The Oregon Shakespeare Festival's Green Show is free nightly pre-theater entertainment in downtown Ashland, Ore.

Itching to get out of town? If you’re driving to California, have time for a quick stop in Ashland, Ore., but haven’t arranged tickets to a Shakespeare play, here’s an idea for some free fun.

Why leave town: Because it’s summer vacation, Clark Griswold.

What’s going on: The Oregon Shakespeare Festival, which stages a full repertory season of the Bard’s greatest hits as well as other award-winning stage plays in Ashland. Included from June through mid-October is a free pre-theater, 35-minute Green Show, with an entertaining and diverse schedule of music and dance.

Where and when: The Green Show is outdoors in the Festival Courtyard just outside the Elizabethan Theater in downtown Ashland. It’s nightly except Mondays, from June through mid-October. Times: 7:15 p.m. through Aug. 5, then 6:45 p.m. through Oct. 14. The audience sits on sloping lawn (bring a blanket). Ashland gets lots of summer sunshine, so there aren’t many rainouts.

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What to expect: Class acts of all kinds. Theatrical performances range from an Iraqi Shakespearean troupe (early July) to Shakespeare Unscripted, an improv group that takes ideas from the audience (late August). Look for musicians such as Brother, an Australian/Celtic rock group featuring wild bagpipes and didgeridoo (July 18), and the Palo Alto Chamber Orchestra (June 24), plus dancers, magicians and more.

Details: For a full schedule of Green Show acts, see And while you’re in Ashland, check the Festival’s box office for available theater tickets. (Or, patrons with extra tickets often sell them in the courtyard.)

Brian J. Cantwell: