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American Stage in St. Petersburg announces new producing artistic director

Helen R. Murray will join the theater company in October.
Helen R. Murray has been selected as American Stage's new producing artistic director. She'll join the theater company in October.
Helen R. Murray has been selected as American Stage's new producing artistic director. She'll join the theater company in October. [ Courtesy of American Stage ]
Published Jul. 18|Updated Jul. 18

American Stage has announced that Helen R. Murray is joining the St. Petersburg theater company as producing artistic director.

In April, Rajendra Ramoon Maharaj left the company for personal reasons after helming it for six months. He had replaced Stephanie Gularte, who stepped down due to a medical condition.

Related: St. Petersburg theater American Stage's producing artistic director has left the company

Murray was selected after American Stage worked with Management Consultants for the Arts to search for local and national applicants. In a news release, Anastasia C. Hiotis, chairperson of American Stage’s board of trustees, acknowledged that the role of producing artistic director is a “huge job” and that Murray “emerged as the most well-rounded candidate with just the right skill set and demeanor.”

A recipient of the Puffin Foundation Award for Outstanding Emerging Artist and the Washington Canadian Partnership Award for Leadership in the Arts, Murray is the outgoing executive director of the Aurora Fox Theatre in Colorado. She was previously the artistic director of the Hub Theatre in Virginia.

Murray’s original plays have been produced by the Hub Theatre, Theatre Alliance, ArtsWest, Malibu Playhouse and the Jewish Community Center of Northern Virginia and have been seen at the Kennedy Center’s Page to Stage Festival. Her play “Redder Blood” won the 2016 Jewish Playwriting Contest. She’s a mentor for the Writers Guild Initiative out of New York City.

In the release, Murray said that she was drawn to American Stage because of its push to include new narratives.

“This is central to who I am as a theatre maker,” she said. “After meeting the board and staff I felt an allyship in how art is integral to quality of life, and I understood the passion and care they take with this company.”

Hiotis said that though the decision was a hard one, Murray’s experience running a large theater company and starting her own company gave her an “undeniable advantage.”

Interim executive director CJ Zygadlo said in the release that she was looking forward to working with Murray, particularly because of her “nourishment of new works.”

“I want to know what matters to the staff, the board, our audiences, our community,” Murray said. “I am super excited to meet new directors and designers and to see how American Stage is making theatre. I am looking forward to it feeling like my artistic home and will work very hard to make sure it feels that way for everyone that walks through American Stage’s doors.”

Murray will join the company in October and will live in St. Petersburg.

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