Learning Theater: From Audience to Critic at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival

From the audience seats to backstage, immerse yourself in theater right at the heart of it.


Who doesn't love going to a play: sitting in the darkened theater, an anonymous member of the audience waiting to be entertained, charmed, and challenged? But how many of us know enough about the details of the plays, their interpretation, their production, and acting itself, to allow us to appreciate fully the theatrical experience? In this seminar, we will spend 13 days in Ashland, Oregon, at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF), where we will attend these plays: Shakespeare's The Tempest, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Henry VI, Parts 1, 2, and 3 (presented as Bring Down the House, Parts 1 and 2);   Theresa Rebeck’s Bernhardt/Hamlet; the world premiere of Karen Zacarías’ The Copper Children; Qui Nguyen’s Poor Yella Rednecks (the sequel to 2016’s Vietgone); Marcus Gardley’s black odyssey; Dominique Morisseau’s Confederates; Sarah B. Mantell’s Everything that Never Happened; and Rick Elice’s Peter and the Starcatcher, based on the novel by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson. (To read more about these productions, go to www.osfashland.org). We will also spend time backstage, meeting with actors, designers, and artistic and administrative directors of OSF. Students read the plays before the seminar begins. In Ashland, they will produce staged readings and design a final paper based on one of the productions. These reviews will be delivered to the group and turned in on Thursday, September 17.

Important Logistics

This seminar will convene in Ashland on Monday, August 31, and will adjourn to Stanford on Sunday, September 13. Students make their own arrangements to arrive in Ashland by 4:00 p.m. on Monday, August 31 (The Medford Airport is close, about 18 miles north of Ashland). Room and board in Ashland and transportation back to Stanford will be provided and paid for by the program.

This course may have expenses not covered by the program fee, as for some students it will be more expensive to travel to Ashland than to Stanford. If Financial Aid recommends that you receive assistance with the program fee and you are accepted to this class, we will also invite you to request financial assistance with the difference between the cost of arriving in Medford versus going directly to Stanford (if higher).  Consult our page about money for more information.

Meet the Instructor(s)

Ivan Lupic

Ivan Lupić is Assistant Professor of English at Stanford University, where he teaches Shakespeare and Renaissance literature. His most recent book, devoted to questions of counsel and subjectivity in early modern English drama, will be published by the University of Pennsylvania Press in 2019 under the title Subjects of Advice: Drama and Counsel from More to Shakespeare. He is currently working on two new book projects. One, called Shakespeare and the End of Editing, considers the history of Shakespeare editing in the context of manuscript studies as an interdisciplinary field; the other, provisionally titled The Illyrian Renaissance, asks how cultural changes initiated in the Italian peninsula enabled dialogues across languages, and how some aspects of the Italian Renaissance can be rethought if considered from the multilingual perspective of the European borderlands. The Illyrian Renaissance builds on fresh research conducted in multiple languages and across different kinds of archives. One chapter from this new project, “The Mobile Queen: Observing Hecuba in Renaissance Europe,” has recently been published in Renaissance Drama.

Linda Paulson

Linda Paulson is Associate Dean and Director of Stanford’s Master of Liberal Arts Program.  She received her Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from UCLA and has taught at Stanford since 1985. Her research focuses on the Victorian novel and on the development of a British woman’s novel. In 1989, she received Stanford’s Dinkelspiel Award for Distinctive Contributions to Undergraduate Education. She frequently lectures for Stanford Travel/Study groups in England and France and has been taking Stanford undergraduates to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival since 1995.