The 10th grade spring trip to Ashland to watch the Shakespeare festival is a time when many kids rediscover their fondness of theatre but dare not to tell anyone. After learning we would be seeing one Shakespeare play and four modern pieces, the class was surprised that we wouldn’t solely be watching plays from the 1500s in a completely different version of english. The first adventure of the trip was the thirteen hour bus ride there. We stopped in a town called Burns, Oregon, that you can barely call a town because it’s made up of just a McDonalds and a grocery store. We were anxious to hop out of the bus to move our bodies and, of course, grab a Big Mac and McFlurry for the road. We then traveled to Ashland and arrived in town around 7:30 pm. The class received our room assignments and tossed out bags on out bed, and walked to a local restaurant. After, we dove into our beds and were fast asleep after our extremely physically exerting day.
Each day we woke up around 8 and had breakfast at the apartments. We had slow mornings which was a change from waking up at 4 am on coast. On Tuesday we had about forty five minutes of free time in which many chose to get a coffee or head to the local boutiques. At 12:30 we met in front of the Bowmer theatre and the chaperones collected our phones and gave us tickets to see Hairspray. This musical was absolutely amazing, and replicated the original movie precisely. As we walked out of the theatre with our jaws dragging on the floor, many kids, into theatre or not, were in awe and loved the show.. After this show we were able to talk with one of the cast members and ask any questions that we had. That evening we made it back to the theatre for our next play, Mother Road, at 8 pm. This piece is set in present day but is about a road trip from California to Oklahoma to inherit a farm. For many, this was their favorite play because of the diverse cast and incredible acting.
On Wednesday we started out the morning with a “Backstage Tour” given by one of the OSF actors. Last year, this tour was amazing as the class got to see the transition of one stage to another in the Bowmer Theatre. Unfortunately, we only got to see a few of the rehearsal spaces. The matinee we saw that day was As You Like It, a Shakespeare rom-com that we read in Hannah’s class this winter. Although Shakespeare can be hard to understand, the fact that we read and analyzed it in Hannah’s class made a huge difference and I really enjoyed this show. Afterwards we were able to have a talk back with one of the actors which gave great insight into the process of putting it on. On Wednesday night we saw Between Two Knees, a comedy by the 1491s group (a comedy group similar to SNL) that told the story of the Native American genocides. Obviously this is a very serious topic, but the way the show was written and performed by real Native American actors made the dark topic a light hearted one. The show was absolutely hilarious! This was many peoples favorite play.
We did not have a matinee play on Thursday so we were able to have extra time to do our activities (which consisted of yoga, hiking, tennis, and soccer), pack up our gear, and clean up the apartments. That evening we hung out in the park for a little while after dinner and then headed to the theatre. We saw Cambodian Rock Band, a musical about the Cambodian genocide. This show was very powerful and the acting and music was phenomenal. Kevin Wade, theatre expert, said that the main character in this show was one of the best actors he’s seen on stage. That says something. After the show we were able to meet the cast and director. The actors had so much energy and were so excited to meet us, I’m glad they stayed and we were able to talk to them.
This trip was an amazing experience and I think everyone should do it. Going to OSF and seeing the great variety of shows was eye opening. It’s crazy to think that OSF is some of the best theatre in the world, and we were lucky to experience it. In the playbill, you can see what other work the actors have done. Many have been in great arrays of TV such as Grey’s Anatomy, NCIS, Criminal Minds, Modern Family, American Sniper, Ozark, Orange is the New Black, Disney Films, and much more. Some of us even recognized some of the actors from our favorite TV shows and movies. To think that all these actors have such a passion for theatre and perform shows up to ten times per week for nine months shows real dedication. I’m excited to see where the festival goes and if any of our SVCS players participate in OSF in the future. Thank you to OSF and our Chaperones for making the Ashland trip one to remember.
Article written by Noelle LaFleur ‘21