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Festival cues bard’s buddies for ‘Birthday’

Local teens got to experience Shakespeare thanks to the expertise of two actors from the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

Blue Mountain Eagle

Published on December 29, 2014 2:50PM

Jason Sandford, an actor from the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, shares a laugh with students Alexis Hafer and Juan Curiel during a breakout session at Grant Union High School.

Contributed photo

Jason Sandford, an actor from the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, shares a laugh with students Alexis Hafer and Juan Curiel during a breakout session at Grant Union High School.

Jason Sandford and Erin O’Connor of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s School Visit Program work with students Taylor Wroe and Sunshine Smarr.

Contributed photo

Jason Sandford and Erin O’Connor of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s School Visit Program work with students Taylor Wroe and Sunshine Smarr.


JOHN DAY – Shakespeare might say “the play’s the thing” to catch a king, but this month it was all about a birthday – the bard’s own.

The Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s School Visit Program sent a pair of actors to work with Grant Union Junior-Senior High School students on Dec. 1-2. The duo – Erin O’Connor and Jason Sandford – staged an assembly for the school and offered breakout sessions in English classes.

“They Say It’s Your Birthday” was all about throwing a surprise birthday party for the famed playwright – in honor of his 450th birthday in 2014. The two actors donned hats and personas of a collection of Shakespeare characters as they got ready for Will’s arrival at the party.

The school visit stems from a partnership between the Shakespeare Festival and Grant Union.

The Visit Program, created 44 years ago, aims that promotes better understanding of Shakespeare, the language of his plays, and the theater for young people. The acting teams expose students to the works of Shakespeare and other great writers, presenting material in ways that resonate with today’s youth.

For Grant Union, a three-year partnership has included school visits like the one earlier this month and a trip to the Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, complete with backstage tour.

O’Connor and Sandford also staged “Birthday” and excerpts of other plays at a community show for the Juniper Arts Council on the evening of Dec. 1 at the Mt. Vernon Community Hall. Admission was free, with donations were accepted for the council’s scholarship fund.



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