Directors Gathering serves directors to serve the theatre.

Directors Gathering (DG) is a Philadelphia-based service organization that through the power of community provides education, connections, and process-based opportunities for theatre directors.

(Video by Andrew Harrison & photos by Hannah Van Sciver)

What We Do:
Directors Gathering (DG) serves directors to serve the theatre. We offer emerging and mid-career directors in Philadelphia the valuable resources of time, training, and community to help them hone their art. Freed from the constraints of performance deadlines, Directors Gathering members are encouraged to experiment and grow in a process-driven environment. We invite these artists to consider Directors Gathering—and Philadelphia by extension—an enriching and collaborative creative home.

As part of Directors Gathering (DG), emerging and established member directors can:

●      Stretch their artistic muscles without the pressures of production;

●      Connect with a welcoming and supportive community of peer directors;

●      Create in an annual daylong workshop, (DG) JAM, culminating in a public sharing of their works-in-progress; and

●      Engage in graduate-level master classes with theatrical legends like Bartlett Sher, Liz Diamond, and Robert Woodruff.

●      Receive opportunities for projects, collaborations, and continuing education through access to (DG) Executive Director, Jill Harrison.

Directors Gathering is the only organization in the country that provides an all-inclusive home for regional directors to examine their process, take risks, and render projects that they would not otherwise do in their individual careers or companies. We encourage these directors to be perpetual students, challenging them to reexamine how and why they work on projects, and give them the reinvigorating chance to return to their craft with new eyes.

Need to be Met:
Over the past fifty years, the American theater has embraced the necessity of offering playwrights valuable professional resources to incubate new works. On a national level, organizations like the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center and New Dramatists offer playwrights process-based workshop time and resources; while in Philadelphia, PlayPenn and The Foundry develop the work of local established and emerging playwrights. In this national—and vital—trend towards new play development, one key artistic collaborator has been overlooked: directors. Directors Gathering seeks to remedy this imbalance by fostering its local directors year-round at multiple stages of professional development. We offer a variety of continuous programming, encouraging Philadelphia directors to engage deeply with our regionally-rooted organization to consistently hone their craft.

Partnerships and Supporters:
Directors Gathering has forged strong collaborative partnerships with local theaters, universities, and peer theatrical service organizations. We’ve hosted director-centric collaboration events with FringeArts, The Wilma Theater, InterAct Theatre Company, and People’s Light & Theatre Company. We’ve offered local directors opportunities with The Foundry and the local chapter of Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas (LMDA), where our directors can meet emerging Philadelphia artists and brainstorm about future collaborations. We partner with Temple University, Swarthmore College, and University of the Arts to host master classes and introduce students to directors at the forefront of their field.  We also continue our parternship with Philadelphia Theatre Company, who graciously offers (DG) in-kind and/or highly subsidized space for our programming.

Our organization is currently overseen by fiscal sponsor, Fractured Atlas, an advisory Board of Directors, and is supported through the generosity of foundations, individual donors, and grassroots crowd-funding. We are grateful to The Wyncote Foundation, the Philadelphia Cultural Fund, and SDC for their confidence in our mission.

Organization’s History:
Directors Gathering (DG) was incorporated in March 2014, and has since served Philadelphia directors for over three consecutive years. In that time, we have provided more than 75 local directors with resources to expand their skill set, receive honest feedback and mentorship from established artists, and connect with one another. We’ve also committed to inclusivity, hosting an annual public workshop that gives local directors of color a platform to share their art and expand their networks.

The idea for Directors Gathering goes back to 2008, when our founder, Jill Harrison, participated in Lincoln Center Theater Directors Lab alongside 60 other emerging directors from around the world. Inspired by the community she gained from the Lab, Jill came to Philadelphia to deepen her training at graduate school, and left it eager to found an organization for directors that was regionally rooted, community focused, and could offer continuous programming year-round. In 2011, Jill gathered some colleagues for a casual conversation about local opportunities for directors. Together, they realized that Philadelphia lacked an organization that would listen and respond to the needs of directors, and that would recognize their value them as the drivers of theatrical art.  Thus, the launch of Directors Gathering (DG). 

Programming + Collaborations:

  • Gatherings – events for members and future members to connect, share work and processes, and meet fellow directors and collaborators.
  • (DG) JAM – a daylong workshop, performance, and celebration of director-driven work that was first conceived by Pirronne Yousefzadeh, a New York City based director with the company, Rising Circle Theatre Collective. In May 2017 and June 2018, (DG) took a cue from Rising Circles’ values and hosted (DG) JAM for Philadelphia directors of color.  Philadelphia freelance artists and producers, Christina May and Phoebe Schaub, have been involved as reoccurring collaborators of JAM as participants (2016 and 2017) and now producers (2018 and 2019).  Six directors participate in the program and are selected by nomination and submission.  JAM 2019 will have 4 out of the 6 seats reserved for members and the other 2 seats will be open to non-member directors.
  • (DG) Master Class – a graduate-level workshop for directors with a master teacher that encourages and challenges working directors to be generators and vision-based interpreters.  (DG) Master Class 2019 is slated for Fall 2019.  6 directors participate in the program and are selected by submission.  
  • (DG) Collaborations – programs and opportunities provided by (DG) and local partnering organizations for members.  Past and pending future collaborations include: *Juniper Productions – (DG) members direct readings and workshops with Juniper artists | *The Design Center – (DG) members participate in discussions and networking opportunities with local designers | *PlayPenn Education + LMDA – (DG) members participate in collaboration and creation with local playwrights through PlayPenn/ The Foundry and local dramaturges through LMDA | *Dramatists Guild Philadelphia Chapter + PDC – (DG) members participate in networking gathering with local playwrights through Dramatists Guild Philadelphia chapter + PDC | *Theatre Philadelphia + SDC – (DG) members receive discounted tickets to Theatre Philadelphia + SDC panel and celebration of Barrymore nominated directors + community.
(DG) Pick-Up Class + Advocacy 
(DG) members will have access to future discounted “pick-up” directing classes taught by (DG) ED Jill Harrison as well as Jill’s contacts and recommendations for future work and collaborations.  An example is a recent placement of a local early career director as an assistant director at PTC for their production of SWEAT.