Current Students

M.F.A. in Directing


Jess Hutchinson

Jess Hutchinson

Jess Hutchinson creates epic, intimate theatrical events that explore and explode the necessary connections that forge our human experience. As Artistic Director of Chicago’s New Leaf Theatre, she directed world premieres, re-imagined classics, and championed the creation of the Treehouse Reading Series, which shepherded new plays through the middle of their development process. Favorite past productions include: We Are StarStuff, 70 Secrets of Marmalade Kittens (UT Austin), Arcadia, The Dining Room (Jeff Award nominations: best director, best ensemble), The Man Who Was Thursday, Burying Miss America, Vox Pandora (New Leaf Theatre), Hideous Progeny (LiveWire Chicago Theatre), Orange Flower Water (BackStage Theatre Company). Play development and other readings: ‘ratio development workshop (UT Austin), No Home for Bees (Austin/Iowa Exchange), Deb and Debra (Chicago Dramatists), Smashing (Theatre Seven of Chicago), Pure as Water, There Are No Revolutions Here (Goodman Theatre), Untrained in Geometry (Inchworm Reading Series), Red Green (Akvavit Theatre), Burying Miss America, Untrained in Geometry, Lighthousekeeping, Vow, Dandelion Momma (Treehouse Reading Series). As assistant director: Steven Dietz’s Mad Beat Hip and Gone (ZACH Theatre), Bureau of Missing Persons (Neighborhood Productions), All The Roads Home (O’Neill Theatre Center Playwrights Conference), The Crowd You’re In With (Goodman Theatre). Teaching: Fundamentals of Directing (UT Austin), Arts in Education (University of Chicago), Guest Director (North Park University), Director & Teaching Artist (National High School Institute “Cherubs” program at Northwestern University), Teaching Artist (Lookingglass Theatre Company). She earned a BA with high distinction in Theatre Performance from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln. She is honored to be pursuing her M.F.A. among the inspiring community at the University of Texas at Austin.


Natalie Novacek

Woman with patterned shirt and dark hair

Natalie Novacek is the first year Directing M.F.A. Candidate.  She is the Artistic Director of Loudmouth Collective, known in her hometown of Minneapolis, MN for tackling challenging solo performance and engaging small-ensemble theatrical events (Gruesome Playground Injuries; Thom Pain (based on nothing)Cul-de-Sac; Fuddy Meers).  Prior to founding Loudmouth Collective, Natalie was a producing artist with The Peanut Butter Factory (Oh, the Humanity and other good intentions; Joe Dowling’s William Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet on the Moon, featuring Kate Mulgrew as Lady Capulet).  She has directed or assistant directed over 40 productions in the Twin Cities, working at the Guthrie Theater; Jungle Theater; Theatre de la Jeune Lune; Children’s Theatre Company; Ten Thousand Things; Sandbox Theatre and many others across the metro area.  Natalie was a Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival National Selection Team Directing Fellow, and her production of Never Swim Alone by Daniel MacIvor was an invited production at the National XXXVII KC/ACTF.  She is an Associate Member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society.  Natalie received her B.A. in Theatre Arts from Minnesota State University Moorhead.  Learn more about Natalie and her work with Loudmouth Collective.


Steven Wilson

Steven Wilson

Steven Wilson is a director, actor and educator. He is a proud native of Pittsburgh, PA, where he earned his B.F.A. in Acting from Point Park University. He currently lives in Austin, Texas, where he is pursuing his M.F.A. in Directing at The University of Texas at Austin. Prior to graduate school, Steven lived in Chicago for fifteen years and worked with many great organizations including Lookingglass Theatre, The Court Theatre, LiveWire Chicago Theatre and A Red Orchid Theatre, where he is an Artistic Associate. Steven is also a company member of The Hypocrites, where he has performed in over a dozen productions. During his time in Chicago, Steven directed the world premiere of Homer's The Iliad, adapted by Craig Wright and the Chicago premiere of Mat Smart's The 13th of Paris. Steven often returns to his hometown of Pittsburgh to direct plays for No Name Players. There he most recently directed the world premiere of Sean Graney's Oedipus and the Foul Mess in Thebes. In Austin, Steven has directed at ZACH Theatre, The University of Texas at Austin, Hyde Park Theatre's annual Fronterafest and his thesis production of William Saroyan's The Beautiful People. View his digital directing portfolio.