Meet the team

Debra Wise

Debra Wise* (Artistic Director, Underground Railway Theater) co-founded URT in Oberlin with Wes Sanders. During URT’s decades as a touring company (1979-2008), she helped create over 30 new works, and toured them nationally and internationally to venues ranging from Lincoln Center to public schools; titles included Sanctuary – The Spirit of Harriet Tubman, Home is Where, InTOXICating and The Christopher Columbus Follies. She led URT collaborations with Boston Symphony Orchestra (Firebird, Creation of the World, Tempest), Boston’s Museum of Science (Aging Puzzle), New Center for Arts and Culture (Jewish Women and Their Salons), the Mary Baker Eddy Library, the MFA and the ICA (Art InterACTions), and the Cambridge Arts Council (theater in dialogue with public art). Since creating Central Square Theater with The Nora Theatre Company, Wise has focused on re-envisioning URT’s mission to grow from within its first theater home. She co-founded Catalyst Collaborative@MIT (CST’s unique science theater partnership with MIT), and led partnerships with Mount Auburn Cemetery (Our Town) and the National Park Service (Roots of Liberty – The Haitian Revolution and the American Civil War, performed with over 50 performers and guest artists Danny Glover and Edwidge Danticat). URT has won two Elliott Norton awards under Wise’s leadership: The Convert (Outstanding Production) and Bedlam’s St. Joan (Best Visiting Production). She will be acting in two upcoming productions during CST’s 2016-17 season: Homebody (a monologue by Tony Kushner) and The Midvale High School Fiftieth Reunion (by Alan Brody). Other appearances on the CST stage include Copenhagen, Mr g, Brundibar, The Other Place, Distracted, The How and the Why, Einstein’s Dreams, From Orchids to Octopi: An Evolutionary Love Story, Yesterday Happened: Remembering H.M., Breaking the Code, Arabian Nights and A Christmas Memory. Acting on other Boston stages has included Mistero Buffo (Poet’s Theatre); A Boston Marriage and Orson’s Shadow (New Repertory Theatre), Brooklyn Boy (Speakeasy Stage Co.), and Chosen Child (Boston Playwrights); in NYC, The Haggadah (The Public, with Julie Taymor). Wise has been nominated for Outstanding Performance by both the Elliot Norton Awards (twice) and the IRNE (three times). Her work as a playwright includes States of Grace, inspired by the stories, poems and essays of Grace Paley; and Alice’s Adventures Underground, based on the works of Lewis Carroll. She collaborates each summer with Harvard’s Project Zero, training educators on using theater to help students think more deeply across the curriculum.