Youth is served by OSF promotional program

The Oregon Shakespeare Festival will soon debut a program for playgoers with some salt of their youth in them.

The 19.35 program allows theatergoers aged 19-35 to pay a special $20 ticket price for certain plays. The price includes an after-party at the Standing Stone Brewing Company, where audience members can meet and mingle with OSF actors after each performance.

"Frankly, I think we are a fun crowd of people," said Tomi Douglas, OSF's membership and sales manager.

Douglas spearheaded the program alongside marketing manager Bob Hackett. They intend for the 19.35 series to bring in a new demographic. Douglas cited parental duties, busy work schedules and fixed incomes as reasons why young adults rarely attend the theater. The 19-35 age range also commemorates the founding of the festival in 1935.

"We need to be continually developing new audiences," Douglas said.

The special ticket price applies to OSF members and non-members alike, and Douglas said social networking is an integral part of the new venture. The after-parties will provide a relaxed environment with a ready-made topic of conversation.

"People can talk about the show," Douglas said. "It gives them a common language."

Though this be madness,

yet there be method in it

The festival presented an under-40 night in the 2007 season, which featured a performance of young playwright David Lindsay-Abaire's Pulitzer prize-winning "Rabbit Hole," along with a pre-show gathering.

According to Hackett, a survey of attendees at the 2007 event showed a desire for more, and for after-show rather than pre-show events. With that in mind, Douglas and Hackett intend for 19.35 to be a permanent fixture of the festival. In future seasons, they also hope to draw in young tourists from surrounding areas specifically for the 19.35 series.

"We'd like to see young people begin to form a deeper relationship with the work we're doing on stage," Hackett said.

Strong reasons make strong actions, and Douglas expects a spirited series of after-parties. The Standing Stone will offer free hors d'oeuvres and a cash bar, along with music. As of Friday night, the exact menu was still up in the air, according to Standing Stone owner Alex Amarotico.

Amarotico, 38, said planning for the event started about five months ago. His wife, Danielle, serves as the main organizer for the after-parties, and she has been working closely with Douglas and OSF.

The Standing Stone's main dining area will be reserved to accommodate the partygoers. Amarotico said he expects up to 150 attendees at the after-parties. While the food is up to the Standing Stone management, the music is not.

"We'll provide the sound system, they (OSF) will provide the actual tunes," he said.

The five-play series kicks off with the April 20 performance of "A Midsummer Night's Dream." This season's production of "Midsummer" puts Shakespeare's classic characters in a 1970s-style disco atmosphere.

"I think it's one of the most exciting 'Midsummer Night's Dreams' I've ever seen," Douglas said.

Amadon Jaeger, 25, a theater student and former OSF sound intern, expressed doubts about the program's viability. He said he would prefer student or local resident discount tickets to the age-range discount.

"It's just an unconventional promotion method," he said. "If it works, great."

Michelle Coon, 23, also a theater student and former OSF costuming intern, gave a more optimistic assessment of 19.35. She believes that the after-parties will allow audiences to learn about the theater from actors and company members.

"You can gain an appreciation for what it takes to put on a production," she said.

Coon saw and enjoyed "Midsummer" this season.

"It's hysterical," she said. "It works really well, though."

With the first 19.35 performance a week away, the program's organizers already anticipate a hit &

a very palpable hit.

The 19.35 series consists of the following shows: the April 20 showing of "A Midsummer Night's Dream," the May 28 showing of "Welcome Home, Jenny Sutter," the June 5 showing of "The Futher Adventures of Hedda Gabler," the July — showing of "Othello," and the Sept. 11 showing of "The Clay Cart."

All tickets cost $20, and seats are located are located in all sections. For more information, visit or call the box office at 482-4331.

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