The Oregon Shakespeare Festival will open the U.S. premiere of Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig’s Snow in Midsummer, directed by Justin Audibert, on August 5 in the Angus Bowmer Theatre. Preview performances began on August 2 and the play runs through Oct. 27, 2018.
Cowhig’s thriller, based on the classical Chinese drama The Injustice to Dou Yi That Moved Heaven and Earth by Guan Hanqing but set in contemporary China, explores the legacy of trauma, the heart of injustice and the lengths to which we go for love. Sentenced to death for a murder, a woman swears vengeance before her execution-cursing her city from beyond the grave to a catastrophic drought. Three years later, a wealthy businesswoman visits the parched, locust-plagued city to take over an ailing factory. When her young daughter is tormented by a mysterious apparition, locals are forced to face a past that no one wants to remember.
“If the central character of the original play, a young impoverished widow, had died three years ago in today’s China,” Cowhig asks, “what might her life have been like? If she had been executed by the State, what might have happened to her body? And, to make the ghost of this woman a protagonist, who truly guides the story, what might she want and to what end might she go to get what she wants?”
Snow in Midsummer, the first production in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Chinese Translations Project, had its world premiere at the RSC in 2017. The Evening Standard praised the production as “a beguiling and unexpected evening” that has “an unusual and most particular sense of grace and beauty.”
Director Justin Audibert, who also helmed the world premiere in Stratford-upon-Avon, says this adaptation “comes to the heart of what I think a play is. It should be a living, breathing, changing work of art. It shouldn’t be an ossified or fossilized text that has a kind of sacredness about it. That doesn’t mean that thematically you shouldn’t be trying to wrestle with the amazing themes that the original had, which include oppression and justice and virtue. As we look around in the world in the year 2018 in this incredible moment of change to do with the #MeToo movement, it is an absolute honor and privilege to be exploring and examining those themes and sharing this story with an audience today.”
Audibert adds, “And amidst all of the gore and tragedy, there are plenty of laughs in the play.”
The cast of Snow in Midsummer features Jessica Ko as Dou Yi, Amy Kim Waschke as Tianyun, Daisuke Tsuji as Handsome Zhang, Will Dao as Rocket Wu, Cristofer Jean as Dr. Lu and Judge Wu, James Ryen as Master Zhang, Worker Huang and People’s Liberation Officer 1, Moses Villarama as Worker Fang, People’s Liberation Officer and Horse-Face, Román Zaragoza as Worker Zhou, People’s Liberation Officer 3 and Ox-Head, Olivia Pham as Fei-fei, Monique Holt as Worker Chen and Natsuko Ohama as Mother Cai and Nurse Wong.
Scenic design for Snow in Midsummer is by Laura Jellinek, costumes are by Helen Q. Huang and lighting is by Jane Cox. Paul James Prendergast and Tei Blow are composers and sound designers. Choreography is by Maija García, Amrita Ramanan and Christine Mok are production dramaturgs and David Carey and Rebecca Clark Carey are voice and text directors. Shishir Kurup is Associate Director. Kalen Feeney is Sign Coach/VGC Adapter and U. Jonathan Toppo is fight director. Jeremy Eisen is production stage manager and Peter Royston and Emily Robinson are assistant stage managers.
Snow in Midsummer runs through Oct. 27, 2018, in the Angus Bowmer Theatre. Tickets are available at the OSF Box Office, via phone at 800-219-8161, or online at www.osfashland.org and osfashland.org/SnowInMidsummer.
Upcoming engagement programming related to Snow in Midsummer includes a Festival Noons Talk on “The Ghost on Stage: Snow in Midsummer’s Dou Yi Battling Across Time, Space and Culture” with Jo Palazuelos-Krukowski on Sept. 1. Tickets and information are available at osfashland.org/FestivalNoons. A weekend class on “Unfolding Snow in Midsummer” will be offered Sept. 1-Sept. 2. Information and registration is available online and by contacting Group Sales, Monday-Friday, at 866-545-6337.
A sign-interpreted performance is scheduled for Sept. 14 at 8 p.m. Contact the Box Office at 800-219-8161 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to purchase tickets in the Deaf Community section; these tickets not available online. Information on additional accessibility accommodations is at www.osfashland.org/Accessibility/.
Lead Sponsor of Snow in Midsummer is Yogen and Peggy Dalal. Producing Sponsor is Charlotte Lin and Robert P. Porter. Partners are The Kinsman Foundation and Anonymous. OSF’s 2018 season is sponsored by U.S. Bank.
OSF’s full 2018 playbill includes Othello, Sense and Sensibility, Destiny of Desire, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! and Snow in Midsummer in the Angus Bowmer Theatre; Henry V, Manahatta and The Way the Mountain Moved in the intimate Thomas Theatre; and Romeo and Juliet, The Book of Will and Love’s Labor’s Lost in the outdoor Allen Elizabethan Theatre.
Founded by Angus Bowmer in 1935, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF) has grown from a three-day festival of two plays to a nationally renowned theatre arts organization that presents an eight-month season of up to 11 plays that include works by Shakespeare as well as a mix of classics, musicals and world-premiere plays. OSF’s play commissioning programs, which include American Revolutions: the United States History Cycle, have generated works that have been produced on Broadway, throughout the American regional theatre, and in high schools and community theatres across the country. The Festival draws attendance of more than 400,000 to approximately 800 performances every year and employs approximately 575 theatre professionals.
OSF invites and welcomes everyone, and believes the inclusion of diverse people, ideas, cultures and traditions enriches both our insights into the work we present on stage and our relationships with each other. OSF is committed to equity and diversity in all areas of our work and in our audiences.
OSF’s mission statement: “Inspired by Shakespeare’s work and the cultural richness of the United States, we reveal our collective humanity through illuminating interpretations of new and classic plays, deepened by the kaleidoscope of rotating repertory.”