As Artistic Director of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Art of Change Fellow Bill Rauch has had the opportunity to challenge our collective notions of what theater is—and can be—with his groundbreaking repertory.

The introduction of the OSF’s new Play On! series, which will pair 36 playwrights with dramaturgs to produce modern translations of each of Shakespeare’s plays, has raised some controversy in the industry. While some critics wonder whether it represents  “dumbing down” of the language, Rauch believes that these contemporary interpretations will instead illuminate inscrutable elements of the texts that would have been challenging to catch, even for the original audiences.

In a discussion with fellow Fellow David Henry Hwang at the Ford Foundation, Rauch discussed this issue in the context of his company’s revised mission statement.

“Inspired by Shakespeare’s work and the cultural richness of the United States, we reveal our collective humanity through illuminating interpretations of new and classic plays, deepened by the kaleidoscope of rotating repertory.”

He maintained his commitment to creating art that makes a cultural difference, both within the context of the industry and beyond. “We’re not just making art because we think art is awesome—although we do think art is powerful and beautiful,” he said. “We make art in order to reveal our collective humanity. And that is to me is very unapologetic; a very clear social justice mission. As soon as we reveal our collective humanity across any number of differences in our identities, that is social justice right there.”

We will be celebrating the work of these 13 Fellows with a creative forum on January 15, 2016 from 9-5pm ET at the Ford Foundation, during which they will share their work and spark lively conversation around the ideas they are exploring. We will be live streaming the event here at artofchange.is, and at partner screening sites around the world. Tune in here and on social media @ArtofChangeIs to participate.