photo: Josh Renaud
Deena Selenow is a director for live performance, diverity and inclusion consultant, educator and mother. Gravitating toward highly physical and darkly comedic theatrical events, her interests are rooted in the cultivation of new live storytelling experiences that reframe how we (artists, institutions, audience) understand social identity in America.
Helming highly collaborative processes with diverse and visionary artists, Deena leads in the direction of new ideas, creative options and, ultimately, towards action. Through strategic questioning of both form and content, Deena’s work aspires to create new vantage points for seeing and moving through the world. She cultivates community through the creation and presentation of theatrical events, understanding the art of performance as a creative exchange of bold ideas and diverse experiences.
Deena’s accomplishments include a combination of directing, choreographing and curating theater, opera, concerts, puppetry, and site-specific happenings in Los Angeles and regionally with organizations including REDCAT, La Jolla Playhouse WoW Festival/Chalk Rep, East West Players, Eugene O'Neill Theatre Center, PRELUDE Festival, LACMA, The Skirball Cultural Center, The Hammer Museum, Highways Performance Space, LA LGBT Center, IAMA Theatre Company, Ammunition Theatre, The Fountain Theatre, Company of Angels, Machine Project, Watts Village Theater Company/Los Angeles Theatre Center, Dixon Place, New York Theatre Workshop’s 4th Street Theatre, and chashama. She was a recipient of the 2006 Baryshnikov Art Center Multi-Disciplinary Artist Fellowship, the 2009/2010 New York Theatre Workshop Emerging Artist of Color Directing Fellowship, and was a participant in the 2013 Walt Disney Imagineering/CalArts Educational Initiative.
In 2014 Deena was chosen by Theatre Communications Group (TCG) to participate in the inaugural cohort of the SPARK Leadership Program, a branch of the TCG Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Institute, funded by American Express, The Joyce Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Over the course of ten months, she received extensive leadership training at the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) in Greensborough NC, personalized CCL executive leadership coaching, and Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) training with TCG’s EDI Institute. Since then has designed, facilitated, and co-facilitated EDI Workshops at Dartmouth College, Occidental College, California Institute of the Arts, and Theatre Communications Group National Conferences in Cleveland, Washington DC and Portland. She was a member of the inaugural Theatre Communications Group Programming Council from 2017-2018, and from 2017-2019 served on the board of directors at Heidi Duckler Dance, a site-specific dance and dance education company in Los Angeles. She is the Chief Rep for the Los Angeles chapter of the Parent Artist Advocacy League (PAAL), and is an associate member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society.
Deena has guest taught at Dartmouth College, Pomona College, Occidental College, and was on faculty as an instructor and MFA thesis advisor at New York Film Academy-Los Angeles from 2014-2016. She was Special Faculty at the CalArts School of Theater during the 2018-19 academic year, teaching BFA Acting and leading Equity, Diversity and Inclusion workshops for students and faculty. From 2016-2018 Deena served as the Director of Oxy Arts at Occidental College, curating and producing both large-scale and intimate collaborations interdepartmentally as well as between the College and community partners, artists and arts institutions in Los Angeles, as well as curating multi-disciplinary guest artist exhibitions in the College's Weingart Gallery. Currently, she is the 2019-20 Kathryn Caine Wanlass Theater Artist in Residence at Occidental College.
From 2006 - 2009 she was co-curator and co-founder of Ad Nauseam Lyceum, a multi-arts collective dedicated to initiating collaborations between emerging visual, performance and media artists in New York. Enlivening dilapidated storefronts and abandoned buildings with unusual arts experiences, Ad Nauseam Lyceum created and curated ten multi-artist immersive installations in Harlem, Brooklyn and lower Manhattan. Over the course of three years, the collective brought together over 50 multi-disciplinary artists in large-scale creative collaboration.
Deena received her MFA in Directing from the School of Theater at California Institute of the Arts under mentorship of Nataki Garrett, Janie Geiser and Travis Preston. She received her BFA in Drama from New York University's Tisch School of the Arts under mentorship of Anne Kauffman, Michael Krass and Kevin Kuhlke. In October 2015, American Theatre Magazine recognized Deena nationally as a “Person to Watch,” for her adventurous approach to the performing arts and her dedication to diversity and inclusion practices in the American theater. Originally from New York, she resides in Los Angeles with her husband, son, and their cats Amelia Bedelia and Goose.