SDCF awards a number of Fellowships for early-career, mid-career and established artists throughout the year. See below for information about these fellowships, and make sure to sign up for our Opportunities Bulletin to keep up to date with our application deadlines.



Director-choreographer Rachel Goldman has been selected as SDCF’s 2017 Shepard and Mildred Traube Fellow. She will be working with director-choreographer Jerry Mitchell on the pre-production, workshop, and the pre-Broadway try out of the Broadway-bound Pretty Woman.

The Shepard and Mildred Traube Fellowship was established in 1999 in celebration of the 40th anniversary of SDC, and to honor the legacy of Shepard and Mildred Traube. Shepard Traube was one of SDC’s founders and Mildred Traube served for many years as the SDC’s Executive Secretary. The Traube Fellowship supports the development of future Broadway artists by providing early-career directors and choreographers with the opportunity to assist or observer a master director of choreographers at work on a Broadway production.

Traube Fellow Rachel Goldman is a New York based director-choreographer, whose work has been seen across the country and who is a member of SDCF’s 2017-2018 Observership Class. She grew up in Los Angeles, CA, and studied at Los Angeles Ballet Academy, in addition to privately studying voice and acting. In high school, Rachel was given the opportunity to choreograph for the musical productions she was in, and it was there that she discovered her passion for theater choreography. In her time at Webster University, she continued on this path assisting and choreographing over ten theatrical productions. Rachel’s choreography for Jesus Christ Superstar with the Young Artists Ensemble was nominated for the Youth Arts Awards as Best Choreography.


Director Shirley Jo Finney has been selected as SDCF’s 2017 Denham Fellow for her production of Runaway Home by Jeremy Kamps. Runaway Home made its world premiere at The Fountain Theater in Los Angeles, CA, and runs from September 13 – November 5, 2017.

The Denham Fellowship was established by Mary Orr Denham in 2006 with a bequest to SDC Foundation in honor of her late husband, Reginald H. F. Denham. It is an annual cash award given to women directors to further develop their directing skills, and supports a particular proposed project. Past recipients include May Adrales, Tea Alagic, Rachel Alderman, Kathleen Amshoff, Jessi D. Hill, Joanie Schultz, Bridget Leak, Hannah Ryan, and Diane Rodriguez.

Denham Fellow Shirley Jo Finney is an award-winning international director and actress. She has worn her director’s hat in some of the most respected regional theater houses across the country including: The McCarter Theater, The Pasadena Playhouse, The Goodman Theater, Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Cleveland Playhouse, Fountain Theater, LA Theater Works, Crossroads Theater Company, Actors Theatre of Louisville’s Humana Festival, Sundance Theater Workshop, Mark Taper Forum, Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and the State Theater in Pretoria, South Africa. Ms. Finney has received many prestigious awards over the years for her special talent and eye for storytelling and for creating exciting ensembles. Her awards include the L.A. Stage Alliance Ovation Award, The Los Angeles Drama Critics Award, LA Weekly Award, The NAACP Award, and the Santa Barbara Independent Award for her directing work. Finney helmed the acclaimed international all South African Opera entitled Winnie, based on the life of political icon Winnie Mandela. Most recently, Ms. Finney directed and developed the critically acclaimed world premiere of Citizen: An American Lyric by the award-winning PENN poet, Claudia Rankin. Other recent works include Facing Our Truth, The Trayvon Martin Project at the Kirk Douglas Theatre in Los Angeles, the Lark Play Development Center’s rolling world premiere of the road weeps, the well runs dry by Marcus Gardley at the Los Angeles Theater Center, and Tarell Alvin McCraney’s Brother/Sister Plays.

Ms. Finney is also an established television and film director. She has directed several episodes of Moesha and she garnered an international film award for her short film, Remember Me. She was honored with the UCLA Department of Stage, Film and Television’s Distinguished Alumni Award, the Black Alumni Association’s Dr. Beverly Robinson Award for Excellence in the Arts, and The African American Film Marketplace Award of Achievement for Outstanding Performance and Achievement and Leader in Entertainment.

She is an alumnus of the American Film Institute’s Director Workshop for Women, holds an MFA from UCLA , and is a Member of Stage Directors and Choreographers Society, the Directors Guild, and Screen Actors Guild. She has been Artist in Residence at both Columbia College in Chicago and UCSB, and a guest director at at USC and UCLA. Ms. Finney is also an accomplished actress with many television and film credits to her name. She is best known for her portrayal in the historic title role of Wilma Rudolph, the first female 3-time gold medalist in the made – for-TV bio picture Wilma.

The Mike Ockrent Fellowship

Mike Ockrent was a British stage director whose London productions were Once a Catholic, Educating Rita, Passion Play, Follies and Zenobia for the RSC. Ockrent also directed several productions of Me and My Girl, which earned him Olivier, Ivor Novello and Drama Magazine awards. On Broadway, Ockrent’s Me and My Girl was nominated for 13 Tonys and earned him the Drama Desk Award for Best Director. In 1992, Ockrent worked with Susan Stroman on Crazy for You. They were married in 1996 and remained so until Ockrent’s death from leukemia in New York in 1999.

Modeled on SDCF’s prestigious Sir John Gielgud Fellowship in Classical Theatre, the goal of the Mike Ockrent Fellowship is to help early-career directors of promise develop their skills by working with a master director on the creation of a big-budget musical or play. The Fellowship, established in 2001, offers up-and-coming artists a remarkable education in creating theatre on a Broadway scale.

Previous recipients of the Ockrent Fellowship are Cassey Kivnick on Jerry Mitchell’s Gotta Dance, Paula D’Alessandris on Sean Mathias’s No Man’s Land/Waiting for Godot, Alex Lippard on Jeff Calhoun’s Bonnie and Clyde, Tomé Cousin on George C. Wolfe’s A Free Man of Color, Gregg Wiggans on Rob Ashford’s Promises, Promises, Elissa Weinzimmer on Casey Nicholaw’s Minsky’s, Jillian Loyas on Bob Avian’s A Chorus Line, and Benjamin Kline on Scott Elliott‘s Barefoot in the Park.

The Sir John Gielgud Fellowship

In 1996 this Fellowship originated from a generous contribution from Sir John Gielgud to provide opportunities for early career directors to study the artistic processes of master directors of classical plays. Past recipients include Chika Ike, Tlaloc Rivas, Tyne Rafaeli, Desdemona Chiang, Elyzabeth Gorman, Saheem Ali, and Susanna Gellert.

The Charles Abbott Fellowship

Established by a wide group of friends and colleagues of Charles Abbott to honor him upon his retirement as Artistic Director of Maine State Music Theatre, the goal of the Charles Abbott Fellowship is to help early-career directors and director-choreographers of promise develop their skills in directing musical theatre by allowing them access to the entire rehearsal process as a master artist directs a classic American musical in a regional theatre of national recognition. This Fellowship will continue to present a new generation of gifted artists with a remarkable education in – and unique understanding of – the directorial skills necessary to create musical theatre, the workings of regional theatre, and the leadership of those artists shaping the regional arts landscape.


Established in 2013 by the Kurt Weill Foundation for Music and SDC Foundation, the Kurt Weill Fellowship helps nurture early-career directors and choreographers by acquainting them with the stage work of Kurt Weill or Marc Blitzstein under the guidance of a master director or choreographer. The Fellowship provides the opportunity to assist or observe a master director or choreographer at work on a production, selected by the Kurt Weill Foundation, of a theatrical work composed by Weill or Blitzstein, including musical theater, opera, operetta, and dance works.

Through these Fellowships, early-career directors and choreographers observe the techniques, approaches and insights of master artists and thereby expand their artistry, enrich leadership and collaboration skills, and further their knowledge of mounting a musical production.  In addition, the Fellows gain greater understanding of Kurt Weill’s and Marc Blitzstein’s theatrical catalogue and an ability to draw on this in future work.

The Kurt Weill Fellowship operates as a component of the SDC Foundation’s Observership Program; as such, only the current season’s Observership candidates are eligible for this Fellowship.