First thing: Take care of the audience

Bill Rauch

Bill Rauch, Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s artistic director, acted and directed theater throughout his childhood and academic career. Rauch became an Artistic Director of Cornerstone Theater Company in his early 20s, which he guided for 20 years, while also directing for theaters including South Coast Repertory, Yale Repertory Theatre and OSF, before becoming OSF’s Artistic Director in 2007. This is the first of a two-part column.

BR: Libby Appel, my predecessor, was really generous with me. For five years in a row, she invited me in to work in all three theaters, to do all different kinds of work, so when I applied for the job, I knew the organization, the town and the audience, and was able to speak about them with some passion.

EH: Any surprises when you got here?

BR: I was surprised how supportive the audience was. For instance, I felt that OSF’s incredible company of actors could put their own stamp on musicals, from the wonderful way that they interpret stories. When we did “The Music Man” in 2009, we thought, “This is a Shakespeare-loving audience, and they may turn up their noses at a classic American musical.” The fact that all the musicals we’ve done have been so embraced by the audience was delightful. Continue reading First thing: Take care of the audience