Bill Rauch (born 1962) is an American theatre director. He was named the inaugural artistic director of the Ronald O. Perelman Performing Arts Center at the World Trade Center in 2016. Currently in development, the Perelman is the final piece of the plan to revitalize the World Trade Center site and will create work which inspires hope.
Previously, Rauch served as the fifth artistic director of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF), from June 2007 through August 2019, where he commissioned several critically acclaimed, diverse plays that transferred to Broadway including Lynn Nottage’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Sweat, Paula Vogel’s Indecent, Robert Schenkkan’s Tony Award-winning All The Way, the Go Go's musical Head Over Heels, and Robert Schenkkan's All The Way sequel, The Great Society.
Rauch is also the founder of the Cornerstone Theater Company, a traveling company that brought theater to rural communities across the United States before settling in Los Angeles to work with urban communities.
Rauch (born 1962) graduated from Harvard College in 1984, where he was a recipient of the Louis Sudler Prize for outstanding graduating artist.
Cornerstone Theater and other directorial work
Rauch co-founded the community-based, touring Cornerstone Theater Company in 1986 with Alison Carey, where he directed more than 40 productions, most of them collaborations with diverse rural and urban communities across the United States, and served as artistic director from 1986 to 2006.
Rauch has directed a number of world premieres, including Naomi Wallace's Night is a Room at New York's Signature Theatre; The Body of an American at Portland Center Stage which, along with All the Way, was co-winner of the inaugural Edward M. Kennedy Prize for Drama Inspired by American History; The Clean House at Yale Repertory Theatre; and Living Out and For Here or To Go? at the Mark Taper Forum. He also directed the New York premiere of The Clean House at Lincoln Center Theater. Work elsewhere includes productions at South Coast Repertory, Guthrie Theater, Arena Stage, Long Wharf Theatre, Pasadena Playhouse, Great Lakes Theater and En Garde Arts.
He has taught at University of California, Los Angeles, University of Southern California, California State University, Los Angeles and the University of California, Irvine as a Professor of Directing and Community Based Theater.
Work at Oregon Shakespeare Festival
Rauch became the Oregon Shakespeare Festival's fifth artistic director in 2007, after five seasons at the Festival as a guest director. As visiting director at OSF, Rauch directed Handler (2002), Hedda Gabler (2003), The Comedy of Errors (2004), By the Waters of Babylon (2005) & The Two Gentlemen of Verona (2006).
During his 17 seasons at OSF, Rauch directed seven world premieres including, Mother Road, LA Comedia of Errors, Off the Rails, Roe, Fingersmith, The Great Society, All the Way, Equivocation and By the Waters of Babylon. He also directed 19 other plays at the Festival including; By Shakespeare: Othello, Richard II, Antony and Cleopatra, King Lear, Cymbeline, Measure for Measure, Hamlet, The Merchant of Venice, Romeo and Juliet, The Two Gentlemen of Verona and The Comedy of Errors; Others: Oklahoma!, Medea/Macbeth/Cinderella, The Pirates of Penzance, The Music Man, The Clay Cart, Hedda Gabler, The Further Adventures of Hedda Gabler and Handler.
Rauch directed several OSF plays at other theatres, including Equivocation, All the Way and The Great Society at Seattle Rep; The Pirates of Penzance at Portland Opera; Equivocation and Roe at Arena Stage; Roe at Berkeley Rep; and Othello, Fingersmith and All the Way at the American Repertory Theater for which he twice won the Independent Reviewers of New England (IRNE) award for Best Director. All the Way then moved to the Neil Simon Theatre on Broadway in 2014, where it won the Tony Award for Best Play and also earned Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Award nominations for directing. The Great Society moved to the Vivian Beaumont Theater on Broadway in 2019 and opened October 1, 2019.
During his time at OSF, Rauch was known for diversifying the company and the audience. Rauch's programming combined Shakespeare, other classics, contemporary work, and plays commissioned for the company, as well as classical musicals and plays outside the Western canon.
Rauch commissioned 37 new plays as part of American Revolutions: the U.S. History Cycle, to dramatize moments of change in American history, inspired by Shakespeare’s history plays and funded in part by grants from the Andrew W. Mellon, Collins Family, and Paul G. Allen Family Foundations. He also initiated the Black Swan Lab for New Work and a community-based format for the Green Show.
On February 16, 2018, Rauch announced that his directorship would come to an end in August 2019.
All the Way and The Great Society
In 2014, Rauch directed the Broadway production of All the Way by Robert Schenkkan, after commissioning and directing the play at OSF in 2012. The limited-engagement production opened on March 6, 2014 at the Neil Simon Theatre and concluded on June 29, 2014. The production won two Tony Awards, the 2014 Tony Award for Best Play and the 2014 Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play, which went to Bryan Cranston. The play also won the Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Play. Rauch was nominated for both a Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Award for his direction.
In 2019, Rauch again worked with Schenkkan on The Great Society, the sequel to All the Way, which ran for a twelve week limited-engagement on Broadway at The Vivian Beaumont Theater, beginning September 6, 2019. The play starred Emmy-winner Brian Cox as President Lyndon B. Johnson.
Leading The Ronald O. Perelman Performing Arts Center
In February 2016, Rauch was named the inaugural artistic director of the Ronald O. Perelman Performing Arts Center, a new, flexible midsize performance space at The World Trade Center that will produce theater, dance, music, and chamber opera.
Awards and honors
In 2018 Rauch received the Ivy Bethune Award from Actors’ Equity Association for diversity and inclusion in hiring, casting and producing. Other honors include the inaugural "Guiding Star" Award (2017), two Independent Reviewers of New England Awards (2017, 2014), a Falstaff Award (2013), the 2012 Zelda Fichandler Award, TCG's Visionary Leadership Award (2010), Connecticut Critics Circle, L.A. Weekly, and Helen Hayes Awards. He is also the only artist to have won the inaugural "Leadership for a Changing World" award (2001).
Rauch is also the recipient of the 2009 Margo Jones Award, founded by Inherit the Wind authors Jerome Lawrence and Robert Edwin Lee and presented annually by Ohio State University. The award honors "that citizen-of-the theatre who has demonstrated a significant impact, understanding, and affirmation of the craft of playwriting, with a lifetime commitment to the encouragement of the living theatre everywhere."
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