Members of the 2022 Observership Cohort at the Conference Cocktail Party. (From left to right – Rohan Dhupar, Hayley Goldenberg, Mayah Lourdes Burke, Irvin Mason Jr. and Mary Tomei.) Photo by Ric Kallaher. 


Previous Observership Cohorts

Program Overview

To encourage and expand diversity in all aspects of musical theatre development, the application for the program will be open specifically to directors of color, directors with disabilities, women directors, and LGBTQ+ directors. By providing an opportunity to observe the new musical development process, and meet and network with leaders of the industry, we hope that this program will actively expand representation in the musical theatre industry and support the next generation of leaders. Students, recent graduates and early-career professionals working in the field are welcome to apply. 

The observership will invite early-career directors with a demonstrated interest in musical theatre to be a part of the NAMT Festival process from start to finish. The selected observers will have the opportunity to gain first-hand exposure to the new musical development process, observing the techniques that established directors employ while working with writers to bring a new musical to life. In addition to joining the Festival process, the selected observers will be invited to attend the Festival and NAMT’s Fall Conference (typically open only to NAMT members), along with receiving a small stipend and a chance to be introduced to the NAMT membership, made up of some of the world’s leading musical theatre producers, prior to the Festival.



Who is eligible to apply for this program?

The program is open to early-career directors who also identify as a director of color; a director with disabilities; a women director; and/or an LGBTQ+ director. By providing an opportunity to observe the musical theatre development process, and meet and network with leaders of the industry, we hope that this program will actively expand representation in the musical theatre industry and support the next generation of leaders. Non-US citizens are welcome to apply.

What is expected of the observers once they have been selected?

Observers are expected to do just that—observe! Once an observer has been selected, they will be added to all directing-related Festival emails for the show they are observing and invited to join all conference calls. As the majority of pre-Festival work is done via email and phone, there is a great deal to glean from observing these communications.

Observers are expected to be present for all rehearsals for their Festival shows. Rehearsal schedules will be solidified once writer and director schedules are confirmed. Observers should plan to hold the dates listed above in their calendars; if this period changes, NAMT staff will inform Observers ASAP. During rehearsals, some directors may ask their observers to serve as an assistant, but for the most part, observers should expect to simply observe the rehearsal process.

During the week of the Festival, there will be a number of events that observers will be expected to attend. Observers will have the chance to attend a variety of panels at the NAMT Fall Conference around their rehearsal schedules; during the conference, observers will be introduced to the NAMT membership, providing a chance to meet the membership prior to the Festival. 

Please note that there may be changes to the program and the Festival due to COVID-19 precautions.

How will the final observers be selected?

Once the application for the Observership has closed, the NAMT staff will review applications and schedule short interviews with semi-finalists. Interviews will be held over the course of three days in early-August and will be conducted by NAMT’s New Works Director Frankie Dailey, NAMT’s Program Assistant Skye Cone Ivey and an industry director. Observers will be chosen based on demonstrated investment in the future of musical theatre, ability to discuss theatre in a thoughtful manner and demonstrated commitment to a future in directing.

Who has directed shows for the NAMT Festival in the past?

A number of Broadway directors have helmed presentations at the NAMT Festival (for example, Stephen Brackett, Stafford Arima, Christopher Ashley, Marcia Milgrom Dodge, Sarna Lapine, Lonny Price, Rebecca Taichman, Schele Williams), as well as directors of major regional theatre programs (Victoria Bussert, Jerry Dixon, Kent Gash, Kent Nicholson, Peter Rothstein) and directors with extensive off-Broadway and regional careers (May Adrales, Sherri Barber, Sam Buntrock, Marlo Hunter). The full Festival history, including past directors, can be found here.

Do I have to be a member of NAMT to apply for this program?

No! This program is open to all early-career directors who identify as BIPOC, a director with disabilities, a woman, and/or LGBTQ+.

Additional Questions?

Email us if your question wasn’t answered here!