Rachel Grossman likes beets, brussels sprouts, bourbon, infographics, action movies, and well-facilitated discussions.
As a theatre-maker, Rachel creates work that entwines the audience’s experience with the play’s narrative, creating shows that are “conversational” in nature. Central to everything she makes is an invitation to the audience to “invest in make believe,” rather than “suspend disbelief.” She believes when the audience is invited to shape a performance, rather than passively experiencing it, this endows audience ownership, deepens emotional and intellectual investment, and increases the impact potential. In the last few years, Rachel’s anti-racism and anti-oppression has become inseparable from her artwork. She’s drawn to question what it really means for audience to be at the center of a performance? what is inclusive and accessible theatre?
Rachel is the Ensemble Director and a co-founder of dog & pony dc. With the company, Rachel directed COURAGE and Beertown, and co-directed Toast. She performed in Cymbeline, Bare Breasted Women Sword Fighting, Separated at Birth, Beertown, Squares, and touring performances of A Killing Game and Toast. She is the project leader for Beertown Takes America and has worked with three theatres nationally to adapt and produce locally-resonant productions of Beertown. Currently, she’s leading dog & pony dc’s collaborations with San Diego REP on Beachtown and with Gallaudet University on the shaping of models for theatre by DeafBlind people for DeafBlind people.
She is a mentor to UK-based theatre companies through the Arts Marketers Association (UK) Audience Diversity Academy. She also works with arts, culture, and humanities organizations (and sometimes science-y ones) on developing strategies for deepening and broadening staff, audience, and community interaction and investment. Her perspectives on the world can be found on abigeyedfish.com and @RGinDC.
Rachel is responsible for launching Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company’s “connectivity” initiative and served as the first Connectivity Director. Prior to that she was the Director of Education & Outreach at Round House Theatre, and managed education and community programming at Shakespeare Theatre Company, Arena Stage, and CENTERSTAGE. She has directed, performed, and devised productions and projects at: Adventure Theatre, Referendum: Political Arts Collective, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, CENTERSTAGE, Round House Theatre, Forum Theatre, Source Festival. Rachel was an Associate Producer for the 2010 Source Festival, focusing on Literary Management and Casting, and also spent a few years producing with eXtreme eXchange.
Rachel was honored to be a member of HowlRound’s National Advisory Council for five years. She was one of fifty theatre professionals selected to be part of TCG’s 50th Anniversary campaign I AM THEATRE. Her video, which launched the campaign in June 2011, can be seen here. She was one of eight selected to participate in WESTAF’s second annual Dinner-vention, hosted by Barry’s Blog in 2014. She is a two-time recipient of a DC Commission on the Arts & Humanities’ Artist Fellowship grant and received a grant in support of her project Nice & Lily, a play for young children and their adult companions exploring race bias.
Rachel has present with National Arts Market Project (NAMP) on audience engagement and empowering staff to serve as change-agents within their companies. Rachel has also facilitated sessions and workshops at TCG conferences, as well as Arts Marketing Association UK, Network of Ensemble Theatre, American Alliance for Theatre and Education, and Association for Theatre in Higher Education. She has served on grants panelist with the National Endowment for the Arts, TCG, Montgomery County Arts & Humanities Council, and DC Commission on the Arts & Humanities. Rachel served on the Interactivity Foundation’s Arts & Society panel, exploring the arts and public policy. She was an adjudicator with Washington, DC’s Helen Hayes Awards for four years. A firm supporter of health and safety in the workplace and community, she was an American Red Cross instructor for over a decade.
She graduated from Kenyon College with high honors in political theory.
When she’s not trying to save the world through theatre, Rachel’s practicing yoga, reading non-fiction, or streaming crap television shows about supernatural phenomenon in the Petworth neighborhood of Washington, D.C.