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July 27, 2006 Three finalists named for OSF co-leader Artistic Director Libby Appel steps down in 2007 By Vickie Aldous Ashland Daily Tidings The Oregon Shakespeare Festival has named three finalists for the position of artistic director.

Three finalists named for OSF co-leader

Artistic Director Libby Appel steps down in 2007

The Oregon Shakespeare Festival has named three finalists for the position of artistic director.

Current Artistic Director Libby Appel, who took the post in 1995 after working as a director at OSF, will step down after the 2007 season, according to OSF Media Relations Associate Eddie Wallace.

She leads the largest repertory theater in the country alongside OSF Executive Director Paul Nicholson.

The duties of the artistic director include choosing the play line-up, selecting directors, casting plays and partnering with the executive director on the business side of OSF operations, according to OSF Board of Directors member and artistic director selection committee chair James Risser.

“It’s an important job and we want someone with excellent past experience,” Risser said. “We’re hoping to get someone with a passion for classical theater and what the Oregon Shakespeare Festival does — which is Shakespeare and other classics and also more recent plays and occasionally staging some brand new plays. We’re looking for someone with an exciting vision for the future of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.”

All three finalists meet those criteria, he said.

Barry Edelstein, currently a freelance director and formerly the artistic director of Classic Stage Company in New York, was well known for staging Shakespearean plays and other classics while working for the theater company, but has also directed a variety of new plays, according to Risser.

His book, “Thinking Shakespeare,” will be published in 2007, according to the OSF media relations office.

Charlie Newell has been artistic director at Chicago’s Court Theatre for 12 years and has transformed the theater into a national leader of classical work, according to the OSF media relations office.

Newell increased the quality of the productions at the theater and improved its finances. He also has directed plays by contemporary playwrights, Risser said.

Bill Rauch has been a director at OSF for five seasons, where he has directed everything from classics to a world premier play, according to Risser.

A co-founder and artistic director of the Cornerstone Theatre in Los Angeles, where he worked for 20 years, Rauch developed the theater from an organization that often relied on amateur actors into an organization that is larger but still community-based, according to Risser and the OSF media relations office.

Rauch is currently a professor at the University of California at Irvine and is directing plays that will soon open at the Guthrie Theatre in Minnesota and New York’s Lincoln Center.

“Overall, the search committee was really impressed with what a dynamic group these three were,” Risser said. “They are bright and committed to theater. They are committed to the classics and innovation in theater.”

Approximately 40 people applied for the artistic director position. A professional search firm narrowed the list down to a dozen candidates, of whom three were chosen by the search committee as finalists, according to Risser.

Following a previous visit, the finalists will return to OSF the week beginning August 7 for a second round ofinterviews, according to the media relations office.

The search committee, made up of nine board members and two OSF theater company members, hopes to make a final recommendation to the full board in September, Risser said.

The new person will begin work next season to become used to OSF operations while Appel is completing her twelfth and final season. The new artistic director will plan the plays for the 2008 season, according to Wallace.

OSF has an acting company of 89 people this year and a total of 500 full and part-time employees, he said.

During her tenure, Appel raised the artistic level of the theater to an even higher level. She maintained an emphasis on classics while staging contemporary works and even commissioning new plays, according to Risser.

He noted that Time magazine also named OSF as the number two regional theater company in the nation during her time as artistic director.

Staff writer Vickie Aldous can be reached at 479-8199 or vlaldous@yahoo.com

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