Rachel Grossman (she/her/hers) 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.” Rachel strives to infuse her anti-racism and anti-oppression (and therefore pro-diversity, inclusion, access, equity, and justice) values into her artwork. What more can we do? How can audience be more integral to live performance? How can theatre to create social change?
At present, Rachel’s working as an executive producer with the JUBILEE, a yearlong, national theatre festival (2020/2021) that celebrates and supports work generated by women, people of color, Native American artists, LGBTQIA artists, Deaf artists, and artists with disabilities. She’s also an initiator and advocate for the HowlRound Challenge convening “Deaf Theatre Action Planning Session.” She is a mentor to cohorts of UK-based arts organizations through the Arts Marketers Association (UK) Audience Diversity Academy (entering round three in September 2018).
Rachel is the Ensemble Director and a co-founder of dog & pony dc. With the company, Rachel co-created nearly 20 new plays and interactive experiences. Rachel directed Peepshow, DISCOVERED!: the untold story of Catenarians, Beertown, COURAGE, and co-directed Toast. She performed in Cymbeline, Bare Breasted Women Sword Fighting, Separated at Birth, Beertown, Squares, DISCOVERED!, and touring performances of A Killing Game and Toast. Through the Beertown Takes America initiative, she assisted theatre companies in Omaha, Cincinnati, and Raleigh adapt and produce locally-resonant productions of Beertown. (Rachel directed and co-wrote all three.) She also co-wrote and co-directed San Diego’s REP’s Beachtown by Herbert Siguenza, directed by Sam Woodhouse. Rachel was also an early artistic leader with Gallaudet University’s DeafBlind Theatre project, with dog & pony dc and as an independent artist.
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: San Diego REP, Theatre J, Adventure Theatre, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, CENTERSTAGE, Round House Theatre, Forum Theatre, Source Festival, Referendum: Political Arts Collective. 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 loves working 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. She led pre-conferences and presented 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 was honored to be a member of HowlRound’s National Advisory Council for five years. 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.
Rachel is a three-time recipient of a DC Commission on the Arts & Humanities’ Artist Fellowship grant and received an individual artist project grant in support of her project Nice & Lily, a play for young children and their adult companions exploring race bias. She was one of eight selected to participate in WESTAF’s second annual Dinner-vention, hosted by Barry’s Blog in 2014. Rachel 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 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 books, or streaming crap television shows about supernatural phenomenon in the Petworth neighborhood of Washington, D.C. She shares her life with the superlative lighting designer Colin K. Bills.
More about her work and perspectives on the world can be found on abigeyedfish.com and on @RGinDC (Twitter and Instagram).