The Oregon Shakespeare Festival will present a reading of August Wilson's "Radio Golf" at 7 p.m. Monday, June 24, in the Angus Bowmer Theatre on the OSF campus, 15 S. Pioneer St., Ashland. Advance reservations cost $15 and are available online at www.osfashland.org or by calling 541-482-4331. Other seats are available by donation. Proceeds will benefit Penumbra Theatre company in St. Paul, Minn. Donations should be in the form of checks made out to Penumbra Theatre Company. No cash or credit cards will be accepted.
The reading will be held as part of OSF's Juneteenth Celebration.
Penumbra, one of the largest African-American theater companies in the U.S., suspended its fall programs In 2012 due to an income shortfall. In 2013, after substantial cuts to its production budget, the theater cut several full-time staff positions.
Through a committed board of members and the generosity of donors around the country, Penumbra was able to reopen this year.
OSF's collaborative relationship with artists from the St. Paul and Minneapolis and its recognition of Penumbra's national importance has compelled the Ashland theater company to join the fundraising effort.
"We find ourselves at a time and space wherein the diversification of major stages in the U.S. threatens the health of culturally specific theater companies,” said Lou Bellamy, founder and artistic director of Penumbra and director of OSF's production of August Wilson's "Two Trains Running." “The threat is such that national foundations and theater networks (such as Theatre Communications Group) are focusing intently on developing strategies to ensure our survival.
“Partnerships such as this ensure a vibrant ecology for the American theater landscape, one that honors the pioneering role theater companies like Penumbra and so many others have played in diversifying the American theater landscape. We are proud to have given August Wilson his first professional production, and proud as well of Oregon Shakespeare Festival for valuing Penumbra's unique role in nurturing artists of color, many of whom go on to find careers throughout the United States."
The reading will be directed by Donya K. Washington. The cast features Rodney Gardiner as Harmon Wilkes, Christina Acosta Robinson as Meme Wilkes, Jerome Preston Bates as Roosevelt Hicks, Ken Robinson as Sterling Johnson, and Terry Bellamy as Elder Joseph Barlow. Bakesta King is providing stage directions.
The Juneteenth Celebration will be held from 1 to 2 p.m. on the Courtyard Stage. This free performance will showcase the lives of pioneering black women, whose achievements have impacted the world. Juneteenth commemorates the abolition of slavery announcement in 1865 in Texas, more than two years after the effective date of the Emancipation Proclamation. Juneteenth is a holiday celebrated in 42 states.