This weekend—after an intense and exhaustive national search that resulted in the collecting of over three dozen resumes from around the country, and the conducting of ten primary interviews and four call-backs with useful consultation from our Theater J Council co-chairs, as well as setting up meetings with the staff for all four candidates, and finally, discussing the situation at length with the Chief Executive of the Washington DCJCC—we are now finally able to share the news that our official offer to our first-choice candidate for the position of Managing Director of Theater J has been formally accepted as we announce the arrival of a major new asset to our theater.
Come some time in the upcoming eight days, we’ll be joined by Sarah Rayer as Theater J’s new Managing Director.
Sarah comes to Theater J with an MBA from St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia after a BA from Marymount Manhattan College and a decade of work in prominent New York Theatres like Playwrights Horizons and The Public Theatre where she served as assistant to the artistic and producing directors, George Woolf and Rosemary Tischler, working for four years before that as a casting associate on projects such as Law & Order, The Lion King, and many of the Public Theatre’s Shakespeare in the Park Festivals. She’s worked as an Associate Producer for Eve Ensler’s V-Day Project (a social awareness initiative of The Vagina Monologues) at Madison Square Garden, and co-produced benefits for Naked Angels Theatre Company and associate produced for “A Net of Souls: A Borrowed Light – Voices from Women in Prison,” an annual one-night benefit for the College Education Program at the Bedford Hills Maximum Security Prison for Women, a benefit which involved actresses Glenn Close, Rosie Perez, and Marisa Tomei reading from the inmates’ own words.
I’d like to share a little bit of writing from Sarah’s letter to us, which proved both moving and, in hindsight, prophetic. She really is coming full circle in moving back to her theater roots:
“After over ten years in the theater, I felt that I wanted to continue my education and pursue my MBA; with each course I took I found myself focusing on how each lesson could be of value to a theater. It was then that I realized that with my education, I had the tools and the knowledge to help to make any theater thrive.
As fate would have it, I took a bit of a detour from that ambition and have been working for a local restaurateur and management company in the Philadelphia area. Both worlds are remarkably similar, with each night a production geared to your audience and with your success or failure dependent upon the quality of your work — and yes, sometimes the whims of a not-so-complimentary critic.
… I combine a true love of theater with a keen sense of business and the tools and education that allow me to optimize the best financial projection, project management tools and negotiating skills to assure that the theater season is a success, while meeting all financial and administrative goals.
Anyone can love something; but if one lacks the knowledge to allow that thing to thrive, it will fail. I believe I have come full circle and I have found myself back in theater with a breadth of knowledge and in possession of the skills that will allow me to work solely on your artistic vision while also assuring that the financial and managerial aspects of the theater are being run smoothly. In short, I know how to succeed.
My goal has always been to allow creative people to follow their dream, and I provide them with the tools that will allow them to do just that.”
Sarah has just secured an apartment in DuPont Circle and is now planning her move down from Philadelphia [her first official day with us will be January 11]. We couldn’t be happier, more relieved, or more moved about the prospects of bringing on someone so skilled, so determined, so enthusiastic, and so genuine in her energy. We think she’ll fit our team brilliantly. In talking and emailing Sarah’s references and learning more about her rich and diverse past, I was struck by how all spoke of her hard work, dedication, fierce commitment to excellence, and kindness as a co-worker.
I want to particularly thank the Theater J staff for pitching in so brilliantly during these weeks of transition. As I mentioned in the last posting, this period marks a moment of transition for all of us on staff; an opportunity to do what we’ve been doing a little bit better than before; to rethink assumptions; to communicate a little more forthrightly; more warmly. We’ve made from this month, something very good for our theater. That’s my hunch and my hope.
So in the words of at least one of our Council members, Onward!
And happy new year once again.