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3 day Arts and Letters summer class to attend Shakespearian Festival

Poster for King Lear
Photo provided by Oregon Shakespeare Festival

During the first Oregon Shakespeare Festival, the city of Ashland was so worried about losing money on the theatre that they decided to hold a boxing match before the plays to help cover the costs.

The boxing match lost money. The Shakespeare Festival, however, covered both the costs of the plays and the losses of the match. The festival has since become the largest Shakespearean event  in the U.S.

The festival has been bringing the Bard’s plays to Southern Oregon for nearly 80 years. This summer, students from two UCC classes will have the opportunity to immerse themselves not only in Shakespearean plays but also plays by Tennessee Williams and August Wilson.

“This is an amazingly profound learning experience. Students get to take a backstage tour and one of the actors will be talking to the classes. This year in particular all the plays are fabulous,” professor Jillanne Michell says. Michell is teaching the two classes — Intro to Literature and Shakespeare — which are taking part in the Ashland trip. Students will see three plays by Shakespeare: Cymbeline, King Lear and a Midsummer Night’s Dream as well as Tennessee William’s famous A Streetcar Named Desire and August Wilson’s Two Trains Running.

The classes, however, are some of the more expensive on campus. The total  runs approximately $550 before factoring in expenses such as housing and food (tuition is now $94.50 per credit). This $550 includes extra fees due to the costs of the tickets. Finding hotel rooms or camping spots during the height of the season can also be difficult and expensive.

“Some students definitely find it cost-prohibitive. We try to make it as reasonable as possible by buying packages for cheaper tickets. It really is a great bargain,” Professor Amy Fair says. “Many students enjoy the immersion the class gives them. They gain a lot more than they thought.”

One option for students seeking inexpensive accommodations is the Jackson Wellsprings Spa and Events Center. Tent and car camping is $20 per person, $22.50 for sites with electricity and reservations are unnecessary. Use of the spa and swimming pool is included in the price. For information call 541-482-3776 or go to jacksonwellsprings.com.

So why would a student pay so much for an Arts and Languages class?

For starters, students enrolled in either of the classes will witness five plays in three days, giving them a true immersion into world-class-caliber acting and directing. The Oregon Shakespeare Festival has won a prestigious Tony Award and is known throughout the world as a major Shakespearean Festival

Another benefit is that students can earn three credits with only two classroom sessions and three days spent at the Festival. Students also have a further month to complete a substantial report.

“I actually think the costs are not horrible, and I like the fact that I can get a 3-credit Arts and Letters class in five days. I am really looking forward to seeing the plays.” Electrical engineering student Jerimiah Livesay says.

“This is an especially great opportunity for English, literature or theatre majors, but also for any students needing an Arts and Letters class. This is one of the best lineups I can remember. It is well worth the extra expense,” Michell says.