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NSU to host tenth tour to Oregon Shakespeare Festival

For the past decade, the Northeastern State University College of Liberal Arts has offered an annual travel opportunity to experience world-class theatre performed at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF).

The Department of Languages and Literature will host an excursion to this year’s festival Aug. 2-9, prior to the university’s fall semester. Located in the Cascade Mountains and the Rogue Valley of Oregon, the festival will provide students the chance to see eight plays or adaptations of Shakespeare’s work.

Students will see these eight plays:

  • “Julius Caesar,” Shakespeare’s classic Roman tragedy
  • Shakespeare’s “Henry IV, Part 1;” “Henry IV, Part 2;” and “The Merry Wives of Windsor,” which feature Shakespeare’s most beloved comic character Falstaff
  • “Off the Rails,” an adaptation of Shakespeare’s “Measure for Measure,” set at a government-operated boarding school for Pawnee Indians
  • U.S. premiere of “Shakespeare in Love,” a stage adaptation of the popular movie based on “Romeo and Juliet”
  • “UniSon,” a new musical based on poetry by the African-American playwright August Wilson
  • “Beauty and the Beast,” a reimagined stage adaptation of the classic Disney musical

Justin Stanley, a graduate English student who experienced the trip last year, explained that in addition to participating as an audience member, there are behind-the-scenes opportunities during the festival. 

“By offering back-stage tours and interviews with select actors, the trip immerses students in the productions and performance of the plays,” Stanley said.

In 2007, former Dean of Liberal Arts Dr. Paul Westbrook encouraged faculty members to develop enhanced learning experiences through travel. Professor of English Dr. John Mercer proposed the first trip in 2008 after attending an OSF workshop focused on teaching Shakespeare.

“I was very impressed with the high quality of the productions and the large number of different plays one can see there in just a few days,” Mercer said. “When I took students to OSF for the first time, it was supposed to be a one-time event, but the students enjoyed the experience so much that they asked me to do it again the next year, and the next, and the next. This year will be the tenth annual trip.”

Participants are not required to be enrolled students; however, there is the opportunity to earn undergraduate or graduate hours.

The trip cost of $1,670 includes airfare, housing, ground transportation, theatre tickets, backstage tour and discussion with actors. Tuition and fees for the students enrolled for credit are not included in the cost of the trip, however there are scholarships and discounts available. There is also a scholarship available for high school English teachers in Oklahoma. Those interested in scholarship opportunities will need to have applications in by March 23.

Mercer added that the OSF trip offers a unique way to study Shakespeare.

“Plays are meant to be seen on stage, not read from a book. Many NSU students who go to OSF have never before seen professional theater productions. They are exhilarated by the experience of seeing and discussing plays, meeting the actors, and learning how a repertory company operates. Even our class discussions are much more exciting than in an ordinary class,” Mercer said.

Dr. Phillip Bridgmon, dean of the College of Liberal Arts, is highly supportive of the annual trip to OSF. 

“This is an important immersive learning opportunity for our students. Experiences beyond the classroom are often some of the most memorable. I commend the effort Dr. Mercer has put into coordinating the details for this experience for the past ten years,” Bridgmon said. 

Kira Null, an English Education graduate student who also participated in last year’s trip, encouraged other students to sign up.  

“Just go,” Null said. “You’ll see why the trip keeps happening.”

The deadline for sign-up is March 31 and requires a $300 deposit. For more information or to receive email updates, contact Mercer at, visit or like the “NSU Oregon Shakespeare Trip” Facebook page.

Published: 2/3/2017 1:34:43 PM

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