Bill Rauch Gets Margo Jones Award for Encouraging "Living Theatre"

By Kenneth Jones
24 Oct 2009

Oregon Shakespeare Festival artistic director Bill Rauch will receive the 2009 Margo Jones Award at a ceremony in Ashland, OR, Oct. 24.



The Margo Jones Award Committee from Ohio State University will present the award at a private event to be held at the Ashland Springs Hotel. The Margo Jones Award annually honors "that citizen-of-the-theatre who has demonstrated a significant impact, understanding and affirmation of the craft of playwriting, with a lifetime commitment to the encouragement of the living theatre everywhere."

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Previous recipients, since the Award was first given in 1961, include Lucille Lortel, Joseph Papp, Zelda Fichandler, Lloyd Richards, Jane Alexander, Al Hirschfeld, Ellen Stewart, Jon Jory, Andre Bishop, Emilie Kilgore, and most recently in 2007-08, David Emmes and Martin Benson.

Founded by playwrights Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee, the Margo Jones Award commemorates a pioneer of the American professional regional theatre movement. Margo Jones (1912-1955) supported and produced new plays at the theatre she founded in Dallas in 1947, including Lawrence and Lee's Inherit the Wind and Tennessee Williams' Summer and Smoke.

The award committee, consisting of Janet Waldo Lee and Lucy Lee representing the Robert E. Lee family, Deborah Robison representing the Jerome Lawrence family, Nena Couch (curator of the Lawrence and Lee Institute), Mary Tarantino (director of the Institute), and Alan Woods (director emeritus) "feel that Mr. Rauch, through his work including Cornerstone Theater, as well as the exciting new work at OSF, exemplifies that citizen-of-the-theatre envisioned by Lawrence and Lee when they established the award."

"I'm deeply honored to receive this award," Rauch said, "particularly as I consider the work of Margo Jones and previous recipients of the award and their incredible contributions to American theatre. This award inspires a commitment to honor the legacy of these artists and to continue OSF's own legacy of developing new work."

Jim Risser, president of OSF's board of directors, stated, "Bill Rauch is a visionary artistic director, and this prestigious award recognizes the brilliant work he is doing in encouraging the development of major new works for the American stage."

According to OSF notes, Rauch continues to work with playwrights whose plays were produced at OSF prior to his becoming artistic director, including Lisa Loomer, Robert Schenkkan and Octavio Solis, and he has brought many new voices to OSF audiences through productions and commissions from writers including Bill Cain, Sarah Ruhl, Jeff Whitty, Culture Clash and Julie Marie Myatt.

In addition, in 2007 under Rauch's artistic leadership OSF launched American Revolutions: the U.S. History Cycle, an ambitious ten-year project to commission 37 plays about significant moments in American history. Playwrights commissioned to date include Culture Clash, David Henry Hwang, Young Jean Lee, Lynn Nottage, Suzan-Lori Parks, Robert Schenkkan, Universes, Naomi Wallace, Rhiana Yazzie and the team of Jonathan Moscone and Tony Taccone.

Other commissions are in progress, as well as a new project, The Black Swan Lab, dedicated to developing new work.

Margo Jones Award committee members and Ohio State participants attending the award ceremony include: Nena Couch, curator of the Lawrence and Lee Institute; Beth Kattelman, associate curator; Mary Tarantino, director; Janet Waldo Lee, widow of Robert E. Lee and actor; Lucy Lee, daughter of Robert and Janet and on the faculty at USC; Jonathan, son of Robert and Janet and Mark Taper Forum production manager, and Neila Lee and their daughter Jenny; Deborah Robison, niece of Jerome Lawrence, author and teacher, and Dennis Cohen; Jennifer Schlueter and Brad Steinmetz, OSU alumni and theatre educators. The committee members will also see a performance of the world premiere of Bill Cain’s Equivocation, directed by Bill Rauch. The Jones award, with additional support through a bequest by J. B. Tad Adoue III, has been administered by the Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee Theatre Research Institute at The Ohio State University since 1993.

Additional information on the award is available at the Margo Jones Award webpage.