OSF looks ahead to next year

With his first season as the new artistic director of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival barely a few weeks old, Bill Rauch unveiled the 2009 season at a member event Friday in the New Theatre.

Rauch noted that while some of his goals for the 2009 season are reiterations and amplifications of the 2008 season commitments, there are some new goals that guided the choices that were made. These include: staging Shakespeare, new plays and family-friendly and appropriate work in all three theater spaces; production of non-Western classics and drama; continued commitment to classic American drama and this season to produce a classic American musical; expand the boundaries of what's possible in the different theater spaces by putting the first-ever non-Shakespeare European classic in the New Theatre and the first-ever play written by an artist of color on the Elizabethan Stage; and a selection of plays that can be in direct conversation with one another.

As always, the season will be anchored with four plays by William Shakespeare. "Macbeth" will run the length of the season in the Angus Bowmer Theatre &

directed by Gale Edwards, a leading stage director and interpreter of Renaissance drama in performance. Amanda Dehnert, a freelance director and assistant professor at Northwestern University, will direct the New Theatre production of "All's Well That Ends Well," which Rauch described as having "the highest number of strong female roles in the canon." On the Elizabethan Stage, OSF veteran John Sipes (who directed the 2006 production of "King John") will direct "Henry VIII" (last produced at OSF in 1984). Kate Buckley, who directed the 2007 production of "The Taming of the Shrew," will bring her attention to both the text and actors to direct "Much Ado About Nothing,"

"Death and the King's Horseman," written in 1972 by Nobel Prize-winning Nigerian playwright Wole Soyinka, will run in the Bowmer Theatre from February through July. The drama, which Rauch called "a beautiful work of art," is based on a real incident in Nigeria during British colonial rule. It will be directed by Goodman Theatre resident director Chuck Smith. The family-friendly 300-year-old Italian comedy "The Servant of Two Masters," by Carlo Goldoni, will open in the New Theatre. Staged by Tracy Young, who is directing this season's production of "Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner," the comedia-style play will run from March through November. Debuting on the outdoor Elizabethan Stage will be the Spanish classic about the knight errant and his squire Sancho Panza, "Don Quixote," by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, with a world-premiere adaptation by playwright Octavio Solis directed by OSF veteran Laird Williamson. Rauch pointed out that the production will be both a new work and a classic and also will feature puppets.

Rauch will direct the classic American musical "The Music Man," opening in the Angus Bowmer Theatre in February and running throughout the season. While remaining true to Meredith Willson's original version of the 1957 Broadway hit, Rauch will give a new look and feel to the play. He first workshopped his vision of the musical while teaching at UC Irvine in 2007, and appeared in it in high school with his two little sisters. Also in the Angus Bowmer Theatre will be Clifford Odets' "Paradise Lost," (the playwright's favorite work) about one family's struggle through the Great Depression. OSF Artistic Director Emeritus Libby Appel will direct.

Rauch will direct the world premiere production of Bill Cain's "Equivocation," playing in the Bowmer Theatre from April through November. The play involves Shakespeare and his company of players during rehearsals for "Macbeth." Shakespeare is commissioned by Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury and minister to King James I, to write a play about the Gunpowder Plot of 1605.

Opening in February and playing in the New Theatre is the West Coast premiere of Sarah Ruhl's "beguiling new comedy" (New York Times review, 3/08) "Dead Man's Cell Phone," directed by freelance director Christopher Liam Moore. The play blends real and fantastical elements to tell the story of what occurs when a woman in a diner answers a ringing cell phone &

that happens to belong to a dead man.

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