THE MORE THINGS CHANGE
Shifting the Narrative on Who Gets to Lead
Large nonprofit theatres across the U.S. are experiencing a sea change of transition in their artistic leadership posts. Today, only about 25% of those posts are held by women, and fewer still by people of color. What are the root causes from a practicing artist standpoint? How will the theatre industry move beyond just planning for diversity, equity, and inclusion, towards implementation of these values? And when will it be reflected in the field’s highest and most prominent positions? Join SDCF Executive Director David Roberts as he sits down with director Liesl Tommy and artistic producer Stephanie Ybarra as they explore the intersections of women, people of color, and leadership in American theatre and discuss how they are actively changing the game. This One-on-One is presented in association with Dramatists Guild of America.
LIESL TOMMY is a Tony-nominated and Obie/Lortel award-winning director whose recent Broadway production of Danai Gurira’s Eclipsed starring Lupita Nyong’o garnered 6 Tony® nominations. Liesl made history as the first woman of color ever to be nominated for the Tony® award for Best Director of a Play. She also recently made her TV directorial debut with Ava Duvernay’s show “Queen Sugar” on Oprah’s network OWN. Off-Broadway credits include: Vineyard Theatre/Signature Theatre (VA): Kid Victory; Public Theater: Eclipsed, Party People, The Good Negro; Signature Theatre: Appropriate (Obie Award). Liesl has also directed Disney’s Frozen LIVE at the Hyperion Theater as well as various productions at Canadian Stage, Luminato Festival, Huntington Theater, LA Jolla Theater, Woolly Mammoth, Baltimore Center Stage, Dallas Theater Center, OSF, Berkeley Repertory, Shakespeare Theater, CATF, Yale Repertory, California Shakespeare Theater, La Jolla Playhouse, and Trinity Repertory. Awards include: Obie Award; Lucille Lortel Award; The Lee Reynolds Award; Pioneer of the Arts Award; Lillian Hellman Award; Alan Schneider Award; NEA/TCG Directors Grant; and the inaugural Susan Stroman Award from the Vineyard Theatre. Liesl is a Program Associate at The Sundance Institute and Associate Artist at Berkeley Repertory. Liesl is a proud native of Cape Town South Africa.
STEPHANIE YBARRA is an artistic producer currently putting her skills to work as Director of Special Artistic Projects at The Public Theater, where she leads the Mobile Unit and Public Forum programs. Additionally, Stephanie serves as the Producer’s Lab Liaison for the WP Theater, and as Curator and Casting Director for Two River Theater’s Crossing Border’s Festival of Latinx plays. She has served as Producing Director for Playwrights Realm and Producing Artistic Director for the Cherry Lane Theater’s Mentor Project. Her awards include the inaugural Producer’s Chair Award from the Foundry Theatre, the Josephine Abady Award for producing from New York’s League of Professional Theatre Women, the Congressional Award for Achievement in Excellence from Zara Aina, an international nonprofit dedicated to community-engaged artmaking. Stephanie holds an MFA from Yale School of Drama, and a deep belief in the power of the post-it note.