Melissa Maxwell

Melissa Maxwell is a director, actor, writer, educator, motivational speaker, the Co-Associate Artistic Director of The Great River Shakespeare Festival and the Director of Professional Development at the Stella Adler Studio of Acting.

DIRECTOR: SDC Member. Melissa specializes in new play development and has several world premieres to her credit. Productions include: Andrea Lepcio’s TUNNEL VISION (Pittsburgh’s Off the WALL Theatre, world premiere); SAFE HOUSE (The Repertory Theatre of St Louis,’s BEST OF 2015 by Chris Gibson list and ranked #3 on Ladue News’ The Best Theatre of St Louis 2015 list); SLASHES OF LIGHT (The Kitchen Theatre in association with Civic Ensemble, world premiere; NYCWAM Collaboration Award Honored Finalists); American Slavery Project’s UNHEARD VOICES (NY Historical Society, Shabazz Center, Ensemble Studio Theatre, CAP 21 and other venues; developed to give voice to the nameless souls buried at the African Burial Ground in NYC); CRUMBS FROM THE TABLE OF JOY (Juilliard School of Drama); OLIVER TWIST (The New School of Drama); MACHINAL (Queens College); THE AFRICAN COMPANY PRESENTS Richard III (Nevada Conservatory Theatre); INTIMATE APPAREL (Texas State University); LITTLE WOMEN, the musical (University of Texas at Austin); IN THE HEIGHTS (NYU Tisch School of Drama), John Biguenet’s SHOTGUN (Webster University); TROUBLE IN MIND (Ohio State University); INTIMATE APPAREL (University of Texas); SHOW WAY (Vital Theatre, a children’s musical based on Jacqueline Woodson’s award-winning children’s book of the same name, received an Off Broadway Alliance ‘Best Family Show’ nomination); NATHAN THE WISE (Pearl Theatre Company), TABOOS (American premiere at Soho Playhouse, written by Professor Carl Djerassi, the scientist who invented the contraceptive pill); DISUNION (The Fire This Time Festival); numerous productions at Stella Adler Studios, NYU’s 10 Minute Play Festival 2010, East Village Chronicles (Metropolitan Playhouse), LOVE DON’T LOVE NOBODY (National Black Theatre) and SATAN NEVER SLEEPS (Theatre at the Riverside Church), numerous productions at New Perspectives Theatre Company and the NY Int’l Fringe Festival. She’s staged several events for The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, including a presentation of The Passion Gap at the International Emmy Awards. Melissa specializes in new play development. Playwrights she has worked with in this capacity: Andrea Lepcio’s TUNNEL VISION; Judy Tate’s SLASHES OF LIGHT (finalists for the NYCWAM Collaboration award); Jonathan James Norton’s MY TIDY LIST OF TERRORS; Nandita Shenoy’s BY POPULAR DEMAND. 

WRITER: Dramatist Guild Member. Melissa is an award-winning playwright and member of the Dramatist Guild. SALT IN A WOUND, a Julie Harris Playwright Competition finalist, was produced by Chicago’s eta Creative Arts Foundation, for which it received 5 Black Theater Alliance Award nominations, including ‘Best Play’ and ‘Best Writer’, and a ‘Production of the Year’ nomination from The African American Arts Alliance of Chicago. UNREQUITED LOVE was produced at New Perspectives Theatre Company in NYC, for which it received an Audelco Award nomination. It also won her the New Professional Theatre’s Our Words Award for excellence in playwriting. Unrequited Love is in print and available through Barnes and Noble,, the Drama Book Shop and other booksellers. It is also available for download through iTunes, Nook and Kindle. Both plays have had staged readings in various festivals including CAP 21’s BlackJack Festival of New Works, The Alabama Shakespeare Festival’s Southern Writer’s Project, and New Perspectives Theatre Company’s Voices From The Edge. Her one-act, FETUS ENVY, a political satire that examines where our society is headed when women’s healthcare is commandeered by ambitious politicians and faceless bureaucrats, was originally featured in the NYC Fringe Festival as part of Urban Rock Project’s production, Patriot Acts: The Constitution Project. It was later produced by manhattantheatre source in their 2007 EstroGenius Festival, and is now published in their anthology, Book of EstroGenius 2007. In 2012, Melissa adapted it into a short film, earning her an AAPEX Filmmaker Award. The film can be viewed here: (trt: 13mins)

ACTOR: SAG-AFTRA and AEA Member. A graduate of Boston University with a BFA in theatre performance, Melissa is a veteran actor of stage, screen, television and radio. Stage credits include the Guthrie Theater, Great River Shakespeare Festival (where she is a proud company member), George Street Playhouse, The Public Theatre of Maine, The Pearl Theatre Company, Capital Rep, Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Delaware Theatre Company, Helen Hayes Performing Arts, Cincinnati Playhouse, Crossroads Theatre, Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center Institute, A partial list of film and TV credits include: Madam SecretaryMrs. Fletcher, HOSTAGES, The Thomas Crown Affair, Law & Order, The Sopranos, Third Watch, Oz, Special Victims Unit, Never Again, Petty Crimes, 13 Conversations About One Thing, Jonny Zero, As The World Turns, All My Children. and countless TV commercials. As a voice over artist, Melissa started at WGBH in Boston where she recorded several radio dramas (most notably playing Eliza in Uncle Tom’s Cabin to James Earl Jones’ Tom). Since then she has recorded numerous books on tape for the American Federation for the Blind and several voice overs for commercials and industrials.

NFT Credits

Credit Type Production Season
Actor Josh: The Black Babe Ruth 2007-08 Season