2021 NAV PANELISTS

New Works in a New World

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Elizabeth Frankel (Alley Theatre, Director of New Work) joined the Alley Theatre in 2015 and produced its first annual Alley All New Festival in early 2016. Since then, nineteen of the twenty-five plays presented in the festival have gone on to world premiere productions, seven at the Alley and twelve elsewhere. For the past three seasons,  Alley has been represented by at least one Festival play off-Broadway including Rajiv Joseph’s Describe the Night (Obie Award for Best New American Play), Bekah Brunstetter’s The Cake and 72 Miles to Go…by Hilary Bettis. Liz moved to Houston after nine years at New York’s Public Theater. There, she helped to start the Emerging Writers Group and ran the program since its inception in 2008, launching the careers of 53 writers in the process. Before joining The Public, she worked at Waxman Williams Entertainment, Miramax Films and in the literary office of Manhattan Theatre Club. BA: Colby College.

Martine Kei Greene Rogers (LMDA, Past-President) is an Assistant Professor in the Theatre Department at the University of Utah. Her PhD is from the Department of Theatre and Drama at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and she also has a B.A. in Theatre from Virginia Wesleyan College and a M.A. in Theatre History and Criticism from The Catholic University of America. Her recent dramaturgical credits include: Waiting for Godot, Iphigenia in Aulis, Seven Guitars, Mountaintop, Home and Porgy and Bess at the Court Theatre (Chicago, IL), The Clean House at CATCO (Columbus, OH), Comedy of Errors, To Kill A Mockingbird, The African Company Presents Richard III, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Fences at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (Ashland, OR). Her most recent publication is the article "Talkbacks for ‘Sensitive Subject Matter’ Productions: The Theory and Practice" in the Routledge Companion to Dramaturgy.

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Polly Hubbard (Steppenwolf Theatre, Director of New Play Development) was previously a Literary Agent with Abrams Artists Agency in NYC.  Recent World Premiere dramaturgical work: I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Isaac Gómez adapted from the novel by Erika L. Sánchez, La Ruta by Isaac Gómez, The Doppelgänger (an international farce) by Matthew-Lee Erlbach, Visiting Edna by David Rabe (Steppenwolf); Rolling by Calamity West (Jackalope).  Selected developmental work: Bald Sisters by Vichet Chum (Steppenwolf’s SCOUT); My Heart is a Library, Yours is a Museum by Kirk Lynn (New Harmony Project); The Imaginary Music Critic Who Doesn't Exist by David Mitchell Robinson (Steppenwolf’s First Look).  Past work with SPACE on Ryder Farm, The Kilroys, Victory Gardens, American Theater Company, Cherry Lane Theatre, 13P, Lark Play Development Center, Princess Grace Awards, and Amnesty International.  Education: Oberlin College, University of Evansville. 

Jeremy B. Cohen (Playwrights' Center, Producing Artistic Director) is in his eleventh season as Producing Artistic Director at the Playwrights’ Center, having previously served as Associate Artistic Director/Director of New Work at Hartford Stage (2003-2010), where he also directed several premieres. He is also the Founding Artistic Director of Naked Eye Theater Company in Chicago. Other Regional/NYC directing credits include productions at: Actors Theatre of Louisville, Alley Theatre, Alliance, Baltimore Centerstage, Dorset Theatre, George Street Playhouse, Goodman, Kansas City Rep, McCarter, Mixed Blood, New Victory, Olney Theatre, Open Fist, Repertory Theatre of St Louis, Royal George, Steppenwolf Theatre, Theater J, Theater Latté Da, Victory Gardens, and Workhaus Collective; workshops at O’Neill Playwrights’ Conference, New York Stage & Film, Pasadena Playhouse, Denver Center, Portland Center Stage, A.C.T./New Strands, New Harmony, Bay Area Playwrights Festival, and Woolly Mammoth. As Founding Artistic Director of Naked Eye Theatre Company in Chicago, Cohen developed/directed more than 15 plays, including several premieres. He has received numerous directing awards, an NEA/TCG Directors Fellowship, and a Northwestern University grant for his play 12 Volt Heart. His Off-Broadway production (The Duke on 42nd Street) of singer/songwriter Jonatha Brooke's My Mother Has 4 Noses is currently touring the U.S., and he's currently under commission on a co-written play (with Dipika Guha), Malicious Animal Magnetism at A.C.T./ZSpace in San Francisco.

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Roadmap to Recovery

Rob Melrose (Alley Theatre, Artistic Director) has directed Alley productions of The Winter’s Tale, 1984, and Murder on the Orient Express. He was formerly the Artistic Director and co-founder of the Cutting Ball Theater. He has directed at The Public Theater, The Guthrie Theater, The Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and The Old Globe, among others. He has taught at Stanford University, UC Berkeley, USF, the University of Rhode Island, and Marin Academy. He has a BA in English and Theater from Princeton University and an MFA in directing from the Yale School of Drama. Rob recently directed Strindberg's Svarta Handsken (The Black Glove) in Stockholm, Sweden at Strindberg's Intimate Theater. He has translated Woyzeck, Ubu Roi, Pelleas & Melisande, The Bald Soprano, The Chairs, No Exit, Communique n ̊ 10, Where and When We Died, and The Blind. His translations of Woyzeck, Ubu Roi, and Pelleas & Melisande have been published by EXIT Press.

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Eileen J. Morris (Ensemble Theatre, Artistic Director) is the Artistic Director of The Ensemble Theatre in Houston, one of the largest African American theatres in the world that own its facility. 

She has directed over 87 productions which include 8 world premieres and was awarded in January -Broadway World Houston’s Best Director of the Decade for August Wilson’s Fences.  Eileen also has numerous directing credits not only in Houston, but in Pittsburgh, directing annually at Pittsburgh's New Horizon Theater.  Eileen currently serves on the board of the Theatre Communications Group, Chair of the Midtown Management District, consultant for the Black Theatre Network and advisory board member of the Houston Cinema Arts Society. Eileen is among five female artistic leaders selected as the first in the Nation awarded part of a $1.25 million gift of The Helen Gurley Brown Foundation and Northern Stage in support of women artistic directors in professional theaters across the United States.  Notably, Eileen holds the distinction of being the ONLY woman in the world to direct eight of the August Wilson Ten Play Cycle. 

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Matt Hune (REC Room Arts, Artistic Director) is co-founder and Artistic Director of Rec Room Arts where he is dedicated to energizing a new generation of theatre artists and audiences. In Rec Room’s short history, Hune and staff have produced plays, opera, dance, and concerts. Before co-founding Rec Room, Hune developed the Living Room Series, where he converted a Montrose living room into a 22-seat black box theater. He has been involved in the creation of multiple theatre and performance companies in Chicago, Minneapolis, and Houston. As a director, his original works or adaptations include: Hansel and Gretel, The Rite of Spring, The Bald Soprano, Dead Rock Star, Not Mad, Inherited, and Accidental Death of an Anarchist. Other directing credits include: Ike Holter’s Exit Strategy, Put Your House in Order at the Alley Theatre’s All New Festival, Hansel and Gretel, Blackbird, The Lesson, Three Sisters, and Tis Pity She’s a Whore, among others. As an actor, he made his professional debut in the regional premiere of Edward Albee’s The Goat or Who is Sylvia at the Alley Theatre. Other acting credits include Hamlet, Macbeth, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, This is Our Youth, Dead Man Walking, American Buffalo, Good Worker, Merchant of Venice, and A Number. He currently is a faculty member in the acting program at HSPVA. He is an alumnus of The Theatre School at DePaul University in Chicago, MSW candidate at Boston University School of Social Work, and a recipient of the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts award for Theatre. He is a member of SDC (Stage Directors and Choreographers Society).

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Rebecca Greene Udden, (Main Street Theater, Founding Artistic Director) has directed over 100 productions, including the Houston premieres of works by Wendy Wasserstein (Third, Uncommon Women and Others, The Heidi Chronicles), Tom Stoppard (The Coast of Utopia, Jumpers, Arcadia, Indian Ink, The Real Thing, and more), Lauren Gunderson (The Book of Will, Silent Sky), Hilary Mantel (Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies), and more. Her work for the company includes acting (Third, The Busy World Is Hushed, Hapgood, Joined at the Head, Hamlet, The Way of the World, among others), costume design, and literary adaptation (Pride and Prejudice, Treasure Island, The Miser).  Under her direction, the theater has championed the work of women playwrights, including Lauren Gunderson, Karen Zacarías, Heidi Schreck, Molly Metzler, Wendy Wasserstein, Susannah Centlivre, Frances Burney, Aphra Behn, Y York, Jane Anderson, and many more. Main Street Theater now garners national recognition including recent rave reviews from both the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal for the premiere of Caridad Svich’s play, The Book of Magdalene.

J.J. Johnston (Classical Theatre Company, Founder and Executive Artistic Director) For CTC, he has directed award-winning productions including Peer Gynt, An Enemy of the People, A Doll’s House, The Cherry Orchard, Hamlet, The Barber of Seville, Tartuffe, Ghosts, The Tempest, and The Merchant of Venice among many others. He has appeared onstage in numerous productions around the Houston area with Stages Repertory Theatre, the Alley Theatre, Unity Theatre, Theatre Under the Stars, the Houston Shakespeare Festival, and others. He has also acted around the country at Theater J, the Greenbelt Arts Center, the Source Theatre Festival, and the Keegan Theatre. He has directed at the Goddard Players, Creative Arts, and the Magic Circle Theater. He has also directed and acted internationally at the National Theatre of Ireland. He was recognized as one of the Top 100 Creatives in Houston by the Houston Press in 2012. In 2016, he helped guide CTC to win the prestigious National Theatre Company Grant Award from the American Theatre Wing. In addition to training at the Abbey Theatre in Dublin, he holds a BA in Theater Arts from Boston College, and an MFA in Drama from the Catholic University of America.

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