Posted by: Official_Press_Release 01:28 pm EDT 07/30/20


Waterford, CT - The Eugene O'Neill Theater Center, National New Play Network, The Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival, and Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation jointly announce the selection of four directors from a nationwide pool of applicants for the 2020 National Directors Fellowship:

Adam M. Kassim
Kholoud Sawaf
Blayze Teicher
Sharifa Yasmin

Says Wendy C. Goldberg, National Directors Fellowship Program Director, "NDF is a landmark program for the field. Honored with two SDC Awards for our commitment to diversity, and through the work of our partners and additional donors, we have been able to support and advance the professional development of directors interested in the new play landscape. We are happy to introduce these four directors who will become our next generation of storytellers."

In addition to Goldberg, the selection committee included: Nan Barnett (Executive Director, National New Play Network), Estefania Fadul (NDF 2017 Director), Jordana Fraider (National New Play Network), Gregg Henry (Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival), Rebecca Hewett (SDCF), Chandler Smith (Eugene O'Neill Theater Center), Jenna Worsham (NDF 2018 Director).

Fellowships began with a week of virtual programming at the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center. The program is expected to also include workshops, professional development opportunities, and a professional directing opportunity within the wide-ranging network of National New Play Network member theaters.

2020 NDF Fellows

Adam M. Kassim (he/him/his) is a theater director, educator, and arts leader. He has a love for new play development and a passion for exploring stories that bravely investigate the messiness of the human condition. Directing credits include: The Honey Trap and Dead House (Boston Playwrights' Theatre); And Baby Makes Seven (Lincoln Square Theatre); Agamemnon, Mrs. Packard, In the Heart of America, Ghosts, and The Europeans (Boston University School of Theatre). Adam has served as an assistant director at New Repertory Theatre, SpeakEasy Stage, and the Opera Institute at BU. Most recently, Adam had the privilege of collaborating with Kirsten Greenidge on the continued development of her play, Little Row Boat; Or, Conjecture. Upcoming projects: Doubt (New Repertory Theatre, Spring 2021). MFA: Boston University. SDC Associate. www.adamkassim.com

Kholoud Sawaf was born and raised in Damascus, Syria. She has worked and trained in theater and television in Syria, Lebanon, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and the United States. Recent credits include Much Ado About Nothing (Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival, T.Y.A), Vietgone, and 10,000 Balconies (TheatreSquared). 10,000 Balconies was conceived, written, and directed by Ms. Sawaf having received a $250,000 grant from the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art. A recipient of the Classical Directing Fellowship from the Drama League in New York, she collaborated with Tina Packer at Shakespeare & Company on Cymbeline. At the Manhattan Theatre Club (as a Jonathan Alper Directing Fellow) and at Oregon Shakespeare Festival (as part of the FAIR Program), she was the assistant director of Vietgone both under the direction of May Adrales. Currently, she is co-devising and co-directing 'Curbside Theatre' in collaboration with ARKANSASTAGED ensemble, while also collaborating with playwright Joe Claroco and actor/educator Mohamad Al Rifaie on a new work Rafiq (Onley Theatre Center). Kholoud is an associate member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society (SDC), and a member and at the Nhna Cultural Club in Damascus, Syria, (providing artistic, educational, and cultural exchange between Syrian artists). Ms. Sawaf holds an MFA in Directing from the University of Arkansas and a B.A in Mass Communication from The American University of Sharjah.

Blayze Teicher directs Queer, magical, and political stories for theater and film. Select: The Diplomats by Nelson Diaz-Marcano (winner: Best Direction, 2017 Fresh Fruit Festival), The Virtuous Fall… by Gina Femia (The Flea), Moses by Grace Connolly (HERE), The Lonely by Andrew Rincón (reading, Amios), and Trainspotting Live (Resident Director, Off-Broadway). Blayze has developed new work at Musical Theatre Factory, Jewish Plays Project, Pride Plays, New Light Theater Project, among others, and has assisted Schele Williams (ASCAP), Portia Krieger (NYMF, 2ST Uptown), and Sarna Lapine. Her filmmaking has screened at Frameline International, Tribeca, Out on Film, NYTVF, and was nominated for Best Direction at FirstGlance Film Festival for 'Interested In.' 2018-2019 Artistic Associate/Resident Director, The Parsnip Ship. 2020 Drama League Semi-Finalist. 2020-21 National Directors Fellowship at the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center/NNPN. Ring of Keys Member. SDC Associate. B.A. Theatre/Creative Writing, Florida State University. BlayzeTeicher.com

Sharifa Yasmin is a trans Egyptian-American director originally from South Carolina. She has completed directing fellowships with The Drama League, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Manhattan Theatre Club, Geva Theatre, Pure Theatre, and Hypokrit Theatre. Directing Credits include The War Boys by Naomi Wallace, 3:59AM by Marco Ramirez, In The Blood by Suzan-Lori Parks, For Colored

Girls by Ntozake Shange, Next Fall by Geoffrey Nauffts, Harriet Tubman Visits a Therapist by Carolyn Gage, and an LGBTQ+ celebration of Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare. She has assisted directors including Pirronne Yousefzadeh, Steve H. Broadnax III, Saheem Ali, Mark Brokaw, Arpita Mukherjee, and Meredith Mcdonough. Yasmin graduated cum laude from Winthrop University with a B.A. in theatre performance and a minor in sociology. She uses these two areas of study to produce pieces of theater that are not only powerful, but focus on socio economic issues and marginalized communities. www.sharifayasmin.com


About the National Directors Fellowship (NDF):

Founded in 2015, NDF is 18 months of practical, hands-on training, mentorship, and - most importantly - concludes with a professional directing opportunity. It connects directors to a vast network of playwrights and theaters, expands access to professional support services, and provides laboratory-like settings for observation and experimentation, equipping tomorrow's stage directors with the skills, knowledge, and network to advance new play development and production around the country.
Under the leadership of National Playwrights Conference Artistic Director Wendy C. Goldberg, Fellows begin in July of each year, observing and participating in the National Playwrights Conference at the O'Neill Fellows then travel to the MFA Playwrights' Workshop and Directing Intensive in August, led by NNPN and the KCACTF, and the NNPN National Showcase of New Plays in December. In January, they reconvene for an intense two-week Directing Symposium at the O'Neill, and the fellowship concludes with a professional directing opportunity at an NNPN Member theater.

Funding for the National Directors Fellowship provided by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and generous individual supporters.

Eugene O'Neill Theater Center:

The O'Neill is the country's preeminent organization dedicated to the development of new works and new voices for the American theater. Founded in 1964, and named in honor of Eugene O'Neill, four-time Pulitzer Prize-winner and America's only playwright to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. The Launchpad of the American theater, the O'Neill has been home to more than 1,000 new works for the stage and thousands more emerging artists. Scores of projects developed at the O'Neill have gone on to full production at theaters around the world. O'Neill programs include the National Playwrights Conference,

National Music Theater Conference, National Critics Institute, National Puppetry Conference, Cabaret & Performance Conference, and National Theater Institute - which offers six credit-earning undergraduate training programs. In addition, the O'Neill owns and operates the Monte Cristo Cottage as a museum open to the public. The O'Neill is the recipient of two Tony Awards and National Medal of Arts.


National New Play Network is an alliance of professional theaters that collaborate in innovative ways to develop, produce, and extend the life of new plays. Since its founding in 1998, NNPN has supported more than 250 productions nationwide through its innovative National New Play Network Rolling World Premiere program, which provides playwright and production support for new works at its Member theaters. Additional programs - its annual National Conference, National Showcase of New Plays, and MFA Playwrights Workshop; the NNPN Annual and Smith Prize commissions; its residencies for playwrights, producers and directors; and the organization's member accessed Collaboration, Festival, and Travel banks and online information sessions - have helped cement the Network's position as a vital force in the new play landscape. NNPN also strives to pioneer, implement, and disseminate ideas and programs that revolutionize the way theaters collaborate to support new plays and playwrights. Its most recent project, the New Play Exchange, is changing the way playwrights share their work and others discover it by providing immediate access to information on more than 25,000 new plays by living writers. NNPN's 32 Core and over 90 Associate Members - along with the nearly 300 affiliated artists who are its alumni, the thousands of artists and artisans employed annually by its member theaters, and the hundreds of thousands of audience members who see its supported works each year - are creating the new American theater. nnpn.org | newplayexchange.org

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