After working together for years, The Public Theater’s Jacob Padrón interviews his mentor–and Art of Change Fellow–Bill Rauch, Artistic Director at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. The two contemporaries discuss leadership, artistry, and generosity.

By Jacob Padrón at Howlround:

Jacob Padrón: Do you think your vision for what theatre can do in the world changes as you grow and evolve as a leader and artist?

Bill Rauch: I think my great love and faith in the theatre’s ability to build community and to transform individual human hearts has been a constant in my life and has been unwavering. But the different ways to achieve community transformation, and different ways stories can land in audience members’ hearts, the different ways by which you can capture the impact of the work— those have shifted for me a lot over the years. And they shift every day. We closed a play last night, Fingersmith, and I was reminded that my ability to understand what art can do continues to mature and deepen. But I think there’s an absolute through line that remains unchanged.

JP: That reminds me of another value I’d love for you to talk about—about how the best idea in the room wins no matter where it comes from. That, too, takes real generosity as a leader. 


BR: I’m a firm believer in the best idea in the room wins. I think as a director and artistic director I am the editor of other people’s good ideas, and my job is to have good taste, and to be curious and interested in listening to everyone around me so I can hone in on the best ideas. You know, even if someone doesn’t have a particular expertise in something, if they have a great idea it should win. There’s no two ways about it. And when I think about where that value comes from, it’s certainly from Cornerstone, where we were creating work together and it was about deep listening, always.

This story was originally published on August 19th, 2015.