By Roberta Kent
for the Mail Tribune
Curious about the Oregon Shakespeare Festival's new 71,544-square-foot production facility in Talent?
OSF is having an open house Saturday at the building, 408 Talent Ave., Talent. Maps of the building will be provided to visitors and OSF production staff and volunteers will be available to answer questions.
The building's scenic and prop construction and painting areas are custom-designed and state-of-the art. It will serve as the centralized location for festival sets beginning with the 2015 season. The cost to the festival for land and construction was $7.2 million.
Multiple loading docks, a dedicated central corridor and interconnected assembly spaces are designed for a logical construction flow. The scene shop has an extensive pit area which duplicates the trap doors in OSF's theaters, allowing for precise sizing and automated elevator cues.
Painting spaces are illuminated with stage lighting to guarantee color accuracy and lined with wall frames for finishing scenic drops and scrims. A digital database, coordinated to aisle and shelf, will be available for the prop storage area.
The building's design takes into account its proximity to residential housing. Relatively noise-free areas such as prop and costume storage spaces as well as offices, a conference room, staff rooms and a duplicate data server for the festival were deliberately placed on the side adjoining its neighbors.
Because the facility was ready for occupancy in November 2013, when scenic and prop construction for the 2014 season was well under way, the festival decided to postpone moving completely into the building until July and August 2014.
There are currently six to eight staff members working in the building. Once the move is complete, on-site staff will increase to 40.
The facility now houses some prop storage and OSF's costume rental business. There are more than 50,000 costumes available for rental to more than 1,000 regular customers nationwide, including other theaters, schools, television, film, photographers, publishers and for corporate events.
Costumes have been rented to "Saturday Night Live," "30 Rock," "True Blood," "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon," "Castle," "Portlandia" and "Leverage" and have been worn by celebrities such as Al Pacino, Helen Mirren, Hugh Laurie, Justin Timberlake, Russell Brand, Kristen Wiig and Fred Armisen.
This is the first OSF production building built specifically for set and prop construction. The first production facility was in a remodeled car dealership in downtown Ashland that later became the Black Swan Theatre. The current building on Ashland's First Street was formerly a bowling alley and roller skating rink. That building will become the Hay-Patton Rehearsal Center, and conversion will begin in late September 2014.
Roberta Kent is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.