McCarter Theatre Center names new artistic director

Sarah Rasmussen

The McCarter Theatre Center has named Sarah Rasmussen as the new artistic director to succeed Emily Mann.

Rasmussen is currently artistic director of the Jungle Theater in Minneapolis, where she has gained national attention for bringing inclusive stories, diverse talent, and gender parity to the stage.

McCarter Board Chair Robert Caruso said the search committee was impressed with Rasmussen’s commitments to inclusive artistry and inventive storytelling. “McCarter looks forward to how she, partnering with managing director Mike Rosenberg, will expand the theatre’s audiences with innovative programming and original content,” Caruso said.

Rasmussen took over leadership of the Jungle Theater in 2015, succeeding founder Bain Boehlke, who had led the theater for 25 years. Rasmussen commissioned new works at the Jungle Theater and staged celebrated early productions of “The Wolves,” “The Oldest Boy” and “Ride the Cyclone.” She also produced hit shows like “Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley,” “The Wickhams” and “School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls Play,” among many others. In 2018, the Star Tribune named her artist of the year in Minnesota. That same year, she also became an inaugural recipient of the BOLD Theater Women’s Leadership Circle grant, which supports the development of female artistic leaders in the theater.

“I have long admired Emily and her legacy of commissioning and developing new work,” Rasmussen said. “I am energized by the conversations I’ve had with McCarter board, staff and community about this next chapter. And, as a former professor, I look forward to the possibilities between the theater and Princeton University.”

Rasmussen fell in love with the theater as a child and started her first theater company at 14 in her hometown of Sisseton, South Dakota after seeing a production at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis.

Prior to serving as artistic director at the Jungle Theater, she was resident director for Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s Black Swan Lab new work development program and head of the master’s of fine arts directing program at the University of Texas at Austin. She has directed at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, the Guthrie Theater, the Dallas Theater Center, the Actors Theater of Louisville, and the La Jolla Playhouse. She earned her bachelor’s degree from St. Olaf College and her masters of fine arts from the University of California, San Diego.

She will begin her new position at McCarter on Aug. 1, when Emily Mann leaves after 30 years of leading the theatre. Mann announced her departure last year.

“I am so very happy to light the torch of my successor, Sarah Rasmussen, and wish her a glorious tenure as McCarter’s new artistic director,” Mann said of Rasmussen’s appointment.