2022 Drama League Directors Project Recipients Announced

Selected from hundreds of applicants worldwide, they will be publicly introduced to the professional theater community during the 88th Annual Drama League Awards.

By: May. 06, 2022
2022 Drama League Directors Project Recipients Announced

The Drama League has announced the thirteen stage directors receiving the fellowships, assistantships, and residencies of the 2022 Drama League Directors Project: NJ Agwuna, Jean Carlo Yunén Aróstegui, Jennifer Chang, Andrew Coopman, Justin Emeka, Nadia Guevara, Emily Hartford, Susanna Jaramillo, Ibi Owolabi, Logan Gabrielle Schulman, Noam Shapiro, Jessica Natalie Smith, and Kendra Ware. Selected from hundreds of applicants worldwide, they will be publicly introduced to the professional theater community during the 88th Annual Drama League Awards, which will be held on Friday, May 20, 2022 at the Ziegfeld Ballroom in New York City. More information can be found at www.dramaleague.org

Nadia Guevara (she/her) and Ibi Owolabi (she/her) have been chosen for the two-year Drama League Stage Directing Fellowships, which offers each of them $100,000 and health insurance support for two years, and professional engagements with Manhattan Theatre Club, McCarter Theater Center, Dallas Theater Center, New York Stage & Film, and Red Bull Theater, including multiple directing and assisting opportunities. Both recipients begin this month in New York City with The Drama League, and will attend the national conference of Theatre Communications Group, a partner in this Fellowship, in June. Next fall, Ms. Guevara will be in residence at McCarter Theater Center working on multiple projects; while Ms. Owolabi will be in residence at Manhattan Theatre Club, where she will serve as assistant director on the Broadway production of Cost of Living by Martyna Majok, directed by Jo Bonney. Both will return to these theaters in early 2024 for further directing opportunities.

Andrew Coopman (they/he), Emily Hartford (she/her), and Logan Gabrielle Schulman (they/them) are recipients of the Drama League FutureNow Directing Fellowships, which include directing and producing projects at the Hangar Theatre (Ithaca, NY) for their Kidstuff Series and Wedge Festival this summer. They will then begin pre-production to direct national touring productions for TheaterWorksUSA (NYC).

NJ Agwuna (she/her) and Justin Emeka (he/him) have been chosen for the Drama League Film and Television Directing Fellowships, a program for mid-career theater directors expanding their creative work into these related disciplines. Both recipients will shadow on episodes of the upcoming dramatic series A Small Light for Disney+/Nat Geo., under the mentorship of showrunner Tony Phelan (Grey's Anatomy), before returning in their second year to direct short films of their own.

Jean Carlo Yunén Aróstegui (he/him), Susanna Jaramillo (she/her), Jessica Natalie Smith (she/her), and Kendra Ware (she/her) have been chosen for the Drama League Stage Directing Assistantships initiative, which pairs early-career directors from historically marginalized communities with established directors. Next season, they will assist on major productions across the country with acclaimed directors Lisa Portes, Pirronne Yousefzadeh, Nicole A. Watson, and Jennifer Chang, respectively.

Jennifer Chang (she/her) and Noam Shapiro (he/him) will develop new projects at The Drama League as the 2022 Directors In Residence. Ms. Chang, the recipient of the Beatrice Terry Directing Residency, will write and direct an as-yet-untitled work inspired in part by her mother, hoarding, American consumerism, and its connection to emotional trauma. Mr. Shapiro, the recipient of the Next Stage Directing Residency, will lead developmental workshops and presentations of Dear America, based on the bestselling memoir "Dear America: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen" by Putlizer Prize-winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas.

"After an organization-wide reinvention of our programming over the last four years, I'm overjoyed to introduce these extraordinary artists as the newest members of the Drama League community," said Mr. Stelian-Shanks, who noted that the recipients are based in a wide variety of geographic locations, including Atlanta, Dallas, Los Angeles, New York City, Pittsburgh, Providence, Sarasota, and Washington, DC. "Each of them has a rare combination of talent, determination, skill, and artistry that gives me great hope for the future of the American theater."

The 2022 Fellows will join the ranks of over 400 Drama League Alumni including Tony Award Winners Christopher Ashley (Come From Away), Rachel Chavkin (Hadestown), Sam Gold (Macbeth), Michael Mayer (Funny Girl), Pam MacKinnon (Artistic Director, A.C.T.), Diane Paulus (1776), John Rando (Mr. Saturday Night), Rebecca Taichman (Sing Street), Alex Timbers (Moulin Rouge!, Beetlejuice), Tony nominees Mark Brokaw (How I Learned To Drive), Moritz von Stuelpnagel (Bernhardt/Hamlet), Alan Schneider Award winner May Adrales (Golden Shield), Obie Award winners Arin Arbus (The Merchant of Venice), Lear deBessonet (Into The Woods), Anne Kauffman (The Bedwetter), Lila Neugebauer (Morning Sun), Whitney White (On Sugarland), Callaway Award winner Mike Donahue (Which Way To The Stage), and more.

The Drama League is the preeminent artistic home and development organization for theater directors, providing them with career-changing experiences in the professional theater. Its alumni can be found working in all aspects of the entertainment profession: on and off Broadway, at regional theaters companies, in film and television, and as artistic leaders at 90+ regional theaters across the country. Many are producers, writers, agents, administrators, and educators at some of the finest professional training programs. Drama League Directors have been honored with the Tony, Emmy, Obie, Drama Desk, Golden Globe, Princess Grace, Bessie, Drama-Logue, Barrymore, Evening Standard, and Jefferson Awards, among others.

Programs of The Drama League are made possible thanks to the generosity of our supporters including EY, the Howard Gilman Foundation, The Hyde and Watson Foundation, the Sylvia W. & Randle M. Kauders Foundation,the Jolene McCaw Family Foundation, The Shubert Foundation, and the Leo Shull Charitable Fund for the Arts.. Drama League programs are supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the New York State Council on the Arts, with the support of Governor Kathy Hochul and the New York State Legislature. A special thanks goes out to Drama League Members, who provide important underwriting support for The Directors Project.

The Drama League advances the American theater by providing a life-long artistic home for directors and a platform for dialogue with, and between, audiences. Founded in 1916, it is one of the nation's oldest continuously-operating, not-for-profit arts advocacy and education organizations. For information about its programs, The Drama League Awards, or Membership Benefits, please call Olivia Ragan at 212.244.9494 ext. 101 or email membership@dramaleague.org.




A two-year program in partnership with Manhattan Theatre Club (NYC), McCarter Theater Center (Princeton, NJ), Dallas Theater Center (Dallas, TX), New York Stage & Film (Poughkeepsie, NY), Red Bull Theater (NYC), and Theatre Communications Group (NYC)

Nadia Guevara | IBI OWOLABI

Nadia Guevara (she/her) Directing credits include: Fefu and Her Friends (American University Guest Director), N (Keegan Theatre), Palabras de encanto: Tales of Borikén (The Academy for Classical Acting at Shakespeare Theatre and George Washington University), Little Women (Johns Hopkins University Barnstormers), Guadalupe in the Guest Room and Cinderella Eats Rice and Beans: A Salsa Fairy Tale (NVA), El encuentro (Old Globe Arts Engagement). Readings: Madre de Dios (Round House Theatre National Capital New Play Fest), L'HÔTEL (Fulton Theatre Stories in Diversity Playwriting Fest), Azul (San Diego Repertory Theatre Latinx New Play Festival). Associate/Assistant Director: Show Way (Kennedy Center, dir. Schele Williams), Daphne's Dive (Signature Theatre, dir. Paige Hernandez), Acoustic Rooster's Barnyard Boogie: Starring Indigo Blume (Kennedy Center, dir. Lili-Anne Brown), Put Your House In Order (La Jolla Playhouse, dir. Lili-Anne Brown). Proud recipient of the 2022-2024 Drama League Stage Directing Fellowship. @nadiaguevaradc. NadiaGuevara.com

IBI OWOLABI (she/her) is an Atlanta-based director. Her work has been seen at 7 Stages, Kenny Leon's True Colors Theatre, Theatre Emory, The Weird Sisters Theatre Project, and the DC Black Theatre Festival. Ibi graduated from Georgia Southern with a degree in theatre, and was awarded the SDC Fellowship her sophomore year. Post-graduation, she moved to Actor's Express for a directing internship, and then went on to become the Kenny Leon Fellow at the Alliance Theatre. Ibi directed several Zoom productions, including Well-Intentioned White People, Good Bad People, White-Ish, Stew, and Faith. Ibi's recent in-person productions include These Shining Lives at USC, The Bluest Eye at Synchronicity Theatre, and Intimate Apparel at Actor's Express. She is also a producer for Weird Sisters Theatre Project, a mixed media production company by women, for everyone. IbiOwolabi.com

* * * * *


A practicum in artistic leadership, in partnership with Hangar Theatre (Ithaca, NY) and directing a touring production for TheaterWorksUSA (NYC).


ANDREW COOPMAN (they/he) is a genderqueer director, choreographer, and playwright of Middle Eastern/European descent. Andrew's work has been on stages in Chicago, Dallas, Milwaukee, New York City, and throughout the Pacific Northwest. Credits include: Head Over Heels (Lakewood Playhouse), Bryony Lavery's Frozen: A Play (UW Cabaret Theater), The Convent Of Pleasure (Ghostlight Theatre Ensemble), I & You (Burien Actor's Theater), Love & Information (online), The Wizard of Oz (Tacoma Little Theater), Little Women (Seattle Musical Theater), Into the Woods (Studio East), Once Upon a Mattress (Snoqualmie Falls Forest Theatre), Disney's Beauty and the Beast (Edmonds Driftwood Players), James and the Giant Peach (Village Theatre), Wilde Tales (Seattle Opera), and Sunflower Sisters (premiere, Eclectic Theater). MFA: University of Washington. Proud SDC and AGMA member. AndrewCoopman.com

Emily Hartford (she/her) is a New York City-based director, creator, artistic leader, performer, puppet designer, and proud Creative Partner of Flux Theatre Ensemble. With Flux, she is one of three Lead Creators and co-director/writer on Our Options Have Changed, an immersive and interactive phone-based experience to be released soon. Directing credits include Operating Systems, Rizing, #SpeakUp: The Street Harassment Plays, Breathe Free (Flux); The Battles, a New Musical (The Battles LLC/Gym at Judson); Implied Consent (Badass Lady Productions/Access). Assisting: Salvage, Jane the Plain (Flux). Emily is a member of the Lincoln Center Directors Lab. She is also a generator of devised/collaboratively-created theater, including the full-length Metra: A Climate Revolution Play with Songs (with Ned Hartford), and will direct Metra's world premiere with Flux Theatre Ensemble at Abrons Arts Center in Manhattan (fall 2022). Her first short film, "Type A," premiered at the Woods Hole Film Festival in 2021, and has appeared in festivals across the country. EmilyHartford.com

LOGAN GABRIELLE SCHULMAN (they/them) is a proud queer and Jewish visual + performance artist, director, cultural educator, and activist. Their work has been presented by DopoLavoro Teatrale (Toronto), Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts at University of Pennsylvania (Phila), Walnut Street Theatre (Phila), the Sarasota Art Museum (FL), Asolo Repertory Theatre (FL), Renegade Theater (NYC), the Chautauqua Institution (NY), Urbanite Theatre (FL), Marie Selby Botanical Gardens (FL), and Vox Populi (Phila), as well as various outdoor spaces, among others. Schulman has performance-works in the permanent collections of the Ringling College of Art Library's Special Collections (FL) and the Harry Ransom Center at UT Austin (TX). Their written work has been commissioned by the Walnut Street Theatre and Reconstructing Judaism's Ritualwell, and featured on the 2020 Kilroys List. Their practice has been supported through grants and residencies from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Chautauqua Institution, The Drama League of New York, Florida Humanities Council, Directors Gathering, Bread and Puppet Theatre, Old City Jewish Arts Center, and the Directors Lab. They have most recently served as an Adjunct Professor of Theatre at New College of Florida, and as a Holocaust Studies teacher at Congregation Rodeph Shalom in Philadelphia. Schulman received their training from the Stella Adler Studio, and their Bachelors with Honors in Theatre and Religion from New College of Florida. LoganSchulman.net

* * * * *


An accelerator for established theater directors expanding into film, television, and online content storytelling

NJ Agwuna | Justin Emeka

NJ Agwuna (she/her) is a director of stage and screen from central Maryland. She approaches theatre with curiosity and wonder, believing that theatre can not only heal us, but show us all the possibilities of the world that we inhabit. She is the 2022 recipient of the SCDF Barbara Whitman Award, and is pre-productions for the world premiere of Supa Dupa Kid at Barrington Stage this summer. Selected Credits: 7 Minutes by Stefano Massini (HERE Arts), boys don't look at boys by jeremy o'brian (NYSAF), Clyde's by Lynn Nottage (Associate Director, Second Stage), The Magic Flute (Glimmerglass Festival), The Woman's Party by Rinne B. Groff (Clubbed Thumb, AD), Till: A Musical (won Best Direction), The Lover by Harold Pinter (DirectorFest 2020), Blanks by Gethsemane Herron (JAG Fest, Roundabout), The Tempest (Lenfest), Freedom Train (TWUSA National Tour '18, '19), What She Found (won Best Drama at FRIGID). She is a Drama League alum and an associate writer/teaching artist with Tectonic. Directing MFA, Columbia University; SDC associate. www.njagwuna.com

Justin Emeka (he/him) is a director, actor, writer, and Capoeirista who is recognized for his ability to incorporate diverse cultural traditions within classical and contemporary theater. He has worked at many theaters around the country, including Yale Rep, Old Globe, Karamu House, Seattle Rep, Syracuse Stage, Langston Hughes Performance Center in Seattle, Philadelphia Theater Company, Seattle Theater Group, and Classical Theater of Harlem. Some of his favorite directing projects include: Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, Sweat, Sunset Baby, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Romeo n Juliet, Wedding Band, The Bluest Eye, Death of a Salesman, Paradise Blue, and Macbeth. He previously received a Drama League Fellowship in Classical Directing. He is a tenured professor of Theater and Africana studies at Oberlin College, as well as a member of SDC and Actors Equity. He authored the chapter "Seeing Shakespeare through Brown Eyes" in the best-selling book, Black Acting Methods: Critical Approaches. He serves as the Resident Director of Pittsburgh Public Theater, and is currently directing and performing in August Wilson's Two Trains Running (June 2022). JustinEmeka.com

* * * * *


Opportunities for early-career directors who are members of marginalized populations and communities to assist on major productions led by BIPOC directors


Jessica Natalie Smith | Kendra Ware

JEAN CARLO YUNÉN ARÓSTEGUI (he/him) is a queer Dominican immigrant and multidisciplinary artist of Spanish-Lebanese roots. He started his artistic journey at age 15 with a photo exhibit in Santo Domingo's Casa de Teatro. He's worked with UCLA's Center for Research, Engineering and Performance (REMAP) exploring new technologies in storytelling, such as AR and VR, and with whom he's co-directed four productions, the latest of which is A Most Favored Nation, created with support from Epic Games and Amazon Studios. Other directing credits include La Victima (Los Angeles Theater Center), The Displaced (Amigos del REP at San Diego Rep), and assisting regionally at OSF and Cincinnati Playhouse. He's a commissioned playwright for the New American Theater Festival for his play, Is Sex, and serves as Associate Producer for the Latino Theater Company and as Producing Artistic Associate for In The Margin. JeanCarloYunen.com

SUSANNA JARAMILLO (she/her) is a New York-based director and stage manager hailing from Cranford, NJ. Credits include: f-ing A (PPAS), Best Life (JACK), Wine in the Wilderness and Bite Me (Roundabout), Daddy (John Jay College), African Caribbean MixFest (Atlantic Theatre Company). Select academic theatre direction includes: Yellow Face (Front Row Theatre Co.), Hedwig and the Angry Inch and Mr. Burns: A Post-Electric Play (iNtuitons Experimental Theatre), Little Shop of Horrors (Quadramics Theatre Co.). She'll next be assisting on Dom Juan at Bard Summerscape. Graduate of the University of Pennsylvania with a BSE in chemical and biomolecular engineering. LinkedIn: Susanna Jaramillo

Jessica Natalie Smith (she/her) is an actor, director, choreographer, and recent graduate of the Brown University MFA Acting program. Jessica's work centers her interest in the impact of cultural memory as it affects folx of the African diaspora. She recently had the honor of directing the national premiere of Jasmine Lee-Jones' seven methods of killing Kylie Jenner (Leeds Theatre, RI), and portraying Madeleine in the world premiere of Jacqueline Lawton's Behold A Negress (Everyman Theater, Baltimore). Other select credits include: Alien/Nation (Forest of Arden, Williamstown Theatre Festival), Elephant and Piggie (Choreography, Hangar Theatre), and we will eat your grief (RDA Producing), A Christmas Carol (Trinity Rep), Hamlet (Gallery Players), Housework (Hangar Theatre). Film: "To Infinity and Beyoncé," "Aftermath" (self-produced). Jessica is the inaugural Choreography Fellow at The Hangar Theatre, the 2022 Lillian Chason Directing Fellow at UNC Chapel Hill, a 2020-2021 Teaching Apprentice at Brown University, and a 24 Hour Plays alum. JessicaNatalieSmith.com

Kendra Ware (she/her) is a performance-based multidisciplinary artist who creates hybrid staged environments using experimental approaches to art-making, live performance, video, and installation to explore the intersections of race, gender, class, cultural politics, and identity while challenging social norms and notions of otherness. She has staged work site-specifically in a women's prison, under a freeway, on street corners and dirt roads, in bookstores, plazas, and parks. Her work has been awarded a NEFA Creation and Touring Grant, NPN Documentation and Creation Fund Grant, and was recently recognized as a semi-finalist for the Barbara Whitman Award. MFA: California Institute of the Arts. KendraWare.com

* * * * *


A director-led creative and investigative process developing a new stage work, by a female-identifying or nonbinary-identifying writer-director.

Jennifer Chang

Jennifer Chang (she/they) is a multi-hyphenate storyteller and educator who won the LADCC Award in Direction for the LA premiere of Vietgone by Qui Nguyen. Select Credits: On Gold Mountain with LA Opera at The Huntington. The Great Leap by Lauren Yee at The Round House Theatre. Play Development: O'Neill Playwrights Conference, Geffen Playhouse, Pasadena Playhouse, New Harmony Project, CTG, Sông Collective, Black and Latino Playwrights' Conference, Theatre Mu, Chance Theater, Boston Court, Ashland New Plays Festival, PlayOn!, East West Players, Artists at Play and others. Founding Member, Co-Artistic Producing Director of award-winning Chalk Repertory Theatre. Proud member of the Stage Directors and Choreographer's Society (SDC), Screen Actors Guild (SAG-AFTRA), and Actor's Equity Association (AEA). SDCF Fichandler Award Finalist. BFA NYU, MFA UCSD. Director's Lab West, Drama League NY Fellow. Head of UG Acting UCSD 2016-2022 , Associate Prof of Acting UCLA School of Theatre, Film and Television fall 2023. Ms. Chang will write and direct an as-yet-untitled work exploring the phenomenon of hoarding and American capitalism. www.changinator.com


A director-led developmental process preparing a new work for the stage


NOAM SHAPIRO (he/him) is a New York and DC-based director and the Producing Artistic Director of Three Hares Theater. He was the SDC Foundation's 2020 Kurt Weill/Harold Prince Directing Fellow, a member of the Lincoln Center Directors Lab, a Manhattan Theatre Club Directing Fellow, a Drama League First Stage Resident Director, and a winner of OPERA-America's Robert L.B. Tobin Director-Designer Prize for The Little Prince. His recent projects include On This Side of the World (music & lyrics by Paulo K Tiról, NAMT Festival '20); Sweeney Todd (Yale Dramatic Association), Gonzo (by Laura Winters, LaGuardia Performing Arts Festival), Speaking as Then (by Ruoxin Xu, Columbia University), Little League (by Jack Spagnola, Three Hares), The Laramie Project (Johns Hopkins Barnstormers), and The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui (Lyra Theater). Noam is adapting Jose Antonio Vargas's memoir Dear America: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen into a musical with Tiról. Associate Member of SDC. BA Yale. www.noamshapiro.com

Next On Stage


Listen: Mamie Parris and Olivia Hernandez Perform When I Fall In Love From AUSTENS PRIDE Photo
Listen: Mamie Parris and Olivia Hernandez Perform 'When I Fall In Love' From AUSTEN'S PRIDE

A live single from the critically-acclaimed new musical Austen's Pride has been released featuring the star-studded cast from the June 29, 2023 concert at the prestigious Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage at Carnegie Hall in New York City.

Tony-Winning Musical TOOTSIE Now Available for Licensing At Music Theatre Intern Photo
Tony-Winning Musical TOOTSIE Now Available for Licensing At Music Theatre International

Music Theatre International announces that the Tony Award-winning Musical, Tootsie, is now available for licensing.

Video: Original MERRILY WE ROLL ALONG Cast Member Ann Morrison Talks Broadway Revival Photo
Video: Original MERRILY WE ROLL ALONG Cast Member Ann Morrison Talks Broadway Revival

See what Ann Morrison had to say about the MERRILY WE ROLL ALONG revival opening on Broadway 42 years after she opened in the original in 1981.

Video: FROZEN North American Tour Cast Performs at The White House Photo
Video: FROZEN North American Tour Cast Performs at The White House

Watch the cast of the North American Tour of Frozen perform at The White House



Recommended For You