Welcome to the Women Dramaturgs of D.C. Series! Over the next few days, you'll be introduced to an extraordinary group of women working in the American Theatre as freelance and resident dramaturgs, literary managers, and directors of new play development. You'll find these women in the rehearsal halls of local, regional, and national theatre. And I hold each and every one of them the highest esteem.
While there is no one way to define the role of a dramaturg, the Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of Americas has an excellent definition and informative list of duties here. My favorite parts of dramaturgy have to do with working with playwrights on new plays; speaking to audiences about a production and the process of bringing a play to the stage; teaching young people about how complicated ideas and different worlds can be explored through theatre; and bringing together the world of the play in the form of cultural and historical research.
Now, as with my previous series on Playwrights, Directors and Artistic Directors, it is my hope that these interviews will serve others who are making their way as dramaturgs in the Nation's Capital, and beyond. And as all of you playwrights and directors begin to work on new plays this season, please consider reaching out one of these amazing, smart, talented, and hardworking women dramaturgs.
FAEDRA CHATARD CARPENTER
Faedra Chatard Carenter (B.A., Spelman College; M.A. Washington University; Ph.D. Stanford University) is an assistant professor of theater and performance studies at the University of Maryland, College Park and a freelance dramaturg. A former resident dramaturg for Arena Stage in D.C. and Crossroads Theatre Company in New Jersey, Dr. Carpenter has also worked as a professional dramaturg for Centerstage, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the African Continuum Theatre Company, Theater J, Black Women Playwrights, and TheatreWorks. Carpenter is an Advisory Editor in Drama for Callaloo, an Editorial Board Member for The Southern Quarterly, and is on the Board of Directors for Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas (LMDA). Her scholarly interests include the study of race, sexuality, and gender in contemporary performance and her work is published in Review: The Journal of Dramaturgy; Theatre Topics; Women & Performance; Text and Performance Quarterly; and Callaloo.
Ann-Marie Dittmann works as a Library Associate at the Arlington Public Library where she plans and facilitates a wide variety of adult programs including theater and dance performances, feature and documentary film series, and author talks. She also curate, Down Stage Center, is a meet-the-artist series featuring theater artists in the metro DC area, with a concentrated focus on those in Arlington County. Recent professional theater activities include: Production Dramaturg, Chess and Sunset Boulevard, Signature Theater (Arlington, VA); Since January 2011 I have served as a Helen Hayes Awards Judge for Theater Washington. Additional volunteer activities have included sitting on the grant review panel for the Arlington Community Foundation’s Community Enhancement Grants for the Arts and Humanities. Previous dramaturgical positions have included serving as the Audience Enrichment Manager at Arena Stage and Literary Assistant at Goodspeed Musicals.
Lauren Halvorsen is the Literary Associate at The Studio Theatre, where her dramaturgy credits include The Motherfucker with the Hat, The Aliens, Bachelorette, The Big Meal, and Time Stands Still. Previously, she spent three seasons as Literary Manager of the Alley Theatre in Houston, TX. Lauren is also an Artistic Associate with WordBRIDGE Playwrights Laboratory, where she facilitated the development of 38 plays over a five-year period. She has worked in various artistic capacities for City Theatre Company, Eugene O’Neill Theater Center, First Person Arts Festival, and The Wilma Theater. Lauren is a graduate of Bryn Mawr College.
Adrien-Alice Hansel is Literary Director at The Studio Theatre, where she oversees the expansion of their new play and international programming and new audience engagement initiatives. At Studio, she has dramaturged An Iliad, Dirt,Invisible Man, Sucker Punch, The Golden Dragon, Lungs, The History of Kisses and The New Electric Ballroom, among others. Previous to joining Studio, she spent eight seasons at the Actors Theatre of Louisville, where she headed the literary department and coordinated project scouting, selection, and development for the Humana Festival of New American Plays. She also served as production dramaturg on roughly 50 new, contemporary, and classic plays. Her production work at Actors includes commissions Gina Gionfriddo’s Becky Shaw (2009 Pulitzer finalist), Naomi Wallace’sThe Hard Weather Boating Party, Jordan Harrison’s Maple and Vine, and Craig Wright’s The Unseen, as well as premieres by Rinne Groff, Adam Bock, Charles Mee, Lisa Dillman, and John Belluso. Ms. Hansel also has extensive experience in developing projects with ensemble theatres, including The Method Gun with Kirk Lynn and Rude Mechs, This Beautiful Citywith The Civilians, Cabin Pressure with Anne Bogart and SITI Company and Batch with Alice Tuan and New Paradise Laboratories. She has also worked in the literary offices of Yale Repertory Theatre and Seattle Repertory Theatre, and has served on funding panels for the Joyce Foundation, McKnight Foundation, and Creative Capital’s MAP Fund, among others. She is the co-editor of eight anthologies of plays from Actors Theatre and three editions of plays through Studio Theatre. Ms. Hansel holds an M.F.A. from the Yale School of Drama.
JENN BOOK HASELSWERDT
Jenn Book Haselswerdt is a dramaturg, writer, and theatre education professional in the Washington, DC area. She is an Advising Dramaturg/Producer with The Inkwell, where recent dramaturgical work has included The Body (Steve Moulds, playwright), The Snake Charmer (Eric Loo, playwright), Terminals (David Robinson, playwright), Forgotten Kingdoms (Randy Baker, playwright), Where the Whangdoodle Sings (Kristopher Frithjof Peterson, playwright), Twigs & Bone (Tiffany Antone, playwright), and Crown of Shadows (formerly strive/seek/find, Jason Gray Platt, playwright). Dramaturgy with other area theatres includes TETHER (Doorway Arts Ensemble), Bleed and An Ordinary Afternoon (DAE’s Playground series), Off the Block (Active Cultures), Eulogy (Imagination Stage), and Sing and Never Tire (KUUMBA Players). Jenn received her MA in theatre history and criticism, dramaturgy focus, from The Catholic University of America. She has been the Education Program Manager at Imagination Stage (Bethesda, MD) since 2007, where she has had the opportunity to teach creative drama and music, as well as write plays for young actors. Jenn has also taught with C2 Educational Centers and the DCJCC. Jenn lives in Silver Spring with her husband, their son, their cat, and their turtle.
HANNAH J. HESSEL
Hannah J. Hessel is the Founder and a Creative Trainer at the Project Gym, a space for creative development. She spends her days as the Audience Enrichment Manager at the Shakespeare Theatre Company. At STC, she runs the Creative Conversations discussion series which includes a range of discussion formats including the innovative Twitter Night providing an online conversation before and after a performance. She also oversees the free weekly performance series Happenings at the Harman. Outside of STC, she serves as the Senior Dramaturg at Forum Theatre. She was the Literary Director, Outreach and Education Associate at Theater J. She serves on the board of the Association of Jewish Theater. A graduate of Sarah Lawrence College, she holds an MFA in dramaturgy from Columbia University.
TAYLOR LEE HITAFFER
Taylor Lee Hitaffer is a Washington, DC based freelance dramaturg and arts administrator. Educated in Theatre Studies from Towson University, Taylor has served as dramaturg for some of the District's finest nonprofit performing arts organizations, including Constellation Theatre Company, Theater J and The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. She is an advising script reader and core dramaturg for The Inkwell, DC's premiere resource for new play development. Currently, Taylor is the Program Assistant for the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival, where she's spent the last four seasons coordinating the KCACTF National Festival, the MFA Playwrights' Workshop and the New Play Dramaturgy Intensive. Taylor is a proud member of Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas, Theatre Communications Group, Write Local. Play Global. and The Playwrights' Center.
Meghan Long is a theatrical producer, manager, dramaturg, and arts administrator. She recently moved from D.C. to New York in July 2012 to pursue an MFA in Theatre Management and Producing at Columbia University’s School of the Arts. During her time at the School of the Arts, she has associate produced No Boundaries: New Short Play Festival and is currently associate producing Paulina Barros’ thesis production of THE COMFORT OF NUMBERS. Meghan is the producer for Junesong, a D.C.-based arts collective, which she co-founded with Timothy J. Guillot. With Junesong, she recently produced the premier of Timothy J. Guillot’s THE WEBCAM PLAY at the 2012 Capital Fringe Festival, and the premiere production of Timothy J. Guillot’s WE FIGHT WE DIE through the Mead Theatre Lab Program at Flashpoint. In addition to her work with Junesong, she is a Partner-in-Ink and seasoned dramaturg at The Inkwell. Meghan has worked on numerous Inkwell projects over the past three years, including two Inkreadings: Clarence Coo's BEAUTIFUL PROVINCE (BELLE PROVENCE), which was presented at the 2011 Bay Area Playwrights Festival and Henry Murray's MONKEY ADORED (98% HUMAN), which received a premiere production at Los Angeles' Rogue Machine in September 2011. Most recently, she was an Inkwell dramaturg for a showcase reading of Mariana King’s OFELIA’S LOVERS. Meghan has also worked administratively in many D.C.-area theaters, including Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company and Round House Theatre.
LAURA ESTI MILLER
Laura Esti Miller is a dramaturg, literary manager, writer, and educator. She is the Literary Manager for Forum Theatre in Silver Spring, MD, and a Partner-in-Ink with The Inkwell, the resource for new play development in the nation's capital. Recently, she was named an associate member of Pinky Swear Productions in DC and her co-created devised dance-theatre piece, Mark Twain's Joan of Arc, was featured in Burning Coal Theatre's Politheatrics festival in Raleigh, NC. She has worked as a dramaturg, writer, or researcher for numerous productions along the East Coast including The Public Theater's 2007 production of Romeo and Juliet. Laura is the former Creative Development Director of the off-Broadway company Electric Pear Productions, and has had the honor of working with The Kennedy Center, Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, The Princess Grace Awards, Drama Dept, g14 productions, Rorschach Theatre, Urban Garden Performing Arts, Premiere Stages, Chesapeake Shakespeare Company, visual artists Sherrard Bostwick and Juliana Cope, and collaborating musically with the groups Casual Occupation and The Working Effective. She is a proud alumna of Brooklyn College and James Madison University.
Michele Osherow is Associate Professor of English and Affiliate Associate Professor of Judaic Studies at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. She received her M.A. and Ph.D. in English Literature from the University of Maryland, College Park. Areas of specialization include Shakespeare and Renaissance Literature, Biblical Literature, Jewish American Literature, Dramatic Literature, and Women's Studies. At UMBC she has enjoyed collaborating with faculty in the departments of Theatre, Mathematics, Visual Arts, and the Imaging Research Center. Her experience in professional theatre includes serving as Resident Dramaturg at the Folger Theatre and serving on the Board of and performing for the Quotidian Theatre Company (most recently in Brian Friel’s Afterplay; summer, 2012). Publications include "Crafting Queens: Early Modern Readings of Esther," in Queens and Power in Early Modern Europe (Nebraska UP), "She is in the right: Biblical Maternity in All's Well that Ends Well" in Routledge's Accents on Shakespeare Series, and "'Give ear o' princes': Deborah, Elizabeth, and the Right Word," in Explorations in Renaissance Culture. Her book Biblical Women's Voices in Early Modern England was released by Ashgate Publishing Company in 2009. She is co-writing a text with theatre director Aaron Posner on staging Shakespeare, is co-editing an encyclopedia on Early Modern Englishwomen, Exemplary Lives and Memorable Acts, 1500-1650 (Ashgate) and is currently researching contemporary American productions of Shakespeare for the volume How We Make Shakespeare Mean, co-authored with Gary Waller (SUNY Purchase). Michele has served several times as Interim Executive Director of the
Shakespeare Association of America.
AMRITA RAMANAN is the Artistic Associate/Literary Manager at Arena Stage. Her production dramaturgy credits include Mary T. & Lizzy K., My Fair Lady, The Music Man, Trouble in Mind, Ruined, Duke Ellington’s Sophisticated Ladies and Crowns (Arena Stage); Skywriter (2009 Cap Fringe Festival); and Cymbeline (Great River Shakespeare Festival). Prior to her position as Artistic Associate/Literary Manager, Amrita was the New Play Producing Fellow and Dramaturgy Fellow with Arena Stage, the School Programs Intern at the Shakespeare Theatre Company, and wore a number of hats at the Great River Shakespeare Festival, where she worked in education, outreach, publicity and marketing during her four-season tenure. For two years, Amrita has served as an adjudicator for the D.C. Commission of Arts and Humanities Larry Neal Writer’s Competition and as a script reader for The Playwrights’ Center. A West Coast native, Amrita holds a B.F.A. in dramaturgy and theater history from the University of Arizona.
Jamila Reddy is director, poet, dramaturg, and teaching artist. She is an alumna of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she received BAs in Dramatic Art and Sociology. She directed several productions at the undergraduate level, including the premier of Kind of Blue, an original play by Kuamel Winston Stewart, and Ntozake Shange's For Colored Girls Who have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf. For her contributions to the Department of Dramatic Art at UNC, Jamila received the Richard and Christopher Edward Adler Award for Excellence in Dramatic Art (2010) and the Louise Lamont Award for Excellence (2011). Jamila was a member of the 2008 Bull City National performance poetry slam team. She served as artistic director (2008-9) and two-term president (2009-11) of Ebony Readers Onyx Theatre, a spoken word/theatre performance ensemble at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Jamila served as the inaugural Artistic Apprentice at The Studio Theatre in Washington, DC where she assistant directed five main stage productions and worked in the literary department. She served as dramaturg for the workshop and staged reading of Danielle Mohlman's Stopgap, and directed the World Premier production at the 2012 Capital Fringe Festival. Jamila is currently living in Washington, D.C working as an Assistant Resident Director at The American University and serving as a Teaching Artist and Poetry Slam Team Coach for the Woodrow Wilson High School Slam Team with Split This Rock. Jamila recently worked as Dramaturg on David Mamet's Race at Theater J in February of 2013.
LaRonika Thomas is a doctoral student in the Theatre and Performance Studies Department at the University of Maryland. She holds an MA in Theatre from Purdue University and a BA in Theatre and Anthropology from Indiana University, and also serves as adjunct faculty in the Theatre and Communications departments for the Community College of Baltimore County. Her research interests include cultural space and cultural policy, particularly in 21st century Chicago, site-specific performance, performance and identity, online archiving and databases in the new play world, and digital performance. LaRonika is currently the Vice President for Regional Activity for the Literary Managers & Dramaturgs of the Americas (LMDA), having previously served in several positions for the organization. She has worked in various capacities with the Goodman Theatre, the Public Theater, CenterStage, Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, The Playwright’s Center, Neo-Futurists, and Writers’ Theatre, among others. She has presented papers and chaired panels at several LMDA conferences and at ATHE, where she was elected to the one-year position of graduate student representative for the Dramaturgy Focus Group during the 2012 conference. LaRonika’s short play, J-Rots, was a finalist for the 2012 Heideman Award at the Actors Theatre of Louisville. She is a recipient of an LMDA residency grant as well as three Chicago City Arts Assistance Program Grants for her individual work.
Miriam Weisfeld is the Director of Artistic Development at Woolly Mammoth, where she was lead producer of the 30th anniversary conference on Theatre, Democracy, and Engagement, and has dramaturged several world premieres including Anne Washburn’s MR. BURNS, David Adjmi’s STUNNING, Robert O’Hara’s ANTEBELLUM and BOOTYCANDY, and others. Additional credits include work for New York Theatre Workshop (projects with JoAnne Akalaitis, Ivo van Hove, and Universes); A.R.T. (with Robert Woodruff, Anne Bogart, and Paula Vogel); Two River Theatre/Folger Theatre (with Teller); Steppenwolf Theatre; Actors Theatre of Louisville; Lookingglass Theatre; and the Banff Playwrights Colony (upcoming). She has lectured on theatre at Harvard University, MIT, George Washington University, Suffolk University, Northwestern University, the Kennedy Center, and the Moscow Art Theatre School. She holds an MFA in Dramaturgy from the A.R.T./MXAT Institute at Harvard University. She is a contributing author to the next edition of the Routledge Companion to Dramaturgy.
I'm a playwright, dramaturg, and teaching artist. It is here where you'll find my queries and musings on life, theater and the world. My posts advocate for diversity, inclusion, and equity in the American Theatre and updates on my own work. Please enjoy!