ALLEGIANCE Director Stafford Arima and Observer Makiko Shibuya

SDCF Observership Program

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 2016-2017 included Kwame Kwei-Armah, Daniel Aukin, Karen Azenberg, Josh Bergasse, Anne Bogart, Joe Calarco, Lear deBessonet, Marcia Milgrom Dodge, Mike Donahue, Timothy Douglas, Spencer Liff, Art Manke, Emily Mann, Robert O’Hara, Carey Perloff, Susan Stroman, Daniel Sullivan, Eric Ting, Liesl Tommy, Daniella Topol, and Christopher Windom,

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 are now CLOSED. 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 2017-2018 Observership Class!


Audrey Alford
Pablo Andrade
Rebecca Aparicio
Heather Arnson
Christina Ashby
Anna Bahow
Claire Bauman
Kate Bergstrom
Barbara Bernardo
Christopher Betts
Lindsy Bissonnette
Nielah Black – Spears
James Blaszko
Rose Bochner
Be Boyd
Eamon Boylan
Eric Brake
Joshua Campbell
Steven Cardona
Jillian Carucci
Kristy Chambrelli
Diego Chiri
Marie Chong
Natalie Clater
Coral Cohen
Darcie Crager
Lena Dabrusin
Scott Davis
Sophia Deery
Eddie DeHais
Jennifer Delac
Will Detlefsen
Ada Dolan – Zalaznick
LeeAnn Dowd
Chelsea Drumel
Adam Dyer
Jocelyn Edelstein
Noa Egozi
Emily England
Aliza Feder
Marian Fields
Rodrigo Desider Fischer
James Fleming
Michael Fling
Pascale Florestal
Scott Fox
Ora Fruchter
Nina Fry
Melissa Gabilanes
Andre Garner

Andrew Garrett
Dianna Garten
Tatiana Gelfand
Rudy Gerson
Callan Gies
Allison Gold
Rachel Goldman
Jamey Grisham
Jasmine Gunter
Claire Hacket
Lily Haje
Darryl Reuben Hall
Blake Harris
Emily Hartford
Brian Hashimoto
Anne Healy
Lee Heinz
Emmi Hilger
Jaye Hunt
Jocelyn Isaac
Katie Johannigman
Palina Jonsdottir
J. Mehr Kaur
Kristin Kelly
Liz Kimball
Matthew Kunkel
Carly Lave
Leslie Lissaint
Linda Lombardi
Angela Lopez
Alma Martinez
Zoey Martinson
Rebecca Marzalek – Kelly
Kristina McCloskey
Mary McGowan
Charlie Marie McGrath
Aileen McGroddy
Morgan McKenzie
Lindsey Augusta Mercer
Anna Michael
Jesse Miller
Antonio Miniño
Maggie Monahan
Pat Moran
Richard Mosqueda
Macey Mott
Emily Naylor
Henry Nettleton
Betsy Effie Nkrumah
Ann Noling

Natalie Novacek
Megan Nussle
Nick O’Leary
Paige Parkhill
Peter Petrovsek
Amanda Phelan
Diane Phelan
Tyrone Phillips
Elizabeth Power
Artemis Preeshl
Nirvania Quesada
Sara Rademacher
Ben Randle
Rachel Rea
Nelda E Reyes Garcia
Lily Riopelle
Melanie Robinson
J.K. Rogers
Celine Rosenthal
Julia Rufo
Karen Sabo
Dana Savage
Jason Schlafstein
Noam Shapiro
Myah Shein
Abhishek Shrestha
Jane Skapek
Brianna Smith
M. Graham Smith
Larry Sousa
Leia Squillace
Margaret Sulka
Tyler Thomas
NaTasha Thompson
Alex Tobey
Nari Tomassetti
Evan Tsitsias
Aaron Umsted
Diana Van Fossen
Regina Victor
Adin Walker
Sophia Watt
Brandon Weinbrenner
Spencer Whale
Lillian White
Katherine Wilkinson
Deborah Wilson
Lars Woodul
Annie Yee
Sammy Zeisel


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