2016 National Directors Fellowships
Five Fellows were selected from a nationwide pool of applicants, ranging broadly across all levels of experience and backgrounds.
> For more information on the National Directors Fellowships, click here.
Holt is a freelance theater director who specializes in new and contemporary plays and boldly reimagining the classics. Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, she is currently the Phil Kent Directing Fellow at the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia. In the Bay Area, Jessica served as the Artistic Director of the Bay One Acts Festival and as an associate artist at the Magic Theatre where she recently directed the West Coast premiere of Bright Half Life by Tanya Barfield. Favorite projects in San Francisco include “Act Five” of Taylor Mac’s The Lily’s Revenge (Magic Theatre), The Glass Menagerie (Boxcar Theater), and the world premiere of Rebecca Bella’s Terroristka (Threshold Theater). Jessica is passionate about new play development and has workshopped and directed new plays at the Alliance Theatre, Theater Emory, Playwrights Foundation, Cutting Ball Theater, New Conservatory Theater Center, PianoFight, Playwrights Center of San Francisco, and the Yale School of Drama.
She recently received her MFA in Directing from the Yale School of Drama where she directed The Seagull by Anton Chekhov, Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, and the new hip-hop musical The Children by Phillip Howze, among others. She served as the Co-Artistic Director of the 2014 Yale Summer Cabaret, producing and directing a season of adventurous and daring work by contemporary American playwrights including Jackie Sibblies Drury, Will Eno, and Erin Courtney.
Upcoming projects include: the Atlanta premiere of Significant Other by Joshua Harmon at Actor’s Express (May 2016), a workshop of Truest by Megan Cohen at Berkeley Rep's Ground Floor (June 2016), and the Atlanta premiere of Lindsey Ferrentino's Ugly Lies the Bone at the Alliance Theatre (September 2016).
Lippard is the executive producer of the Chicago Home Theater Festival, which aims to provide a platform for artistic exchange within neighborhoods that have experienced systemic disinvestment; center access and accessibility by featuring new work by and about artists of color, women and femmes, LGBTQ folks, and artists with disabilities; and curate performances and conversations that directly disrupt injustice. Her work has been seen at Steppenwolf Theatre Company Garage, Magic Theatre, foolsFURY Theater, Intersection for the Arts, Remy Bumppo Theatre, Seaside Repertory Theater, and Virginia Stage Company, including the world premiere of Matt Pelfry’s Pure Shock Value at Exit Theatre and her original adaptation of Macbeth at the side project. As an artistic associate at Magic Theatre, Laley produced and directed for the theatre’s new play workshop ZMagic and lead the playwright’s forum Sevenx7. She has served on literary panels at Steppenwolf Theatre, Playwrights Foundation, Magic Theatre, and TheatreWorks and has workshopped plays with Alliance Theatre, American Theater Company, Just Theatre, and The Garage. Laley has worked with HowlRound and the AVNPI at Arena Stage, Guthrie Theater, American Conservatory Theater, Court Theatre, and Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company. Laley is a proud member of the Lincoln Center Theater Directors Lab and SDC Directing Observership Program, and she holds an MFA in Directing from Northwestern University
Liu is from Southern Illinois, Hong Kong, and Berkeley in that order. He adapted and directed the Pulitzer nominated play Yellow Face by Tony Award winner David Henry Hwang for the YOMYOMF Network on YouTube. His Car Play Hell Hath Fury debuted as part of the Without Walls Festival hosted by La Jolla Playhouse. Last fall, he directed the Los Angeles premiere of Chinglish by David Henry Hwang, a bilingual play which became the highest grossing show ever at East West Players. His other theatrical productions include the world premieres of Texas and Solve For X by Judy Soo Hoo, Murderobilia and Terminus Americana (Ovation Award nominee for Best World Premiere) by Matt Pelfrey, The Golden Hour and Grace Kim and the Spiders From Mars by Philip W. Chung (for Lodestone Theatre Ensemble), The Chinese Massacre (Annotated) by Tom Jacobson (for Circle X), Christmas in Hanoi by Eddie Borey, and Ixnay, Wrinkles (for East West Players) and Slice (for Fremont Centre Theatre), all by Paul Kikuchi. He will soon be returning for a third year to direct at Sci-Fest, the Los Angeles Science Fiction One Act Play Festival.
Sayet is the Resident Director at Amerinda (American Indian Artists) Inc. in New York City and a PhD Candidate at The Shakespeare Institute in Stratford-Upon-Avon, UK. She is a 2016 TED Fellow, a recipient of The White House Champion of Change Award, a Van Lier Directing Fellow at Second Stage Theatre and a National Arts Strategies Creative Community Fellow. Her work as a theater director uses minimalist magical realism to interrogate questions of gendering and indigenous perspectives, and reimagine classic plays to give voice to those that have been silenced. Select directing includes: The Magic Flute (Glimmerglass), Macbeth (NYC Parks), Daughters of Leda (IRT/Culture Project), Sliver of a Full Moon (Joe's Pub/Capitol Building/United Nations/Yale Law), Powwow Highway (HERE), Miss Lead (59E59), The Tempest (Various). Upcoming: Poppea (University of Illinois-Urbana), Winter's Tale (HERE). She has her BFA in Theater and MA in Arts Politics & Post-Colonial Theory from NYU.
M. GRAHAM SMITH
Smith is a San Francisco based Director, Educator, and Producer. His production of Truffaldino Says No won Best Director from the Bay Area Critics Circle. He has directed in New York City, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Portland, and many venues in San Francisco, including A.C.T.’s Masters program, Aurora Theatre, Crowded Fire, Cutting Ball, The EXIT Theatre, Playground, BRAVA, The Playwright’s Foundation, Ray of Light, Berkeley Playhouse, Golden Thread, SF Opera, Central Works, and New Conservatory. He directed the West Coast Premiere of Jerry Springer: The Opera. His recent productions include The Rover at Shotgun Players, The Liar adapted by David Ives, at Occidental College in Los Angeles as an Edgarton Foundation director-in-residence, and Deal With The Dragon at ACT’s Costume Shop before it travels to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August. He is the Director of Movement & Voice in Barcelona’s premiere Meisner Program (www.meisner.es). He also teaches at ACT’s actor training programs. He was the Producer of Aurora Theater’s international new play festival, the Global Age Project, for the last five years. He is a graduate of Wesleyan University and the Dell’arte School of Physical Theatre.