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Oregon Shakespeare Festival launches Black Swan Lab for new theater works

New theater works using Oregon Shakespeare Festival actors will be developed in the Black Swan Lab, which the festival will launch July 7.

The lab, which will continue through Oct. 31, will provide about 390 hours of development time and offer a shifting menu of developmental activities, including actor-driven work, work that may include ongoing development but no audience component, and work that is shared in-house.

The lab will provide an opportunity to support commissioned projects as well as to serve as an incubator for new ideas.

OSF approached Polly K. Carl, producing artistic director of the Playwrights' Center in Minneapolis (who recently announced she will move to Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago) and one of the nation's foremost experts in the field of new play development, about three years ago to create a model on how best to develop new work at OSF.

Carl and OSF performed an in-depth study, evaluating previous models used at OSF in the development of OSF's Huck Finn Project, an adaptation by Head of Company Development Scott Kaiser for the School Visit Program, and playwright Octavio Solis' "Gibraltar." Both processes used the repertory schedule and the OSF acting ensemble to create new work.

Through the efforts of Carl, OSF also received a $50,000 gift from an individual donor to launch the lab in 2009.

The lab will be cast from the existing actor pool and will launch with 10 actors, including Richard Howard, Jeffrey King, Gregory Linington, Derrick Lee Weeden, Terri McMahon, Vilma Silva, Catherine E. Coulson, Miriam A. Laube, Ryan Anderson and Tyrone Wilson.

The ensemble will help to create the structure of the lab, and will have the opportunity to contribute actor-generated projects.

Other projects may include development of an on-site project by Michael Rohd; workshopping of "American Night," a commission of the "American Revolutions: the United States History Project" for the 2010 season; future "American Revolutions" projects; work on Ping Chong's adaptation of Kurosawa's "Throne of Blood" for the 2010 season; original plays by Melanie Marnich and Lisa Loomer; and further development of Mixing Texts/Nexthetics work that began in 2007 at OSF.