ASHLAND, OR. The Oregon Shakespeare Festival was established back in 1935 and is now recognized as one of the oldest and largest professional repertory theatre companies in the nation. It all started when a young school teacher named Angus Bowmer proposed the city of Ashland with the unique idea of putting on two Shakespeare plays for the town’s Fourth of July celebration. As the popularity of the Festival continued to grow, a backstage tour was added for Shakespeare fans wanting to learn more about what goes on behind the scenes of these elaborate productions. Between a morning backstage tour and evening play, you may want to explore the welcoming city of Ashland.