Public gets an inside peek at the creative process with OSF Presents

For decades, Oregon Shakespeare Festival company members have met late at night for informal play readings and to share their own works-in-progress with each other.

This year, audiences are getting a peek into that secret world of creativity and sharing with the launch of OSF Presents.

The pilot program began earlier this year, offering one- to two-person shows in intimate settings such as Carpenter Hall and the Black Swan Theatre.

"We have amazing artists here who do amazing things. I love the idea of sharing that with the public," said OSF Associate Producer Claudia Alick, who is organizing OSF Presents performances.

Almost since OSF's beginning, actors have met after hours to flex their creative muscles, often gathering in each other's homes.

When OSF bought an automobile dealership building in 1969 for a scene shop and rehearsal hall, company members began to stage late-night readings for each other there, according to OSF histories.

OSF later turned that building into the Black Swan Theatre, using it — fittingly — for experimental theater.

The Black Swan was the go-to place for cutting-edge plays until OSF opened its New Theatre in 2002, putting the Black Swan back to use for behind-the-scenes work.

Actors and other company members began using the Black Swan again for what they called Midnight Projects — opportunities to share their own work with each other.

Midnight Projects morphed into OSF Presents for this theater season.

"The question I'm exploring this year is, 'Can we open it up to the public so more of the community can experience what we're seeing?' " Alick said.

On Monday night, when OSF's New Theatre, Elizabethan Stage and Angus Bowmer Theatre were dark, dozens of Ashland residents, tourists and OSF company members gathered at the Black Swan to watch the two-person play reading "Neel and Nicky."

Written by playwright Lina Patel, the two-man OSF Presents show featured visiting actor, director, writer and composer Shishir Kurup and actor Bernard White, an OSF company member.

In a fictionalized but true-to-life performance, the two revealed how being a part of the theater world can both strain and cement friendships.

"Normally, no one would have access to this unless they were part of OSF," Alick said.

The next OSF Presents event will be a one-woman show by Lue Morgan Douthit, OSF's director of literary development and dramaturgy, at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 1 in the New Theatre.

To members of the public, she's best known for her dry wit, whether she's helping to host an OSF town hall meeting or playing emcee at a play reading event.

Alick said she has no idea whether OSF Presents will continue next year or whether company members and visiting guest artists will go back to sharing their creative work behind the scenes.

But the pilot program is already having an impact.

Singer and songwriter Phoenix Sigalove, who mixed music and storytelling in a March OSF Presents one-man show, will be performing at Britt Festivals in Jacksonville in October, Alick said.

"It has a further life now. That would not have been the case if we'd only done it internally," she said.

For more information about future OSF Presents performances, visit or call the OSF Box Office at 541-482-4331. Tickets generally range from $10 to $20, with most of the revenue going to the artists involved in the performances.

Staff reporter Vickie Aldous can be reached at 541-479-8199 or

Share This Story