Issue 34-35 | November & December 2007

  • Message from the Membership Directors
  • Message from Mia
  • Harvardwood 101 Career Exploration Program - Applications Due Dec. 10th!
  • Member Profile: Bill Rauch '84
  • Industry Successes
  • Pencil Me In
  • Featured Member Posting: Seeking Sundance Coordinator, Feature Film Program, Creative Producing Initiative

Message from the Membership Directors

Hope your holidays are off to a scrumptious start! Enjoy this month's highlights over eggnog and sweets. Check out what our busy members have been up to, including our featured alum Bill Rauch '84. Thanks to everyone who contributed to this issue. Congratulations to all of you and please continue to share your stories, as your participation is what Harvardwood is all about!

Angela Lin and Kibi Anderson

Message from Mia

Holiday season is here, and with it comes a cornucopia of Harvardwood events from coast to coast! Thanks so much to the alums who participated in our successful, sold-out Independent Filmmaking Panel this weekend in NYC: Paula Brancato HBS '82, Maya Browne '92, Hans Canosa '93, Adam Hootnick '97 / HLS '01, Georgia Lee '98, and Gabrielle Zevin '00. Stay tuned to the website for more exciting Harvardwood panels to come...

If you're in LA, please join us for our holiday party with the Stanford entertainment group this Thurs., Dec. 6th:

If you're in NYC, please join us for our holiday party with the Stanford entertainment group next Tues., Dec. 11th:

If you're located somewhere else, please utilize the website to stay in touch via the online community, contact your nearest Chapter Head to get involved, and/or let us know if you'd like to organize future events in your area.

Happy holidays and best wishes for 2008!
-Mia Riverton, Harvardwood President

Harvardwood 101 Career Exploration Program - Applications Due Dec. 10th!

Harvardwood is pleased to announce our sixth annual Harvardwood 101 career exploration program, cosponsored by the Office of Career Services and Office for the Arts. The program brings a group of Harvard undergraduates to Los Angeles over intersession break (Jan. 23 - 29, 2008) and provides various career-related activities in an attempt to demystify Hollywood and educate current students about opportunities in the entertainment industry. Planned activities include a studio lot tour, a discussion of film development and production hosted by a major production company, a visit to a scoring stage, a panel on breaking into TV writing, an agency visit, lunches with alumni in various facets of the industry, and an info session and tour of the USC film school facilities. Applications are due by Mon., Dec. 10th, 2007. Participants will be notified very shortly thereafter. For more information on how to apply, please visit:

Member Profile: Bill Rauch '84

by Kim Bendheim

To say that Bill Rauch ’84, the new Artistic Director of The Oregon Shakespeare Festival, appreciates Harvard’s effect on his life is an understatement. The circle of friends Rauch made at Harvard shaped both his life and his career. He met his partner of 23 years (Christopher Liam Moore ‘86) at Harvard doing theater, and he met Alison Carey ‘84, another long-time theatrical collaborator, at the Coop during freshman week. Rauch asked Carey if she could help him find books on theater. They’ve been busy making theater history together ever since.

They started doing so in 1984 when Rauch, Carey and ten other friends founded the Cornerstone Theater. Rauch became artistic director and Carey the company’s resident playwright. Carey became known for developing the company’s signature style of adapting classic plays into modern, community-specific contexts. When they began, the youngest Cornerstone founder was 19, the oldest 29. Rauch was 23, Carey was 25. Many of the young theater artists had studied theater with Joann Green Breuer, then head of the Experimental Theater at Harvard. Some had directed shows together or done theater through the Harvard-Radcliffe summer program of ’82. They came up with the idea of making plays with communities and a core company of professional actors, often involving first-time artists on stage, telling stories that take place in, celebrate and challenge the people of that community. As Rauch said in his 1999 testimony before Congress about the importance of NEA funding, “By bringing together people face to face to create community-based theater, we build bridges across differences of racial, economic and religious backgrounds.” In 1999, Rauch was testifying about what Cornerstone had accomplished with its NEA grant monies. By then, Cornerstone was on the theatrical and grant-giving map, growing to a 1.3 million dollar company by the time Rauch left in 2006.

In the beginning, when they had no money, the budding company’s members wrote everyone they knew to say they had this great idea and were, Rauch said, “shameless” about asking for funding. They raised $100,000 their first year. Virginia was their home state. They worked in three different school systems by day and three different shows by night, involving grandparents, parents as well as students. Rauch's own parents, who had initially wished he'd had a back-up profession, were thrilled at the way Cornerstone had developed during its first year. In the twenty-plus years since its founding, Cornerstone has gone on to work in communities across the US, some isolated by sheer geography, from Maine to Florida to Nevada. In its productions, Conerstone often put normally divergent populations -- ranchers and gay performers, for example -- on the same stage.

Rauch worked with Cornerstone as its artistic director from its founding through its twentieth anniversary year, racking up directing and producing credits as well as awards for himself and company members. In those twenty years, Rauch directed 40 Cornerstone productions. In 2004, he took a sabbatical to spend more time with his family. By then he and Moore had adopted two sons Liam Rauch-Moore and Xavier Rauch-Moore, now aged 8 and 2. During his time away from Cornerstone, Rauch also directed productions at regional theaters, (cut across the country) including the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. He directed a number of world premieres including "The Clean House" and "Medea"/ "Macbeth"/ "Cinderella" at Yale Repertory Theater. Rauch then directed Pulitzer Prize finalist "The Clean House" on Broadway for The Lincoln Center Theater.

Throughout Rauch's career, Shakespeare has been a clear and constant thread. In college, he directed “Romeo and Juliet” on the Loeb Mainstage. Moore, who later became Rauch’s real-life partner, played Romeo’s servant Balthazar in that production. In 1989 Rauch directed an interracial southern version of “Romeo and Juliet" in Port Gibson, Mississippi for Cornerstone. In Port Gibson, schools were segregated. Rauch cast then Cornerstone member Amy Brenneman '87 (now best known for her title role in the TV show “Judging Amy”) as Juliet and a black high school student named Edret Brinston as Romeo. After learning his lines and performing “brilliantly” as Romeo, the high school track star finally passed his state literacy test and graduated from high school. Helping change the lives of local cast members became a company tradition. For a variety of reasons, that southern production of “Romeo & Juliet” got a lot of attention.

The most important course Rauch, an English & American Literature major, took at Harvard was an acting class with Joann Green Bruer, now a freelance director. As head of the Experimental Theater at Harvard, she chose who got to direct and supervised those shows. In the spring of '81, Rauch directed “The Visit” at the Experimental Theater. Calling Green Bruer an "extraordinary mentor," Rauch explained that she taught him the importance of every single thing that happens on stage, that every gesture, every prop matters. Rauch directed 26 productions at Harvard and received the Louis Sudler Prize for outstanding graduating artist. It was Green Bruer’s principles that Rauch carried into his undergraduate directing career, then out into the real world with Cornerstone.

For five years Cornerstone worked in small towns, and then they did national tours using one actor from each of the previous residencies. Then on their 10,000-mile national tour, they went back to everyone’s hometown and performed again. Their catchy idea was that in each production, an actor got to perform in their own hometown. Steve Ives ’82 made a documentary of the Cornerstone tour that aired on HBO in 1999.

In 1992 Cornerstone moved to Los Angeles. They arrived the Monday after the riots with the goal of pursuing multicultural theater in that sprawling, diverse city and across the nation. They did cycles of projects with different urban communities and then worked on one theme to bring those communities together. Along the way, they created theater among the city’s vastly different populations, including gang members and police officers, elderly people from a retirement home and young people from the same neighborhood. All of these people, many first-time actors, were drawn into Cornerstone’s theatrical net. Cornerstone’s first LA show, "Toy Truck," was an adaptation of "The Clay Court," a Sanskrit epic with romance, political intrigue, traditional dance and comic subplots, attributed to King Shudraka, who lived approximately two thousand years ago. Rauch calls the play “Shakespearean in scope and spirit,” and not coincidentally, it is the first play he will direct as incoming Artistic Director of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in its 2008 season. In that sense, Rauch's career has come full circle, picking up themes of his directing days at Harvard and with Cornerstone.

Calling his own journey "very organic," Rauch happily describes how his work with Cornerstone led to his job at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. While he was with Cornerstone, some of the regional theaters that knew his work invited him to direct a cast of professional actors. Previously, Cornerstone had been invited to do community collaborations at regional theaters, with select communities of the theater's choosing. Long Wharf, The Mark Taper Forum, Great Lakes Theater Festival, Arena Stage and The Guthrie were all places at which Rauch directed Cornerstone projects. After Rauch had directed the first of these large-scale community projects, regional theaters, including OSF (Oregon Shakespeare Festival) began to invite him to direct productions using only professional actors, without any community collaborators. Before becoming artistic director of OSF, Rauch had directed a number of shows on their stages: “Handler” (2002), which was set in the south (like his previous production of "Romeo & Juliet"), “Hedda Gabler" (2003), “The Comedy of Errors” (2004), “By the Waters of Bablyon” (2005) and “The Two Gentleman of Verona” (2006).

As part of his new job at OSF, Rauch will be responsible for selecting eleven plays each season, as well as their directors, design team and cast. He will oversee a budget of some $26 million. The 2008 season has Rauch’s distinctive stamp. It includes a new play about an Iraq veteran (“Welcome Home, Jenny Sutter”), several American classics (“Fences” by August Wilson, “A View From the Bridge” by Arthur Miller, and Thornton Wilder’s “Our Town”), an epic text from outside the Western canon (“Toy Cart"), and, of course, four plays by William Shakespeare. Another Cornerstone element Rauch brings with him to OSF is his friend and colleague Alison Carey. Carey, who Rauch met more than two decades ago at the Coop, joins him at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival as director of a ten-year initiative to create new plays drawn from American history. Inspired by Shakespeare’s history plays, the new works will bring together playwrights, historians and theaters from across the nation to dramatize moments of change in American history. Who could have guessed that asking a question of a stranger in the Harvard Square Coop would provide an undergraduate with such a long and fruitful collaboration?

The OSF opens its new season the second week of February with "A Midsummer Night's Dream", "Fences", "The Clay Cart" and "Welcome Home Jenny Sutter." For details go to

Industry Successes...

Josh Wright '05 just finished a one-year contract performing in the original cast of Disney's "Finding Nemo: The Musical". With music by Bobby Lopez (Avenue Q), direction by Peter Brosius (A Year with Frog and Toad) and choreography by John Carrafa (Urinetown), the show represents the first time Disney has turned a songless film into a stage musical. Through the project, he was able to join AEA, the professional stage-actor's union. Up next, he is flying to Texas to do a production of "Man of La Mancha" with Casa Manana and then moving to NYC to pursue a theater career there.

Robert Cain ‘84 is proud to announce that his newest film, THE AMATEURS, will release in Los Angeles on Friday, December 7 at the Landmark West Side. THE AMATEURS stars Jeff Bridges, Ted Danson, Joe Pantoliano, Jeanne Trippelhorn and Heather Graham, and is a broad comedy about a group of loveable losers led by Bridges who think they've found the road to fame and fortune when they decide to pool their resources and make an amateur porn film. Their fantasy quickly turns into a hilarious misadventure as they encounter more than a few bumps in the road. Their good natured attempts lead to the creation of the most innocent adult film ever.

Gary Negbaur '89 announces the New York premiere of WINE LOVERS, the world's first wine tasting musical. WINE LOVERS tells the story of two mismatched students attending a wine class led by an effervescent teacher and their journey of discovery. During the show, audience members enjoy six delightful wines, and everyone learns a little about wine... and love. Gary’s collaborators on this project are Gourmet Magazine wine consultant Michael Green and playwright Travis Kramer. The show will have a limited run at the Triad Theater on Dec. 1-3 and 8-10. All shows are at 7pm. Tickets can be purchased by going to Harvardwood members can use the discount code. This reduces the price of the ticket from $65 to $49. (Wine is included.) Just enter the code: WL1. (That's the letters "w" and "l" followed by the number "one".) We hope to see you at the show!

Ben Forkner ‘01 just wrapped principle photography in Louisiana on THE KILLING ROOM, a psychological thriller he is producing. The cast includes Chloe Sevigny, Tim Hutton, Nick Cannon, Clea Duvall, Shea Whigham, and Peter Stormare. Jonathan Liebesman (DARKNESS FALLS, THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE PREQUEL) is directing.

Lauri Donahue’s HLS '86 screenplay "Whiplash" won the First Prize in the MORE magazine screenplay contest, competing against more than 1,000 other entries. The script was also in the top 30 (out of more than 5,000 entries) in the 2007 Nicholl Fellowship competition. To bring her brother's killer to justice, a young woman disguises herself as a man and works her way across the country as a stagecoach driver, pursued by a jaded ex-Confederate officer who threatens to expose her true identity -- and steal her heart. (Based on a true story.)

Comedian James P. Connolly ‘88 now has his own radio show "Live From Here" with James P. Connolly on XM Channel 154 National Lampoon Comedy Radio every Saturday night 8 - 10PM EST. Any alum who works in the world of Comedy, is LA based and would like to be on the show, feel free to contact James at his website or or email directly at [email protected]

Dani Dixon's ('89) first book, a monthly comic book series titled "13," debuted in Los Angeles. Artists and cast kicked off the release with a signing at the famous Golden Apple store on Melrose. "13" is now available in CA, TN, MA, and NC and will expand throughout the country in the coming weeks. Fellow Harvard alums Jennifer Hodges '89 and Nancy Williams '94 have been instrumental over the last 6 months with early marketing and publicity efforts, as well as alum Jennifer Fischer GSA '03 in the editing department. "13" is also featured in this month's 02138 magazine. For more info, or to order "13" merchandise and books, visit the official site @

Pencil Me In...

December 6: Harvardwood and Stanford Holiday Party in LA. Come eat, drink, and be merry as Harvardwood joins forces with Stanford Alumni in Entertainment for our annual holiday party in LA! This year's event will be at Celadon on THURS., DEC. 6th from 7:30 - 11:30 pm. TICKET INFO: Paid Members (before Tues. Dec. 4) - $15. Affiliates, FOH and Guests (before Tues. Dec. 4) - $20. Everyone (after Dec. 4th and at the door) - $25. Price includes heavy appetizers. Space is limited, so RSVP soon:

December 11: Harvardwood and Stanford Holiday Party in NYC. Harvardwood and the Stanford Alums in Entertainment are joining forces to bring good cheer and celebrate the holidays in New York! This year's event will be at Sweet and Vicious (5 Spring St. between Elizabeth and Bowery), on TUES., DEC. 11th from 6:30 - 8:30 pm. The optional charity collection at the door is for Musicares, which supports musicians in need. Hope to see y'all there! For more details, go to:

Featured Member Posting: Seeking Sundance Coordinator, Feature Film Program, Creative Producing Initiative

Candidates should be very interested in the independent producing world, have enough experience and knowledge of the film industry to hit the ground running, be excited to be part of a new initiative, and be hungry to do the administrative work paramount to a successful pilot year. In the spirit of the initiative’s focus on diversity among producers, candidates should also be well-versed in and eager to conduct diversity outreach for the initiative. Duties: The focus of this position is the set-up, management, and outreach for the new Creative Producing Initiative... To view full posting, please visit:

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