Classes began at area high schools and colleges two months ago and now the school theater arts departments are ready to show what their students can do.

Classes began at area high schools and colleges two months ago and now the school theater arts departments are ready to show what their students can do.

In a few weeks North Medford High School will present "The Philadelphia Story" and South Medford High School will stage "The Crucible."

Ashland High School

Ashland High School's drama department presents "A Company of Wayward Saints." AHS Theatre presented this delightful gem 15 years ago in the "old" Mountain Avenue Theatre to a capacity audience, an effort that forged a strong partnership between the school and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. The 2008 production is directed by OSF actor G. Valmont Thomas. He is assisted by OSF actor and master mask designer, Jamie Peck.

The George Herman play revolves around La Compagnie de Santi Ostinanti, a classic improvisational troupe that tells stories with masks, comedy, drama and song. These Renaissance-style performers arrive on the scene almost 400 years after the peak of Commedia dell'Arte popularity. Times are tough, squabbling actors and actresses are at each other's throats, and the troupe is broke.

Their last hope lies in the hands of a wealthy nobleman who promises to pay for their return home, on the condition that they can improvise an entire show of his choice to his satisfaction. They are humanity, wayward saints all, who are far from home and without means.

Surprisingly, the Duke decides his show topic will be the history of man from the Garden of Eden through Everyman in birth, adolescence, marriage and death.

Along the way the company enacts other wayward adventures such as the assassination of Julius Caesar and the homecoming of Odysseus. The result is a fine mosaic of life redeemed by humor and human understanding.

The show runs at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays through Nov. 15. There will be a matinee at 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 16, at Mountain Avenue Theater, 201 S. Mountain Ave., Ashland. Tickets are $10 for general seating; $15 for reserved. Call 482-8771.

Crater Renaissance Academy

Students at Crater Renaissance Academy present "Nine Dragons," George Herman's fable. Deep within a great mountain on a remote island live the last nine dragons in the world. When conflict erupts between the island's two human cultures, the oldest and wisest dragon reveals a solution that prevents a war from taking place.

This allegory fuses Chinese and Polynesian myth and imagery and is full of fantastical creatures, delightful dialogue, and visual treats. The show runs at 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 7 and Saturday, Nov. 8, at Crater Performing Arts Center, 655 N. Third St., Central Point. Tickets are $8; $6 for seniors and students. Call 494-6280.

Rogue Community College

Rogue Community College's Theatre Department in Medford will produce Lanford Wilson's Obie Award-winning play, "The Hot L Baltimore" at The Warehouse on Bartlett in the Spring. Auditions will be held from noon to 3 p.m. Friday, Nov. 14; and 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 15, or by arrangement.

RCC will be casting 20 men and women of all ages. Rehearsals will begin in January. Auditions are open to students and community members. Everyone cast will sign up for the acting class, which meets from 2 to 5 p.m. Wednesdays. Further rehearsals will be arranged.

For scripts and information, call 245-7585.