National Directors Fellowship Launches at Eugene O’Neill Theater Center

by Jacob Coakley
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A joint endeavor between The Eugene O’Neill Theater Center, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, National New Play Network, and the Stage Directors & Choreographers Foundation, the National Directors Fellowship is a five-year initiative “that will fast-track the professional development of 25 early-career stage directors, continuing the advancement of new artists and new plays in America.”

National Directors Fellowship To Launch in July 2015
Year-long Fellowships include  Professional Directing Residency

Waterford, CT - The Eugene O’Neill Theater Center, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, National New Play Network, and Stage Directors & Choreographers Foundation announce the launch of the National Directors Fellowship (NDF).  With substantial funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, the five-year joint initiative will fast-track the professional development of 25 early-career stage directors, continuing the advancement of new artists and new plays in America.

The Fellowship is designed for early career directors – whether actively assisting or transitioning into the field – seeking an opportunity to lead direct and demonstrating heightened interest in new work.  The O’Neill will accept applications for the National Directors Fellowship January 12-16, 2015.

NDF is 18 months of practical, hands-on training, mentorship and - most importantly - concludes with a professional lead directing opportunity. It connects directors to a vast network of playwrights, 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.

“The O’Neill has shaped the new play landscape for fifty years, and I’m grateful to collaborate with the Kennedy Center, NNPN, and SDC Foundation in supporting early career theater directors,” states O’Neill Executive Director Preston Whiteway.  “Too often, emerging directors find themselves on a “hamster-wheel” of endless assisting gigs, with little or no opportunity to take the reins on a professional production.  The National Directors Fellowship seeks to break through this logjam and launch new directing careers, while supporting our emerging writers.  This program would not be possible without national leadership support of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, and I’m thankful.”

“For some time now, I've been interested in creating a program for emerging directors. We’ve been developing ways at The O'Neill and elsewhere to better support the new play director,” says Wendy C. Goldberg, Artistic Director of the O’Neill’s National Playwrights Conference.  “The Director Fellowship program fills a very specific need in our field since few opportunities exist for this type of directorial training and experience. I've been encouraged by this collective response, ensuring strong support networks, mentorship, practical experience, and expanded real professional opportunities for the directors who will shape storytelling on our stages for generations to come.”

Fellows begin in July of each year, observing and participating in the National Playwrights Conference at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center. The Fellows then move to the Kennedy Center for the MFA Playwrights’ Workshop and Directing Intensive, led by NNPN and the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival.  In January, the Fellows will reconvene for an intense two-week Directing Symposium at the O’Neill.  The fellowship concludes with a directing residency at an NNPN Core Member theater.

For additional information, application requirements and deadlines, visit http://www.theoneill.org/professional-development-and-education/ndf or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

About the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation:
The mission of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation is to improve the quality of people’s lives through grants supporting the performing arts, the environment, medical research, and child well-being, and through preservation of the cultural and environmental legacy of Doris Duke’s properties. The Foundation’s Arts Program focuses its support on contemporary dance, jazz and theater artists, and the organizations that nurture, present and produce them.

For more information, please visit http://www.ddcf.org.

About the O'Neill:
The Eugene O’Neill Theater Center, founded in 1964 in honor of Eugene O’Neill, four-time Pulitzer Prize Winner and America’s only playwright to win the Nobel Prize in Literature, is the country’s preeminent organization dedicated to the development of new works and new voices for the American theater. The O’Neill has been home to more than 1,000 new works for the stage and 2,500 emerging artists. Scores of projects developed at the O’Neill have gone on to full production at other theaters around the world, including Broadway, Off-Broadway, and major regional theaters.

O’Neill programs include the National Playwrights Conference, National Music Theater Conference, National Critics Institute, National Puppetry Conference, the Cabaret & Performance Conference, and National Theater Institute – which conducts semester-long intensive theater training, and a six-week summer program, Theatermakers. In addition, the O’Neill owns and operates Monte Cristo Cottage as a museum open to the public. Childhood summer home of Eugene O’Neill, the Cottage is a National Historic Landmark. The O’Neill has received two Tony Awards - including the 2010 Regional Theatre Tony Award, the National Opera Award, the Jujamcyn Award for Theatre Excellence, and the Arts and Business Council Encore Award.

For more information, please visit the O’Neill website, www.theoneill.org, call (860) 443- 5378 ext. 213 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.