Playwrights' Bazaar


To catch up with plays that serious people are talking about, one place to go is the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, in Ashland, roughly midway between San Francisco and Portland. This month’s playbill features such recent critical successes as Joe Turner’s Conte and Gone, August Wilson’s brooding drama of African-Americans still haunted by the specter of slavery a half-century after Abolition, and Lips Together, Teeth Apart, Terrence McNally’s bittersweet satire on the way we live now ("we,”that is, if you are white, from New York, upper-middle-class, fortysomething, and scared). But where. O. where is Will? Well, everyone’s favorite Machiavcl has been making Shakespearean mischief in Richard III at the Angus Bowmer Theatre. the festival’s main stage, since February, with performances continuing through Halloween. And Antony and Cleopatra. that most sensuous of tragedies (opening June 8). and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. airborne bubble of divine tomfoolery (opening June 9), grace the open-air Elizabetlian Theatre through October. They play in repertory w ith The White Devil (opening June 10), a Jacobean play of horrors whose heroine, as gorgeous as she is brazen, suffers baroque torments for her crimes. John Webster, who wrote the play, knew terrible truths. Here he has a villain say, “We think cag’d birds sing, when indeed they cry.”That know ledge is the source of Webster’s frightening music. —A.B.