Full-time Faculty in the MFA Directing Program
Jessica Thebus (Director of MFA in Directing) is a theater director and educator. She has been a long-time artistic associate of Steppenwolf Theater Company where she directed Sex With Strangers, Intimate Apparel, Dead Man’s Cell Phone, When the Messenger Is Hot, No Place Like Home, Lady Madeline and Sonia Flew. Recently, she adapted and directed Shining Lives: a Musical at Northlight Theater, directed As You Like It at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Buzzer at the Goodman Theatre (where she previously directed both The Clean House and the world premiere of Stage Kiss by Sarah Ruhl), and In The Garden, a Darwinian Love Story at Lookingglass (where she previously directed They all Fall Down and Our Town -- with fellow faculty member Anna D. Shapiro.) Favorite projects in Chicago also include: Jekyll and Hyde, Inherit the Wind, and Red Herring at Northlight Theatre, The Turn Of The Screw at Writer’s Theater, SALAO: The Worst Kind Of Unlucky and The Feast at Redmoon Theater, LATE : A Cowboy Song and Abingdon Square at the Piven Theater, as well as the Joseph Jefferson award-winning plays Pulp and Winesburg, Ohio at About Face Theatre. Favorite projects nationally include: A Civil War Christmas at The Huntington Theatre, Harriet Jacobs at Kansas City Repertory Theatre, as well as the Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s world premiere of Welcome Home, Jenny Sutter, which then moved to the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. Thebus holds a PhD in Performance Studies from Northwestern University, and currently serves as director of the MFA in Directing.
Anna D. Shapiro was nominated for a 2011 Tony Award® for her production of Stephen Adly Guirgis’ award-winning play, The Motherf***er with the Hat, and was awarded the 2008 Tony®, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards for Best Direction of a Play for her production of Tracy Letts’ August: Osage County. Anna’s recent work on Broadway includes the world premiere of Larry David’s Fish in the Dark as well as the tony-nominated revival of Kenneth Lonergan's This Is Our Youth. In 2014, Anna directed the Broadway revival of Of Mice and Men, which National Theatre Live selected as the first American production to be broadcast to over 700 cinemas across the US and Canada. Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago recently appointed Anna the Artistic Director or the company, an organization with whom she has been associated since 1995, serving as the original director of the New Plays Initiative, later joining the artistic staff as Resident Director, Associate Artist and, since 2005, as an Ensemble member where her directing credits include A Parallelogram, Up, The Crucible, The Unmentionables (also at Yale Rep), the world premiere of The Pain and the Itch (also at Playwrights Horizons in New York), I Never Sang for My Father, the world premiere of Man from Nebraska, (named by TIME Magazine as one of the Year’s Top Ten of 2003), The Drawer Boy, Side Man (also in Ireland, Australia and Vail, Colorado), Three Days of Rain and the world premiere of The Infidel, among others. She staged Tracy Letts’ version of The Three Sisters at Steppenwolf in the summer of 2012. Other directing credits include Domesticated (Lincoln Center Theatre), A Parallelogram (Mark Taper Forum), A Number (American Conservatory Theatre), The Drawer Boy (Paper Mill Playhouse), Iron (Manhattan Theatre Club), A Fair Country (Huntington Theatre, Boston) and Trafficking in Broken Hearts for Atlantic Theater Company. Shapiro is a graduate of the Yale School of Drama and Columbia College and the recipient of a 1996 Princess Grace Award, as well as the 2010 Princess Grace Statue Award.
Dassia N. Posner is assistant professor of Theatre at Northwestern University, where she teaches history of directing, dramaturgy, Russian theatre history, text and performance analysis, and puppetry. Posner is co-editor (with John Bell and Claudia Orenstein) of The Routledge Companion to Puppetry and Material Performance (2014), a collection of contemporary puppetry theory and scholarship. Her current book project, The Director’s Prism, is an analysis of the development of the creative processes of Meyerhold, Tairov, and Eisenstein as refracted through the prism of the Russian fascination with German Romanticism. Her articles and reviews have appeared in Theatre Survey, Slavic and East European Performance, Theatre Topics, Theatre Research International, Theatre Journal, Communications from the International Brecht Society, and Puppetry International. Recent dramaturgy credits include Grand Concourse (production dramaturg), Russian Transport (production dramaturg), and Three Sisters (production dramaturg and dramaturgical translation) at Steppenwolf Theatre Company. Prior to coming to Northwestern, she was the resident dramaturg at Connecticut Repertory Theatre (2009-2011). She has performed as a puppeteer with the Children's Free Opera and Dance of New York at St. Ann's, Bread and Puppet Theater, Underground Railway Theatre, the Puppeteer's Cooperative, and Luna Theatre. Posner's scholarship and creative work have been recognized with fellowships and grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Harvard University, the Mellon Foundation, the Somerville and Cambridge Arts Councils, the Boston Cultural Council, and Puppeteers of America. She studied at the Moscow Art Theatre School and is a graduate of Tufts University and Bates College.
Shana Cooper is an assistant professor in the Directing MFA program as well as a company member at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company in Washington D.C. where directing credits include The Nether and HIR by Taylor Mac. Other directing credits include The Unfortunates (A.C.T., SF); American Night, Romeo and Juliet (Yale Repertory Theatre); Straight White Men (Studio Theater); The Unfortunates (World Premiere Musical), Julius Caesar, Love’s Labor’s Lost (Oregon Shakespeare Festival); Venus In Fur (Seattle Rep, Arizona Theatre Company), The Taming of the Shrew, Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream (California Shakespeare Theater); A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Playmakers Rep); Camino Real (New York University MFA Program); Three Sisters (The Studio/New York); The Whale Play, Twelfth Night Parking Lot Project (New Theater House). Shana was the Associate Artistic Director of the California Shakespeare Theater (2000-2004), and also a Cofounder of New Theater House with Yale School of Drama alumni (2008-present). Awards include: 2014 Leadership U Grant – Funded by The Melon Foundation and Administered by TCG, 2010 Princess Grace Award, Julian Milton Kaufman Memorial Prize in Directing (Yale School of Drama), Drama League Directing Fellow, TCG Observership Grant, OSF Phil Killian Directing Fellow, G. Herbert Smith Presidential Scholarship. MFA, Yale School of Drama. www.shanacooper.com