Ensemble Studio Theatre Names Estefanía Fadul and Graeme Gillis New Co-Artistic Directors

Fadul and Gillis mark the first co-leadership structure for the company. 

By: Jan. 31, 2023
Ensemble Studio Theatre Names Estefanía Fadul and Graeme Gillis New Co-Artistic Directors
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Ensemble Studio Theatre has appointed Estefanía Fadul and Graeme Gillis the new Co-Artistic Directors of the 55-year-old award-winning off-Broadway theater company. Gillis, who has been serving as Interim Artistic Director since William Carden retired in 2022 and is a long-time member of EST, will begin planning the 2023/2024 season with director/producer Fadul who will officially join the prestigious company in March. In the past five decades, EST has developed thousands of new American plays and has grown into a company of over 600 actors, directors, playwrights, and designers. EST was founded and led by Curt Dempster beginning in 1968 and was succeeded as Artistic Director by William Carden in 2007. Fadul and Gillis mark the first co-leadership structure for the company.

EST's current season kicked off in the fall with the 38th Marathon of One-Act Plays which has been a landmark New York theatre festival since 1977. The spring season will continue with a soon-to-be-announced production from the EST/Sloan Project in late March, along with the First Light Festival, an annual festival of readings and workshops developing plays about science and technology, and the continuation of Youngblood's Sunday Brunch series, a monthly collection of fully produced new short plays from EST's collective of emerging professional playwrights.

"I am so proud to have this brilliant team be at the head of our company," said Members Council Co-Chair Sharina Martin. "Representatives from across our entire community were able to weigh in on a process that took the better part of a year. I can truly say that this search reflected the best of EST - a theater that values community, inclusion and collaboration. I am so excited for the dynamic ideas that will come from Graeme and Estefanía, and I fully trust in their leadership as we enter into the next phase of reimagining EST."

"My favorite way of working has always been within ensemble settings, where there is space and time for trust to build, ideas to evolve, risks to be taken, and collaborations to grow. EST is uniquely positioned to be a leader in imagining, experimenting with, and practicing brave and joyful ways of creating," said Co-Artistic Director Estefanía Fadul. "I look forward to building on the deep work that folks within the organization are already doing with love and care to transform EST into a truly inclusive place of belonging for artists and audiences alike, particularly those from communities that have been historically excluded. The possibilities feel infinite, and I'm honored to be in process with the EST community as we co-create its future."

"The animating idea of EST, of a community of artists dedicating themselves to their work, to each other, and to the future of theatre, is just about the most romantic, most inspiring thing I've ever heard," said Co-Artistic Director Graeme Gillis. "Before us, a lot of people at EST lived that idea. They held the door open so hundreds of artists, 55 years of them, could walk in here. Now it's our turn. That's the heart of EST's inclusion work and anti-racism efforts, and really our whole artistic life. I've been sheltered and inspired by this place, by the work I've seen and the people I've met here, for nearly half my life. I want that for everybody. That welcome, that acceptance, the camaraderie and fun, the awe at what we can pull off together. I feel so lucky today, because I get to participate in that."

Estefanía Fadul

is a Colombian-born, New Hampshire-raised, NYC-based director and creative producer with a passion for new work. Recent directing includes the world premieres of Eva Luna adapted by Caridad Svich from the novel by Isabel Allende (Repertorio Español), The Garbologists by Lindsay Joelle (Philadelphia Theatre Company), The Same Day by Stefan Ivanov (Sfumato Theatre, Bulgaria), Scissoring by C. Quintana (INTAR), and the Drama League-nominated Carla's Quince, which she conceived and developed with The Voting Project Ensemble to mobilize Latiné voters to the polls. She has developed new plays and musicals off-Broadway and regionally at The Public Theater, Chautauqua, Latinx Playwrights Circle, Playwrights' Realm, NYTW, Audible, Goodspeed, Long Wharf, Juilliard, and more. She was on the producing team for Soho Rep.'s first all-ages, site-specific show Washeteria, and is a co-producer on the upcoming world premiere of Raquel Almazan's La Paloma Prisoner. Estefanía is a member of the leadership circle of the Center for Performance and Civic Practice (CPCP), the Drama League Board of Directors, Latinx Theatre Commons advisory committee, Lincoln Center Directors Lab, and SDC. She was the 2020 recipient of New York Stage and Film's Pfaelzer Award, is a New Georges Affiliated Artist, and an alumna of the Advocacy and Leadership Institutes of the National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures, the Drama League Directors Project, O'Neill/NNPN National Directors Fellowship, Clubbed Thumb Directing Fellowship, Civilians' R&D Group, Foeller Fellowship at Williamstown, and Van Lier Fellowship at Repertorio Español. She has a B.A. from Vassar College, where she co-founded Idlewild Theatre Ensemble to create and uplift work by women/fem-aligning artists.

Graeme Gillis

is from Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. First hired at Ensemble Studio Theatre by founder Curt Dempster, he's served in many roles, most recently as Interim Artistic Director during the theatre's leadership transition, and before that as Associate Artistic Director under William Carden. Together with RJ Tolan, he leads the theatre's Obie Award-winning EST/Youngblood playwrights group, fostering dozens of early-career playwrights each year. Together with Linsay Firman, he leads the EST/Sloan Project, a program that fosters plays about science and technology, and has awarded over $3 million in grants to playwrights and theatres nationwide. His plays have been produced at EST by Youngblood and in the Marathon. He has worked as a playwright with theatres throughout the US and Canada, including Rattlestick Playwrights Theatre, Cherry Lane Theatre, Vampire Cowboys, Williamstown Theatre Festival, and Source Theatre (DC); Mulgrave Road Theatre (Nova Scotia), Summerworks and Theatre Smash at the Tarragon Theatre (Toronto). Published by Dramatists Play Service and Applause Books. At Sarah Lawrence College he teaches Downstage, a production conference where students form their own theatre company, create a mission statement, then curate and produce a full season to carry out the mission. He's a graduate of the University of King's College in Nova Scotia, New School University, and the EST/Youngblood writers' group. As a Canadian he proudly bears a US artists' green card, sponsored by Ensemble Studio Theatre. He is a lifetime member of The Actors Studio and EST.

ABOUT Ensemble Studio Theatre:

Ensemble Studio Theatre (EST) was founded by Curt Dempster in 1968 and led by William Carden from 2007 to 2022. In over 50 years, EST has developed thousands of new American plays and has grown into a company of over 600 actors, directors, playwrights, and designers.

EST's mission is to develop and produce original, provocative, and authentic new work. A dynamic community committed to a collaborative process, EST is dedicated to inclusion across all aspects of identity and perspective, including but not limited to race, ethnicity, gender, age, religion, sexuality, physical or mental ability, physical or mental health, and recovery while acknowledging and working to end systemic marginalization and oppression at all levels of its organization. EST discovers and nurtures new voices and supports artists throughout their creative lives. This extraordinary support and commitment to inclusivity are essential to yield extraordinary work.

The biennial Marathon of One-Act Plays has been an essential part of the New York theatre scene since it launched in 1977. Praised by critics and beloved by audiences, it generated an industry-wide revival of the short play form, breaking new ground by putting emerging and established writers together on one stage. In its earliest days, the Marathon was key to sustaining the careers of writers like Horton Foote and Romulus Linney, while providing essential early opportunity for then-new voices like Christopher Durang, Richard Greenberg and Aaron Sorkin. That mix of ages and cultures remains at the theater's core, with each subsequent generation - now including Julia Cho, Stephen Adly Guirgis, Amy Herzog, Qui Nguyen, Taylor Mac, and many others - taking their turn on the festival's Hell's Kitchen stage. Recently produced playwrights include Clare Barron, Leah Nanako Winkler, Anna Ziegler and Lloyd Suh. Martyna Majok was awarded the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Cost of Living, a play which originated in the 2015 Marathon of One-Act Plays.

EST is located at 545 West 52nd Street. For more information, visit ensemblestudiotheatre.org.


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