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The campus expansion at the O'Neill Theater Center adds 65 bed spaces and new rehearsal locations.

Exclusive: O’Neill, NNPN, Kennedy Center and SDC Foundation Name 2016 National Directing Fellows

Jessica Holt, Laley Lippard, Jeff Liu, Madeline Sayet, and M. Graham Smith will be the second group to participate in the program.

WATERFORD, CONN.: Eugene O’Neill Theater CenterNational New Play Network, the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival and Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation have announced the five emerging directors who will participate in the 2016 National Directors FellowshipAmerican Theatre has learned exclusively. This marks the second incarnation of the program. The fellows will be Jessica Holt, Laley Lippard, Jeff Liu, Madeline Sayet, and M. Graham Smith.

“It was an incredibly competitive process, and it is a reminder of the profound need for a program such as this one,” said program director Wendy C. Goldberg in a statement. “There is nothing quite like this program for directors who are focusing on new work, and I’m honored to be working with these artists.”

Fellowships begin at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center in July 2016, with workshops and professional development opportunities throughout the year, culminating with a professional directing post at a National New Play Network member theatre.

Jessica Holt
Jessica Holt

Holt is a freelance director based in Atlanta, where she is a Phil Kent directing fellow at Alliance Theatre. She’s originally from San Francisco, where she was the artistic director of the Bay One Acts Festival and an associate artist at Magic Theatre. She has also worked at Theater Emory, Playwrights Foundation, Cutting Ball Theater, and New Conservatory Theater Center.


Laley Lippard
Laley Lippard

Lippard is based in Chicago, where she is the executive producer of the Chicago Home Theater Festival. Her work has also been seen at Steppenwolf Theatre Company’s Garage space, Magic Theatre, Intersection for the Arts, Seaside Repertory Theater, and Virginia Stage Company.


Jeff_Liu optLiu is based in Los Angeles, and his work has been seen at the Without Walls Festival at La Jolla Playhouse, East West Players, Lodeston Theatre Ensemble, Circle X, and Fremont Centre Theatre. He is returning for a third year to direct at Sci-Fest, the Los Angeles Science Fiction One Act Play Festival.


Madeline Sayet
Madeline Sayet

Sayet is from Norwich, Conn., and she is the resident director at Amerinda (American Indian Artists) and a PhD candidate at the Shakespeare Institute in Stratford-Upon-Avon, U.K. She’s a Van Lier directing fellow at Second Stage Theatre, and her work has been seen at Glimmerglass, Culture Project, Joe’s Pub, Here Arts Center, and 59E59.


M. Graham Smith

Smith is a San Francisco-based director, educator, and producer. He teaches at American Conservatory Theater’s actor training program and is the director of movement and voice at the Meisner program in Barcelona. His work has been seen at Aurora Theatre, Crowded Fire, Cutting Ball, EXIT Theatre, Playground, Berkeley Playhouse, Golden Thread, Shotgun Players, and New Conservatory.

In addition to Goldberg, the selection committee included playwright Deb Zoe Laufer, artistic director of Phoenix Theater Bryan Fonseca, executive director of the NNPN Nan Barnett, director of the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival Gregg Henry, scenic and costume designer Arnulfo Maldonado, and director Lucie Tiberghien.

In addition to the fellows, there were also nine finalists for the fellowship: Jessica Bird, Sash Bischoff, Joshua William Gelb, Lori Wolter Hudson, Marlo Hunter, Jonathan Muñoz-Proulx, Colette Robert, Gregg Wiggans, and Daniel Winerman.

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