Alum spotlight: Mark Rasdorf (BFA ’86)

v c u arts students performing on stage

Mark Rasdorf (BFA, performance, 1986)

During his junior year at VCU, Mark recalls sitting in the Student Commons thinking, “What am I doing? It was the existential crisis of a 20 year old.” He wanted to step away from theatre to get perspective, but his career took him in different directions.

v c u arts students performing on stage
Mark in The Little Theatre of the Green Goose (VCU 1985) (Mark is second from left on the ladder with purple pompoms on his costume)
(center) Mark in The Little Theatre of the Green Goose (VCU 1985)

He worked box office for the Richmond Symphony and the Carpenter Center, which resulted in his job as Box Office Assistant at Arena Stage in DC. During his 8 years at Arena, he eventually became Marketing Director.

This led to several jobs in the same capacity, and his resume includes roles at

  • Arizona Theatre Company in Tucson
  • UApresents (the University of Arizona’s performing arts series)
  • The Nederlander Organization’s “Broadway in Tucson” series
  • The Performance Arts Center at SUNY Purchase

On his drive back to Tucson after being in New York, “I did a lot of soul searching. Obama’s election represented a new hope for the country, and I wanted to make a difference.”

He started to consider a graduate degree in counseling, concentrating in expressive arts therapy (the intermodal use of creativity to understand oneself). This led Mark to Appalachian State University in Boone, NC. “When I got to Boone in fall 2010, there as a national epidemic of suicides by gay youth.” He helped organize a candlelight vigil, which became, “a turning point in my life, when I thought ‘this is what I want to do.’”

Mark and Purina Chow, one of Greenville’s great drag queens, at the ECU LGBTQ Pride Dinner in 2020

While he was getting his Masters, he was hired as the graduate assistant at the university’s LGBT center. After graduating, he ended up in Greenville, NC at East Carolina University, where he’s the Senior Associate Director of the Dr. Jesse R. Peele LGBTQ Center, the largest center in the UNC system of 17 campuses.

Meanwhile, his work in creative expression resulted in his own outlet: mosaic glass. When he was a graduate student, he worked for an arts festival where he was inspired by artists who took glass scraps and glued them to windows. Mark’s work has been in exhibitions and even won some awards. He also acts occasionally at the Magnolia Arts Center.

Looking back on his training at VCU, Mark reflects, “Compassion is implicit in theatre. The rigor and the sense of community is what I carry throughout life.”

Check out some of Mark’s glass work:

Compiled by Liz Hopper, professor emeritus, and Jerry Williams (BFA ’71) for the March 2021 Theatre Alumni Newsletter.