May 23, 2016
Amanda Nagy
A scene from Treasure Island, one of three theater classics presented by the Oberlin Summer Theater Festival in 2015. Photo credit: John Seyfried

The Oberlin Summer Theater Festival (OSTF) 2016 season launches on Friday, June 24, with a production of Anne of Green Gables, one of three family friendly offerings this summer.

Now in its eighth season, the festival’s mission is to serve Lorain County and the larger northeastern Ohio community by presenting free productions of meaningful theater classics. Shows are performed in rotating repertory, giving out-of-town visitors the opportunity to attend two plays in one day or all three plays in a weekend.

OSTF is a professional, nonprofit summer theater company that consists of professional Equity actors, local non-equity players, and recent alumni and current Oberlin students. Festival director Paul Moser, professor of theater at Oberlin College, has built a core intergenerational acting ensemble, composed mostly of Oberlin graduates who return to Oberlin as their summer artistic home to do meaningful work with a supportive community of like-minded professional artists.

In addition to mainstage productions, the festival offers a Shakespeare acting intensive for area high school students. Weeklong camp activities focus on performance skills—including the basics of acting and handling Shakespearean text, voice, and movement—and culminates in a scene study. This year’s intensive runs from July 25 to July 29.

Opening the season is Anne of Green Gables, running from June 24 through July 31. Adapted from the novel by L. M. Montgomery, the play tells the story of aging brother and sister Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert, who send to an orphanage for a boy to help on the farm. To everyone’s surprise, however, a mix-up brings them a romantic and hot-headed 11-year-old girl, Anne Shirley. Over the course of six years she wins their hearts and turns their stodgy, rural Prince Edward Island community into a bright world of “kindred spirits.” This stage adaptation is suitable for theatergoers of all ages, especially school-age children 6 and older.

The festival continues its tradition of staging a Shakespeare production with Macbeth, running from July 1 to July 30. One of Shakespeare’s most popular and accessible plays, Macbeth chronicles the moral descent of a noble Scottish warrior driven by ambition. After encountering the prophecies of three witches, he murders the King of Scotland to claim the crown, but his bloodthirsty reign soon spirals out of control to guilt-ridden madness and his ultimate demise. With sword battles, ghosts, witches, and magical apparitions, this production promises to be a feast of theatrical spectacle and suspense.

The third production is Inherit the Wind, the epic courtroom drama written by northeast Ohio natives Jerome Lawrence and Robert Edwin Lee. Inspired by the Scopes “Monkey Trial” of 1925, this explosively gripping play follows the events surrounding a young high-school teacher who is arrested for teaching Darwin’s theory of evolution. The American theater classic premiered in 1955 at the height of the McCarthy era, but its central theme, the right to think, still resonates today. The show runs from July 8 through July 30.

Although tickets are free and available at the door, reservations are recommended. All plays are performed in Hall Auditorium, 67 N. Main St., in Oberlin. The box office is open three hours before curtain time. To reserve tickets, call 440-775-8169 or email ostf@oberlin.edu.

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