ALLEGIANCE Director Stafford Arima and Observer Makiko Shibuya

SDCF Observership Program

Applications for 2016-2017 are now closed.

The Observership Program provides early to mid-career directors and choreographers paid opportunities to observe the work of master directors and choreographers as they create productions on Broadway, Off-Broadway and at leading regional theatres across the country. SDCF Observers may have access to the entire rehearsal process from first rehearsal through opening night.  Observers will have the invaluable opportunity to observe first-hand the techniques, disciplines, approaches and insights of master artists as they create new productions and revive classics.  In addition to Observership opportunities provided through SDCF, members of the Observership class are also eligible to apply for the Kurt Weill Fellowship and the Shepard and Mildred Traube Fellowship.

Master artists in 2015-2016 included Lear deBessonet, Lorin Latarro, Emily Mann, Staffford Arima, Andy Blankenbuehler, Eric Schaeffer, Sheldon Epps, Laurence Connor, Kwame Kwei-Armah, Anne Kauffman, Matt August, Matt Gardiner, Karen Azenberg, Davis McCallum, Susan Stroman, Marcia Milgrom Dodge, Tracy Brigden, Neel Keller, Timothy Douglas, Michael Grandage, Thomas Kail, Leah Gardiner, and Chay Yew.

Each Annual Observership Class is vetted through evaluation by seasoned theatre professionals.  While members of the Observership class are not guaranteed placement on a production, they will be invited to participate in other SDCF programs and special events throughout the year, including special Observership Class networking events, all of which are free of charge.

APPLY: Applications to the 2017-2018 Observership program will be available in Spring 2017. There is a $25 application fee. Current SDC Members and Associates may apply for free — fee waiver information will be supplied upon submission of your application.

STIPEND: Each Observership opportunity offers Observers a weekly stipend of $250 and a project travel stipend. In addition, any Observer who is not already a Member of SDC will be awarded a free one-year SDC Associate Membership.

I only wish every director could be presented with the experience I had.  I thank you from the bottom of my heart for the huge leap I have taken in my personal artistic development because of this experience.– Observer Javier Molina

SDCF’s Observership Program is made possible by generous support from the National Endowment for the Arts, New York State Council of the Arts, Stage Directors and Choreographers Society, and many generous individuals and corporations.

Congratulations to the 2015-2016 Observership Class!

NJ Agwuna
Adrian Alea
Chari Arespachochaga
Marc Atkinson
Lila Becker
Paul Bedard
Jenny Bennett
Amanda Black
Rachel Black Spaulding
James Blaszko
Sophie Blumberg
Keith Bolden
Adrienne Boris
Ryan Bruce
Courtney Buchan
Lyndsay Burch
Christopher Burris
Devon Caraway
Elizabeth Carlson
Amy Castro
Kristy Chambrelli
Tyler Christie
Leonardo Cirigliano
Molly Clancy
Tania Coambs
Coral Cohen
Amanda Connors
Dennis Corsi

Evan Cummings
Jennifer Curfman
Mel Day
Jennifer Delac
Nicole Dominguez
Marc Eardley
Sarah Ewing
Phillip Fazio
Dionne Figgins
Ezzell Floranina
Genevieve Fowler
Kevin Fulton
Dianna Garten
Sanaz Ghajarrahimi
Morgan Gould
Flannery Gregg
David Gutierrez
Alexandra Harbold
Alex Hare
Rachael Harrington
Yasufumi Ishida
Kate Jaworski
Candis Jones
Lorna Jordan
Amy Kaissar
Andrew Karl
Alexandra Keegan
Linda Kerns

Brooke Kiener
Tara Kromer
Peter Kuo
Lynn Lammers
Michael Landman
Oscar Lopez
Anna Loyd Bradshaw
Jusin Lucero
Sarah Lucier
Ashley Marinaccio
Alma Martinez
Rebecca Martinez
Cailey McCandless
Charlie Marie McGrath
Emily Mendelsohn
Eric Mercado
Megan Minutillo
Alison Moritz
Aleesha Nash
Jae Noh
Polly Noonan
Kelly O'Donnell
Alex Perez
Laura Pietropinto
Hutch Pimentel
Angela Pirko
Brandon Powers
Alfonso Ramirez

Cait Robinson
Lindsey Samples
Michael Scholar
Kristan Seemel
Courtney Self
Makiko Shibuya
Kensaku Shinohara
Kevin Shotwell
Daniel Smith
Matthew Soson
Ian Stewart
Anna Strasser
Will Taylor
Kelly Teaford
Keith Thompson
Jacqueline Thompson
Julie Tomaino
Yara Travieso
Evan Tsitsias
Amy Vaught
Anne Vick
Leigh Walter
Emma Watt
Emma Went
Andrew Williams
Amile Wilson
Diana Wyenn
Katelin Zelon


I only wish every director could be presented with the experience I had.  I thank you from the bottom of my heart for the huge leap I have taken in my personal artistic development because of this experience.

Javier Molina, Observer

My fellowship experience was nothing short of extraordinary. While there were, indeed, specific musical and arena-style directorial techniques I acquired in the course of the process too numerous to remark upon in this brief report, I truly believe the greatest value of the fellowship had everything to do with my interaction with Artistic Director, Molly Smith.

Robert Barry Fleming, Abbott Fellow

There is no criticism I could possibly make of the SDCF Observership Program.  It provided me with an unmatchable set of circumstances where I could not only witness a master (Susan Stroman) in the field I’m embarking upon, but also learn from a bevy of other aspects of the craft I did not foresee. My experience was, in short, life-changing.

Courtney Self, Observer

Though I am no stranger to working on a new Broadway production from the very beginning of its creation, George (Wolfe) has an original formula and personal style that is all his alone.  Week one was spent entirely at the table reading the script!!  This was very alarming to me, but George seemed completely in charge and at ease.   As week two began, however, the payoff from all the reads and conversations was enormous.  The actors on their feet had such power of information in their beings that playing off each other and following George’s blocking instructions was simple.  A very new and insightful way of approaching material, one that I had never seen or experienced before.

Tome’ Cousin, Ockrent Fellow

Structured mentorship of this kind – working independently and with direct feedback – is the strongest way for me to hone my skills and continue to grow as an artist, and I couldn’t have designed or asked for a better opportunity than the one I had.  Working with Sharon (Ott) taught me several thousand more of the hundred thousand things you can only learn by doing.

Andy Ottoson, Observer

This gave me the necessary reminder to keep pursuing the kind of work I value.  I was reminded that a passion for the impossible onstage and a love for virtuosic play can come together fruitfully to tell an engaging story in the form of a singular live event inclusive of its audience.

Mia Rovegno, Observer

Watching Leigh (Silverman) work did many things for me:  it inspired me to be a better director, it validated certain aspects of my directing style that I might have questioned before, it taught me restraint, it taught me to be an amazing listener.  It gave me the encouragement I needed to forge ahead.

Kenny Howard, Observer

I learned from Sam Gold that what you don't say as a director can often be just as important as what you do say. I learned the value of not just identifying truth in an older text as it relates to us now, but the way in which we manifest that truth through the actor's understanding of their craft—simple but vital things like pace and hitting rhythms. All of this knowledge has enhanced my artistic growth, and improved my directing craft.

Jenna Worsham, Observer

SDCF Observership Video dir. by Jonathon Musser