OSF's Daedalus Project turns twenty

The Oregon Shakespeare Festival invites the public to its 20th annual Daedalus Project, a benefit for AIDS/HIV organizations, on Sunday, August 19 and Monday, August 20.

This year's event will again feature a Sunday morning 5K Run Walk, a Monday play reading at 2:00 p.m. in the Angus Bowmer Theatre and a 7:30 p.m. variety show on the Elizabethan Stage/Allen Pavilion. Tickets for the play reading are $10; tickets for the evening variety show are $25 and $30. Tickets are available at the Box Office at 15 South Pioneer Street, by calling (541) 482-4331 or online at .

Reflecting on the two decades of the Daedalus Project, founder James Edmondson said "Nineteen years ago this started as a collective statement of grief. There was such a strong feeling of needing to do something. Now it has grown to an event of international compassion. We contribute the majority of funds locally but we also contribute to African AIDS relief as well."

Events kick off at 7:30 a.m. Sunday, August 19 with the 11th Annual 5K Run Walk, sponsored by OSF. Check-in begins at 6:45 a.m. on the bricks in front of the OSF Box Office. The run winds 3.1 miles up Pioneer Street from the Festival along Granite Street, cutting briefly into Lithia Park and then back to Pioneer Street. Call (541) 482-2111, ext. 422 for registration information. The fee/donation is $20.00 and includes a T-shirt. Registrations will be accepted up until 10 minutes before race time.

A reading of In the Continuum by Nikkole Salter and Danai Gurira, featuring OSF actors Gwendolyn Mulamba and Greta Oglesby and directed by Terri McMahon, will be held at 2:00 p.m. Monday, August 20 in the Angus Bowmer Theatre. The tale of two women on opposite sides of the globe dealing with their HIV-positive status was an off-Broadway hit in 2006. The two actors play more than a dozen vivid characters from different but intersecting worlds. The New York Times said In the Continuum "speaks far more eloquently than any government statistics could about the AIDS crisis". Tickets are only $10, general admission, and all proceeds benefit the Daedalus Project.

This year's evening variety show begins at 7:30 p.m. Monday on the Elizabethan Stage/Allen Pavilion. The show, emceed by Ray Porter, features guitar solos, original dances, songs, poetry and skits performed by OSF actors, company members, and artists from the community. The finale of Act One is the ever-popular Underwear Parade, emceed this year by Lue Morgan Douthit. Audience members vote with their dollars for their favorite underwear contestants during intermission. The underwear parade has contributed as much as $4,000 to the benefit in past years.

The evening show will close with a special candlelight witnessing ceremony to remember those who have died of AIDS.

From 6:30-7:15 p.m., local band Hamfist will entertain listeners on the Green Show Deck, on the OSF bricks.

Be sure to check out the Daedalus Art Treasures Sale in the Angus Bowmer Theatre lobby on the afternoon of Monday, August 20. The sale and silent auction includes items crafted by members of the OSF company such as paintings, sculpture and other hand-crafted works of art, signed photographs, plus other opportunities like sharing coffee or a meal with a company member. The Art Treasures sale raised almost $7,000 in 2006.

A beautiful handmade quilt fashioned by members of the OSF Costume Shop will be raffled off in the week leading up to the Daedalus event. Raffle tickets can be purchased for $2 each at the OSF Welcome Center, at the front desk in the Administration building, or on the OSF bricks on the day of the event.

Returning again this year is the 3rd Annual New Belgium Brewery Bike Raffle. Tickets are $2.00 and available at any of OSF's concession stands or bars and at the front desk in the Administration building. Ticket holders need not be present to win.

A benefit sale of T-shirts, Daedalus hair flowers, baked goods, lemonade, and other concessions will occur on the bricks Monday during the afternoon and early evening hours.

The late OSF Artistic Director Emeritus Jerry Turner named The Daedalus Project after the story of Daedalus from Greek mythology. Daedalus and his son, Icarus, were imprisoned in a labyrinth by King Minos, and by crafting wings from wax and feathers, Daedalus created a way out of the maze.

Following each year's benefit, the Festival distributes proceeds to local, regional, national and international organizations HIV and AIDS charitable organizations. In 2006, OSF distributed funds to the following:

OnTrack, Inc. - Alan F. Collins AIDS Project, Medford: $39,000

HIV Resources Center (Josephine, Douglas, Curry, Coos counties): $11,000

Siskiyou County HIV/AIDS Foundation (SCHAF): $6,000

Africare: $4,000

"Since the onset of the epidemic, community-based AIDS organizations have received little or no public funding" says Rita Sullivan, Director of OnTrack, Inc. in Medford, OR. "This sad reality continues today, and our Alan Collins AIDS Project is no exception. For nearly a decade, no public funding has been available for the affordable housing and supportive case management provided by Alan's House and Fairfield Place. Our services depend entirely upon the generosity of private donors. As a result, the funds raised each year by the Daedalus Project are our lifeblood."

"Just as important", Sullivan continues, "the Daedalus Project Benefit is eagerly anticipated by local people who daily face the challenge of living with HIV and those who care about them. It reminds them that they are valued members of a compassionate and benevolent community. For one Monday night each summer, we are granted a safe place in which we may honor those we have lost, hope for a brighter future and put aside our worries as we laugh at, listen to and relish an extraordinary banquet of comedy, music and dance."

HIV/AIDS numbers continue to climb nationally and globally. It is estimated between 34-47 million people worldwide are infected with HIV/AIDS, with more than one million Americans living with HIV or AIDS. Of the 40,000 new HIV infections that occur in the United States each year, half are under the age of 25. To date, 177 AIDS cases have been diagnosed in Jackson County since 1983. It is estimated that there are 120-400 people living with HIV or AIDS in the area.

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