Many of us remember Madeleine L’Engle’s 1970s sci-fi fantasy, A Wrinkle in Time.
Theatre buffs can now see Tracy Young’s adaptation of this children’s classic, as Tesseracts, Black Things, and Mrs. Whos, Whiches and Whatsits come alive in Ashland this season. A Wrinkle in Time premiered at Oregon Shakespeare Festival on April 16 with the help of a $35,000 Cultural Trust grant.
This original play is geared toward multiple generations, including Gen Xers, their parents, their children and even grandchildren. “This is a special book to many people,” said OSF Associate Artistic Director and Scenic Designer, Christopher Acebo, “and our job as artists is to take this book and put it into a new form.” Although Acebo himself did not read the book as a child, he recognizes its relevance even 40 years after L’Engle wrote it. “This book predates The Hunger Games (and the young-adult fiction trend) that place a young girl as protagonist in a sci-fi adventure.”
Cultural Trust grants have proven significant to OSF. “With productions like this, we may have our hands tied with other foundations,” said Acebo. “The Cultural Trust is trusting. The grant allows us to move outside our comfort zones and engage new audiences. The Cultural Trust allows us to take risks, in a really great way.”In FY13, the Trust funded another edgy OSF original – The Unfortunates, a non-linear, non-traditional musical with elements of the past and present, geared toward younger adult audiences.
Acebo noted that OSF original productions often go on to grace theatres nationwide. A play commissioned at OSF, All The Way, is now on Broadway, after playing at the festival in Ashland and later at Artists Repertory Theatre. The Oregon Shakespeare Festival is one of the biggest economic and tourism drivers in Southern Oregon, employing over 600 workers during the season, bringing over $160 million into the Medford-Ashland area every year. “The impact on Southern Oregon is huge,” said Acebo. “It enables so many businesses to thrive in the area.”
The festival, which serves locals and visitors from in and out of state, also invites 80,000 students to view productions, see the back stage mechanics, and engage in post-performance discussions. A diverse list of productions every year, from Shakespeare to musicals, new works, world premieres, and classic American plays, helps OSF grow Oregon’s profile in the arts community worldwide. “When I run into people, theatre-savvy or not, and I say I’m from Ashland, many of them will say, ‘Oh, Oregon Shakespeare Festival,’” said Acebo.