The Oregon Shakespeare Festival's 2015 season not only will celebrate the company's 80th anniversary, it also will mark a commitment by Artistic Director Bill Rauch to produce all 37 of Shakespeare's plays within a decade.

The Oregon Shakespeare Festival's 2015 season not only will celebrate the company's 80th anniversary, it also will mark a commitment by Artistic Director Bill Rauch to produce all 37 of Shakespeare's plays within a decade.

"I am really passionate about Shakespeare," Rauch says. "At OSF, we love producing modern classics and introducing new work, but we are the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Shakespeare is our namesake playwright. I'm committed to introducing and re-introducing his plays to audiences of all ages."

The 10-year cycle begins with the 2015 season, featuring "Much Ado About Nothing" in the Bowmer Theatre, "Pericles" in the Thomas Theatre and "Antony and Cleopatra" in the Allen Elizabethan Theatre.

"This is a project that has been planned for a long time," says Lue Morgan Douthit, director of literary development and dramaturgy. "While we are doing three Shakespeare plays in 2015, subsequent seasons will each have four or five productions.

"We will be doing the 36 plays in the First Folio (the first complete collection of Shakespeare's dramatic work, published in 1623) plus 'Pericles,'" says Douthit. "We are trying not to repeat a production of a play but some of the more popular plays — like 'Midsummer Night's Dream' or 'Romeo and Juliet' — may be done twice."

Douthit adds that she is not counting "The Two Noble Kinsmen" as part of the cycle but that Rauch may decide to include it. The play was probably written and performed in 1613 or 1614 but was not included in the First Folio. It is now considered to be co-authored by Shakespeare and John Fletcher. The festival has produced "The Two Noble Kinsmen" only once, in 1994.

The concept of planning the entire cycle over a decade will allow festival organizers to balance a particular season because they will be able to know years in advance which Shakespeare plays they want to do.

"Doing the canon in a 10-year period is a fantastic opportunity for parents, children and grandparents to be able to see all of Shakespeare's plays as a family adventure," says Douthit.

The beginning of the Shakespeare canon cycle coincides with a three-year series of anniversaries, beginning with the 450th anniversary of Shakespeare's birth in 2014, the 80th anniversary of OSF in 2015 and the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death in 2016.

Roberta Kent is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Reach her at rbkent@mind.net.