The Drama League Stage Directing Assistantships
THE DRAMA LEAGUE STAGE DIRECTING ASSISTANTSHIPS
In an effort to remove barriers to access that disproportionately affect BIPOC/Global Majority directors in the early stages of their careers, The Drama League Stage Directing Assistantships partners with acclaimed BIPOC/Global Majority stage directors to provide assistant directing opportunities on their productions across the United States to early-career BIPOC/Global Majority and/or historically marginalized directors.
The goals of this program are urgent and necessary. First, the assistantships address disproportionate barriers to access that are pervasive, industry-wide, and damaging to the field’s future viability to operate. Secondly, they offer a rare opportunity for the passing of knowledge, skills, and experience from generations of BIPOC/Global Majority directors to the next, as well as techniques to successfully employ against racism, inequity, and injustice in rehearsal, casting, and production procedures. Third, it ensures a multiplicity of voices in this important and vital creative role, better serving the entire community of audiences, artists, and citizens.
The assistantships offer a peer-to-peer mentorship model to recipients. The Drama League will provide each assistant director’s remuneration, travel, housing, and pre-production preparation resources. Bridging theater and practice, this program opens the gates of professional production, provides essential community-building and care, and offers an experience of the field when rooms are led by BIPOC/Global Majority directors.
Pre-Production (varies, remote) Rehearsal/Tech (4-7 weeks)
Offered every year
(production location varies)
Four recipients each cycle
$600/wk for in-person duration
Click each month for program details
July (TBD, occasional, online/remote)
ASSISTANTSHIP PREP WORKSHOP
Assistant directorships begin with discussions of the practice, expectations, and evolving role of assistant directors.
- Travel to/from city of rehearsals/tech/performance provided; up to $200 reimbursement for in-city transportation
- Housing reimbursement of up to $250/week for in-person duration for recipients living more than 25 miles outside the metropolitan area of the production’s base
- VIP Pass to all publicly offered Drama League programming during Assistantship
- Access to Alumni Programming and Events
- Lifetime Drama League Artistic Membership
2022-2023 Mentor Directors
Director/Head of Undergraduate Acting, UC San Diego
Los Angeles, CA
Jennifer Chang (she/her/hers) is a founding member of Chalk Repertory Theatre, where she won an Ovation Award, an LA Weekly Award, and the Stage Scene LA award. Other awards include: 2019 LADCC Award in Direction, 2020 APAFT Award Outstanding Direction. She was the Assistant Director of Theresa Rebeck’s Bernhardt/Hamlet on Broadway starring Janet McTeer. Select directing credits: Hannah and the Dread Gazebo (The Fountain Theatre/EWP), Animals Out of Paper (East West Players – LA Times Critics Pick), Edith Can Shoot Things and Hit Them (Artists at Play – GLAAD Media Award, Stage Scene LA Award Best Director, Ovation Award Nominated), Our American Story and Residence Elsewhere (commissioned for the 75th Anniversary of Executive Order 9066) at the Japanese American National Museum. Head of Undergraduate Acting at UCSD’s Department of Theatre and Dance. Member of SDC, SAG-AFTRA, AEA. DL Fellow 2018.
Director/ Head of MFA Directing Program, DePaul University
Lisa Portes (she/her/ella) is an award-winning Chicago-based director, educator, leader and advocate whose aim is to define and promote a new American theatre that is driven aesthetically and politically by the world we are becoming rather than the world we’ve been. She is a co-founder of the Latinx Theatre Commons and serves on the board of the Theatre Communications Group (TCG) and the executive board of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society (SDC). She heads the MFA Directing Program at The Theatre School at DePaul University. Her work has been seen at numerous theatres in Chicago and regionally. Recent credits include Glass Menagerie (CalShakes), Quixote Nuevo (Round House), Thanksgiving Play (Cincinnati Playhouse), Native Gardens (Denver Center). DL Fellow 1992, 1997.
Nicole A. Watson
Director/Associate Artistic Director, McCarter Theater Center
Nicole A. Watson (she/her/hers) is a director, educator, and the Associate Artistic Director of McCarter Theater Center. As Associate Artistic Director of Round House Theatre, she directed He Brought Her Heart Back In A Box, School Girls; or, the African Mean Girls Play, A Doll’s House Part 2, and Sweat, among others. She is a member of the New Georges Jam and has worked with New Dramatists, the Lark Play Development Center, the Fire this Time Festival, the New Black Fest, the Women’s Project Theater, The 52nd Street Project, Signature Theater, Geva Theater Center, A.C.T., Asolo Rep, Washington National Opera, The Contemporary American Theater Festival, Working Theater, Smith College, NCSA, NYU, and LIU. Lincoln Center Directors Lab. the Women’s Project Directors Lab. SDC. BA: History, Yale. MA: NYU Gallatin School of Individualized Study. DL Fellow 2013, DL Board Member.
Producing Artistic Director, Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center Theater Company
Colorado Springs, CO
Pirronne Yousefzadeh (she/her/hers) is the Producing Artistic Director of the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center Theater Company. She has directed and developed work at The Public/Joe’s Pub, Playwrights Horizons, New York Theatre Workshop, Ars Nova, Soho Rep, Atlantic Theater Company, Ma-Yi Theater Company, Noor Theatre, Ensemble Studio Theatre, The Kennedy Center, Williamstown Theatre Festival, American Conservatory Theater, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Cleveland Playhouse, La Jolla Playhouse, Pioneer Theatre Company, Huntington Theatre Company, Milwaukee Rep, InterAct Theatre Company, and Hangar Theatre. Pirronne is a Usual Suspect at NYTW, New Georges Affiliated Artist, member of EST, and an alumna of the Sagal Fellowship at Williamstown Theatre Festival, SDC Denham Fellowship, and Soho Rep Lab. She is a founding member of Maia Directors. MFA: Columbia University. Member, SDC. DL Fellow 2006.
Early-career directors are eligible to apply who have not held the position of assistant directors on more than three Broadway, Off-Broadway, or LORT productions.
This program encourages applications from early-career stage directors who self-identify as Global Majority, Black, African-American, Hispanic, Latine (Latino/Latina), AAPI (Asian-American/Pacific Islander), Indigenous, MENASA (Middle Eastern/North African/South Asian), Biracial persons, Mixed-Identity persons, Persons of Color, and/or people of historically marginalized communities.
Directors must exhibit through their application materials professional experience as a director in the early stages of their career. Applicants currently enrolled in a program of higher learning will not be considered until after it is completed. Applications are welcome from directors whose paths to direction may have been nonlinear or nontraditional.
Why This Matters
As the nationwide data in Stage Directors and Choreographers Union’s 2020 “Next Stage Report” revealed, only 11% of directors hired on Broadway or in stock theaters identified as persons of color, despite being 44% of the general United States population in the 2020 Census. Among the country’s largest theaters, LORT A+, zero directing contracts were filed by BIPOC/Global Majority directors with SDC in the 2018-2019 season.
Facing these undeniable barriers to equity, there is a wide call in the American Theatre community, and in society, to center communities of color to address the generations of industry-wide centering of whiteness. The Drama League recognizes this call to action, and joins the many similarly-minded programs that have initiated in recent years across the field, including the BIPOC Casting Fellowship, the TCG Theaters of Color Re-Grant, the SDC Foundation Lloyd Richards New Futures Residency, the Shubert BIPOC Artistic Circle, the Black Theatre Coalition Apprenticeship and BTC Broadway Across America programs, and New Victory Theatre’s LabWorks, among others. The Drama League, however, will address specifically the role of director-led learning via production, the first program to do so. The Drama League Assistantships were developed with a working committee of the Drama League Directors Council, an advisory body of leading freelance stage directors, artistic leaders, educators, and film/tv professionals.
See Current Fellows
About the Drama League
The Drama League is a home for stage directors, and a platform for dialogue with, and between, the audiences they inspire. Founded in 1916, the organization is one of the longest-running, continuously operating arts service organizations in the United States. To support its programs for artists, or to become a member of its community, please visit www.dramaleague.org.