National Directors Fellowship

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A five-year joint initiative, NDF fast-tracks the professional experience of 25 emerging stage directors and propels the advancement of new plays.

The program is 18 months of hands-on, practical experience. It connects early-career directors to a vast network of new writers, expands access to professional support services, and provides laboratory-like environments 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.

Key Fellowship Dates:  (Jul. 2018 - Dec. 2019)

  • Jul. 21-26: Orientation Week; National Playwrights Conference & Workshops

  • Jul. 28 - Aug. 5: Attend Kennedy Center and NNPN MFA Workshop; Meetings with the Kennedy Center,  NNPN, and D.C. theaters

  • Dec. 7-9: Attend NNPN National Showcase of New Plays

  • Jan. 2019: O’Neill Winter Symposium (10-12 days TBD)

  • Jul.-Dec. 2019: NNPN Member Theater Directing - Professional Hire (dates vary)

Applications for the 2018 Fellowship are closed.

Email for additional information about the program and application.



Who is eligible to apply?

The Fellowship is designed for early career directors – whether actively assisting or transitioning into the field – aspiring toward a mainstage directing debut and demonstrating heightened interest in new work.  ​This fellowship is commit​ed​ to including diverse people, ideas, cultures and traditions​: ​​directors of all races, gender identities, sexuality, ability, and geography are encouraged to apply.

We do require that applicants have at least one directing credit. This credit should be outside an educational setting. 

Who is the ideal candidate?

The ideal candidates are emerging directors who have demonstrated a commitment to new play development and a passion for supporting the work of contemporary, living playwrights. These directors have established a themselves within a specific theater community and are seeking to expand their impact- geographically by working in other regions, socially by expanding their collaborator and playwright network, or by transitioning away from assisting and receiving more opportunities to direct new work. These candidates are keenly aware of the skill sets required of a director and have identified and are seeking improvement in the areas in which they need more exposure and expertise, such as working with actors and designers, the audition process, or interacting with literary managers, casting directors, or even commercial producers.

Do I need to have a masters degree?

No advanced training, certification, or degree is required for application.

What am I responsible for, if selected?

If selected, Fellows must commit to availability for during the workshops and residencies listed above.  Fellows will receive stipends for travel to each location, and will be provided with housing and meals, and paid for their final element with a NNPN theater as a director.

Will I get to choose the theater I’ll be directing for? The play?

Selection of theater and plays will be aligned and in consultation with Fellows’ goals, and subject to participation of NNPN theaters.

What is the application process?
There is no fee to apply. Nominations are not required to apply. Applications for 2018 Fellowships welcomed January 22 at 9am (Eastern) - January 26 at 6pm (Eastern), 2018.   Applicants will be asked to submit a bio, resume, Artistic Goals & Objectives Statement, one letter of recommendation, and three references.

What is the selection process like?

A National Steering Committee reviews materials of ten finalists, conducts interviews in April, and notifies Fellows in early May.  The steering committee consists of Wendy C. Goldberg, Artistic Director, National Playwrights Conference;  Preston Whiteway, O’Neill Executive Director; Aislinn Frantz, O’Neill Associate Producer; Lexy Leuszler, O’Neill Literary Manager; Gregg Henry, Artistic Director, Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival; Nan Barnett, NNPN Executive Director; and Laura Penn, SDCF Executive Director.