Signature Stories: Volume 14 - Page 10

TAKING A DIVE AN INTERVIEW WITH DIRECTOR BILL RAUCH Night is a Room director Bill Rauch has spent decades working to broaden and diversify the stories seen on America’s stages. Shortly after graduating from Harvard University in 1984, he helped found Cornerstone Theater, a company dedicated to creating work by and for underserved communities. With Cornerstone, Rauch traveled around the country—from Port Gibson, MS to urban Los Angeles to rural Kansas—directing adaptations of classics featuring theatre professionals alongside local first-time actors. In 2007, Rauch became Artistic Director of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. There, he has further established his reputation for diversifying the theatre, engaging in nontraditional casting, selecting plays from outside the Western canon, and commissioning new work as part of “American Revolutions: The U.S. History Cycle,” a ten-year program dedicated to chronicling moments of transformation and change in American history. He first met Residency One playwright Naomi Wallace after commissioning and producing the World Premiere of her play The Liquid Plain as part of that initiative. Signature: Why did you want Naomi Wallace to be a part of the American Revolutions program? Bill Rauch: When we first conceived American Revolutions, we recognized that there was a danger of history plays being bad history, bad theatre, or worse yet, bad both. We knew that we needed the best possible playwrights to ensure great plays, and Naomi was one of the very first writers we reached out to. Naomi’s writing is fierce, unapologetic, both deeply political and deeply personal, and she has often and brilliantly turned to historical settings throughout her body of work. Join us in celebrating our 25th Anniversary and help lay the groundwork for many more years of Signature Theatre by becoming a SIGNATUREPATRON “BILL IRWIN IS JUST ABOUT MY FAVORITE PERFORMER OF ALL TIME and experiencing his performances at Signature in the Peter Norton Space during his 2003-04 season “WE HAVE BEEN ATTENDING PLAYS AT SIGNATURE SINCE MY FATHER’S 1994-95 HORTON FOOTE SEASON. The quality of the writing, staging, acting, and direction are consistently in residence was truly a highlight for me. the best the City has to offer. The theatre complex [The Pershing Square From The Harlequin Studies to The Regard Evening Signature Center] has raised the bar for theatrical entertainment in and finishing with Mr. Fox: A Rumination, the whole much the same way as the Angelika Film Center redefined movie-going season was a delight from beginning to end. in Manhattan nearly 20 years ago. We can’t wait to see the next play!!” And having a chance to talk to him briefly at a – Walter & Diane Foote, Patrons since 2014, Audience Members since 1994 Signature event really made my year. And then, when he brought Old Hats to the new Pershing Square Signature Center with David Shiner and Nellie McKay and the rest of the musicians in 2013 – what pure joy to watch them all. I could have gone back every night and I can’t wait to return this winter to see them again!” – Robin Jones, Patron since 2008, Audience Member since 2002 S: Why did you want to direct Night is a Room? BR: First and foremost, I wanted to work with Naomi. The first time I read Night is a Room, I was compelled and disturbed. It stayed with me, it really haunted me. And it intimidated me in terms of the play’s challenges, how to navigate the emotional landscape. All good reasons to say “yes.” S: What are you most looking forward to in this production? BR: The deep dive with great actors that this play demands. With only three characters, the play works on a very different scale than the large-cast epic plays that I often direct, and I am so excited about the intimacy of that experience. And just being in the room with an artist of Naomi’s caliber, to learn from her every day in rehearsal: I anticipate that thrill! n Signature Patrons are a core group of supporters who make a direct investment in our artists, productions, and programs, and champion our commitment to making great theatre accessible to all through the Signature Ticket Initiative. JUST SOME OF THE MANY EXCITING BENEFITS OF BECOMING A PATRON INCLUDE** • Complimentary seats in prime location for each Signature production • Access to the Patron Hotline for personalized customer support • Inv itations to exclusive Opening Night Performances and After-Parties • Opportunities throughout the season to attend private receptions and gatherings with invited artistic guests • Yearlong acknowledgement in the Playbill (top to bottom): Bill Rauch; Bryan Cranston in All the Way at the American Repertory Theater, directed by Bill Rauch, 2013; Derrick Lee Weeden and Miriam A. Laube in Antony and Cleopatra at Oregon Shakespeare Festival, directed by Bill Rauch, 2015. 9 **Not all benefits available at all levels. Visit signaturetheatre.org/patron for more information. (right): Bill Iriwn and David Shiner in Old Hats at Signature Theatre, 2013. 10