Ashland Changing

Big changes going on in Ashland (where I used to work). My friend in L.A. sent me this memo to Oregon Shakespeare Festival donors that went out today. Company members received a similar email this morning, although I'm sure many of them have been aware that these changes were imminent. As the Festival's fourth-ever Artisitc Director, Bill Rauch is making some bold early choices for his new "cabinet." I think the American History Cycle has some really intriguing potential...

January 5, 2007

Dear Friends of OSF:

Happy New Year to all of you, and thank you for the overwhelming response I received to my December message to you. I was very moved by the depth and variety of your responses.

It's now time to share with you the next stage of my plans regarding where we will be headed together, beginning with the 2008 season.

Since my appointment, I have spent a great deal of time envisioning the most effective structure for the artistic team with whom I will work to lead the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Anticipation of change often brings fear. However, the reality of change is also full of endless positive possibilities, of exciting new doors opening. I write you in this spirit.

The Festival's greatest strength is the aesthetic diversity of its work, and so my overarching goal in moving forward is to broaden and deepen the diversity of artistic viewpoints, including those of a diversity of playwrights.

Most of the great works of world dramatic literature were created in collaboration with acting companies. As a classical theater with one of the only remaining acting companies in the United States, OSF has a responsibility to create and produce new work alongside the classics that are the core of our repertoire. To meet this goal of artistic diversity, I have outlined six objectives: to significantly expand OSF's new play development efforts including the launching of the U.S. History Cycle, a series of original plays about American history to parallel the Shakespeare History Cycle; to put more resources into artistic development for the acting company and casting; to increase the variety of directorial voices at OSF; to place a designer in an artistic leadership position; to diversify producing responsibilities; and to offer the greatest possible variety of pre-show experiences on the Green Show stage by inviting both professional and accomplished community-based groups of artists from throughout the western states to perform on a rotating bill.

These objectives will require changes in the job responsibilities and structure of the existing artistic team. The two Associate Artistic Director positions currently held by resident directors will be combined into a single Associate Artistic Director position that will be held by a designer. In order to maximize opportunities for guest designers, the Resident Scenic Designer position will be eliminated. The Producing Director position will be split into two Associate Producer positions, one focused on company and one focused on community. A new position of Director of Casting and Company Development will be created. In addition, the Green Show resident choreographer and dancer positions will be replaced by a rotating series of freelance performance groups.

These changes mean that Associate Artistic Directors Timothy Bond and Penny Metropulos, Resident Scenic Designer William Bloodgood, Producing Director David A. Dreyfoos and Artistic Director of the Green Show David Hochoy will leave their positions at the end of the 2007 season. I have deep admiration for the work of these individuals and all that they have contributed to OSF throughout the years -- in the case of Bill Bloodgood alone, over an astonishing three decades. Their artistry has graced our stages and their leadership has been at the core of our institution. I am deeply grateful that as we move forward as an organization, we will be building on their considerable accomplishments. I hope that Tim, Penny, Bill and David Hochoy will continue to work at the Festival as guest artists in future seasons, and I am thankful that David Dreyfoos will use his expertise to work closely with me throughout this transition.

I am pleased to name some new members of my artistic team. Christopher Acebo, a nationally recognized scenic, costume and graphics designer will become Associate Artistic Director. Christopher is uniquely qualified to serve as a synergistic link between the artistic office and all production departments as well as strengthening OSF's relationship with the Latino community.

Alison Carey will join OSF in the newly created position of Director of the U.S. History Cycle. A playwright and dramaturg as well as co-founder of Cornerstone Theater Company, Alison's dual passions for American history and theater make her the ideal leader of this new initiative. In addition, MacArthur Award-winning playwright Luis Alfaro and The Playwrights' Center Artistic Director, Polly Carl, will consult with us throughout 2007 in the design of a New Play Development Center for OSF. Luis and Polly will work closely with Lue Douthit, who will continue to oversee all literary and dramaturgical aspects of each season's 11 productions. Also continuing in their current positions will be Principal Scenic and Theatre Designer Richard Hay, Resident Costume Designer Deborah M. Dryden, Resident Composer and Music Director Todd Barton, Resident Lighting Designer Robert Peterson, Head of Voice and Text Scott Kaiser and Associate Artist James Edmondson. The Director of Casting and Company Development and two Associate Producer positions will be filled in the next six months.

I will continue to share my thoughts and plans with you during the course of the year, and as always, your feedback is welcome.


No comments: