The Drama League Sets New Artistic Leadership Team
The Drama League today announced the new team to replace longtime artistic director Roger T. Danforth, who departs the storied company this summer. Travis LeMont Ballenger has been named to the newly created position of Associate Producer, and Sherri Eden Barber will assume the role of Program Director. Gabriel Stelian-Shanks will see his position expanded to the role of Executive Artistic Director
"Heading into our second century of serving the theatre community, I am overjoyed to welcome Travis LeMont Ballenger and Sherri Eden Barberas the new artistic leaders of The Drama League," Mr. Stelian-Shanks said. "Travis has been an exemplary producer, collaborating with extraordinary playwrights and directors including David Henry Hwang, Lynn Nottage, Lydia Diamond and Will Power. Sherri, for her part, is the first alumna of The Drama League Directors Project to lead the program -- a historic first, and a passing of the baton to a new generation of directors. Her incredible artistry and wisdom as an arts leader will be of great use to the nearly 3,000 artists we serve each year."
Travis Lemont Ballenger, who assumes the newly created position of Associate Producer, was most recently the Associate Producer for Dallas Theater Center. Over his career, Mr. Ballenger has produced a wealth of playwrights during his tenures at Arena Stage, Market Road Films, and The Hip-Hop Theater Festival. Mr. Ballenger served as an Associate Producer for Market Road Films (for National Geographic) and field producer on Lynn Nottage's The Reading Project with the Labyrinth Theatre. He is a graduate of Southern Methodist University.
"I am honored to join the Drama League," stated Mr. Ballenger. "The organization has a long and rich history of supporting artists and I am excited to help continue that mission."
Sherri Eden Barber, named the new Program Director, is a New York-based theatre director and Artistic Associate at Rattlestick Theater. Recent credits include Happily After Ever (59E59, Edinburgh Fringe), Gordy Crashes (Ricochet Collective), Mr. Landing Takes A Fall (The Flea), Herman Kline'sMidlife Crisis (The Beckett), The Lightning Thief (Theatreworks USA), 24 Hour Plays on Broadway (American Airlines Theatre), Latrell: Live Tonight!(Joe's Pub). Ms. Barber has developed new works with Rattlestick, Orchard Project, The Flea, Culture Project, and Old Vic. Selected Associate/Assistant directing credits include Daphne's Dive (Signature Theatre), Faust: The Concert with Randy Newman (Encores! New York City Center), Family Furniture(The Flea), The Village Bike (MCC), Side Effects (MCC), and These Girls (Glamour Magazine). She is the Core Company Director for The Orchard Project, a Drama League Directing Fellow, recipient of the US/UK Exchange Award, and holds an MFA from The New School for Drama.
"I am honored to be a part of the Drama League, an innovative and groundbreaking organization that has been paramount in their support and development of directors at all levels," said Ms. Barber. "I look forward to continuing to build our community, investigate how work is created, and support a community that takes care of each other, so we as directors can take care of the work."
Mr. Stelian-Shanks, who has been with The Drama League since 2001, will take on the newly expanded role of Executive Artistic Director. One of the directors of the Obie-winning Village Fragments for Peculiar Works Project, he most recently conceived and led the promenade performance pieceImagining America: A Walk Through the American Avant-Garde at both the Varna International Theatre Festival (2014) and its restaging at New Bulgarian University (2015). His productions have been seen at HERE Arts Center, the New Ohio, The Bushwick Starr, Ars Nova, Dixon Place, CAP21, Abingdon Theatre, Bank Street Theatre, Peculiar Works Project, New Georges and at Judson House (NYC); A Contemporary Theatre/ACT (Seattle); Theatre Project,14 Karat Cabaret, and AXIS Theatre (Baltimore); Arena Stage, Source Theatre Company, Theatre Conspiracy, DCAC, Tavern Stage and the Corcoran Gallery (Washington,DC); OutProud Theatre, 14th Street Playhouse, and Seven Stages (Atlanta); and venues in Dallas, Philadelphia, Chicago, Sofia and Budapest, among others. He is currently directing Peter Handke's Self-Accusation for a five-city European tour in 2017.
It was previously announced that longtime Artistic Director, Roger T. Danforth, would retire from the company to pursue other artistic opportunities. He is currently in his twenty-first season as the director of The Drama League's award-winning fellowship and residency programs, collectively known as The Drama League Directors Project.
"It's been a joy and honor to lead the Drama League's artistic programming for these past twenty-one years," Danforth said. "It has been my pleasure to work with many of the finest theatre artists and companies in this country, and I will always be grateful. As this organization I love begins its second century of service, the future seems very bright, and I look forward to being a fan and supporter for many years to come."
Mr. Ballenger, Ms. Barber, Mr. Stelian-Shanks and Mr. Danforth will share the mentorship and fellowship responsibilities for the recently-announced 2016 Directing Fellows of The Drama League Directors Project: Noa Egozi, Drew Feldman, Sara Holdren, Candis Jones, Yavor Kostov, Katie Lupica, James Palmer, Jesca Prudencio, Ilana Ransom Toeplitz, Chloe Treat, Shaun Patrick Tubbs, and launch The Drama League's summer fellowship programs, in partnership with the Hangar Theatre (Ithaca, NY); Signature Theatre (Washington, DC); the Old Globe (San Diego, CA); Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival (Garrison, NY); Shakespeare and Company (Lenox, MA); and more.
The new Artistic Team will be in attendance at this year's 82nd Annual Drama League Awards, to be held on Friday, May 20, 2016 at theMarriott Marquis Times Square (1535 Broadway). Tickets for The Drama League Awards, which includes pre-event cocktails and the star-studded afternoon luncheon ceremony, are available by calling (212) 244-9494 or by visiting dramaleague.org/events. Official sponsors for the 82nd Annual Drama League Awards include Delta Air Lines, the Official Airline of The Drama League; MAC Cosmetics, the Official Makeup Partner of The Drama League; and National Life Group.