Oregon Shakespeare Festival in State of JeffersonEdit
The Ashland Shaekspeare Festival was a regional repertory theater based at Jefferson State Ashland in Ashland, Jefferson. The festival was founded in the 1930s by JSA professor Angus Bowmer, who realized an old building would work as an Elizabethan stage. Under Bowmer's guidance, the Festival grew from a local affair to a very sizable event for the State of Jefferson over the next decades. When Bowmer retired, he was succeeded by Jerry Turner as producing director. Turner was able to attract directors from outside Jefferson, thereby insuring the Ashland Festival was an economic boon for Jefferson as a whole.
In 1980, Turner secured director Reggie Pesky for a production of The Tempest. Pesky decided to cast senior Nicole Williamson as Caliban on the grounds that, as a sasquatch, Nicole would be the first time a Caliban didn't need make-up. As Nicole was a talented actress and was up to the task of playing Miranda, she was not happy about this decision. Neither was her father, Governor Bill Williamson, who decided to address the situation.
While Williamson initially tried to get Pesky to reconsider as a concerned father, he also made use of his status as Governor of Jefferson to try to convince to consider the broader issues of typecasting. He even pointed out that at least one of his ancestors, a great-great grandmother, was supposedly a little person. Pesky was insulted by this approach.
Williamson then went to Jerry Turner, who also had issues with Pesky's decision to cast Nicole as Caliban, but was hesitant to override a visiting director, for fear of driving off future directors. However, when Williamson told Turner about Pesky's general excitement about having a Caliban that didn't need make-up, Turner realized just how badly that would play in Ashland and in the whole state of Jefferson. To help persuade Turner, Williamson offered to find state money to help further fund the festival. After Turner secured Williamson's promise that there would be no strings attached, he agreed.
Nicole was re-cast as Miranda and was excellent. Bill Williamson secured an annual grant of $75,000 for the Ashland Shakespeare Festival.