Jill Rafson takes risks.
As Director of New Play Development at Roundabout Theatre in New York City, the leading non-profit theater in the country, Rafson is responsible for discovering talented playwrights, developing their work, and producing innovative new plays. She searches for works of ambition: fresh voices that have the potential to produce something more than just an amusing play.
Rafson graduated from Hopkins, where she majored in Writing Seminars and Film & Media Studies, in 2003. As a student, Rafson worked with the Barnstormers, the oldest and largest theater group on campus. She was also deeply involved in Witness Theater, which showcases student-written works, foreshadowing her current role at Roundabout. The Homewood Arts Program credits Rafson with helping to organize and create the Arts Certificate program for senior capstone projects, shortly after the Mattin Center opened.
After Hopkins, Rafson continued her career as a dramaturg, researching and developing new plays for CollaborationTown, The Playwrights’ Center, and Fault Line Theatre. She has been a script reader for the O’Neill Playwrights Conference, Jewish Plays Project, Vineyard Theatre and Deutsch/Open City Films. Jill also served as script consultant for The Importance of Being Earnest HD and A Roundabout Road to Broadway. She has lectured for the Commercial Theatre Institute, ESPA, and Explore New York, in addition to working with the Broadway League, New York City Center, ART/NY, Off-Broadway’s Lucille Lortel Awards, and NYFA’s Emerging Arts Leaders program.
At Roundabout Theatre, Rafson helps mount several world premiere productions each year, introducing emerging playwrights whose names may not be widely recognized to audiences of millions. Through Rafson, these new playwrights can find a foothold in New York City, get access to a world class cast, design team, and director, and find an artistic home with a profound commitment to freedom of expression. Playwright Jeff Augustin says of Roundabout, "They never say no. You can decide to cut a character two weeks before you go into rehearsals, and they're just like, 'GAME!' They are constantly allowing you to do what works best for the production." Many of the artists Rafson introduced to the field have now made their Broadway debuts and have seen their work published and produced in hundreds of productions around the world.
Rafson believes that the only way to keep the theater vibrant is to support the next generation of artists, giving them the chance to write the classics of the future. She embodies the heart and soul of her art form, passionately defining a new era of American Theater.