Oregon Community Foundation joins ranks of donors supporting 2015 production by Taiwanese playwright Stan Lai
August 27, 2014
Ashland, Ore.—The Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF) has received a $125,000 grant from the Oregon Community Foundation (OCF) to support the 2015 U.S. premiere of Secret Love in Peach Blossom Land, a hugely popular play in China and Taiwan by Taiwanese playwright Stan Lai, who also translated the play to English and will direct at OSF.
The grant is part of OCF’s Creative Heights initiative, a $4 million, five-year investment by OCF that addresses the need for Oregon’s arts and culture organizations to test new ideas, stretch their creative capacity, and provide unique opportunities for Oregonians to experience innovative arts and culture.
“Through the Creative Heights initiative, OCF is able to help arts and culture nonprofits innovate,” said Max Williams, OCF President and CEO. “We’re excited that audiences in Jackson County and throughout Oregon will have opportunities to experience the creative power of artists in our state.”
Secret Love in Peach Blossom Land is garnering high levels of support and enthusiasm among donors and sponsors. Among them are the show’s Producing Sponsors, Judy Shih and Joel Axelrod, who have played a key role in bringing Lai and Secret Love to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and whose financial support of the play represents the largest gift OSF has ever received for a single production.
Lai has been hailed as “probably the best Chinese language playwright and director in the world” by the BBC, and his Secret Love in Peach Blossom Land has become one of the most popular plays in modern China since its debut in 1986. A pair of plays—one a bawdy retelling of a classic Chinese fable, the other a poignant story of a couple separated in the wake of China’s 1949 revolution—collide onstage when two acting troupes accidentally book the same theatre for rehearsals. Amid the chaos, squabbles and comical jabs at theatre life, the two plays begin to mysteriously intertwine, their epic themes calling to each other across the centuries in a blend of modern realism and Peking opera.
“For a theatre with Shakespeare at its very core, presenting great texts from around the globe represents a logical and profound extension of our mission,” said OSF Artistic Director Bill Rauch. “I am particularly excited by Secret Love in Peach Blossom Land because it is the first world classic OSF has programmed where both playwright and director (the same artist in this case) originate from the same country as the story. The resulting authenticity of the production and deep connection to the originating culture will both challenge and enrich our efforts—and bring OSF’s commitment to global classics to an entirely new level.”
For more information about the Creative Heights initiative and other OCF arts and culture strategies and programs, visit http://www.oregoncf.org/ocf-initiatives/arts-and-culture.
Since its founding by Angus Bowmer in 1935, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival has grown from a three-day festival of two plays to a major theatre arts organization that presents an eight-month season consisting of 11 plays that represent a mix of Shakespeare’s canon, classics, musicals, and new works. Inspired by Shakespeare's work and the cultural richness of the United States, OSF believes we reveal our collective humanity through illuminating interpretations of new and classic plays, deepened by the kaleidoscope of rotating repertory.
Stan Lai, playwright and director of Secret Love in Peach Blossom Land. Photo by Jenny Graham.