Meet the Staff

Stagenotes: Murder on the Orient Express

Meet the Staff

Kyle Abraham, Development Associate

By Jamie Brewer, Marketing Apprentice

Kyle AbrahamTell us a little about yourself.

I grew up in Sharpsburg, Georgia, a small town southwest of Atlanta. I earned my Bachelor of Science in Theatre Management from the University of Evansville. After graduating, I moved to Santa Fe where I worked at Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival. Although I enjoyed Santa Fe, the desire to work at a renowned theatre company drew me to Hartford Stage. Plus, you can’t beat autumn in New England.

Tell us about the first time you experienced live theatre and how it impacted you.

One of my earliest theatre memories was playing Santa Claus in a short skit in first grade. It was very short and informal, but it sparked my initial interest in theatre. As a child, I attended several summer day camps at the local community theatre. One day after theatre camp, my mom fondly remembers me saying, “I just feel so good inside!” It was pretty clear this was much more than just a fun extracurricular activity for me.

By the time I was in high school, I knew I wanted to pursue a career in theatre, but I couldn’t picture myself as a professional actor or technician. My high school theatre teacher then told me about theatre management and how theatre companies, like all businesses, need administrators. I then researched as much as I could about theatre management and started interning at the same community theatre where I attended day camp those many years ago. That first internship affirmed my desire to work as a theatre administrator, and I began applying to universities with theatre management programs.

Theatre management is the ideal career for me because it allows me to use the analytical and creative sides of my brain to support something I’m deeply passionate about. Many people can’t say the same about their jobs.

Take us through a day-in-the-life of a Development Associate.

As the Development Associate at Hartford Stage, I’m responsible for processing all charitable contributions that Hartford Stage receives. Seeing the gifts that have come in the mail each morning is often a highlight for the development staff. In addition, I write acknowledgment letters, generate reports, create donor listings, organize gift documents, and manage patron database records. I also work closely with the Hartford Stage finance team to track revenue and expenses, and with the marketing department to ensure we’re using our database effectively. In summary, I help support all the theatre’s fundraising efforts.

What are the biggest challenges working in development at a regional theatre?

One of the greatest challenges is there are many nonprofit organizations all vying for donations from a relatively small pool of donors. There are so many worthy causes to support, and it can be easy to get lost in the crowd. As fundraising professionals, it’s our duty to share the mission of the theatre and rally support behind that mission. Thankfully, Hartford Stage has many loyal donors who strongly believe in the organization’s mission: producing high caliber theatrical works and education programs that have a transformative impact on our audiences, our community, and our field.

What or who inspired you to get into this line of work?

The number one thing that inspired me to get into this line of work was my love for theatre. Playing a small role in supporting this beautiful and incredibly important art form fills me with great pride.

I’ve had many people support me in my career path, but my academic advisor and mentor Sharla Cowden has probably had the single-most significant impact on my career. She has taught me so much about the business and art form over the years, and she’s encouraged me in those rare moments when I doubted if this was right the career for me. She’s mentored many successful theatre administrators over the years so I know I’m in good company.

In your short time here, what has stood out to you about Hartford Stage?

The quality of the work on stage and the commitment to nurturing new work. This season, we’ll have two world premieres along with two productions that are only being produced for the second time. Hartford Stage’s rich history of boldly supporting new work is one of the things that attracted me to the company.

Do you have other talents or passions outside of working in theatre?

I love the great outdoors, and I especially love hiking. I’m always looking for new trails to explore. I also enjoy music, especially choral singing and alternative rock, and watching football and basketball. Recently, I’ve become obsessed with running—if you see me on the street, don’t hit me with your car!

What is your personal motto in life?

“Failure is the condiment that gives success its flavor.” —Truman Capote. Like most people, I can be afraid of failure, but it’s important to remember that failure breeds innovation, creativity, and character.