OSF breaks ground on Talent project

Oregon Shakespeare Festival staff members will be able to build complete sets before they hit the stage when a new facility is finished in Talent.

The festival broke ground last week on construction of a 64,500-square-foot production building on 3.5 acres OSF owns at Talent Avenue and Rapp Road. The facility will allow OSF to consolidate set building, painting and costume design, which are done in three buildings in two towns.

The extra room will keep workers from tripping over each other as they nearly do now, building sets piecemeal on First Street in Ashland, says Executive Director Cynthia Rider.

"You can't lay the whole thing out," she says. "You have to build something and then move it out of the way to make space."

The new space will allow technicians to see how traps — devices to bring a person on stage from underneath it — work before they are used in the festival's three theaters, for example.

"There is not a space in the festival that isn't always in constant use," says Rider, who took the OSF helm last month after Paul Nicholson retired. "In the production facility, especially, we just don't have enough room to build for 11 plays in three theaters."

Festival officials had said they hoped to begin construction in December and complete the new facility by August. Rider says a new time line is being put together and won't be available until the end of the week.

Consolidating set and costume design will lead to other changes throughout the festival.

"It's a real domino effect," Rider says. "It also means we can create a new rehearsal center, thanks to generous donors."

Rehearsals now have to be staggered with educational programs around the Ashland campus. The current set space will be turned into new rehearsal space.

The total cost of the Talent project, including equipment, will approach $7 million, Rider says. The festival will use a combination of donations, savings and financing to pay for the land and construction. The festival purchased the land in September 2012 for $498,000, property records show.

Access to the festival's costume collection will also improve, says Rider. The festival rents to a variety of entertainment venues around the country, including "Saturday Night Live," which rented two costumes last week for a sketch on King Richard III.

Representatives of those organizations will be better able to view wardrobes than in the current rented space on Hersey Street in Ashland.

Painting operations will move to Talent from Phoenix. Initially, about 30 people will work in the new building. OSF may relocate a call center with 20 employees to the site at a later date. Talent will benefit from construction of a new road to serve the center. The road, shown in the city's master plan, will open up additional space for potential development, says City Planner Mark Knox.

OSF will pay system development charges to the city, but the city will then spend some of that money to construct the new road.

Adroit Construction of Ashland is building the structure. It was designed by Ogden Roemer Wilkerson Architects of Medford.

Tony Boom is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Reach him at tboomwriter@gmail.com.

Share This Story