The following was submitted by Stoneham Theatre:
Stoneham Theatre is starting the New Year with a new Managing Director, Debra Rafson. Rafson is no stranger to Stoneham Theatre. In fact, she was hired to be assistant stage manager for the theatre's inaugural production of A Christmas Carol in 2000. "When I came to the theatre for my interview, it was still under renovation," Rafson shared. "The outside marquee wasn't yet lit and the theatre chairs had just been put in. I was really excited and proud to be a part of something new."
Theatre hadn't always been Rafson's career path. After taking a stage management class during her senior year at Brandeis University, Rafson decided to change her focus from Higher Education Administration to theatre production. After three seasons at Stoneham Theatre, Rafson focused in on Arts Administration. "Working at a new company and learning all the different aspects of the theatre business really inspired my interest," Rafson said.
Shortly after graduating from Boston University in 2003 with a Masters' Degree in Arts Administration, Rafson became the Management Associate for New Repertory Theatre under Managing Director Harriet Sheets. "I would not be able to do my job today had I not worked for Harriet," Rafson said. "She took me under her wing and taught me how to apply everything I had learned." Like Stoneham in 2000, New Repertory Theatre in 2005 was christening a new space, moving from Newton Highlands to the Arsenal Center for the Arts in Watertown.
After four seasons, Rafson decided to explore her interest in higher education again by taking a full-time position as Director of Operations for the department of Graduate and Professional Programs at Emmanuel College. This position provided Rafson with the opportunity to earn a Graduate Certificate in Human Resource Management. Theatre continued to be a part of Rafson's professional life even as she returned to higher education. From 2005 to 2012, Rafson not only continued stage managing part-time for BLUE MAN GROUP in Boston, but she served on the Stoneham Theatre Board of Trustees as well.
Six months after leaving BLUE MAN GROUP in March 2012, Rafson realized that she wanted to return to theatre full time. When Rafson heard that the Managing Director position at Stoneham Theatre was available, she knew Stoneham Theatre was exactly where she wanted to be. With her blend of professional experiences, Rafson felt that she could bring both a historical perspective and a fresh outlook to the role.
Rafson explains her new position simply. "I am that organized person behind the scenes who can run the business side smoothly so that the artistic staff can make theatre magic and focus on our mission. We already have an amazing space, talented staff, and a phenomenal education program," Rafson explained. "I want to ensure that we continue bringing high quality theatrical productions and educational opportunities to the Greater Boston community while increasing the awareness of the Stoneham Theatre brand."