Rauch on Rauch: Different voices add to the diversity of the festival

Emerging from a meeting on the OSF's 2010 season, Bill Rauch won't give away any future secrets, but he reflects on the season now nearing its end, his first in artistic control.

He says he's been amazed at how seriously people take the OSF's 11 annual plays.

"They really feel they own this place," he says. "(OSF founder) Angus Bowmer always said it's an audience theater.

"But it's also about company. If everything were so blandly palatable that everybody liked it, we'd be doing something wrong."

As much as anything he's put on the stage, Rauch is proud of the ways people, particularly locals, can see plays for less money — a flex pass, Web specials, rush tickets, $20 seats, $12 Tuesday tickets, a club for people between 19 and 35. He'd like people to be able to say that on his watch the local community felt connected to OSF and started coming.

He loved "The Further Adventures of Hedda Gabler," Jeff Whitty's comedy about Ibsen's best-known heroine, despite its less-than-robust box office (he directed it, and directed the play's premiere in 2006 at South Coast Rep).

"I think we knew as a new play it would not go through the roof from April to November," he says. "A lot of people have told me they don't know Ibsen, and they love it. That is Jeff's voice. It's a hip voice.

"If it were the only voice in the season it would be a problem. But it has incredible heart and depth. And it's the beauty of doing 11 plays."

He was surprised by the mixed reception of the other play he directed, the colorful, 2,000-year-old "The Clay Cart."

"I think how the dramaturgy ... was harder for some audience members than others surprised me," he says. "There are die-hard fans, and there are the people who were not able to get into the story. ...

"But that was the entire plan. To bring a different style. I'm so proud we did it."

He says the learning curve on his new job is steep, especially within the company. He says each season has a personality.

"Parts of 2008 reflect who I am," he says, "and 2009 will reflect different parts."

Above all, he wants the theater to create vibrant, deep work.

"We tried to have the colors be as bright and intense as possible. I'm proud of that."

Share This Story