Ashland, Ore. - The Oregon Shakespeare Festival was established in 1935, so a fair amount of history and tradition exist here. The full-scale Elizabethan theater where the outdoor season opens this weekend is the oldest of its kind in the Western Hemisphere.
When the trumpets (recorded) sound, signaling the raising (live) of the flag, it's a nod to the Elizabethan tradition letting the public know a play will be performed. Friday night was the opening of "The Tempest," Shakespeare's last full-length play. (Look for my full reviews of the outdoor season in The Bee's Scene section on Monday, June 25.)
The production is artistic director Libby Appel's last in her tenure leading the festival. Appel steps down after this season, with young Bill Rauch taking over, though she'll be back directing Arthur Miller's "A View From the Bridge" next year.
Like any outdoor arts festival, the first determiner of the overall experience is the weather. Leaving this week's first blasts of 100-degree Sacramento summer for the mid-80s of Ashland was certainly a pleasing development that bodes well for the weekend's two other outdoor shows - "The Taming of the Shrew" Saturday and "Romeo and Juliet" Sunday night.