Wildfire smoke a concern for OSF outdoor shows

Ashland, Ore. —  To have a show, or not to have a show. That is the question for Oregon Shakespeare Festival. The smoke continues to be an ongoing concern for OSF whose outdoor theater has a 1,200-person capacity.

Last year, OSF had to cancel a total of nine shows, all due to wildfire smoke. The festival said it’s a hard call to make, but the decision is in everyone’s best interest.

“Our performers are really athletes in a lot of ways and they take in a lot of air, they need a lot of air, a lot of oxygen,” said Ted DeLong, general manager for OSF.

The current air quality conditions aren’t ideal for OSF, to say the least.

“We really just try to come up with a decision that keeps people as healthy as they can,” DeLong said.

In theater, the show must go on. But not at the risk of OSF actors and viewers.

“It’s not fun, but sometimes it’s just the right thing to do,” DeLong said.

A hard to call to make, especially when up to 1,200 people are excited to watch a show.

“Mindful of how far people come to visit OSF, they buy their tickets months in advance and we know it can be really devastating,” DeLong said.

While OSF takes a hit financially anytime it cancels a show, it said it’s for the best.

“When conditions aren’t great, that makes it hard for them to breathe and do their job,” Delong said.

OSF management said since conditions can change by the hour, it makes the final decision around late afternoon. It said you can always check their website for the latest on any show cancellations. The company also has indoor theaters as other options for viewers. OSF also tries to have staff on the bricks if you have any concerns.

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