CHICAGO: Victory Gardens Theater has named the 2019-20 assistant directors for its Directors Inclusion Initiative. This year’s directors include Alexander (Lex) Turner, Lanise Antoine Shelley, Christina Casano, Jeremy Ohringer, and Aliza Feder.
Established in the 2015-16 season, the Directors Inclusion Initiative supports stage directors identifying as disabled, women, transgender, gender non-conforming, and people of color. The directors will serve as assistant directors for shows throughout the company’s season.
“We’re very excited to continue the mentorship of emerging female and LGBTQIA directors, directors of color and of disability through Victory Gardens’ Directors Inclusion Initiative now in its fourth year,” said artistic director Chay Yew in a statement. “Many directors of color and I would have welcomed such an opportunity when we first started out in the field. I’m glad to be in a position to open this door to our next generation of directors.”
Turner (Tiny Beautiful Things) is a queer and trans director and administrator based in Chicago. He graduated from the University of Chicago in 2017 with a degree in Theater and Performance Studies and Classical Studies. He recently served as assistant to the director on How to Defend Yourself at the Humana Festival at Actors Theatre of Louisville. Lex is passionate about (in no specific order): really good comedy, using theatre to amplify the voices of the unheard, and his cat Pinto Bean. He is dedicated to diversity, inclusion, and accessibility in the arts.
Shelley (The First Deep Breath) is an actress, director, and painter. Selected assistant directing credits include the world premiere of Plantation (Lookingglass Theatre), Nell Gwynn (Chicago Shakespeare), and Snow Queen (American Repertory Theater, assistant director & choreographer). Shelley has also worked as a director with 16th St. Theater (also as a movement consultant), with Lookingglass Theatre’s Summer Lab, and directed a staged reading at Stratford Shakespeare Festival. She has studied abroad six times and holds a BFA in Directing, Acting, and Playwriting from Cornish College of the Arts and an MFA from ART/MXAT at Harvard University. She also holds a certificate in Classical Theatre from BADA in Oxford, England, and was a Stratford Shakespeare Festival’s Chicago Fellow 2016.
Casano (How To Defend Yourself) is a theatre artist based in Chicago, focused on directing and acting, with an interest in developing new work. She earned a BA in Theatre from Miami University and completed the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey’s Summer Professional Training Program. Recent directing credits include: The Living Newspaper Festival (Jackalope Theatre), New World Play Festival (Nothing Without A Company), Beyond the Curtain Festival (Theatre Evolve) and a staged reading of Richard III (Stone Soup Shakespeare). She has also assistant directed Bury Me (Dandelion Theatre), The Light Fantastic (Jackalope Theater) and Ulysses (The Plagarists). Next spring, she will direct the world premiere of Poison by Dusty Wilson with the Plagarists, where she also serves as the literary manager.
Ohringer (Dhaba On Devon Ave) is a director and teaching artist. He recently earned his MFA in Theatre Directing from Boston University, where his projects included Horizon Line, Angels In America: Perestroika, and Brecht’s Mother Courage and Her Children. Chicago directing credits include: Milkwhite (the Kinematics), Sad Songs For Bad People (co-director, Rough House Theater), Salve Regina: A Coming of Gay Story (Center on Halsted/Ringwald Theater), Who Rowed Across Oceans (Lost Compass/Edinburgh Fringe Festival), and a new adaptation of Frank Wedekind’s Spring Awakening with Fearless Theater. As a teaching artist, he has worked with Steppenwolf, Chicago Youth Shakespeare, and Open Books, among others.
Feder (The Right To Be Forgotten) is a Chicago-based director, writer, and makeup artist. She was previously the artistic director of Fermat’s Last Theater Company in Madison, Wisc., where she last adapted and directed Miss Julie. Assistant directing credits include The Night Season (Strawdog), The Recommendation (Windy City Playhouse), Neighborhood 3: Requisition of Doom (the Bower Theatre Ensemble, AD & Gore/SFX), Slipper Tongue (Violet Surprise: A FemSlash Festival), Ligabue, part of the Storefront Project at the Museum of Contemporary Art, and Medusa, an internationally devised project with Pop Magic Productions and Global Hive Laboratories. She was the script supervisor and gore/SFX designer for Masque Macabre (Strawdog Theater) and is an ensemble member of the Bower Theatre Ensemble.