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.


tracyTracey Field - Director. Formerly a Visiting Assistant Professor of Theatre at Oberlin College, Tracey is a member of Actors' Equity. She has performed in many theaters in northeast Ohio, in Chicago, and in San Francisco. For two years she worked with ODAG men as an acting coach, and then she served as a director for ODAG Swagg II and The Merchant of Venice.

BrianBrian Schultis - Associate Director. Brian Schultis is a performance researcher and practitioner living in Oberlin. He is an Affiliate Scholar in dance at the Oberlin College and teaches in the theater department at the University of Akron. Drawing on a variety of disciplines and practices, Brian explores the way techniques from the embodied artistic practices in theater, dance, and music offer people opportunities to connect with each other and the world around them. He’s thrilled to be a part of the creative process at ODAG.

Diane Kendig - Creative Writing Director.

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.

deja photoDeja Alexander - Former Assistant Director. Deja graduated in 2018, with a Theatre and Psychology double major, and a minor in Africana Studies. Acting was her concentration and she 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 in her home town of Chicago, IL. Deja believes theatre is a powerful tool that can reflect the problems of humanity, functioning as a revolutionary call for change. She worked with the men of ODAG several times, assisting with the productions of "And Yet We'll Speak" and "What Really Matters."

ChantalChantal Anavian - Former Assistant Director. A 2019 graduate, Chantal was a Sociology and Law and Society double major with a minor in Environmental Studies from New York City. She has worked in various non-profit settings that provide services ranging from legal aid to harm reduction education. She became interested in working with ODAG after watching the powerful performance of Macbeth in 2017. It is the strength and emotional openness of the men of ODAG that inspired her to get involved with the program.

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.

abb pictureAbby Bordin - Former Assistant Director. Abby was a sociology major who graduated in 2019.  From the San Francisco Bay Area, she worked with ODAG for three years. 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 eagerly explored that 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).

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.

Joey picJoey Flegel-Mishlove - Former Assistant Director.  Joey, who graduated from Oberlin in May of 2019, hails 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 was eager to use theater to effect change on the individual, interpersonal, and community levels. He spent the summer after his graduation teaching improvisational techniques to the actors of ODAG.

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.

zoeZoe Jasper - Former Assistant Director. A Comparative American Studies major from the Boston area, she will graduate in 2020.  Zoe was excited to be part of ODAG during her sophomore and junior years. Throughout middle and high school, she was involved in a wide range of theatrical productions as an actor, singer, dancer, writer, and director. These experiences taught her about theatre's profound ability to cultivate empathy, self reflection, and better relationships. Zoe is especially passionate about using theatre as a rehabilitative tool in the lives of incarcerated and otherwise marginalized actors. She believes that ODAG fostered meaningful dialogue between communities on the inside and outside.

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.

ElianaEliana Meyerowitz - Former Assistant Director. A theatre major from Boca Raton, FL, who graduated from Oberlin in 2018, 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," and in the fall of 2017 she was the primary director for the adaption of "A Midsummer Night's Dream." She sees theatre as a powerful, vital tool for social, political, and personal transformation, and she was grateful to be learning and growing with ODAG.

WillWilliam Osborn - Former Assistant Director. Having majored in Theater and Hispanic Studies at Oberlin College, Will graduated in 2018. He has been acting since he was a kid in Boston, MA, and has performed in numerous plays at Oberlin where he has also directed several plays as a student.


JackieJacquelyn 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.

naomiNaomi Roswell - Former Assistant Director. Naomi Roswell graduated from Oberlin College in 2018, having studied environmental science, politics, and dance. The feeling of collective discovery that emerges from a committed group of artists has driven Naomi towards performing arts programs. She directed "Girls in Motion," an after-school dance program, and taught poetry at Langston Middle School in Oberlin. Naomi first watched ODAG rehearse scenes from And Yet We'll Speak with "Theater of the Oppressed" practitioner Hector Aristizabal, and was thrilled to be working with ODAG using "Theater of the Oppressed" Techniques again as she directed the collaboratively devised production of "What Really Matters."

Hannah Shykind - Former Assistant Director. A theatre major from New York, Hannah graduated in 2019. She studied at the Moscow Art Theatre for a semester, and in winter, spring and summer of 2019 she shared with ODAG what she found most inspiring about that experience.

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. You may read a 2019 story about his career after Oberlin here.

niya picNiya Smith-Wilson - Former Assistant Director. Niya graduated in 2018 with a double major in Psychology and Africana Studies. Along with academics she was 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 was providing insight and movement to the space. Although not involved in many plays, she is a very active audience member!

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