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Originally published Saturday, January 6, 2007 at 12:00 AM

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Staff shakeup at Oregon Shakespeare Fest

Incoming artistic director Bill Rauch will reorganize the Ashland, Ore., company's artistic hierarchy in its 2008 season, when he assumes full responsibility...

Seattle Times theater critic

Oregon Shakespeare Festival, the largest and best-attended classical-theater complex in the U.S., has announced that a major shake-up of its artistic staff is on the horizon.

Incoming artistic director Bill Rauch will reorganize the Ashland, Ore., company's artistic hierarchy in its 2008 season, when he assumes full responsibility for the theater from retiring artistic director, Libby Appel. (Rauch, the former head of L.A.'s Cornerstone Theatre, will work part-time at OSF before joining the company full-time this June.)

Most significant among the changes outlined in a recent OSF press statement will be the elimination of two associate artistic posts currently held by directors Penny Metropulos and Tim Bond (former director of Seattle's Group Theatre). Their jobs will be replaced by a single, new associate artistic director position for a stage designer.

When Metropulos and Bond leave the company at the close of the 2007 season, so will numerous other longtime OSF staffers whose positions have been altered or eliminated, including resident scenic designer William Bloodgood, and Green Stage artistic head David Hochoy. Rauch says he hopes some departing veterans will return to work at OSF on future shows as guest artists.

Rauch notes that the internal changes at the venerable theater company, founded in 1935, will help him implement several new initiatives he plans: the expansion of new play development at OSF and the launch of a "U.S. History Cycle" of original works; the use of a greater variety of directors in OSF productions; and hiring a more eclectic array of acts for OSF's free, pre-play Green Shows.

Rauch's plans will not alter OSF's 2007 season, which kicks off in February in Ashland. Details: www.orshakes.org or 541-482-4331.

Misha Berson: mberson@seattletimes.com

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