Thanks to passions for theater, William Shakespeare and collaboration, Shakespeare Iraq will perform at 7:15 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, July 7-8, on the Oregon Shakespeare Festival Green Show stage, 15 S. Pioneer St., Ashland.

Thanks to passions for theater, William Shakespeare and collaboration, Shakespeare Iraq will perform at 7:15 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, July 7-8, on the Oregon Shakespeare Festival Green Show stage, 15 S. Pioneer St., Ashland.

Shakespeare Iraq is a group of students from the American University of Iraq in Sulaimani. The students represent a mix of North and South, Sunni and Shia, Arab and Kurd cultures — extremely different communities in a diverse nation.

Last year, Shakespeare Iraq mounted the first English-language Shakespeare production in Iraq's history. Performed in a public theater, the single show received a standing ovation.

Director Peter Friedrich, an American-trained actor and a teacher at the American University of Iraq, was interviewed on Truthdig.com after the production. Friedrich said it was his dream to bring the students to the U.S. for a collaboration with an American Shakespeare company.

Friedrich met with OSF Artistic Director Bill Rauch last summer to discuss the idea, and a plan was hatched to bring the Iraqi troupe to Ashland.

The biggest obstacle was funding the trip. Friedrich came up with a successful Kickstarter campaign as the solution.

The Green Show features a diverse lineup of artists for pre-show performances on the courtyard bricks at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Shows are at 7:15 every night except Mondays through Aug. 5; and 6:45 p.m. Aug. 7 through Oct. 14. The shows last a little over a half-hour and are free.