Judith Light Officially Opens The Drama League's DIRECTORFEST Tomorrow

Judith Light Officially Opens The Drama League's DIRECTORFEST TomorrowThe Drama League officially launches DirectorFest tomorrow, a city-wide festival focusing on the art and future of contemporary American stage directing, at various locations around NYC: The Sheen Center for Thought and Culture (18 Bleecker Street), The Drama League Theater Center (32 Avenue of the Americas), and The Drama Book Shop (250 West 40th Street) from January 13-22, 2018. Festival details, tickets and additional information are now available at www.directorfest.org, or by calling (212) 244-9494.

Two-time Tony Award Winner Judith Light (Transparent, The Assembled Parties) will be among the luminaries celebrating the opening night of DirectorFest, and will join Executive Artistic Director Gabriel Stelian-Shanks in the welcome remarks preceding the performances.

For its 34th year, the festival will include four fully-staged productions, a showcase evening of new musicals, staged readings, discussion panels, book signings, workshops and conversations with America's most notable directors including George C. Wolfe (Shuffle Along), Anne Bogart (Hotel Casseopeia), Anne Kauffman (Mary Jane), Robert O'Hara (Mankind), Kimberly Senior (Disgraced), and more. The festival will also feature new productions by the current Drama League Directors Project Fellows, including Laura Brandel, Bonnie Gabel, Matt Dickson, Flordelino Lagundino, and Rebecca Martinez. Chosen last spring from over 330 applicants nationwide, these five visionary emerging directors recently completed their year of mentorship, assistantships, training and career development as part of The Drama League Directors Project.

Opening the festival is the new play Storm, Still by Gabrielle Reisman under the direction of Bonnie Gabel. In Storm, Still, three modern-day sisters - who might bear a resemblance to the daughters of King Lear - encounter unexpected events as they sort through the belongings of their deceased father. The three-member cast features Drae Campbell as Regan, Cindy de la Cruz as Cordelia, and Pilar Witherspoon as Goneril. The Stage Manager is Emily Roth. Casting by Harriet Bass.

The second play of the evening is the rarely-seen F.O.B. by David Henry Hwang with direction by Flordelino Lagundino, choreography by Ling Tang, and fight direction by Sean Brandley. In F.O.B., a revival of the acclaimed play by David Henry Hwang (M. Butterfly), "the possibilities and perils of assimilation" (New York Times) are upended as two Americans encounter a new immigrant who believes himself to be the reincarnation of a legendary Chinese warrior. The three-member cast includes Cory Censoprano as Dale, Stephen Hu as Steve, and Sami Ma as Grace. The Stage Manager is Joanne Pan. Casting by Stephen DeAngelis.

Performances of both plays are Saturday, January 13 at 7:30pm, and Sunday, January 14 at 2:00pm & 7:30pm at the Black Box at The Sheet Center for Thought and Culture (18 Bleecker Street). Tickets are priced at $18.

The second week of the festival will include a double-bill beginning with Pork Kidneys To Soothe Despair by Alejandro Ricaño, translated by Daniel Jáquez, directed by 2017 Drama League New York Directing Fellow Rebecca Martinez. Set in 1940's Paris, fact and fiction intertwine in Pork Kidneys To Soothe Despair, where an unsuccessful writer and his paramour stalk Samuel Beckett, ostensibly to ensure that his masterpiece, Waiting for Godot, is completed. The two-member cast features Jamie Ann Romero as Marie, and Jason Veasey as Gustave with Mary Knapp on Accordion. The Stage Manager is Danielle Thomsen. Casting by Michael Cassara.

The evening's program will include Disco Pigs by Enda Walsh, directed by 2017 Drama League New York Directing Fellow Matt Dickson with movement consultant Laura Brandel. Disco Pigs, by lauded playwright Enda Walsh (Once), is the story of Pig and Runt, two lifelong, violence-prone friends who have developed their own private language since birth. As they celebrate their 17th birthday in the nightclubs of Cork, they unexpectedly discover that their relationship is about to change forever. The two-member cast features Doug Harris as Pig, and Eliza Simpson as Runt. The Stage Manager is Tracey Wooley. Casting by Stephanie Klapper.

Performances of both plays are Friday, January 19 at 7:30pm, and Saturday, January 20 at 2:00pm & 7:30pm at the Black Box at The Sheet Center for Thought and Culture (18 Bleecker Street). Tickets are priced at $18.

The festival will include the staged-reading of Group by Alex Rubin, directed by 2016 Directors Project Alumna Ilana Ransom Toeplitz. Tony Award-nominee Jenn Colella (Come From Away), joined by Jenna Leigh Green (Wicked), Julia Murney (The Wild Party), and Schuyler Press, leads a reading of Alex Rubin's provocative new work. In a quiet New Jersey beach town Kari, Rachel, Janet, and Joy -- the 1988 graduates of Deena Boyd's Home for Disturbed Young Women -- are about to have a very unusual reunion. Thirty years later, their lives have taken vastly different directions, but one secret still unites them. ONE PERFORMANCE ONLY: Friday, January 19 at 3:00pm at The Drama League Center (32 Avenue of the Americas). Admission is FREE.

The Closing Night Celebration of DirectorFest will be an evening of selections from new musicals called She Persisted, conceived and directed by 2017 Drama League Leo Shull Musical Directing Fellow Laura Brandel with music direction by Josh Kight. She Persisted includes excerpts from Koi Story - Music, Lyrics, and Books by Timothy Huang; Gun and Powder - Book and Lyrics by Angelica Chéri, Music by Ross Baum; Body and Soul - Book, Music, and Lyrics by Mary Liz McNamara, Based on the documentary Body and Soul by Alice Elliott. She Persisted is a surprising, moving, and unexpected musical evening celebrating the fortitude and resilience of female characters in American musicals. Through scenes, songs and moments from both classic and contemporary musicals, director Laura Brandel leads us on a journey through her insights and experience of the past twelve months. The cast features Jen Blood, Elijah Caldwell, Lynn Craig, Tanesha Gary, Tamrin Goldberg, Sasha Hutchings, Latoya Jackson, Zoe Manarel, Jason Moody, Mary Liz McNamara, Aaron Phillips, and Saidu Sinlah. Casting by Kate Lumpkin Casting. This evening is made possible by support from the Leo Shull Foundation for the Arts. ONE PERFORMANCE ONLY: Monday, January 22 at 7:30pm at the Black Box at The Sheen Center for Thought and Culture (18 Bleecker Street). Tickets are priced at $18.

The creative team for DirectorFest includes Reid Thompson (sets), Lauren Gaston (costumes), Lois Gordon (lights), Justin Propper and Mike Tracey (sound), Mitch Krieger (props), Ling Tang (choreography), Sean Bradley (Fight Director), Brandon Pape (Production Manager), with Travis LeMont Ballenger (Associate Producer), Gabriel Stelian-Shanks (Executive Artistic Director), and Sherri Eden Barber (Program Director). Casting for the festival by Harriet Bass, Michael Cassara, Stephen DeAngelis, Kate Lumpkin, and Stephanie Klapper.

During DirectorFest, Ms. Brandel, Ms. Gabel, Mr. Dickson, Mr. Lagundino, and Ms. Martinez will join the ranks of the illustrious 325+ alumni of The Drama League Directors Project, including Tony Award winners Christopher Ashley (Come From Away), Rebecca Taichman (Indecent), Sam Gold (Fun Home), Diane Paulus (Waitress), Michael Mayer (Hedwig and the Angry Inch), Pam MacKinnon (Amelie), John Rando (On The Town), Tony Award nominees Rachel Chavkin (Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812), Moritz von Steulpnagel (Present Laughter), Alex Timbers (Rocky The Musical), and Mark Brokaw (Heisenberg), to name only a few.

The festival includes UpClose, a series of conversations with America's foremost contemporary directors, including Anne Bogart (Dead Man's Cell Phone), Anne Kauffman (Mary Jane), Damon Kiely (Oklahoma!), Robert O'Hara (Bootycandy), Kimberly Senior (Disgraced), and George C. Wolfe (Shuffle Along).

DirectorFest is made possible thanks to the generosity of The Achelis and Bodman Foundation, Howard Gilman Foundation, The Shubert Foundation, and The Leo Shull Foundation for the Arts.

Tickets are available at www.dramaleague.org/directorfest.

The Drama League Directors Project, since its founding in 1984, has grown to become the preeminent development program for early and mid-career theater directors, providing talented young artists with career-transforming experiences in the professional theater. The program provides opportunities for young directors to present their work to the professional community. In addition, the program augments a network of professionals to whom new directors can turn for counsel, support, and employment, that helps to accelerate the process through which new directors gain acceptance within the professional community, bringing their unique skills and vision into the working life of the American theater. The Drama League Directors Project also maintains an active support network for its alumni.

The alumni of The Drama League Directors Project, which now number over 300, can be found working in all aspects of the entertainment profession. 'Drama League Directors' are directing on Broadway, Off-Broadway, at regional theaters across the country, and in film and television. They are the artistic directors and associates at 58 regional theaters. Others hold prominent positions throughout the industry as producers, writers, agents and administrators, and many are educating the next generation of directors at some of our finest professional training programs. Their directing work has been honored with Tony, Emmy, Obie, Peabody, Drama Desk, GLAAD, Drama League, New York Drama Critics Circle, Outer Critics, Evening Standard, Lucille Lortel, Bessie, Princess Grace, Garland, Drama-Logue, Barrymore, Helen Hayes, Elliot Norton, and Joseph Jefferson Awards, as well as the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. They have literally shaped the future of the American theater, with the praise of critics and audiences alike.

The Drama League of New York, since 1916, has been at the forefront of the American Theatre community, providing talent, audiences, and prosperous support. It is one of the nation's oldest continuously-operating, not-for-profit arts advocacy and education organizations. Through its programs, initiatives and events, The Drama League indelibly transforms the lives of artists and audiences by harnessing the unique social and creative dynamism of theatre. Its nationally-renowned, award-winning efforts have two vital goals: To train and nurture the artists of tomorrow and to deepen and strengthen the audience experience.

The Sheen Center for Thought & Culture is a forum to showcase works highlighting the true, the good, and the beautiful. Located downtown on historic Bleecker Street, the Sheen Center is a vibrant arts organization that focuses on theater, music, film, and talk. A project of the Archdiocese of New York, the state-of-the-art complex encompasses the 270-seat Loreto Theater, equipped with five-camera high-definition live-stream capability and a multi-track recording studio; the 80-seat Black Box Theater; four rehearsal studios; and an art gallery. It was named after the late Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, best known for his popular, inspirational radio and TV ministry in the 1950s and 60s.

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