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  • Writer's pictureshelbyrseeley

2023 In Review

Updated: Jan 31

This year held significant milestones in my career, with both delightfully unexpected opportunities and long-held dreams of mine finally materializing. 

In February, I was able to work as Playwright’s Assistant for “The Future is Female” by Nandita Shenoy at the Flint Repertory Theatre. I provided eyes on the script while the playwright delved into the leading role. This experience gave invaluable insight into the journey of translating a new work from page to stage and allowed me to collaborate with individuals I deeply admire.

In March, I started a dream job- literally, a job I dreamed up and asked if anyone was willing to hire me for, because I love to read plays so much. Theatre Nova was brave enough to say “yes”, and appointed me as their Literary Manager. A month later, I was honored with a promotion to Associate Artistic Director. This role not only allowed me to work within a team I hold in high regard and champion a mission close to my heart but also provided valuable learning opportunities. With guidance and support from the Theatre Nova staff, I was able to try my hand at grant writing for the first time. This culminated in securing the Operational Support Grant from the MACC at the highest percentage of our request, marking it as just one of the year's most rewarding achievements. I have learned and grown so much, and I look forward to continuing my journey with Theatre Nova in 2024!

Departing from my position as Director of Theatre at Patrick Henry Middle School after six years and a dozen productions with my students was a poignant transition. While bidding farewell was bittersweet, and my kids will always hold a piece of my heart, it was a necessary step for my personal journey.

Realizing my long-standing ambition to direct at Flint Repertory Theatre was a landmark moment. Bringing the staged reading of Katherine Gwynn's “Funny, Like Haha” (a show and a playwright I have admired and championed for years) to life during the 2023 New Works Festival with an exceptional team will remain an outstanding highlight in my career.

I had the privilege of directing a staged reading of "Imposter" by Jessica Moss at the inaugural new works festival hosted by Renaissance City Repertory Theatre, collaborating with exceptional artists. I also had the opportunity to work with Open Book Theatre Company on "Driveway Dating" by Jennifer Ward. It was especially important for me to find laughter and joy in this period of my personal life, and I’m grateful these projects came at just the right time. 

My role at Theatre Nova also afforded me the opportunity to evaluate plays under consideration for the National New Play Network Showcase—an endeavor that thrilled me immensely, given my admiration for the New Play Exchange and NNPN's initiatives.

I took my first ever trip to New York City to direct a staged reading of “Loretta’s Crematorium Hour” by P.S. Drake at the 48th Annual Samuel French Off Off Broadway Short Play Festival (say that three times fast), where we advanced to the top 13 out of 850 initial submissions. While in NYC, I was able to accept the Frutie award for “Outstanding Production of 2022” from the Fresh Fruit Festival for my work producing “Sassafras and the Captain” by Sarah Elisabeth Brown last summer. 

On a personal note, this year has been the hardest year of my life. I suffered  the loss of two of my grandparents, people who helped raise me and I love beyond words. The grief has been earth-shattering. Art in its many forms has been an escape, a solace, and has guided me through these difficult feelings. Alongside this grief, I have been reminded of why what artists do is meaningful. In the words of Terry Heck-Seibert, it is an honor and a privilege to practice your art with your peers. This year that has been exceptionally true. I’m so thankful to everyone who has shared their time and talents with me this year. I consider myself incredibly fortunate to make art that I believe in and collaborate with such extraordinary people. 

Here’s to 2024.


The Future is Female, Playwright’s Assistant, Flint Repertory Theatre

Game of Tiaras, Director, Patrick Henry Middle School

Funny, Like HaHa (or, A Play About a Rape Joke), Director (staged reading), Flint Repertory Theatre

Imposter!, Director (staged reading), Renaissance City Repertory Theatre

Driveway Dating, Director, Open Book Theatre Company

Loretta’s Crematorium Hour, Director (staged reading), Samuel French Off-Off Broadway Short Play Festival

The Year Without a Panto Claus, Associate Artistic Director, Theatre Nova

Plays Watched:

Beetlejuice, Detroit Opera House

Twelfth Night, University of Windsor

Magnificent Seven, Flint Repertory Theatre

Neighbor, A Driving Beat, Flint Rep New Works Festival

Kimberly Akimbo, Broadway Booth Theatre

Half God of Rainfall, New York Theatre Workshop

Bonefruit, Natalie Wood Was Not Puerto Rican, What We Talk About When We Talk About the Homeless, A Sprinkle of Grace, Just Right, He’s the First, Space Laser in Space, The Velociraptor’s Very Good Day, Black Like Who?, The Tipping Point, Billionaire Mindset, Dugout Daisies, Freestyle Hand Entry, 18, Nub City USA, Mood Board, God Gives Ryan a Very Important Job, Jung, Drawbridge, Samuel French OOB Short Play Festival

Grand Concourse, Open Book Theatre Company

‘Rain on Fire, Flint Repertory Theatre

What the Constitution Means to Me, Theatre Nova

Eight Nights, Detroit Public Theatre

Plays Read:

I read over 65 plays this year, though some were submissions for the National New Play Network Showcase, some were Michigan Playwright Festival submissions, and some were sent to me as beta reads in confidence, so I don’t feel it’s my place to share the title/author. Even though I LOVED so many of them. So this isn’t an exhaustive list!


*** Means favs of the year (they’re all very good, I had an amazing year of hits, it was hard to narrow it down!)

NPX Means the play is available on New Play Exchange

(re-read) is very rare, but it meant it was weighing on my mind heavily enough that it warranted a re-read!

***The Tragic Ecstasy of Girlhood, Kira Rockwell NPX

***Form of a Girl Unknown, Charly Evon Simpson NPX

Lipstick Lobotomy, Krista Knight NPX

Could You Love Me?, Madeline Sayet NPX

The Moors, Jen Silverman

The Roommate, Jen Silverman 

Collective Rage: A Play in 5 Betties , Jen Silverman

Belongings, Morgan Lloyd Malcolm

The Unplugging , Yvette Nolan

In the Next Room (or The Vibrator Play), Sarah Ruhl 

Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons, Sam Steiner

Tower Stories: A Play About 9/11 b, Damon DiMarco NPX

***Horse Girls, Jenny Rachel Weiner

Fuddy Meers, David Lindsay-Abaire

***John Proctor is the Villain, Kimberly Belflower

Dry Land, Ruby Rae Spiegel

All the Natalie Portmans, CA Johnson

seven methods of killing kylie jenner , Jasmine Lee-Jones

Stage Kiss, Sarah Ruhl 

The Current, Sean Paaventi

sad girl hours, Libby Carr

Born with Teeth, Liz Duffy Adams NPX

You Got Older, Clare Barron

The  Secretaries, Five Lesbian Brothers

Stop Kiss, Diana Son

How to Defend Yourself , Liliana Padilla

Crimes of the Heart, Beth Henley

Letters from Max, Sarah Ruhl 

Dontrell Who Kissed the Sea, Nathan Allen Davis

Camp Seigfried, Bess Wohl

Mlima's Tale, Lynn Nottage

Thanksgiving Play, Larissa Fasthorse

***What the Constitution Means to Me, Heidi Schreck

***Our Dear Dead Drug Lord, Alexis Scheer NPX

Fortune, Deborah Zoe Laufer

The ripple, or the wave that carried me home, Christina Anderson

Building the Wall, Robert Schenkkan

Death of a Driver, Will Snider NPX

Red Bike, Caridad Svich

The Sound Inside, Adam Rapp

The Forest, Lia Romeo

Natural Shocks, Lauren Gunderson

Ironbound, Martyna Majok

All I Wanna Do is Be Pretty Like You, Katherine Gwynn

***Fat Ham, Jamess Ijames

***Pussy Sludge, Gracie Gardner

Daughters of the Sexual Revolution, Dana Leslie Goldstein

Doctor Moloch, Carla Milarch

***Antaomy of a Suicide, Alice Birch (re-read)

***A Play About Harvey Weinstein Writing a Play About David Mamet, Mathilde Dratwa (re-read) NPX

Will and Way, Dinah Berkeley NPX


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