NEW YORK CITY: Classic Stage Company (CSC) will welcome Jill Rafson as producing artistic director beginning June 21. A new-play development leader at Roundabout Theatre Company, she will succeed current artistic director John Doyle, a British director with a specialty in Sondheim and musical theatre, who announced his departure last summer.
“The CSC board of directors is thrilled to announce Jill Rafson as our new producing artistic director,” said board co-chair Emma Taylor in a statement. “Jill has been a trailblazer in her support of the next generation of playwrights whose work can be considered modern classics. It’s only fitting that the next leader of Classic Stage Company so wholly understands why committing to the writers of today leads to the classics of tomorrow. We look forward to seeing her perspective on what defines classic theater and how this new vision will bolster CSC into 2023 and beyond.”
Rafson has been with Roundabout Theatre Company since 2005, where she most recently served as associate artistic director and artistic producer for emerging playwrights in the Roundabout Underground program. She has developed many Roundabout works, including Stephen Karam’s The Humans, Steven Levenson’s If I Forget, Joshua Harmon’s Bad Jews, and Ming Peiffer’s Usual Girls. She also served as a dramaturg for the O’Neill’s National Playwrights Conference, CollaborationTown, The Playwrights’ Center, Fault Line Theatre, and the Flea Theater’s The Mysteries. She has also served as dramaturg for artists including Candace Bushnell, Zoe Sarnak, and Iris Rainer Dart. Rafson has worked with the Broadway League, New York City Center, and ART/NY. She was a member of NYFA’s Emerging Arts Leaders program and has taught/lectured for the Commercial Theatre Institute, ESPA, Kenyon College, Columbia University, Hunter College, and others. Rafson currently serves on the board of the Alliance for Jewish Theater.
Rafson will be seventh artistic director in CSC’s 55-year history, and the second woman in the job (after Carey Perloff). I spoke to Rafson today about the new job and what’s in store for this influential Off-Broadway company, whose budget as of FY 2020 was around $2.8 million (down from $4.5 in 2018).