KC Directing Intensive 2021: Creating for the Future
Kennedy Center Directing Intensive
July 11 – 24, 2021
Nicole A. Watson, Lead Director
Kelsey Mesa, Resident Director
Past Teaching Artists have included Seema Sueko, Raymond O. Caldwell, Kimberly Senior, Ryan Rilette, Will Davis, Lavina Jadhwani, Eleanor Holdridge, Hannah Wolf, Tosin Olufolabi, Sherrice Mojgani, Deb Sivigny, Kimberly Weild, Michael Rau, Chisa Hutchinson, Martine Kei Green-Rogers, and M. Graham Smith.
The Kennedy Center Directing Intensive brings together a cohort of like-minded early-career directors to create a supportive community and shared learning experience. The Intensive will engage participants in rigorous conversations, practical activities, and master classes.
This year, the experience will be virtual. For the first time, the KC Directing Intensive will be two weeks long and include two parts:
- Part 1: Interrogating Your Process Before Rehearsals Begin (July 11 – 17)*
For student directors who have not attended the KC Directing Intensive, this first week explores effective directorial preparation. We will look at the work necessary for a director prior to the first rehearsal: talking to producers, picking a design team, prepping for design meetings, examining the need for this play today, analyzing text, readiness to build a world in collaboration, and gathering stimulating research.
- Part 2: Discovering Your Voice: Advocacy and Inspiration (July 19 – 24)
Directors who participated in Part 1 or who are alumni of the Directing Intensive may join the second week of the program, which interrogates the question, “What is a director in this emerging era of theatre?” We will explore working with actors, designers, and playwrights during the full production process; non-hierarchical and digital rehearsal models; and articulating a director’s voice and aesthetic. Through conversations about anti-racism (including the demands from We See You, White American Theatre), we will re-imagine the role of the director in a safe, equitable, post-pandemic rehearsal room.
*Directors attending Part 2 will also be invited to some gatherings in the first week, including an Orientation on July 11.
Eligible participants are current university students [undergraduate or graduate] and recent graduates entering the field. Participants should possess a generosity of spirit, dedication to curiosity and learning, and a passion for theatre, as well as a patience for Zoom experiences.
The program will consist of:
Daily meetings and discussions with the program’s co-directors and cohort on the realities and practicalities of directing; as well as proposals for change and dream for the future of the field.
Master classes led by guest directors;
Practical sessions on text analysis, crafting a director’s vision, working with actors, and more.
Participants should expect 4 hours of Zoom-based sessions each day, as well as some assignments and group work. Participants should also expect to do some reading and preparation before the start of the first week.
Part 1: $75
Part 2: $75
Parts 1 and 2: $125
* Tuition will be invoiced upon acceptance. Young directors may contact Gregg Henry (KCACTF Artistic Director) at GHenry@kennedy-center.org for information regarding Financial Aid.
To apply, you will need:
- A letter of motivation for attending the Directing Intensive;
- Short responses to the following questions:
- What production would you love to direct one day, and why?
- What is one big question you have about directing or building a life/career in the arts?
- What are your strengths as a director? What skills would you like to strengthen?
- A resume of related experience; and
- Contact information for a mentor director who is willing to serve as a reference.
By: May 1, 2021
For any questions on concerns, please contact Kelsey Mesa, Manager of KCACTF and Theater Education, at KRMesa@kennedy-center.org.
Nicole A. Watson is the Associate Artistic Director at the McCarter Theatre Center and the former AAD of Round House Theatre. She is also a freelance director and educator with an interest in new play development and plays that deal with the past. A former history teacher, Nicole works in universities and theatres throughout the US. Most recently she produced a digital festival celebrating the work of Adrienne Kennedy and directed Kennedy’s She Brought Her Heart Back in a Box for that festival.
Nicole is a New Georges affiliated artist and has worked with New Dramatists, the Lark Play Development Center, the Fire this Time Festival, the New Black Fest, the Women's Project Theater, The 52nd Street Project, Signature Theater, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, the Ashland New Play Festival, the O’Neill Theater Center, Seattle Repertory Theatre, and Working Theater. Select credits include School Girls; Or, the African Mean Girls Play (Round House Theatre and winner of Best Ensemble, Best Supporting Artist, Helen Hayes Awards) Lynn Nottage’s Sweat (Asolo Repertory Theatre) Dominique Morisseau’s Skeleton Crew (Baltimore Center Stage); Colman Domingo’s Dot (Playmakers Repertory Company); Daniel Beaty’s Mr. Joy (Cincinnati Playhouse); Kara Lee Corthron’s Welcome to Fear City (CATF, world premiere); an adaptation of Shakespeare's The Merry Wives of Windsor (Two River Theater Little Shakespeare); Robert Schenkkan's The Great Society (Asolo Repertory Theatre); the world premiere of Kevin R. Free’s Night of the Living N-Word (New York International Fringe Festival); a workshop of Lenelle Moïses Merit (New Black Fest); Katori Hall's The Mountaintop (Kitchen Theater Company); the world premiere of the opera Approaching Ali (Washington National Opera at the Kennedy Center); the world premiere of Johnna Adams’ World Builders (Contemporary American Theater Festival); Eboni Hogan’s Foreign Bodies (2013 Poetic License Festival/2012 Women’s Center Stage); We Play For the Gods (Women’s Project); BlindSight: A Melodic Hypothesis (an original work for the Women Center Stage Festival); and Daniel McCoy's Eli and Cheryl Jump (New York International Fringe Festival).
She has been a guest director at A.C.T's Conservatory (Las Meninas); Smith College (Our Lady of Kibeho); North Carolina School of the Arts (Joe Turner's Come and Gone and The Piano Lesson); New York University (Born Bad; Milk Like Sugar; Ti-Jean and His Brothers); and Long Island University (Twelfth Night).
Nicole has also had the pleasure to assist Bill Rauch, Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Joe Haj, Dominique Serrand, Joanna Settle, Giovanna Sardelli, Kwame Kwei-Armah, and André DeShields. She is a long-time volunteer at the 52nd Street Project where she directed A Midsummer Night's Dream and The Two Gentlemen of Verona with their teen ensemble. She was a 2015 Artist in Residence at the Drama League where she developed We Sat in the Death House, a devised movement piece with MJ Kaufman. Nicole is a 2013 Drama League Directing Fellow and the 2011 recipient of the League of Professional Theatre Women’s Josephine Abady Award.
Nicole was an invited artist at the 2011 Voice and Visions Retreat where she worked with playwright Dominique Morisseau on Paradise Blue. She is a co-founder and producer of the Working Theater Directors Lab, working with directors Rebecca Martinez and Dina Vovsi.
Nicole has been a teaching artist at the McCarter Theatre, the Tribeca Film Institute, the New York Historical Society, and the Museum of the City of New York, where she has both taught and developed curriculum for their programs. Nicole is an alum of both the Lincoln Center Directors Lab and the Women’s Project Directors Lab and a member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society (SDC). BA: History, Yale. MA: NYU Gallatin School of Individualized Study.
Kelsey Mesa's directing credits include The Pavilion, The Magi, and Wish List at the Hub Theatre, and Othello, Antigonick, She Rode Horses Like the Stock Exchange, Riot Grrrls The Trojan Women, Charm, and dREAMtRIPPIN’ at Taffety Punk Theatre Company. She has also directed for The Inkwell, The Source Festival, Rorschach Theatre Company's Klecksography, Young Playwrights' Theatre, the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival, and Theater Alliance’s Hothouse New Play Development Series. Kelsey is a company member at Taffety Punk Theatre Company and the Hub Theatre Company, as well as the Manager of KCACTF and Theater Education at the Kennedy Center, where she coordinates the Kennedy Center Directing Intensive. She's an alumna of Directors Lab North. In 2021, Kelsey received the Kennedy Center Gold Medallion, recognizing contribution to the teaching and production of theatre, and to the development of KCACTF. Kelsey is a native of Miami, FL and a graduate of Northwestern University.