The Drama League Significantly Expands Directors Program to Help Emerging Artists (EXCLUSIVE)

The Drama League is expanding its artist development programs, which are collectively called The Directors Project, and include support for people working in film, television and on stage. Applications to the program are now open, the organization said.

Among the new initiatives are a first-ever international fellowship for emerging directors with the Rose Theatre in London. Along with that, the Drama League announced that Obie Award-winning Keen Company will produce DirectorFest, which offers Off-Broadway debuts for The Drama League’s Stage Directing Fellows. There are also new partnerships with Berkeley Repertory Theatre and Hubbard Hall Center for the Arts and Education, as well as the establishment of The Drama League Film Fund to assist stage directors looking move behind the camera and work in film and television.

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The Directors Project is now entering its 41st season. It alumni direct over 1,000 productions each season on Broadway, Off-Broadway, and throughout the world.

“Artists are our most precious resource, and directors – the leaders of live storytelling – deserve world-class support programs,” said Gabriel Stelian-Shanks, artistic director of The Drama League.  “The Drama League’s Directors Project has been industry-leading for 40 years, but this moment requires expanded commitments from service organizations. That is exactly what our dedicated staff, visionary board of directors, and community members of The Drama League intend to do.”

Added Executive Director Bevin Ross: “Theater is a collective practice, and we are thrilled to be joined by our lead partners Manhattan Theatre Club and McCarter Theatre Center, our new festival producer Keen Company, engagement partners Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Hubbard Hall Center for the Arts and Education, New York Stage and Film, Red Bull Theater, the Rose Theatre, and TheaterWorksUSA — to more impactfully serve artists.”

Applications for all programs are now available at The new initiatives include the following:

THE DRAMA LEAGUE STAGE DIRECTING FELLOWSHIPS: a two-year experience for early-to-mid career stage directors, supported by a $100,000 scholarship prize per recipient ($50,000 per year), up to $10,000 in health care insurance reimbursement ($5,000 per year), and a wide range of unparalleled opportunities at the organization’s Theater Center in New York City and at the Fellowship’s partner institutions Manhattan Theatre Club, McCarter Theatre Center, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Hubbard Hall Center for the Arts and Education, New York Stage and Film, Red Bull Theater and Keen Company.  During the two years, the selected Fellows will have an extended residency and direct Off-Broadway at the Obie-winning Keen Company; internal directing projects during an extended residency at Manhattan Theatre Club or McCarter Theatre Center; direct staged readings at Red Bull Theater; assist on major new projects at Berkeley Rep and New York Stage and Film; and additional career-building activities.  Two applicants will be accepted per cycle, the first of which will begin in May 2024. The deadline for applications is November 30, 2023. Selected Fellows will be celebrated at The Drama League Awards in May 2024.

THE DRAMA LEAGUE ROSE DIRECTING FELLOWSHIP: for early- and mid-career directors interested in expanding beyond the borders of the United States, the Rose Directing Fellowship offers the opportunity to serve as Assistant or Associate Director on a mainstage production at the acclaimed Rose Theatre in London, as well as direct a two-week public workshop of a new project, utilizing the Rose Theatre’s Youth Theatre Company. The Rose Directing Fellowship offers an embedded experience for a director inside one of the world’s most acclaimed companies, learning techniques of arts leadership, directorial practice, and cross-cultural artmaking, an acceleration into the deeply interconnected theater landscapes of the United Kingdom and the United States. The deadline for applications is February 2, 2024. Selected Fellows will be celebrated at The Drama League Awards in May 2024.

THE DRAMA LEAGUE FILM AND TELEVISION DIRECTING FELLOWSHIPS: a 4-7 week production experience for mid-career stage directors interested in expanding their work to include film and/or television directing. The program includes on-set shadowing experience, as well as introductions to mentors and industry professionals.  Recipients will be mentored by the Emmy-nominated writer/director/showrunner Tony Phelan (“Grey’s Anatomy,” “A Small Light”). Two or more applicants will be accepted for this Fellowship position, which will begin in June 2024. The deadline for applications is February 2, 2024.

THE DRAMA LEAGUE FILM FUND: To assist stage directors who are making filmed projects, The Drama League Film Fund will offer grants to complete short films, pilot projects, series, or features for film, television, hybrid, or online/streaming. The Fund will prioritize applications from alumni of Directors Project programs and will offer grants ranging from $5,000-$25,000 to one or more projects, and the Recommendation Committee includes award-winning directors including such as Phelan, Keith Powell (“Interview with the Vampire”), and Jessica Petelle (“Trigger Point”).

THE DRAMA LEAGUE DIRECTING ASSISTANTSHIPS: Each season, The Drama League will partner with established BIPOC/Global Majority stage directors to provide assistant directing opportunities on productions across the United States to the next generation of early-career BIPOC/Global Majority directors, sharing knowledge, access, and creative energy in production processes.  For each recipient, The Drama League will pay the assistant director’s salary, and reimburse housing, travel and health care costs. In 2024-25, The Drama League Assistant Directors will be paired with four nationally-renowned directors: Timothy Douglas (“Where The Mountain Meets The Sea,” Signature Theatre), Candis C. Jones (“Cullud Wattah,” Public Theater), Rebecca Martínez (“Bite Me,” WP Theater), and Valerie Curtis-Newton (“Last Night and the Night Before,” Steppenwolf Theatre Company). Applicants will be accepted for the 2024-25 season.

THE DRAMA LEAGUE DIRECTING RESIDENCIES: The Drama League’s Directing Residency programs, including the Beatrice Terry Directing Residency and the Next Stage Residency, will continue in expanded, reimagined formats that expand the development from a one-week workshop to two weeks of development, both at The Drama League and at New York Stage and Film and Hubbard Hall Center for the Arts and Education, respectively. The deadline for the Beatrice Terry Residency and Next Stage Residency is March 1, 2024.

THE FUTURENOW DIRECTING FELLOWSHIPS: The FutureNow Directing Fellowships will announce their new program description and application in early October.

INTERNATIONAL EXCHANGES: In September, The Drama League will travel with American directors to Tbilisi, Georgia, for a first-ever workshop in musical theater techniques at the Vaso Abashidze Music and Drama State Theater. The company will work on scenes from “Kiss Me, Kate,” “Damn Yankees,” “Chicago,” and more, with plans to have an American-Georgian collaboration in 2024-25. In March 2024, The Drama League’s International Directors Gathering will welcome to New York City rising directors from Bulgaria, France, Georgia, Poland, Romania, Ukraine, and the United States for an in-person convening and possible future collaborations with American theater professionals.

EDUCATIONAL INITIATIVES: The Drama League Directors Project Salon, curated by Tony Award-nominated director Sheryl Kaller, offers unfiltered, transparent conversations year-round for professional directors on the changing landscape of the arts sector. The Drama League’s renowned podcast, Ta(l)king Direction, offers an archive of in-depth interviews with directors, playwrights, producers, and artistic leaders in the American and International theater communities.

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