Welcome new Directors Project Fellows

April 17, 2014 / The Directors Project names the Class of 2014


We are proud to announce the exceptional stage directors who have been selected as the 2014 Fellows of The Drama League Directors ProjectZi Alikhan, Melissa Crespo, John Michael DiResta, Ellie Heyman, Lavina Jadhwani, Michael Leibenluft, Michael Osinki, Hannah Ryan, Teya Sugareva, Caitlin Sullivan, and Emma Weinstein.

The eleven recipients, who will spend the next year as part of the award-winning program, have been accepted into four different programs of study: New York Directing Program, the Hangar Directing Program (a partnership with the Hangar Theatre in Ithaca, NY), the Musical Directing Program (a partnership with Barrington Stage Company in Pittsfield, MA), and the Classical Directing Program (a partnership with Shakespeare & Company in Lenox, MA).

“This year we received the highest number of applications in our history. I am delighted with the extraordinary group of directors who constitute of Class of 2014, and I look forward to working with all of them,” said Artistic Director Roger T. Danforth.

“The Drama League Directors Project kicks off its fourth decade with a vastly expanded Class of 2014 – eleven fellowship recipients in four programs, ten artists-in-residence developing new plays and musicals, and six new developmental projects in our Rough Draft series,” remarked Executive Director Gabriel Shanks.  “I couldn’t be more proud to present these talented artists to the larger community, and to watch them take the next steps in their career development.”

The Fellowships will begin on May 12th with Professionals Week, where they will meet industry luminaries, attend Broadway and Off-Broadway productions, and start their developmental training.  They will be publicly introduced to the professional theatre community during the 80th Annual Drama League Awards Ceremony on Friday, May 16th at the Marriott Marquis Times Square.




An intensive practicum in the artistic life of a regional theatre — fellows experience daily life as both a working director and as an artistic leader at the Hangar Theater in Ithaca, NY.

                Zi Alikhan is a native Californian based in New York City after completing a BFA in Drama from NYU/Tisch.  Zi is the founding Artistic Director of The BASiC Theatre Project, where he has helmed productions of Gross Indecency, The Mistakes Madeline Made, workshops of A Crucible and The Maids. Other NYC credits include N/F (HERE, DUTF Encore Series), The Future Mrs. Harry Windsor (Dixon Place), In the Next Room (WORK Brooklyn), and The Cradle Will Rock (NYU/Tisch).

                Melissa Crespo is a NYC based director/ producer who most recently directed Morningside Opera’s ¡Figaro! (90210).  Selected assisting credits: Sarah Ruhl/Todd Almond's Melancholy Play (13P), Camino Real (NYU), Everyday Rapture and Some Men (Second Stage). Melissa was a Van Lier Fellow at Second Stage, Allen Lee Hughes Fellow at Arena Stage, and is an alumna of The Civilians R&D Group.  MFA in Directing from the New School for Drama.

                John Michael DiResta’s directing credits include The Drunken City (Steppenwolf Garage), La Casa De Schwarz (Judson Church) The Memory Tax (Araca Project), Scenes From the Middle Voice and Favorites (Rising Phoenix), A Crack in the Canvas, Bisexuality is for Teenagers, Watching the Thunder (MCC FreshPlay), Cuddle Wars (Pillow Talk), Back to Society (Abrons Arts Center). John produced the MCC Theater Youth Company from 2007-2010, and is a teaching artist and writer.

                Teya Sugareva is a Sofia-based Bulgarian theatre director, poet and teacher at the National Academy for Theatre and Film Arts (NATFA). Her professional productions include The Miser, Walled in Ones, Welcome, America! and Invitation for Dinner, at companies including Theatre Sofia and the Nikolai Binev Youth Theatre.   She has won several of the most respected Bulgarian theater awards.   She is currently studying for a PhD in the field of modern Bulgarian theatre.

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An immersion for four directors in the myriad directing opportunities available in the professional theatre — both regionally and in New York City.

                Ellie Heyman is a New York City director. Credits: The Traveling Imaginary (Merge Records/Music Tapes National Tour); Oh Liza (Auntie Productions); Be Careful of Words (Helikon Rep); Our Lady (BCAP); Orlando (F&M); Contents May Be Extremely Hot (Phalanx Theater); and The Bar Show (Paper Crane Theatre). Ellie is Creative Director of The Orbiting Human Circus with Julian Koster (Neutral Milk Hotel),  Artistic Director of Helikon Rep, and a graduate of Boston and Northwestern Universities.

                Michael Leibenluft Directing credits: Lost Tribe with Target Margin Theater Lab; The Subtle Body at Dixon Place and the Shanghai Dramatic Arts Center; TREATS at the Bowery Poetry Club; and North Bank Suzhou Creek at the Shanghai Theatre Academy. Directing resident from 2012-2013 at Playwrights Horizons and American Theater Company (Chicago). China Fulbright and SDCF Kurt Weill Fellow; member, 2013 Lincoln Center Director's Lab and The Civilians R&D Group.   B.A. from Yale and M.A. from the Shanghai Theatre Academy.

                Michael Osinski co-founded Flashpoint Theatre Company in Philadelphia, where he served as Producing Artistic Director and directed Caryl Churchill's Far Away, Neil LaBute's autobahn, and four local premieres.  He has directed at the Wilma Theater, Redtwist Theatre, and the Philadelphia GLBT Theatre Festival, and assisted at Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Strawdog Theatre, and the National New Play Network Showcase.  Michael completed his MFA in Directing at The Theatre School at DePaul University.

                Caitlin Sullivan is a Seattle-based director, co-founder and Artistic Director of the Satori Group. Works with Satori include Winky, Fabulous Prizes, and reWilding. She is currently directing Satori's Returning to Albert Joseph and developing The Land is Always Known in collaboration with musical duo The Bengsons. She is the Associate Director of Hundred Days (dir. Anne Kauffman), and also serves as Co-Artistic Director of the Williams College Summer Theater Lab. Caitlin holds a BA from Williams College.

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A two-month immersion in developing and directing new works for the musical theatre as part of the Musical Lab at Barrington Stage Company, under the leadership of Tony-winning composer William Finn.

                Hannah Ryan is directing New York Theatre Workshop’s 2014 Gala honoring Des McAnuff and Michael David. With Point Loma Actors she directed Twelfth Night, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Forced Marriage, Only in New York, Greater Tuna, Polish Joke, and Food for Thought. With Point Loma Opera Theatre she directed Cendrillon and Gianni Schicchi. She assisted Des McAnuff on Billy Crystal 700 Sundays, Fetch Clay, Make Man, Sideways, Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, and A Word or Two. She assisted Christopher Ashley on Chasing the Song, A Dram of Drummhicit and A Midsummer Nights Dream, Sleeping Beauty Wakes with Rebecca Taichman and Nobody Loves You with Michelle Tattenbaum.

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A four-month residency at Shakespeare & Company in Lenox, MA, assisting on mainstage productions and directing in the company’s extensive Shakespeare education program.

                Lavina Jadhwani was named Time Out Chicago’s “Best Next Generation Stage Director.” Her work has been seen at Silk Road Rising (Artistic Associate), Rasaka Theatre Company (Artistic Director, 2007-2013), Apple Tree, Bailiwick, Chicago Dramatists, Oak Park Festival Theatre, Raven Theatre, Remy Bumppo, the side project, Stage Left, Victory Gardens, and others. She received an SDCF Observership, an Illinois Board of Higher Education Fellowship, and three LMDA awards. Proud graduate of Carnegie Mellon; currently pursuing an MFA in Directing at The Theatre School at DePaul University

                Emma Weinstein is a New York-based director whose work has included an immersive re-imagining of Marat/Sade set in a juvenile detention center, Kids on Bikes—a new play about race in Baltimore, Noel Coward’s Private Lives, Roast by Amanda Keating, and Tis of Thee [Devised].  Her production Mom Baby God is currently touring to theatres and festivals across the United States. Emma attended Smith College and the National Theatre Institute at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center.