Welcoming new Oregon Shakespeare Festival
Artistic Director Bill Rausch are, left to right,
Nancy Tait, outgoing board president,
Board Treasurer Anjelica Ruppe
and Noell Webb, board member.
Rausch announced the 2008 season at
his first meeting with the board last week
Incoming Oregon Shakespeare Festival Artistic Director Bill Rauch recently unveiled his inaugural season.
While continuing to maintain a strong commitment to Shakespeare and American classics, Rauch has also put his unique stamp on the playbill by including an epic text outside the Western canon, two new plays, a world premiere production that will head to Washington, D.C.'s Kennedy Center in July, and the first-ever 20th-century play to be produced on OSF's outdoor Elizabethan Stage. Joining OSF on the 11 artistic teams is an unusually high number of guest directors and designers new to OSF.
The season will be anchored by four plays by William Shakespeare. "A Midsummer Night's Dream" will open the season in the Angus Bowmer Theatre, staged by sought-after Shakespeare director Mark Rucker.
OSF veteran Laird Williamson brings his directorial vision to the New Theatre for the first time with "Coriolanus."
On the Elizabethan Stage, Obie Award-winner Lisa Peterson will direct "Othello," and current Associate Artistic Director Penny Metropulos will direct a highly musical version of "The Comedy of Errors."
Rauch has also included three American classics. In the Angus Bowmer Theatre, OSF commemorates the recent loss of two of America's greatest playwrights by juxtaposing their equally powerful visions of 1950's working class America. Guest artist Leah C. Gardiner will direct August Wilson's "Fences," while current Artistic Director Libby Appel will direct Arthur Miller's "A View From the Bridge." And it is with great anticipation that guest artist Chay Yew will direct the first 20th century play ever staged under the stars on the Elizabethan Stage — Thornton Wilder's masterpiece "Our Town."
Rauch's initial directorial effort as artistic director will be the Sanskrit epic "The Clay Cart," attributed to King Shudraka. The production will run all season in the Angus Bowmer Theatre. Bursting with romance, political intrigue, traditional dance and comic subplots, OSF's first Indian classic is utterly Shakespearean in scale and spirit. Rauch hopes this will be the first in an ongoing series of non-Western world classics at OSF.
In addition, Rauch will direct Oregon native Jeff Whitty's hilarious comedy, "The Further Adventures of Hedda Gabler," in the Angus Bowmer Theatre. Whitty received a Tony Award for his book of the Broadway musical "Avenue Q."
In an exciting arrangement with the Kennedy Center, the world premiere production of Julie Marie Myatt's "Welcome Home, Jenny Sutter" opening in the New Theatre, will tour to Washington D.C. after closing in Ashland. The play, directed by Steppenwolf associate artist Jessica Thebus, is an edgy and funny drama that centers on a female Marine returning from a tour in Iraq.
Last but not least, Luis Alfaro's delicious comedy, "Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner," an outrageous and slightly surreal look at obesity, obsession and the meaning of true love, will play in the New Theatre and be directed by guest artist Tracy Young.
The 2008 season is sponsored by U.S. Bank.
"U.S. Bank welcomes Bill Rauch to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. His creative energy is reflected in the diverse productions unveiled today for the 2008 season," said Malia Wasson, President, U.S. Bank, Oregon. "We are very pleased to have Bill join in the strong partnership between OSF and U.S. Bank."
The 2008 season begins previews on Feb. 15 and closes on October 27.