Long-time artistic director Bill Rauch will leave the Ashland-based Oregon Shakespeare Festival next year to head the Ronald O. Perelman Center for Performing Arts at the World Trade Center in New York City. He will stay at OSF through August 2019.
Rauch became OSF’s fifth artistic director in 2007, after five seasons at the Festival as a guest director. He has directed seven world premieres—Off the Rails, Roe,Fingersmith, The Great Society, All the Way, Equivocation and By the Waters of Babylon—and 17 other plays. In the 2018 season, he is directing Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! and Shakespeare's Othello.
“Leaving OSF and this amazing company has been one of the most difficult decisions of my life,” Rauch said in a statement released by OSF. “The Festival and this wonderful town are where my husband and I have raised our two children together—it’s truly our home in so many senses of the word. We have been deeply impacted and changed by our time here in Ashland.”
“The opportunity to move to New York to lead the Perelman Center is tremendously exciting,” Rauch said. “I’m honored to be able to create transformative art and cultivate a community gathering space at a site that has such powerful emotional resonance for our country and the world.”
Among his initiatives at OSF, Rauch, along with longtime collaborator Alison Carey, committed to commissioning 37 new plays to dramatize moments of change in American history. American Revolutions: the U.S. History Cycle has premiered nine plays at OSF to date, many of which have moved on to other theaters across the country as well as Broadway, including a Tony-winning production of All the Way that was directed by Rauch.
“Bill’s time as OSF’s artistic director has been and will continue to be extraordinary,” said OSF Board President Peter H. Koehler, Jr. “We’ve been honored with the Festival’s first Tony Award for Best Play and first Pulitzer Prize, seen numerous world premieres go on to great success across the country, begun a decade-long journey through Shakespeare’s entire canon, and become a leader in the field with our equity, diversity and inclusion efforts.”
OSF says a search firm will be engaged in the coming weeks to assist in selecting potential candidates for Rauch's successor. Executive Director Cynthia Rider said, “Due to this amazing and talented company, deeply engaged and engaging audience and reputation as both a home for Shakespeare and for new works of impact, we believe the most creative and visionary theater artists will be drawn to this unique opportunity. We are committed to substantial overlap between Bill and OSF's next artistic director to have the smoothest, most productive transition possible.”