Next Stage Residency




Mariana Newhard and Lipica Shah star in the World Premiere of Assembled Identity, directed by  2017 Drama League Resident Director Kristin Marting, at HERE Arts Center in New York City. (© Steven Pisano)


The NEXT STAGE RESIDENCIES deeply engage stage directors as full partners in the creative process of theatre-making, and provide the developmental resources to advance their careers. In the program, we provide a process-oriented home for a theater director for one year, giving them space, time, and financial resources to grow and deepen multiplle creative projects in a generative context..  

This residency includes:

RESIDENCY SPACE: A fixed number of hours of complimentary rehearsal space, to be used over the course of one year.  (In previous years, Next Stage Residencies have included between 15 and 50 hours of rehearsal and administrative space, commensurate with the needs of their projects.)

RESIDENCY STIPEND: A stipend for the developmental expenses of the residency will be awarded. (In previous years, Next Stage Residencies have received between $1500 and $7500 to cover developmental expenses, commensurate with the needs of their projects.)

PROFESSIONAL MENTORSHIP: The artist will receive professional mentorship from The Drama League Artistic Staff.

While we ask for the residents to apply with a specific project in mind that will be developed as part of their residency, NEXT STAGE is invested in the individual director, not one specific project. Over the course of a year, a director may have multiple pieces in different stages of development. We, therefore, do not limit the residency to only one project. At the beginning of the residency, The Drama League will work with each director to construct a calendar of activities supported, in part, by the stipend; the director may choose to supplement the stipend with funds raised elsewhere, if they wish.

Next Stage Resident Directors must attend a gathering of all supported artists each February, and must hold at least one (1) Open Rehearsal during their residency.  Details for these requirements are included in the application.

If you have questions about which residency is most appropriate for your project, please call (212) 244-9494 to discuss options in depth.  We are happy to speak with you!





Knud Adams

KNUD ADAMS is a director of new and experimental plays. RECENT PRODUCTIONS: Torrey Townsend’s The Workshop (softFocus - Times Critics’ Pick), Julia Jarcho's Every Angel is Brutal (Clubbed Thumb), Eliza Bent's On a Clear Day I Can See to Elba (The New Ohio), Justin Kuritzkes’ Asshole and Celine Song’s Tom & Eliza (both at JACK), Max Posner’s Snore (Juilliard), Carl Holder’s An Intimate Evening with Typhoid Mary (The New Ohio), Jen Silverman’s That Poor Girl and How He Killed Her (U. of Rochester), Jenny Schwartz’s Krazytown (NYU), Annie Baker’s Body Awareness (Chester Theatre Company), and Nick Jones' Salome of the Moon (Waterwell). ASSISTANT DIRECTING: André Gregory, Elizabeth LeCompte, Richard Foreman, Sam Gold, Sarah Benson, and Rachel Chavkin. PLAY DEVELOPMENT: NYTW, Playwrights Horizons, Clubbed Thumb, The Public, The New Group, The Atlantic, The Bushwick Starr, Playwrights Realm, P73, and Ars Nova. AFFILIATIONS: The Drama League Directors Project, Soho Rep Writer/Director Lab, Playwrights Horizons Directing Resident.


We describe Nylon as a modern-day Doll's House, in which the protagonist Anna reaches a crisis point in her life and marriage. She's enjoying a seemingly perfect life in London, with a supportive husband and a dream career in fashion journalism. But when her husband pressures her to start a family, Anna's lies begin to unravel. She's tormented by thoughts of the secret child she gave up for adoption, whose father is her musician ex/love-of-her-life. As the complexities and traumas of Anna's life surface, she risks everything to maintain the walls between her past and present selves. Nylon is a funny and brutal story about the most difficult choices women face.

Collaborators: Sofia Alvarez and Sheila Vand.


Shelley Butler

Shelley Butler's recent productions include the world premiere of Lucas Hnath’s A Doll’s House, Part 2 (South Coast Repertory) and the Japanese premiere of Beautiful: The Carole King Musical (Imperial Theatre in Tokyo). She has developed over two dozen new plays and musicals at companies including Ars Nova, Primary Stages, E.S.T., Women’s Project, Hartford Stage, South Coast Repertory, Denver Center Theatre Company, Geva, New York Stage and Film, Dallas Lyric Stage, PlayPenn, New Dramatists, the Lark, NYMF, The Playwright’s Realm and Keen Company. Shelley is the recipient of a Drama League Directing Fellowship, a 2005 Director’s Guild of America Trainee, a member of SDC, the Lincoln Center Directors’ Lab and the Women’s Project Directors Lab. Shelley served previously as artistic associate at both Hartford Stage and Great Lakes Theater Festival. Upcoming: Human Error by Eric Pfeffinger for the Denver Center Theatre Company.

The Moth 

Early one morning, a soldier returns from night watch to his remote Siberian outpost to reveal: He is now a she. Not trans, or a person in disguise, but inexplicably, magically, a woman overnight. Unsure how to proceed, the Colonel hides the woman formerly known as Lebedushkin in a bungalow on the grounds. Trapped within the walls Lebeushkin yearns to escape to make art while the Colonel strives to understand her. In this new adaptation, director Shelley Butler and playwright Meg Miroshnik will examine both the toxic masculinity and surreal beauty touched on in contemporary Russian playwright Pyotr Gladilin’s play The Moth.


Leigh Fondakowski

Leigh Fondakowski was the head writer of "The Laramie Project," co-writer of "Laramie: Ten Years Later," and an Emmy Nominated co-screenwriter for the film adaptation of "Laramie" with HBO Films. Her other original plays include, "I Think I Like Girls," "The People's Temple," "SPILL, and "Casa Cushman" (in development). Her plays have been produced under her direction at American Theater Company, Berkeley Repertory Theater, Encore Theater, Ensemble Studio Theater, The Guthrie Theater, La Jolla Playhouse, Perseverance Theater, Swine Palace, TimeLine Theater, and Z Space Studio. Awards include: The Glickman Award for Best New Play, two Bay Area Critics Circle nominations, and a Jeff Nomination. Leigh is a recipient of the NEA/TCG Theatre Residency Program for Playwrights and a MacDowell Colony Fellow. She is the author of the non-fiction book, "Stories from Jonestown," and is currently adapting the book to film. She is on faculty at Naropa University.

CASA CUSHMAN is an ensemble play about the life and work of 19th century American actress Charlotte Cushman. One of the most important actors of her time, Cushman was famous for her interpretation of the leading MALE roles in Shakespeare, mostly especially Romeo. Cushman continually challenged Victorian notions of gender in her stage portrayals of male characters and of strong, androgynous female characters.

When Cushman made her last stage appearance in New York in November 1874, fans filled the streets at 23rd Street from 5th to 6th Avenues just to catch a glimpse of the actress from her balcony. There are reports that over 14,000 people attended.

Cushman not only challenged Victorian notions of gender onstage. In life, she gathered around her an incredible circle of emancipated 19th century women. Among them were painters, poets, sculptors and literary women, who swore off the traditional bonds of marriage. She had intense love affairs with several of them, and their correspondence, recently unearthed by scholar Lisa Merrill, is a record of lesbian love in the early 19th century, before such love was even thought to exist.

One prominent woman in her circle was Emma Stebbins, the sculptor who created the “Angel of the Waters,” Bethesda Fountain, Central Park. Cushman is said to have been the model for this famous angel.


Whitney White

WHITNEY WHITE is a director, musician, and writer originally from Chicago, based in Brooklyn, New York. 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, The Drama League, South Oxford, Jack, The Tank, New York Musical Festival, The Lark, and more. She has also assisted Sam Gold, Dan Sullivan, and Anne Kaufman. Whitney is currently a 2050 Fellow at NYTW and the Artistic Development Associate at The Roundabout. MFA Acting: Brown University/Trinity Rep, BA Political Science Northwestern University. February of 2018 she will direct Othello at Trinity Rep.

Through the Next Wave Residency, director Whitney White will develop a very different look at Anton Chekov's THREE SISTERS. The ensemble is black. Stepping in and out of themselves they play with identity; both their own and those constructed by Chekov. The ideological focus is on W.E.B Du Bois' concept of double consciousness which describes a person whose identity is split into different parts. Chekov is constantly presenting people who split themselves in two. For the case of the black American this splitting results in one identity for “the self” and one for the white other. Through this exploration of Chekov's world contemporary understandings of the "black self" crack open to reveal something larger, something stranger, something that is both 1900 and 2018. Something that is black, white, American, Russian, alien, HUMAN and everything in between. Scored to original music. A Whitney White Collaboration.