NYT: “We in leadership positions,” Bill Rauch, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s artistic director, told The New York Times in 2015, “need to do everything we can to reflect the world we live in.”

On Friday, Mr. Rauch and his colleagues continued that push when announcing the festival’s 2018 season, which features a production of “Oklahoma!” that has same-sex couples in leading roles.

In an email on Sunday, Mr. Rauch said that he had been obsessed with introducing cross-gendered casting into “Oklahoma!” for decades, and that he began discussing the idea with Ted Chapin, president and chief creative officer of the Rodgers and Hammerstein estate, roughly a year and a half ago.

Mr. Rauch became artistic director in 2007, and has since begun a number of initiatives aimed at broadening the Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s cultural reach.

Based in Ashland, Ore., on the state’s southern border, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival was founded in 1935, making it one of the nation’s oldest and most important theater institutions. It runs from February to October with performances six days a week, for a total of roughly 800 shows annually.