He will succeed artistic director Libby Appel, who, as previously reported, will be retiring at the end of the 2007 season. Rauch, 43, will work part-time beginning in November 2006 to plan the 2008 playbill, select design teams and cast actors for the 11 productions. He begins full-time in June 2007.
His fall 2006 gig on the East Coast is directing The Clean House for Lincoln Center Theater in Manhattan.
"I am overjoyed by this appointment," said Rauch from his Los Angeles home. "From the moment I first worked in Ashland over five years ago, I fell in love with the Festival's three-theatre campus, the ever-surprising rotating rep of plays, and the brilliant company of artists and administrators. With our devoted and multi-generational audiences, OSF is a true peoples' theatre: not only preserving the past, but creating the theater of the future. Building on the Festival's distinguished history and Libby Appel's inspiring legacy in particular, I look forward to partnering with Paul Nicholson to lead OSF to achieve its full potential as both a regional resource and a truly national theatre company."
A freelance director, Rauch co-founded Cornerstone Theater in Los Angeles — known for involving communities in the theatre process — where he was artistic director for 20 years. He has directed for five seasons at Oregon Shakespeare Festival (Hedda Gabler, The Comedy of Errors, By the Waters of Babylon, The Two Gentlemen of Verona) as well as at South Coast Repertory, the Mark Taper Forum, Yale Repertory Theatre, Guthrie Theatre, Lincoln Center Theater, Arena Stage and many others. He has taught at UCLA, USC, California State University - Los Angeles, and is presently the Claire Trevor Professor of Drama at the University of California - Irvine.
He is currently co-directing The Falls (world premiere by Jeffrey Hatcher) at the Guthrie Theatre. Rauch will be OSF's fifth artistic director in its 71 year history. OSF founder Angus Bowmer was producing director/artistic director from 1935-1970. Jerry Turner was appointed producing director in 1971 and became artistic director in 1981 (name change only), retiring in 1991. Henry Woronicz was appointed and served until he resigned in 1995, and Appel was hired in 1995.
"Since Bill has been a guest artist at OSF for the past five years, and will direct Romeo and Juliet in 2007, we have had the good fortune to know his brilliant and creative mind," Appel said. "I have absolutely no doubt that he will bring his innovative vision, widening the playbill with classical plays from around the world as well as commissioning extraordinary playwrights with whom he has worked. I am confident and excited about the future because it will rest in Bill's sensitive and imaginative hands."
Executive director Paul Nicholson stated, "Bill is an extraordinary leader in the world of American theatre, with a national reputation as a great theatre artist. He is an inspiring artistic director with a huge network of actors, directors, designers and playwrights throughout the country. He is unquestionably the person I want to work with in leading the Oregon Shakespeare Festival after Libby retires. I am simply delighted that he is going to join us and help shape OSF's future. I believe we will look back on this day and recognize it as among the most momentous in the history of the Festival."
A welcome reception is planned for Rauch in November when he returns from directing in New York City. Visit www.osfashland.org.