about the Nexthetics initiative. Please contact Lue Douthit at [email protected] about the other three programs. 


Launched in 2009, the Black Swan Lab for New Work dedicates a slot in the repertory for OSF actors and guest artists to incubate new work without performance pressures.

Named after OSF’s first experimental performance space, the Lab was created to make innovative use of one of OSF’s greatest strengths: its resident company of actors, the largest in the United States. For visiting playwrights and directors, Ashland’s rural setting offers a retreat while they engage with Lab actors during a concentrated period or intermittently over a longer stretch of time, whichever best suits their needs.

Playwrights considered for inclusion in the Lab are selected from a master list of experienced and emerging playwrights from a wide variety of backgrounds. Candidates for the Lab include playwrights with OSF commissions and previous productions as well as artists with whom OSF wishes to cultivate future relationships, guided by Director of Literary Development and Dramaturgy Lue Douthit’s “eclectic, whimsical sense of humor.”

Invitations are made to playwrights in May and June for the current season’s Lab, in keeping with the spontaneous spirit of the Lab. There is no application process for the Lab; inquiries can be made directly to [email protected].