By any measure, it's been an unusual season at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. But the Ashland theater showcase received some good news Saturday with the announcement of a Tuesday, Aug. 2, re-opening for the damaged Bowmer Theatre.
In a press release to festival members and posted on its website, OSF Executive Director Paul Nicholson said the Bowmer — closed since June 18 after the discovery of a fractured main support beam — would be operational earlier than anticipated.
"We had not expected to be able to return to the Bowmer until mid-August," Nicholson said in the release. "This earlier date is the best news we could have possibly hoped for."
A 1:30 p.m. matinee of "Measure for Measure" is the first scheduled play in the repaired theater, with an evening performance of "The Imaginary Invalid" also scheduled for that night.
OSF said that performances set for the "Bowmer in the Park" tent would continue as scheduled through Sunday, July 31. Shows began inside the tent in Lithia Park on July 7.
"This has been a most amazing time for our company, our audiences and this community," OSF Artistic Director Bill Rauch said in the press release. "The commitment, patience, passion and generosity of thousands of people have redefined the ideas of 'company' and 'resiliency' for us."
Crews from Western Wood Structures of Bend began repairs July 5 on the fractured beam in Bowmer. Approximately 180 holes were drilled in the 70-foot beam — which is 78 inches tall and 14 inches wide, and serves as the theater's main support beam.
Once the holes were drilled, four-foot-long steel pins were inserted, and cast into place with more than 100 gallons of epoxy. On Saturday, those crews completed their work by tightening steel support cables at the base of the beam.
OSF said that crews from Adroit Construction of Ashland will spend the next week restoring catwalks, lighting grids, HVAC equipment and electrical conduits — all of which had to be removed for the beam work to take place. Roofing material also will be reapplied.
OSF production personnel will restore scenic elements, costumes, lighting and sound equipment in the Bowmer, so that theater will be ready for the Aug. 2 target date.
"While none of us would have wished for this, and we are thrilled to return to the theater on August 2, credit must be given to everyone who participated in this temporary relocation process," Rauch said in the release.
Along with "Measure for Measure" and "The Imaginary Invalid," the Bowmer also houses productions of "August: Osage County" and "The African Company Presents Richard III" this season.