Debra Wise (Director) (she/her) launched Underground Railway Theater in 1978 in Oberlin, Ohio with founding Artistic Director Wes Sanders, who recently completed a digital book documenting URT’s decades as a touring company (URTheaterEbook.com). URT created over 30 new works in the activist and collaborative spirit of its namesake, and venues ranging from Lincoln Center to colleges to community centers; titles included Sanctuary – The Spirit of Harriet Tubman, Home is Where, InTOXICating and The Christopher Columbus Follies. URT also received multiple commissions from the BSO to create shadow puppet spectacles which toured to orchestras across the country (Firebird, Creation of the World, Tempest). Wise specialized in interdisciplinary and site-specific work, collaborating with 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), the Cambridge Arts Council (theater in dialogue with public art). In 2007, URT co founded Central Square Theater with The Nora Theatre Company, and for 15 years Wise helmed Underground Railway in its first theater home. With playwrights Alan Brody and Jon Lipsky, as well as physicist/author Alan Lightman, she co-founded Catalyst Collaborative@MIT, CST’s unique science theater partnership with MIT, of which Ada and the Engine is a part. She also led partnerships with Mount Auburn Cemetery (Our Town) and the National Park Service (Roots of Liberty – The Haitian Revolution and the American Civil War, featuring actors, dancers, puppeteers, musicians, and guest artists Danny Glover and Edwidge Danticat). URT won Elliot Norton awards under Wise’s leadership, including The Convert, Constellations, and Bedlam’s St. Joan. Acting appearances on the CST stage include The Half-Life of Marie Curie, Vanity Fair, Homebody, Copenhagen, Brundibar & But the Giraffe!, 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. Appearances on other stages include Mistero Buffo (Poets’ Theatre); A Boston Marriage and Orson’s Shadow (New Repertory Theatre); Brooklyn Boy and People Places and Things (SpeakEasy Stage Co.); Doll’s House II and Escaped Alone (The Gamm); and Chosen Child (Boston Playwrights’ Theatre); in NYC, The Haggadah (The Public, with Julie Taymor). Her work as a playwright includes States of Grace, inspired by the work of Grace Paley; and Alice’s Adventures Underground, after Lewis Carroll. Wise left her Artistic Director position in 2022, and now serves CST as Program Director for its science-theater work. Upcoming projects include the Oberlin Wellington Rescue Theater Project in Ohio; the audiobook narration for Gregory Maguire’s Oracle of Maracoor; and being part of the acting ensemble for Angels in America at Central Square Theater.