First Stage Residency

The First Stage Residency program will be discontinued in 2020.  Information about the 2020 Next Stage Residencies, which will continue, will be available in Summer 2019.


Supporting directors at the very beginning of a new project, the FIRST STAGE RESIDENCY provides creative and contemplative space for an initial exploration or investigation of an idea, concept, and/or early pages for a new play, musical, performance piece, or devised work.  

The piece should not have been previously workshopped or developed elsewhere. (If your project has been developed elsewhere already, we recommend you consider the NEXT STAGE RESIDENCY instead.) The First Stage Residency may not include a public performance, reading, or open rehearsal.

The FIRST STAGE RESIDENCY includes 10 hours for rehearsal and experimentation in the Stewart F. Lane/Bonnie Comley Studio Lab at The Drama League Theater Center in Tribeca.

If you have questions about which residency is most appropriate for your project, please call (212) 244-9494 to discuss options in depth.  We are happy to speak with you!





Jaclyn Biskup

Jaclyn Biskup is a director and producer working in theatre, television, and film. She is the recipient of an Emmy and Peabody nomination for her work on the digital series "The Secret Life Of Muslims," and currently works as an associate producer at New Ohio Theatre. She assisted Tony Award-winning director Anna Shapiro on the Broadway debut of Straight White Men by Young Jean Lee (Second Stage at the Helen Hayes). Her work in the theatre spans nearly two decades. As the founding artistic director of The Mill, she has directed and produced over 20 productions including the Chicago premieres of Venus by Suzan-Lori Parks and The Private Lives Of Eskimos (Or 16 Words For Snow) by Ken Urban. In NYC, work directed includes Worse Than Tigers by Mark Christler, Nicholas, Maeve, Marianne by Matthew Stephen Smith (one of Indie Theatre Now's 20 Best of NYC Fringe), Hot Steams by Zach Wegner, and It's Just Weird Now by Halley Feiffer, Days Of Rage by Hyeyoung Kim and Shoshana Greenberg. Her work has been seen at New Ohio Theatre, MCC, Rattlestick, Dixon Place, Town Stages, and the NYC International Fringe. She has assisted on productions at Steppenwolf, The Public, and The American Musical Theatre Workshop. She has worked on digital projects for PBS NOVA, Delta Air Lines, Caltech, Harvard, and others and holds a BA in Theater from Northern Illinois University and an MFA in Directing and Theatrical Production from Northwestern University.

Heedless Hungry Lovesick is a romantic epic charting 11 years in the lives of 9 characters as they journey through young adulthood in an unstable country headed toward revolution. Through a script incorporating sharp humor, lyricism, protest, and the occasional song, the play seeks to discover how youthful passion survives—if at all—the trials of growing up in a perilous world. Originally written with the Flea Theater’s Bats Ensemble in mind, Heedless…is a play meant to showcase the passion and enthusiasm of young performers and place it in an explicitly political context. Though it takes as inspiration the 1905 Russian Revolution and anachronistically borrows from periods throughout the 20thand 21stcenturies, it is peopled with vibrant, contemporary characters that speak in and to the present. The play has reached a polished first draft having received initial development support from theater makers Deborah Zoe Laufer and Ed Iskandar, and an initial reading produced and moderated by myself.


Nathaniel Claridad

NYC: The Trojan Women (Oppressed in Heels), July House (NYC Fringe 2015), Man.Kind (Working Theater), The Breasts of Tiresias (Peculiar Works Project); work with The One Minute Play Festival and ShakesBEER; with Wagon Wheel Arts: Triassic Parq, Dustin Lance Black's "8" featuring Jose Llana and Gavin Creel (Co-producer/A.D., PlayMakers Repertory Company, UNC - Chapel Hill); the annual benefit event Broadway Twisted (Co-producer/Director). Regionally: Our Town (A.D., Two River Theatre), It's A Wonderful Life (A.D., PlayMakers Repertory Company).  For UNC: Eurydice, Tender Napalm, Shakespeare's R & J. As actor highlights include: Here Lies Love (The Public Theater), Taylor Mac's 24 Hour Decade History of Popular Music; The Awesome 80’s Prom; with regional work at The Kennedy Center, PlayMakers Repertory Company, Folger Theatre, Shakespeare Theatre Company, Cape Fear, Imagination Stage, Hangar Theatre, Barrington Stage, Florida Studio Theatre. Other: The Civilians Field and Research Team and Drama League Residency, 2016; MFA: UNC, Chapel Hill.

The Untitled Filipino-American Project explores what identity means to the Filipino-American. Caught between the Philippines (a country rich in indigenous history as well as colonization) and America (a country that, for many Filipinos offered a promise of a better future in exchange for assimilation), where do find ourselves in the tapestry of history and country? By using interviews conducted by the research team, found text, song and dance, The Untitled Filipino-American Project seeks to unveil what it means to be the children of immigrants from a country that is as beautiful as it is complicated. 

Collaborators: Marissa Carpio, Jasmin Malave


Tom Costello

Tom Costello is aNew York-based director from Ithaca, NY. He is the Associate Artistic Director of Pipeline Theatre Company and administers its PlayLab, a residency for new work of unbridled imagination. He is an Associate Artist at the Flea Theater where he directed the world premieres of Smoke ​​by Kim Davies and ​​The Wundelsteipen (and other difficult roles for young people) ​​by Nick Jones. He is the Artistic Director of the Atlantic Acting School's alumni program where he is also a faculty member. Tom is a proud graduate of the BFA program at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and a 2017 Drama League Directing Fellow.

My Brother's Better At Love Than Me: The relationship between a woman and her autistic brother are told through the parallel stories of each of their romantic lives. A look at how someone on the autism spectrum who is ostensibly "bad at empathy" can be better at love than someone more neurotypical.

Collaborators: Lily Houghton, playwright; Henry Houghton, actor


Pete Danelski

Pete Danelski is a DC-based theatre maker, director and writer. He has performed and directed at theatres across Philadelphia, New York and Washington, DC. Recent directing credits include Folger Theatre, Post Shift, Rorschach and Theatre J. Pete’s research and writing has been shared internationally, most recently published in Shakespeare, the journal of the British Shakespeare Association. He has written and developed several new plays with his writing partner Megan Diehl, including an adaptation of the Karel and Josef Čapek’s Adam the Creator, which will receive a reading at the Embassy of the Czech Republic in spring 2019. Additionally, Pete serves as Operations and Business Associate with CulturalDC, managing Source Theatre in Washington, DC. Pete holds degrees from DeSales University and Trinity College Dublin. www.petedanelski.com.

Every Hour/Chekhov in 8: Over nine years Anton Chekhov watched his brother succumb to TB, lived in a penal colony, found a humiliating start as a playwright — all in the shadow of his own fatal disease. Personal correspondences from these years open a window into Chekhov’s own positive life view and its inextricable relationship with death and creativity, ultimately asking how each factor into an artist’s life. Part verbatim play, part experiment, Every Hour/Chekhov in 8 uses Chekhov’s words to displace his identity and ideas. The play enlarges the artistic conversation and explodes the context in which the 20th century framed “creative genius.”

Collaborators: McLean Fletcher, Victoria Gruenberg, Andrew Goebel


Melody Erfani 

Melody Erfani is a NYC-based theatre director specializing in creating, new works, and classical adaptations. Originally from Dallas, Texas, raised in an Iranian-American family within a diverse community, her fascination with other people’s cultures and customs was sparked from birth. She founded Lower East Side Shakespeare Co., a non-profit theatre company in 2014 and has been Artistic Director there for five years. She has a M.F.A in Directing from the Actors Studio Drama School and was a participant of 2013 Lincoln Center Director's Lab. She graduated with a B.F.A. in Theatre Arts during which she procured an internship with Shakespeare's Globe Theatre in London. Favorite credits: Bee (Creator and Director), Antigone, R+J (LES Shakespeare), 97 Orchard St. (Creator/Director), All an Act (The Edinburgh Fringe Festival), Dying City, Raised in Captivity (ASDS Repertory), Our Town, The Importance of Being Earnest (Stagedoor Manor, NY).

Jefferson's Slaves (working title) is based on the true story of Joseph and Edith Fossett's life. Following Thomas Jefferson's death in 1826, Joseph Fossett became a free man, one of five persons freed from slavery by the terms of Jefferson's will. However, his wife Edith and their 10 children were put up for sale with the rest of Jefferson's "belongings" to pay off his incredible debt. The play follows their amazing journey that displays their strength of will, the testament to family and daring rescues.


Alisha Espinosa

Alisha Espinosa is an Afro-Boricua storyteller, who specializes in acting and playwriting, and an aerialist in training at The Muse Brooklyn. She recently participated in New York Shakespeare Exchange’s inaugural Diversity Cohort and her pieces have been produced by Step1 Theater Project (NYC). Recent Acting Credits include American Tales (Stage One), Hamlet (KY Shakespeare), Shakespeare: The Remix (Capital Rep), Much Ado About Nothing (KY Shakespeare).

Prison Tongues is a feminist, contemporary adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing and Hamlet, which juxtaposes the plays themselves with contemporary characters in order to expose and reclaim the "minor" female characters, namely Hero and Ophelia. It circumvents traditional structure by weaving contemporary adaptations with a secondary story-line about how actresses in Shakespeare companies grapple with the baggage of these iconic characters while staying true to themselves and their womanhood.

Principal Collaborator: Nathaniel P. Claridad



Sarah Hughes

Sarah Hughes is a director and producer of theater and new media. She’s developed new plays, devised works, and immersive installations with Eliza Bent, MJ Kaufman, Julia May Jonas, McFeely Sam Goodman, Sibyl Kempson, Graham Sack, Geoff Sobelle and others. Sarah worked with Elevator Repair Service from 2007-14, assistant directing Gatz, The Select, Arguendo, Shuffle, and Fondly, Collette Richland off-Broadway and on tour, and was Co-Artistic Producer of Target Margin Theater from 2015-17. Visiting Lecturer at Dartmouth College, New Georges 2018 Audrey Resident, 2016-17 Civilians R&D Lab, 2017-18 Clubbed Thumb Directing Fellow, 2018-2020 WP Theater Directors Lab.

The Light at the End of the Tunnel is a three-act semi-devised musical about everyone’s least favorite mode of transportation: the MTA. In July while riding a slow F train Eliza Bent read a New Yorker article, “Can Andy Byford Save the MTA?”, which she immediately began adapting into a musical. Initial text and music was co-devised with teens in a class Eliza taught at Abrons’ Urban Youth Theatre. The MTA’s story touches on many big things: failing technology, intrigues of history, the inner machinations of our great city. At the center of it all is Andy Byford—an outsider passionate about mass transportation with the cards stacked against him. Meanwhile, there are disgruntled employees, angry passengers, a fascinating history that’s contributed to our current transit mess, and a political morass featuring Mayor DeBlasio and Governor Cuomo that is operatic in its municipal tragedy scope.


Rachel Karp

Rachel Karp makes work about politics and public policy. She has developed and directed new work through Ars Nova, Mabou Mines, Incubator Arts Project, Actors Theatre of Louisville, The Flea, IRT, Dixon Place, Women Center Stage, SPACE on Ryder Farm, Barn Arts, the Powerhouse and Samuel French Festivals, and Columbia University's graduate and undergraduate schools. Rachel has been a Resident Artist at Mabou Mines, a Resident Director at The Flea, a Directing Intern at Actors Theatre of Louisville, and is a member of the Lincoln Center Theater Directors Lab. Currently at Carnegie Mellon University, Rachel is a John Wells Directing Fellow, MFA expected 2019, and a Milton and Cynthia Friedman Fellow, through which she spent Summer 2018 working at a policy research institute in Washington, DC. www.rachelkarp.com

Packing and Cracking: Should voters choose their politicians, or should politicians choose their voters? Packing and Cracking is a multimedia mapmaking event that exposes the ubiquity of the latter: politicians using their power to draw district lines in their favor, through a widespread process known as gerrymandering. Set on a theater-sized map of one gerrymandered state with the audience arranged across it, Packing and Cracking draws and redraws maps around audience members in real time, utilizing the software most often used to gerrymander, showing how easy gerrymandering is, and asking what, if anything, we should do about it.

Collaborator: Joseph Amodei


Ashley Marinaccio

Ashley “Ash” Marinaccio is a theatre artist and scholar who creates work to challenge the status quo. She is dedicated to documenting the socio-political issues that define our times. As a director and playwright, her work has been seen off-Broadway, at the White House, United Nations, TED conferences across the United States, Europe and Asia. Currently, Ash is working on her Ph.D. in theatre and performance at the CUNY Graduate Center, where her work focuses on theatre in areas of war and conflict. Ash is the founding Artistic Director of the theatre company and United Nations NGO Girl Be Heard, where she received numerous accolades, including LPTW’s Lucille Lortel Visionary Award. She is a co-founder/director of Co-Op Theatre East, member of the Civilians Field Research Team, and creator of the "Stage Left," a new web series. Ash is a faculty member at Pace University and Hunter College. Learn more: ashleymarinaccio.com.

Antigone (at the border) is a one-woman production of the classic Antigone set in a detention facility on the United States/Mexico border. This new adaptation incorporates testimonies from refugees fleeing Central America into the Greek tragedy. 

Principal Collaborator: Dominique Fishback, actor


Emma Rosa Went 

Emma Rosa Went is a New-York based theatre director who has developed and presented work at The Tank, The Brick, Playwrights Realm, Dixon Place, Theater Row, the Access Theatre, LPAC Lab, Center at West Park, Trans Lab @ WP, and many other venues. Regional includes: Scranton Shakespeare Festival, Boise Contemporary Theatre, Barn Arts Collective. Co-founder of The Renovationists, for whom she has directed Old Names for Wildflowers, Three Seconds, Boxcar, and other projects. Co-founder of Easy Leap Theatre Company, for whom she directed Much Ado About Nothing, The Changeling, Hearts of Gold, Othello, and Love's Labors Lost. Off-broadway and regional assisting includes TFANA, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Atlantic, Rattlestick, Colorado Shakespeare Festival. Emma is an alumna of the OSF FAIR Program and the SDCF Observership Program. SDC Associate Member. Upcoming in 2019: Courage! To the Field! (The Tank;) Initiative (Ink'd Festival, Playwrights Realm;) Richard III (Scranton Shakespeare Festival.) www.emmawent.com

The Same Shirt Show Part 2, Beckett Without Beckett: 'An Exploration of Masculinity and Existentialism Inspired by the Themes and Works of Beckett, but Containing No Actual Beckett, We Swear'  is part vaudevillian double-act, part existential cry for help, and part genuine exploration of gender, camaraderie, and loneliness. Sequel to The Same Shirt Show: 'An Exploration of Masculinity in the Western Canon, As Performed by Two Women Wearing the Same Shirt,' Beckett Without Beckett is devised by Emma Rosa Went, Julia Larsen, and Olivia Rose Barresi.

Two women. One blue XXXXL polo-shirt. Not a road. Not a tree. Not evening.