Daedalus Project 2014

Each August, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival holds a community fundraiser, The Daedalus Project, to benefit local, regional, national and international HIV/AIDS charitable and research organizations.

This 27th anniversary Daedalus Project, themed "Act V: The End of AIDS," features events and fundraising sales from Tuesday through Monday, Aug. 12-18, including a Daedalus Film Festival, the Daedalus 5K Fun Run, the first U.S. reading of the play "The Children's Monologues," and concludes with the always eagerly awaited Daedalus Variety Show.

Daedalus T-shirts, posters, hand-crafted jewelry, baked goods and other items are on sale throughout the week on the OSF campus.

OSF actor Eduardo Placer is director of the Daedalus Project with OSF Associate Producer Claudia Alick is producer.

The Daedalus Project began in 1987 when veteran Festival actor and director James Edmonson sought a positive way to deal with his grief over the loss of many friends to the disease. He knew that other regional theaters had begun holding benefits to raise money for AIDS organizations and suggested the idea to members of the company and to then-Artistic Director Jerry Turner.

"I got an overwhelmingly enthusiastic response," Edmondson says. "That first year, we literally put the show together by the seat of our pants. We probably only made $1,200. Year after year, it just grew."

Since its beginning, The Daedalus Project has raised $1.4 million for HIV/AIDS charitable and research organizations.

Placer began this year's Daedalus Project in July with "The Wings of Daedalus," an Internet-awareness and fundraising campaign that continues through Aug. 18. Visitors to the website www.indiegogo.com/projects/act-v-the-end-of-aids are urged to draw an AIDS ribbon on their palm with a red marker, take a photo of their outstretched palm, contribute to Daedalus and then share the picture and their contribution amount on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter. Unique prizes created by OSF actors are available for different levels of contributions.

The Daedalus Film Festival will present six award-winning films about the global HIV/AIDS crisis on Friday through Sunday, Aug. 15-17, at Ashland's Varsity Theatre, with a Q&A session to follow each screening. The film festival is hosted by OSF, the Ashland Independent Film Festival and Coming Attractions Theatres. Tickets are $10 for each film and are available at www.osfashland.org/daedalusfilmfest or by calling 800-219-8161.

The film festival schedule includes two free screenings of the new HBO film, "The Normal Heart," at 7 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 15, and 4 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 16. The movie recounts the beginnings of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in New York City in the early '80s.

There will also be a 25th anniversary screening of the Academy Award-winning feature-length documentary "Common Threads: Stories from the Quilt," narrated by Dustin Hoffman. The Q&A session will be led by one of the film's directors, Jeffrey Friedman.

"The Battle of Amfar," a 40-minute documentary, will screen with "The Last Farewell," a 13-minute short film from Sweden, at 1 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 16, and 4 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 17. "The Battle of Amfar," also co-directed by Friedman, recounts the founding of America's first AIDS research organization by actress Elizabeth Taylor and research scientist Matilde Krim. "The Last Farewell" is a 13-minute short from Sweden about an AIDS victim's grieving spouse. Friedman will attend the Q&A following the two films.

"Broken Heart Land," screening at 7 p.m. Aug. 17, is a feature-length documentary about Zack Harrington, a gay teen who committed suicide in a Bible Belt town. The boy's parents, Nancy and Van Harrington, will be at the screening.

"How to Survive a Plague," an Academy Award-nominated documentary about young AIDS activists, plays at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 16.

The Daedalus 5K Fun Run with OSF actors takes place at 9 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 17, in Ashland's Lithia Park. Tickets cost $25 in advance, $30 the day of the race — plus a $2.50 sign-up fee — and can be purchased at www.runsignup.com/race/or/ashland/daedalusproject5k. The entry fee includes a short-sleeved, commemorative T-shirt and there also will be prizes and a raffle.

The reading of "The Children's Monologues," directed by Sara Bruner, is scheduled for 2 p.m. Monday, Aug. 18, in the Angus Bowmer Theatre. The work is based on the true stories of South African children's experiences with AIDS and was created by the United Kingdom-based charity Dramatic Need. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased online at www.osfashland.org/productions/2014-activities-and-events/daedalus-play-reading.aspx or by calling the box office at 800-219-8045 or 541-482-4331.

The Daedalus Variety Show begins at 7:30 p.m. Monday in the Allen Elizabethan Theatre and features OSF actors performing irreverently funny and poignantly dramatic skits with an Actors' Underwear Parade at intermission. The show traditionally closes with a witnessing and remembrance of those who have died. Edmonson will lead the witnessing this year.

Tickets to the variety show cost $30 or $35 and can be purchased at www.osfashland.org/productions/2014-activities-and-events/daedalus-variety-show and by calling the box office.

Roberta Kent is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Reach her at rbkent@mind.net.

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