directors

PhyllPhyllis Gorfain - Founder and Artistic Director. Phyllis, Professor of English Emerita at Oberlin College, is a Shakespearean studies specialist and folklorist with a focus in early modern literature, feminist approaches to folklore and literature, and performance theory and practice in folklore and drama. In 2006, she became enthusiastic about pursuing a prison theatre program, and, following retirement, she expanded her training in theatre through courses in acting and directing before initiating the Oberlin Drama at Grafton program in late 2012. With its dedicated core of actors and equally devoted contributions from a team of talented Oberlin college students who serve as assistant directors, the rewarding work done by ODAG has now become her passion. She also appreciates the many forms of support ODAG receives from generous professional colleagues at Oberlin College and beyond as they help make ODAG a transformative experience for directors, actors, guest lecturers, visiting performers, and audiences.

BruceBruce Richards - Media Director. Bruce is Emeritus Professor of Physics at Oberlin College. Among other things, he enjoys making music, attending theater performances, and working with computers. He is very pleased to be the webmaster for ODAG and its incredible group of dedicated actors.

 

deja photoDeja Alexander - Assistant Director. Deja is a fourth year Theatre and Psychology double major, with a minor in Africana Studies, from Chicago, IL. Acting is her concentration and she has performed in several Oberlin shows including the MainStage production of The Wedding Band (Lula). She first fell in in love with theatre during her fourth grade production of Cinderella. Deja believes theatre is a powerful tool that can reflect the problems of humanity, functioning as a revolutionary call for change. She has worked with the men of ODAG for one semester, assisting with the production of "And Yet We'll Speak." She cannot wait to continue exploring the multitude of stories with them as they continue to share their own.

abb pictureAbby Bordin - Assistant Director. Abby is a third year prospective theater directing and politics double major from the San Francisco Bay Area. This is her first year working with ODAG. She began acting in an elementary school production of Grease and went on to learn about acting, directing, costume design, set construction, and writing for the stage throughout high school. She is primarily interested in the healing and rehabilitative aspects of collaborative art and can’t wait to explore that further with the wonderful actors and directors at ODAG. At Oberlin she has appeared in Balm in Gilead (Rust), Love and Information, and Family Happiness (Young Masha).

Joey picJoey Flegel-Mishlove - Assistant Director.  Joey is a third-year student from Milwaukee, WI.  He started studying theater there with First Stage Theater Academy, whose motto is “Life Skills Through Stage Skills."  Through performing classical and contemporary theater with his school, community groups, and smaller, independent groups, he has learned firsthand the powerful impact theater has on individuals and communities.  Also a fan of comedic theater, Joey has performed in the Milwaukee Comedy Fest and with Oberlin's Primitive Streak Improv group.  Joey is very excited to begin his journey with ODAG, and eager to use theater to effect change on the individual, interpersonal, and community levels.

ElianaEliana Meyerowitz - Assistant Director. A fourth year theatre major from Boca Raton, FL, Eliana has been studying and performing Shakespeare since middle school, including as a finalist for the English Speaking Union's Shakespeare Recitation Competition. She loves acting, directing, devised theatre, and dramaturgy, and she made her full length directing debut with Almost, Maine in Spring of 2015. For ODAG, Eliana helped direct the actors in "And Yet We'll Speak." She sees theatre as a powerful, vital tool for social, political, and personal transformation, and she is grateful to be learning and growing with ODAG.

WillWilliam Osborn - Assistant Director. Majoring in Theater and Hispanic Studies at Oberlin College, Will is a fourth-year student from Boston, MA. He has been acting since he was a kid, and has performed in numerous plays at Oberlin where he has also directed several plays as a student.

 

 

niya picNiya Smith-Wilson - Assistant Director. Niya is a senior with a double major in Psychology and Africana Studies. Along with academics she is involved in several dance performances on campus, from African dance and hip-hop to praise dance. She is mainly interested in the variety of ways that individuals express themselves through words and movement. Her role within the program is providing insight and movement to the space. Although not involved in many plays, she is a very active audience member!

lillianLillian White - Former Associate Director. Lillian, from Darlington, South Carolina, graduated from Oberlin College in 2016. She supported and worked with ODAG for four years. Lillian believes in theatre's ability to cultivate spaces of possibility, imagination, and memory to allow the individual and, by extension, a community to transform. She has been continually inspired by the dedication and insight of the ODAG actors. Lillian completed an independent major in Cultural Performance Studies and appeared at Oberlin in Iphigenia 2.0, Unexpected Journeys, Compress/Release, and The New Electric Ballroom.

During 2015-16, Lillian led ODAG actors through the process of devising the original play "And Yet We'll Speak," that was inspired by the stories told by the men of ODAG. It was first performed in May of 2016.

Nick picNick Bassman – Former Assistant Director.  From Los Angeles, Nick graduated from Oberlin College in 2017 with a major in Creative Writing. He's been involved with theatre, music, and dance consistently since middle school. Nick also tutors writing and public speaking, and has taught poetry to students at Langston Middle School. He believes that through theatre, writing, and other forms of expression we find new avenues for empathy with each other and knowledge of ourselves. The incredible emotional courage exhibited by the men of ODAG in "And Yet We'll Speak" inspired Nick to get involved with ODAG.

sophieSophie Becker - Former Assistant Director. Sophie, who graduated from Oberlin College in 2015 with a major in Environmental Studies, is from Mill Valley, California. She studied acting intensively at the British American Drama Academy in London, where she appeared in The Bacchae. Over the last few years she has participated in integrated-arts performances, including the performance installation EAT THAT LIKE THIS. Sophie believes in performance's ability to cultivate creative, safe spaces for expression, and she views ODAG as a meaningful program through which to employ the powers of theater arts. She participated in ODAG during the 2014-2015 academic year, and feels very fortunate to have been a part of the program.

katyKatherine Early - Former Assistant Director. Katy, who graduated from Oberlin College in 2016 having majored in Theater in the College and Voice Performance in the Conservatory, is from Boxborough, Massachusetts. For three years, she enjoyed collaborating with the ODAG ensemble, the other student directors, and Phyllis Gorfain to create various productions. She particularly values the process of exploring how the play's themes resonate with the ODAG community and then focusing the storytelling on those themes that are particularly important to the men. Past Oberlin theatre credits include The Fantasticks; Unexpected Journeys; Journey to the West; My Ghosts, My Own; Ghosts; and Dessa Rose.

AmyAmy Jackson-Smith - Former Assistant Director. Amy, an Oberlin College student from Richmond, Utah, graduated in 2016 with a major in English. During 2014 she assistant-directed The Tempest, August in October, and Othello. During the spring semester of 2015, she studied at the National Theater Institute of the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, Connecticut.

IsabellaIsabella McKnight - Former Assistant Director. Isabella, who graduated from Oberlin College in 2015 with majors in Environmental Studies and Religion, is from Shaker Heights, Ohio. She helped direct ODAG Swagg, The Tempest, August in October, and Othello. She continued to work with ODAG during the summer of 2015.

 

juliaJulia Melfi - Former Assistant Director - is from Bellevue, Washington. She graduated from Oberlin College in May of 2015, where she majored in Art History and Theater. Julia has been involved in theatre her whole life, but is more recently interested in the value and alternative pedagogies of arts education. She believes in the capacities of theater-making to promote inclusive and supportive communities, which can then be empowered to cause social change. To incarcerated communities, theater provides a safe space for self-expression and self-exploration that is otherwise generally unavailable, which is perhaps what she values most about working with ODAG. Julia helped direct all the ODAG shows from Julius Caesar through Othello.

Jacquelyn Pitts - Former Assistant Director. Jackie graduated from Oberlin College in December of 2014 with majors in Politics and Dance. During the spring of 2015 she helped direct the ODAG production of Othello, and during the summer she assisted in the early stages of the show being devised for performances in 2016.

nataliaNatalia Shevin - Former Assistant Director. From Bronx, New York, Natalia majored in History and Dance at Oberlin College, graduating in 2017. She began dancing in high school and discovered there just how much she loves working with others, improvising and choreographing. She has studied a range of forms, but focuses on Modern Dance, particularly Limon, and Contact Improvisation. She is excited to support ODAG's work with movement.

ArifArif Silverman - Former Assistant Director. Arif, who graduated from Oberlin College in 2015 with a major in Theater, is from Brooklyn, New York. On top of his love for acting, Arif enjoys making movies and composing music, as well as spending time with his family and his hairless cat Maya. In the spring of 2014 he performed his one man show, Nolie Min Tangible, at Grafton, after having visited the previous November in My Ghosts, My Own. Arif assisted in directing Othello.

Sara Tolchinski - Former Assistant Director. "Cha-Cha," an Oberlin College student from Larchmont, New York, majored in Theatre. She joined the ODAG team in February 2015 for the production of Othello.

Sarah picSarah Ulstrup - Former Assistant Director. From Washington, DC, Sarah graduated in 2017 from Oberlin College, with a major in Theater. She had a background in stage acting, but gained experience as a director through ODAG. Witnessing the creation of "And Yet We’ll Speak" deepened her belief that acting gives us permission to express our truest selves. She feels so incredibly lucky to be a part of ODAG.

Assistant Directors