Waterford, CT – As the National Directors Fellowship enters its second year, the first class of fellows have found great success–each landing mainstage directing opportunities at theaters across the country through this fellowship. These productions represent the culmination of a five-year joint initiative by the Eugene O’Neill Theater CenterNational New Play NetworkThe Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival, and Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation to equip tomorrow’s stage directors with the skills, knowledge, and network to advance new play development and production across America.

NDF offers tools, networks, training, and practical experience to arm the next generation of storytellers for the stage. In its inaugural year, the program produced five directors who have seen their professional careers take off since the beginning of the 18-month program:

Lavina Jadhwani - Chicago, IL (bio) will direct Human Rites by Seth Rozin at Indianapolis’ Phoenix Theatre as part of the 2016/2017 mainstage season.

Portia Krieger - Brooklyn, NY (bio) will direct The Legend of Georgia McBride by Matthew Lopez at Atlanta’s Actor’s Express as part of the 2016/2017 mainstage season.

Larissa Lury - Las Cruces, NM (bio) will direct Grounded by George Brant at New Orleans’s Southern Rep Theatre as part of the 2016/2017 mainstage season.

Evren Odcikin - San Francisco, CA (bio) will direct I Call My Brothers by Jonas Hassen Khemiri at Cleveland Public Theatre as part of the 2016/2017 mainstage season.

Martin Wilkins - Charlotte, NC (bio) will direct Satchmo at the Waldorf by Terry Teachout at Sacramento’s B Street Theatre as part of the company’s resident 2015/2016 B3 Series

In addition to mainstage production opportunities, the fellows will also collaborate on multiple reading and workshop opportunities at National New Play Network Member Theaters.

Says Wendy C. Goldberg, NDF Program Director, “This program is a great experiment to expand new play director networks and access to opportunity. In collaboration with some very like-minded partners, we are truly astounded by both the staggering need for a program such as this as well as thrilled for the success of it. Within the program itself, we are taking on some of the most important issues that face the American theater today, and it is my hope this is just the beginning of the conversation on how best to support developing artists.”

NDF expands fellows’ careers geographically by working in other regions, socially by expanding their collaborator and playwright network, and professionally by transitioning away from assisting roles and directing new work. The newly-selected 2016 fellows are:

Jessica Holt - Atlanta, GA (bio)

Laley Lippard - Chicago, IL (bio)

Jeff Liu - Los Angeles, CA (bio)

Madeline Sayet - Norwich, CT (bio)

M. Graham Smith - San Francisco, CA (bio)

Their Fellowship begins at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center in July. Applications for 2017 Fellows will be accepted in January 2017. For more information, visit


About the National Directors Fellowship (NDF):

Founded in 2015, NDF is 18 months of practical, hands-on training, mentorship, and – most importantly – concludes with a professional directing opportunity. It connects directors to a vast network of playwrights and theaters, expands access to professional support services, and provides laboratory-like settings for observation and experimentation, equipping tomorrow’s stage directors with the skills, knowledge, and network to advance new play development and production around the country.

Under the leadership of National Playwrights Conference Artistic Director Wendy C. Goldberg, Fellows begin in July of each year, observing and participating in the National Playwrights Conference at the O’Neill Fellows then travel to the MFA Playwrights’ Workshop and Directing Intensive in August, led by NNPN and the KC/ACTFl, and the NNPN National Showcase of New Plays in December.  In January, they reconvene for an intense two-week Directing Symposium at the O’Neill, and the fellowship concludes with a professional directing opportunity at an NNPN Core Member theater.

Funding for the National Directors Fellowship provided by Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.