Sarah Rasmussen Named The Jungle Theater's New Artistic Director

By: Mar. 31, 2015
The Jungle Theater today announced the appointment of Sarah Rasmussen as Artistic Director, effective July 1, 2015. Rasmussen was chosen after a nationwide search to fill the role Jungle founder Bain Boehlke has held since 1991. Boehlke announced in July 2014 that he was stepping down in summer 2015.

"I am so proud of the thoughtful search process undertaken by our committee, and thrilled with the decision by the committee to name Sarah Rasmussen as my successor at the Jungle," said Boehlke. "I have every confidence that this theater will be in excellent hands under her leadership, and that she will be a wonderful addition to the Twin Cities' theater scene."

Rasmussen directed the Jungle's In the Next Room in 2012, which won the IVEY Award for overall excellence. She served as assistant director for the same show on Broadway. Locally, she also has directed shows for Mixed Blood Theatre (Crashing the Party), Ten Thousand Things Theatre (The Seven), and at The Playwrights' Center.

Nationally, she has directed and developed new work at the Humana Festival, Marin Theatre Company, O'Neill Playwrights Conference, La Jolla Playhouse, Hangar Theater, SoHo Rep Writer/Director Lab, PlayPenn, Women's Project Theater, The Lark, and many others. This spring she is directing a new adaptation of Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility for Dallas Theater Center.

Rasmussen is a 2011 Princess Grace Award Recipient and served for three seasons as Resident Director for Oregon Shakespeare Festival's Black Swan Lab, a new work development program. Last season, she directed The Two Gentlemen of Verona, OSF's first all-female Shakespeare production. Currently, she is serving as Head of the MFA Directing Program at the University of Texas at Austin.

A native of South Dakota, Rasmussen first began directing theater in her home town of Sisseton as a teenager, inspired by the shows she had seen at Children's Theatre Company and the Guthrie Theater. She graduated summa cum laude in 2001 from St. Olaf College with a B.A. in theater and English and earned an MFA in directing from the University of California San Diego.

Board chair Jeffrey Bores said that the search committee, consisting of current and past board members and key artistic stakeholders, received far more applications for the position than anticipated. "We were pleased to have so many fine candidates, but Sarah stood out for her incredible passion for the theater, her extensive knowledge and connections, and her amazing vision for what theater can be for so many," said Bores.

In her role as Artistic Director, Rasmussen will be responsible for implementing the artistic vision and focus of the Jungle, selecting the season, and overseeing all aspects of the theater's productions, including choice of directors, casting, and design. She also will direct a minimum of two productions per season and work collaboratively with Executive Director Margo Gisselman on budgeting, communications and fundraising.

"The artists and audiences in the Twin Cities are truly extraordinary," said Rasmussen. "This town is the place that inspired me to become a director. I am honored to play a part in its future. Bain has created an exquisite theater-going experience, and I look forward to building on that legacy, inviting audiences to experience stories both familiar and new."

The Jungle Theater is one of the region's most dynamic theaters, renowned for its definitive productions of plays drawn from our rich theatrical heritage as well as from the body of work written in our own time. Since its founding in 1991, the Jungle has been a flagship example of the transformative power of the performing arts, playing a vital, continuing role in the economic, social and cultural life of its Minneapolis Lyn-Lake neighborhood.

Photo Credit: Jenny Graham

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