The Drama League Announces Complete Cast For DIRECTORFEST 2019

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The Drama League (Executive Artistic Director Gabriel Stelian-Shanks) has announced casting for DirectorFest 2019: The 35th Annual Directors Festival, the only festival in the United States exploring the art of Contemporary Stage directing. DirectorFest takes place at various locations around NYC: New Ohio Theatre (154 Christopher Street), The Drama League Theater Center (32 Avenue of the Americas), LaGuardia Performing Arts Center (31-10 Thompson Avenue, Long Island City), and Joe's Pub (425 Lafayette Street). Festival programming, tickets and additional details are available at, or by calling (212) 244-9494.

For its 35th year, the festival will include six fully-staged productions, a showcase evening of a new musical, discussion forums, and conversations with notable American directors.

Taking place over four weeks in venues across New York City, the festival's highlights include a reimagined new staging of a Stephen Sondheim's Marry Me A Little; the New York premiere of The Clitorish by Mara Nelson-Greenberg; Drunk Enough To Say I Love You? by Caryl Churchill; First Love by Charles L. Mee; Deathwatch by Jean Genet; the North American premiere of This Is NOT Hamlet, conceived by Bulgarian director Boyan Kracholov; and Whitney White's Three Sisters, The Music, songs from a work-in-progress, adapted and directed by Whitney White

The 2018 Drama League Directors Project Fellows include Jennifer Chang, Tara Elliott, Kemar Jewel, Seonjae Kim, and Dennis Yueh-Yeh Li. Chosen from over 330 applicants nationwide, these five visionary emerging directors recently completed their year of mentorships, assistantships, training and career development as part of The Drama League Directors Project. The festival will also include the work of Drama League Next Stage Resident Whitney White and Drama League International Exchange Program Artist Boyan Kracholov.

The creative team for DirectorFest 2019 includes Diggle (Set Designer), Sabrina Bianca Guillame (Costume Designer), Lois Gordon (Lighting Designer), Mark Jablonski (Sound Designer), Claire Brady (Props Designer), Brent Shultz (Fight Director), Libby Jensen (Production Manager), Gracie Esmonde (Company Manager), with Travis Lemont Ballenger (Associate Producer), Gabriel Stelian-Shanks (Executive Artistic Director), and Sherri Eden Barber (Program Consultant). The Stage Management team includes Emily Roth (Production Stage Manager/Whitney White's Three Sisters, The Music)) with Melanie Aponte (Deathwatch), Will Chaloner (Drunk Enough To Say I Love You), Tyler Danhaus (Marry Me A Little), Rachel Kaufman (First Love), Peter Nictakis (This is NOT Hamlet), and Yetti Steinman (The Clitorish). Casting for the festival by Harriet Bass, Michael Cassara, Stephen DeAngelis, Alan Filderman, and Cindi Rush.

The festival will also include conversations with two of America's foremost contemporary directors, Lear deBessonet (Good Person of Setzuan) and Ruben Santiago-Hudson (Jitney), as well as A Town-Hall Conversation: The Mid-Career Director.

Ms. Chang, Ms. Elliott, Mr. Jewel, Ms. Kim, Mr. Kracholov, Mr. Li, and Ms. White join the ranks of over 350+ illustrious 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 (Head Over Heels), Pam MacKinnon (The Parisian Woman), and John Rando (On The Town); and Tony Award nominees Rachel Chavkin (Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812), Moritz von Steulpnagel (Bernhardt/Hamlet), Alex Timbers (Beetlejuice), and Mark Brokaw (Heisenberg), to name only a few.

DIRECTORFEST is made possible thanks to the generosity of our current supporters: Howard Gilman Foundation, The Hyde and Watson Foundation, The Riggio Foundation, The Shubert Foundation, The Leo Shull Foundation for the Arts, and Trust for Mutual Understanding. Subsidized studio space provided by the A.R.T./New York Creative Space Grant, supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Special thanks to the Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust for supporting the Drama League. 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 Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.


Tickets Available at


Marry Me A Little
Songs by Stephen Sondheim
Conceived and Developed by Craig Lucas and Norman Rene
Produced Off-Broadway by Diane de Mailly in association with William B. Young
Originally Produced by The Production Company
Music Direction by John Kight
Directed and Choreographed by 2018 Leo Shull Musical Theater Directing Fellow Kemar Jewel

January 11, 2019 at 7:30pm
January 12, 2019 at 2:00pm & 7:30pm
New Ohio Theatre
154 Christopher Street
$25 General Admission/$20 Drama League Members

The two-member cast of Marry Me A Little features Jordan Barbour as Man 1 and Jon-Michael Reese as Man 2. The Stage Manager is Tyler Danhaus. Sound Design by Mike Tracey. Casting by Stephen DeAngelis.

Featuring songs by Stephen Sondheim, the master of the modern musical, Marry Me A Little has been reimagined by director and choreographer Kemar Jewel as the story of two queer men of color, searching for love in the city that never sleeps. Two strangers, alone in their apartments on a Saturday night, reveal their secret dreams and fantasies, never knowing that they're just one wall away from each other. With trunk songs from Anyone Can Whistle, Follies, Company, and more, this new production gives voice to love rarely seen on stage.

Kemar Jewel, an international director and choreographer from Philadelphia, became an internet sensation for his video Voguing Train (2014). Kemar's projects have garnered over six million views across social media platforms and have been featured by the Huffington Post, TIME, Fox News and in film festivals across the globe. In theatre, he recently directed Legendary for Underground Arts and Songs For Marsha at the Helen Mills Theatre. B.A., Temple University.

This production and fellowship are supported, in part, with funds from The Leo Shull Foundation for the Arts. Marry Me A Little is presented through special arrangement with Music Theatre International (MTI). All authorized performance materials are also supplied by MTI.

The Clitorish
by Mara Nelson-Greenberg
Directed by 2018 Drama League New York Directing Fellow Jennifer Chang
Drunk Enough To Say I Love You?
By Caryl Churchill
Directed by 2018 Drama League New York Directing Fellow Tara Elliott

January 18, 2019 at 7:30pm
January 19, 2019 at 2:00pm & 7:30pm
New Ohio Theatre
154 Christopher Street
$25 General Admission/$20 Drama League Members
The three-member cast for The Clitorish features Robin Abramson as Sheila, Tony Carlin as Ted, and Aaron Costa Ganis as Stephen. The Stage Manager is Yetti Steinman.

In The Clitorish, a savvy new comedy by Mara Nelson-Greenberg, a husband and wife discover their teenage son has confused a diagram of a vagina for a map of the Middle East. What else is there to do? Hire a vagina tutor! The Clitorish explores "truthiness," the relationship between the sexes, the unwritten rules of the world...and who gets to write them.

Jennifer Chang is a multidisciplinary artist with Ovation Award and Stage Scene LA award-honored works. She is a founding member of Chalk Repertory Theatre. She has taught at the East West Players and guest directed at USC and at Texas State University, San Marcos for the Black and Latino Playwrights. She is a member of the Stage Directors and Choreographer's Society, Screen Actors Guild, and Actor's Equity Association. She is the current Head of Undergraduate Acting at UCSD. BFA: Tisch/ NYU; MFA: UCSD. Director's Lab West, National Director's Fellowship Finalist 2017.

The two-member cast for Drunk Enough To Say I Love You? features Deven Kolluri as Guy, and Quentin Mare as Sam. The Stage Manger is Will Chaloner. The Dramaturg is Laura Colleluori. Casting by Cindi Rush.

In Drunk Enough To Say I Love You?, Jack would do anything for Sam. Sam would do...anything. And around this simple premise, the legendary Caryl Churchill -- called "the greatest living English playwright" by Tony Kushner -- slyly depicts a deeply dysfunctional relationship between two men...or, perhaps, between a man and a much larger idea. Taut, elliptical, and unforgettable.

Tara Elliott is the director of Burq Off! and Not The One, and producer of the Gotham Award-winning web series "Shugs & Fats." She translated and directed the English language workshop premiere of prize-winning Chilean play Las Analfabetas. She is the recipient of a Tow Travel Grant for research in Cuba, a CUNY Diversity Projects Development Fund Grant, and has developed plays in residencies with KO Festival of Performance and Barn Arts Collective. In NYC, her work has been seen at Walkerspace, HERE Arts, The Cherry Lane, Dixon Place, Robert Moss Theater, and The Barrow Group among others. MFA Directing, Brooklyn College.

The Clitorish and Drunk Enough To Say I Love You? play as a double bill at each performance.

First Love
by Charles L. Mee
Music Direction by Josh Kight
Choreography by Antonio Brown
Directed by 2018 Drama League New York Directing Fellow Seonjae Kim
By Jean Genet
Choreography by Antonio Brown
Directed by 2018 Drama League New York Directing Fellow Dennis Yueh-Yeh Li

January 25, 2019 at 7:30pm
January 26, 2019 at 2:00pm & 7:30pm
New Ohio Theatre
154 Christopher Street
$25 General Admission/$20 Drama League Members

The three-member cast for First Love features Dennis Holland as Harold, Anne O'Sullivan as Edith, and Charlotte Rosenberg as Waitress. The Stage Manager is Rachel Kaufman. Casting by Harriet Bass.

In First Love, Edith and Harold unexpectedly meet on a park bench...and romance, long-delayed, is in the air! But is it too late? In Charles L. Mee's wistful, surprising and engaging play, a chance encounter is a catalyst for change; it's both a last chance and a new beginning, navigating the emotions and pitfalls of new love and embracing a potentially different future.

Seonjae Kim is originally from Seoul, South Korea. Riot Antigone, her original Riot Grrrl musical adaptation of Sophocles' tragedy, premiered at La MaMa and received productions at ANTFest and Bryn Mawr College. She recently served as Associate Director for the immersive musical KPOP (Ars Nova/Ma-Yi/Woodshed Collective). Her work has been seen at Atlantic Theatre Company, Baryshnikov Arts Center, Dixon Place, Williamstown, PEN/World Voices Festival, New York Theatre Barn, Prelude Festival and Chicago Fringe. Honors: Van Lier Fellowship (Asian American Arts Alliance), Mike Ockrent Fellowship (SCDF), and Robert Moss Fellowship (Playwrights Horizons). New Georges Affiliated Artist. BA: Northwestern.

The three-member cast for Deathwatch features Jorge Luna as LeFranc, Arash Mokhtar as Green Eyes, and Christian Elan Ortiz as Maurice. The Stage Manager is Melanie Aponte. Casting by Alan Filderman.

Deathwatch, Jean Genet's gripping, claustrophobic masterpiece -- which preceded his later works like The Maids and The Balcony - features two prisoners and a condemned man as they vie for supremacy in a prison that, both literally and metaphorically, turns inward to upend our notions of class, crime, and desire. Genet's deft and thrilling exploration of identity and society may be set in the direst of circumstances, but its issues and struggles could very well be the people next door...or even ourselves.

Dennis Yueh-Yeh Li, currently an Associate Artistic Director of The Living Theater, earned his Master of Arts degree in Performance Studies at Tisch School of Arts/New York University. He works as a director, playwright, performer, and performance artist, creating productions addressing sexuality, literature, philosophy, and politics. Dennis endeavors to make powerful and transcendental performances to stimulate compelling reactions in the audience. Recent directing productions include Blind (Theater for the New City), The (New) Trial (Theater for the New City), and Civilization and Its Discontents (Judson Memorial Church).

First Love and Deathwatch play as a double bill for each performance.

This Is NOT Hamlet
Conceived and directed By Boyan Kracholov

January 23, 2019 at 7:00pm
January 24, 2019 at 7:00pm
LaGuardia Performing Arts Center
31-10 Thompson Street, Long Island City
$25 General Admission/$20 Drama League Members

The two-member cast for This is NOT Hamlet features Dimitar Krumov and Ivan Nikolov. The Stage Manager is Peter Nictakis.

Someone once said that an actor must eat all the food in the world, drink all the alcohol, and sleep with all of the women. But it wasn't Shakespeare, and it certainly wasn't Hamlet! A mad rollercoaster ride excavating some of the world's most famous playwrights -- Shakespeare, Beckett, Moliere, Cervantes, Stoppard, De La Barca among them -- This Is NOT Hamlet explores the limits of ourselves and the stage, the thin line between reality and illusion. The piece won European prizes when it debuted in 2016 at Sofia's famed Theatre Sfumato.

Bulgarian director Boyan Kracholov earned degrees in Directing from the National Academy of Theatre and Film Arts, and in Philosophy from Sofia University. His most recent work, Memory of Flight, premiered at the Plovdiv Drama Theatre in 2018. He is currently working on a piece combining the opera Faust by Gounod with the play by Goethe, set to premiere at the Pravets Mozart Festival. His first book, "Temple of Dreams," was published in 2017.

This Is NOT Hamlet is presented by The Drama League, The LaGuardia Performing Arts Center, and Art Office Foundation as part of the Drama League International Stage Directors Exchange.

Whitney White's Three Sisters, The Music
Songs from the work-in-progress adapted and directed by
2018 Drama League Director In Residence Whitney White
Music Direction by Steven Cuevas

January 28, 2019 at 7:00pm
Joe's Pub
425 Lafayette Street
$20 General Admission

The three-member cast of Whitney White's Three Sisters, The Music features Cherrye Davis, Deonte Goodman and Denise Manning. The band includes Steven Cuevas, Doug Berns, Mary Knapp, Zdenko Martin and Tristan Marzeski. The Stage Manager is Emily Roth.

Anton Chekhov's masterpiece has been ravishingly recontextualized by composer and director Whitney White, who brings lush, contemporary songs and actors into Chekhov's timeless story of women on the verge. This evening of songs from the work-in-progress will feature White alongside her cast and band in a celebration of the past, present and future of this timeless tale.

Whitney White is a director, musician, and writer, originally from Chicago, based in Brooklyn. This year she developed work at New York Theatre Workshop, 59E59, Trinity Rep, Chautauqua, The Roundabout, Luna Stage, SUNY Purchase, Princeton, Atlantic Theater Company Acting School, South Oxford, Jack, The Tank, New York Musical Festival, The Lark, and more. Whitney is currently a 2050 Fellow at NYTW and the Artistic Development Associate at Roundabout Theatre Company. MFA Acting: Brown University/Trinity Rep. BA Political Science: Northwestern University.


Lear deBessonet

January 14, 2019 at 7:00pm
The Drama League Theater Center
32 Avenue of the Americas
$45 Premium Seating | $30 General Admission | $20 Members/Alumni
Known for her large-scale community-spanning productions in Central Park, her work with Taylor Mac (Good Person of Setzuan) and Suzan-Lori Parks (Venus), The Public Theater's Director in Residence Lear deBessonet is joined by Maria Manuela Goyanes, Artistic Director, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, for a discussion of her work and impact.

Ruben Santiago-Hudson

January 24, 2019 at 7:00pm
The Drama League Theater Center
32 Avenue of the Americas
$45 Premium Seating | $30 General Admission | $20 Members/Alumni

Renowned as an actor, playwright, and director, Ruben Santiago-Hudson has become one of America's great interpretive directors, equally adept in staging revivals (Jitney, Othello) and new works (Paradise Blue, Skeleton Crew). In this conversation with Awoye Timpo (The Homecoming Queen), he explores the intersections of his career and the future of the field.



January 19, 2019 at 4:30pm
New Ohio Theatre
154 Christopher Street


January 26, 2019 at 4:30pm
New Ohio Theatre
154 Christopher Street

Open to all stage directors, artistic directors, and affiliated professionals.

January 28, 2019 at 4:30pm
The Drama League Theater Center
32 Avenue of the Americas
FREE, RSVP Required at

What happens when you're no longer "emerging" or "early-career"...but there's still work to be done? If you define yourself as a mid-career director, join our town-hall discussion with Davis McCallum, Artistic Director, Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival; Daniella Topol, Artistic Director, Rattlestick Playwrights Theatre; Emilya Cachapero, Director of Programs, TCG; Liz Carlson, Associate Artistic Director, New York Stage and Film; Nicole Watson, Associate Artistic Director, Round House Theatre; and David Mendizabal, Artistic Director, The Movement Theatre Company.

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 350, 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.

For additional information, please visit the website at

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