The Oregon Shakespeare Festival's Green Show performances are at times outlandish, proper, over the top and elegantly modest.
"It's like an enormous four-month mix tape," said Claudia Alick, producer of the Green Show. "And it's always choosing between good and good."
Balance is key, she said, as is keeping the performances immersed in the conversation of what's happening at the festival and around the globe.
"I try to find performances that will have some resonance with what the nation's zeitgeist is," said Alick, who has been in charge of the Green Show since 2008.
Entering its 59th season of wooing theatergoers and passers-by before the festival's summer outdoor shows begin, the Green Show has evolved more in the past four years than during its first 55.
The show started in 1953 as an Elizabethan-era dancing troupe seeing festivalgoers into the theater, she said. About a decade later, the show switched to a more conventional style of rotating through a handful of music-and-dance performances inspired by that year's Elizabethan Stage productions.
This year, there are about 66 acts filling 117 slots in the Green Show. Crowds have swollen from 200 to 300 before 2008 to sometimes more than 800 since Alick started diversifying the Green Show.
"At first I was actually frightened. I thought, 'This is a really hard job.' It's a gigantic number of days to fill," said Alick. "Then I realized we have so much excellence in our community, and I recognized that our community is not just Ashland."
The Green Show historically has been rooted in the community by providing its audiences with entertainment based in the Rogue Valley. That tradition is still its foundation, said Alick, who is on a never-ending hunt for local, regional, national and international acts to fill the bill.
"We try to put something different on the stage every single day," she said. "And we almost pull it off 100 percent every year."
This year's Green Show will start on June 5 and run through Oct. 14, said Alick. Performances last about 35 minutes, and are held every day but Monday, when the theater is dark.
Dirty Cello, a cellist and guitarist who fuse classical music with blues and folk, is one of this year's performances Alick is itching to see.
"I have some artists who have been working for two years to get a slot," she said. "The Ashland audience is a huge draw. I have never had an artist say they don't want to come back."
Sean Forbes, a deaf Detroit-based rapper, and Vaneza Calderon, from La Puente, Calif., who headed last season's "Measure for Measure" mariachi band, Las Colibri, will also perform on the 2012 Green Show stage, said Alick.
Perhaps the most triumphant booking was by an acting troupe from the University of Iraq-Sulaimani — the first to perform Shakespeare publicly in Iraq, said Alick. The students were facing having to cancel the trip to Ashland, but a final fundraising push helped them reach their goal. The group will perform July 3, 5, 7 and 8.
Reach reporter Sam Wheeler at 541-499-1470 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.