MTC Welcomes Nakissa Etemad as New Associate Artistic Director
  • 2023-10-08

MTC Welcomes Nakissa Etemad as New Associate Artistic Director

November 5, 2020


MILL VALLEY, CA—Marin Theatre Company (MTC) is thrilled to announce the appointment of its first Associate Artistic Director, Nakissa Etemad, who will share responsibilities with Artistic Director Jasson Minadakis in producing, season programming, artist hiring, new play development initiatives and oversight of the company’s education programs. Ms. Etemad brings decades of experience in working with boundary breaking theatre companies and innovative artists to contribute to the rebuilding of MTC with new leadership models and a collaborative focus.

Helming the literary departments of San Diego Repertory Theatre, San Jose Rep, and The Wilma Theater in Philadelphia, Ms. Etemad supported productions that provoked conversations about race, gender, equity, and inclusion. A highly regarded industry professional and nationally recognized dramaturg and producer, Ms. Etemad cultivated premieres of new plays by renowned playwrights such as Luis Valdez, Culture Clash, Octavio Solis, Lynn Nottage, Naomi Iizuka, Polly Pen, Tom Stoppard, Dael Orlandersmith, Arthur Miller, Charles L. Mee and Chay Yew. 

Frequent collaborations with playwriting titan Marcus Gardley include premiere productions of ...and Jesus Moonwalks the Mississippi at San Francisco’s Cutting Ball Theater and every tongue confess at Arena Stage in Washington D.C. In 2015, Ms. Etemad received the Elliott Hayes Award for Outstanding Achievement in Dramaturgy for The Lark’s Launching New Plays’ premiere productions in Alaska, Minnesota, California, and Florida of Gardley’s play, the road weeps, the well runs dry

“The range of artists with whom [Nakissa] has worked and her ability to compliment rather than duplicate the best features that are already in place at MTC, make her an excellent fit for this new position. Her extensive network of Bay Area artists and strong working relationships with gifted playwrights of color made her a great choice for Marin Theatre Company!”
— Aldo Billingslea, the Father William J. Rewak S.J. Professor of Theatre Arts at Santa Clara University; MTC Board Member, AAD Search Committee

Ms. Etemad’s collaborations with Latinx poet-playwright Marisela Treviño Orta include premieres of Heart-Shaped Nebula at Berkeley’s Shotgun Players and The River Bride at Oregon Shakespeare Festival. As an independent dramaturg, she partnered with Margo Hall, writing in collaboration, Be Bop Baby: A Musical Memoir, starring Ms. Hall, with music by Marcus Shelby at Z Space in San Francisco. 

“Marin Theatre Company could not be getting a better gift than Nakissa Etemad. An artist whose integrity and passion will help the company forge ahead as we face new challenges in ways of making theatre. I am thrilled that so many other artists will have the pleasure of working with her as I have.”  
— Margo Hall, Artistic Director of the Lorraine Hansberry Theatre

An Iranian American dramaturg, Ms. Etemad excels at community outreach and cross-cultural exchange, educating artists and audiences about plays’ cultural and historical contexts—skills she is eager to contribute to this new position at MTC. A resident artist of San Francisco’s Golden Thread Productions, she was a creative collaborator on the world premiere of Isfahan Blues by Golden Thread’s Artistic Director Torange Yeghiazarian, Zahra Noorbakhsh’s On Behalf of All Muslims: A Comedy Special and two ReOrient Festivals, featuring writers such as Betty Shamieh, Yussef El Guindi, Lameece Issaq and Naomi Wallace. Ms. Etemad was delighted to have the opportunity to work with MTC earlier this year when they partnered with Golden Thread on a co-production of Noura by Heather Raffo, for which Ms. Etemad served as dramaturg. 

“Nakissa Etemad is one of the smartest and most thoughtful artists I've worked with. As a Golden Thread resident artist, Nakissa's dramaturgy, casting, and producing work has been stellar. I'm delighted to see her take this timely opportunity both as a natural next step in her theatre career and also to extend Golden Thread's unique cultural competency and commitment to artistic excellence and risk taking to Marin. It all began with a successful partnership on Noura, and I can't wait for the adventures our two companies will collaborate on in the future.”
— Torange Yeghiazarian, Artistic Director of Golden Thread Productions 

Denmo Ibrahim, lead actor of Noura, and recent addition to the MTC Board, supported the development of a new collaborative interview process with the formation of a national search committee, and helped to clarify the role of the AAD position.

“Working to reimagine the artistic leadership at MTC has been an energizing, creative process of hope. We interviewed many excellent candidates for the role. It was clear that Nakissa’s gifts and unique voice could catalyze MTC’s artistic vision and forge key alliances locally and nationally. I’m thrilled to see her step into this role at such a pivotal moment in our country’s history for women and people of color.”
— Denmo Ibrahim, MTC Board Member, AAD Search Committee

MTC Artistic Director Jasson Minadakis looks forward to collaborating with Ms. Etemad.

“I am honored to welcome Nakissa Etemad to the MTC family. Her vision, passion, artistry and advocacy will elevate our company’s driving focus to support the American playwright from conception through production. I am eager to partner with Nakissa and to travel the new paths that she charts for us through her unique voice and stewardship. Nakissa joins us at a pivotal moment as we re-envision our company, our community and our art form. Her impact on our organization, region and national theatre community will undoubtably be felt immediately.” 
— Jasson Minadakis, MTC Artistic Director

Nakissa Etemad is an Iranian American Dramaturg, Producer, and French Translator who has specialized in new BIPOC plays and musicals for over 25 years. She is Regional VP Metro Bay Area for Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas (LMDA), a Resident Artist of Golden Thread Productions, and a member of the Anti-Racism Task Force of LMDA. She has worked across the country on a host of premiere productions at theatres including Arena Stage, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Perseverance Theatre, Arizona Theatre Company, and La Jolla Playhouse, and on numerous new play festivals and initiatives such as the 2020 Colorado New Play Summit, Play On! Shakespeare of OSF, Bay Area Playwrights Festivals, Alliance Theatre’s Kendeda Reading Series, The Ground Floor at Berkeley Rep, and O’Neill Music Theater Conference. Former dramaturg and literary manager of The Wilma Theater, San Jose Rep, and San Diego Repertory Theatre, and Festival Director for the 5th Annual New America Playwrights Fest (San Jose Rep). Elliott Hayes Award for Outstanding Achievement in Dramaturgy 2015. M.F.A. in Dramaturgy, UC San Diego. 


Marin Theatre Company is the Bay Area’s premier mid-sized theater and the leading professional theater in the North Bay. We produce a six-show season focused on new American plays, and a four-show Family Series. We are committed to the development and production of new plays, with a comprehensive New Play Program that includes productions of world premieres, two nationally recognized annual playwriting awards and readings and workshops by the nation’s best emerging and established playwrights. Our numerous education programs serve more than 8,500 students from over 40 Bay Area schools each year. MTC strives to create intimate, powerful and emotional experiences that engage audiences to discuss new ideas and adopt a broader point of view. We believe in taking risks and inspiring people to participate in live theater, regardless of personal means. MTC celebrates the intellectual curiosity of our community, and we believe that theater is an important tool to help build empathy. MTC was founded in 1966 and is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.

Sara Waugh, Director of Marketing and Communications 
(415) 388-5208 |