Directing

Todd is a director focused on new works. He's eager to collaborate with playwrights who offer poetic and theatrical lenses to look at the world, as opposed to perfectly mirrored reflections. Recent projects have included: A meditation on absentee voting set at a stargate, A Chekhovian Caveman play about belief, a time traveling gentrification musical for kids, and an award-winning drama about YouTube stardom during the rise of #gamergate. Check below for more details and photos or view his resume by clicking here.


Late: A Cowboy Song - Reading
by Sarah Ruhl

Mary and Crick have been in love since the second grade, but when Mary meets Red, a lady cowboy, just outside of Pittsburgh she wonders about things she hasn't explored, beyond the binaries of red and blue, man and woman, and husband and wife.

Part of Dramatic Repertory Company’s Patron’s Club Reading Series.

Ft. Joe Bearor, Bridgette Loraine, and Ella Mock.

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Small Jokes About Monsters - 2018 Workshop
by Steven Strafford

Three Brothers spend an evening at a rented beach house sorting through the recent death of their father. After learning his final wishes, and with the unexpected arrival of their mother, they come to terms with the ugly truths that lie beneath the humor they share.

Presented as part of Portland Stage's Studio Series Workshops.

Ft. Corey Gagne, Erik Moody, Tommy Waltz, and Moira Driscoll*.

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Kaya - 2018 Reading
by Iva Pezuashvili

Backus adapted Pezuashvili’s short story Kaya into a staged reading. The story focuses on a chance encounter between a photographer and a young woman in a graveyard that shakes his life’s foundation.
Presented as part of Portland Stage's 21st Annual From Away.
Ft. Peter Anestis, Catherine Buxton, and Christopher Holt.

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The Death Closet - Part of Haunting Hour 2.0
by Callie Kimball

When two women in the 14th century find themselves alone in a dark, damp room they learn about themselves, each other, and what it takes to survive. 

The Death Closet by Callie Kimball was included as part of Dustin Tucker’s Haunting Hour 2.0 a collection of spooky plays for Halloween.

Ft. Hannah Daly and Bridgette Lorainne.
Scenic Design - Meg Anderson
Lighting Design - Corey Anderson
Sound Design - Seth Asa Sengel
Costume Design - Kathleen P. Brown
Fight Director - Sally Wood
Assistant Director - Zoe Levine Sporer
Stage Manager - Alex Kimmel
Photos by Mat Garber

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The Absentee - 2018 Workshop
by Julia Doolittle

Far out in the Milky Way, “Beacons” serve as lighthouses for warping spaceships around the galaxy. When a U.S. Space Forces ship explodes near Beacon 44.AR.90, its Operator finds herself alone in deep space with only her ship’s A.I. for companionship. That is, until a persistent canvasser calls, desperate to convince her to vote absentee in the 2088 election. 

The Absentee was included as part of Portland Stage’s 29th annual Little Festival of the Unexpected.

Ft. Grace Bauer*, Charley Flyte*, René Johnson, and Evan Maltby*.

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The Nature Room - 2018 Workshop
by Nora Sørena Casey

High in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, in the middle of a majestic natural park, sits a small Natural History Museum and Gift Shop decorated to look like the forest outside. From within, Lee is trying to stop the hasty development scheduled by the new owners. But when she enlists the help of an old friend, Lee invites more than fond memories into her forest refuge.

Presented as part of Portland Stage's Studio Series Workshops.
Ft. Catherine Buxton, Hannah Cordes, Khalil LeSaldo, Erica Murphy, and James Patefield.


Dear Elizabeth - 2018 Dark Week Production
by Sarah Ruhl

Dear Elizabeth is a moving and innovative play based on one of the greatest correspondences in literary history.  From 1947 to 1977, Robert Lowell and Elizabeth Bishop exchanged more than four hundred letters. Describing the writing of their poems, their travel and daily illnesses, the pyrotechnics of their romantic relationships, and the profound affection they had for each other, these missives are the most intimate record available of both poets and one of the greatest correspondences in American literature.

Presented as a Dark Week Project at Portland Stage.

Scenic Design & Projections - Anita Stewart
Sound Design - Devin Bruton
Lighting Consultant - Emily Kenny
Dramaturg - Clare McCormick
Stage Manager - Alex Kimmel
Ft. Ron Botting*, Maureen Butler, Moira Driscoll*, Callie Kimball, Daniel Noel*, and Dustin Tucker*.

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Refuge/Malja - 2018 Workshop
by Bess Welden
with Arabic translations by Ali Al Mshakheel

Jamie, a fiercely independent Jewish-American photojournalist, calls up an old friend, Ibrahim, in the middle of the night for help and advice. She is used to covering harrowing situations, but when shoeless, motherless Waleed steps in front of her camera lens, she suddenly feels compelled to cross the professional line and assist the young refugee. Now backed into an impossible corner, Jamie needs Ibrahim to translate a message into Arabic, but hesitates to tell him the secret of why she is so drawn to the boy. This decade-spanning drama, written in English and Arabic, explores what it means to truly communicate across languages and cultures as well as within our own families, and how each of us defines and finds our own malja (refuge).

Presented as part of Portland Stage's Studio Series Workshops.
Ft. Julia Langham, Khalil LeSaldo, Tess Van Horn, and Zahraa Salim.

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Birdstrike - 2017 Reading
by Xavier Villanova

Villanova presents an examination of Diana and Francisco's failing relationship, told from end to beginning, along with her affair with  Jesus. The play is intercut with the tragic tale of a plane crash instigated by a birdstrike that kills all but two people on board. 

Presented as part of Portland Stage's 21st Annual From Away.
Ft. Catherine Buxton, Ian Carlsen, and Jared Mongeau.


Things That Are Round - 2017 Workshop
by Callie Kimball

Tetherly, a dentist specializing in existential terror, and Nina, an opera singer who just might be the worst babysitter ever, square off in a strange ballet of truth or dare. But is this a game anyone can even win? Thelma & Louise meets Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? on steroids.

Presented as part of Portland Stage's Studio Series Workshops.
Ft. Grace Bauer*, Hannah Daly, and Erica Murphy.

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The Cave - 2017 Workshop
by Eleanor Burgess

As winters get colder and food gets scarce, a makeshift tribe of cavemen struggles to decide whether to remain in the place they call home or head to greener pastures in the south. This new play by Eleanor Burgess shows us the lives that we evolved to lead, exploring our relationship with nature, our place in the universe, and what relationships mean in a time of survival.

Presented as part of Portland Stage's Studio Series Workshops.
Ft. Noah Bragg, Ellie Frances, Russell Kaback, Bridgette Kelly, and James Patefield.


The Extraordinary Life - 2016 Reading
by Mariano Tenconi Blanco

An examination of the lives and loves of two young women from a remote part of Argentina told through letters, conversation, and poetry.

Presented as part of Portland Stage's 20th Annual From Away.
Ft. Catherine Buxton and Erica Murphy.


It Can't Happen Here - 2016 Portland Stage Benefit Reading
by Sinclair Lewis
Adapted by Bennett S. Cohen and Tony Taccone

Written during the rise of fascism in Europe, Lewis’ darkly satirical It Can’t Happen Here follows the ascent of a demagogue who becomes president of the United States by promising to return the country to greatness. Witnessing the new president’s authoritarian tyranny from the sidelines is a liberal, middle-class newspaper editor from Vermont who is caught in the chaos of social upheaval.

Ft. Grace Bauer*, Channon Campbell, Cameron Foley, Anna Gravél, Meredythe Dehne Lindsey, Jody McColman, Michael Rafkin, Mark Rubin, Ann Tracy, and Dustin Tucker*.


Here, It's Color - 2016 Reading
by Matt Barbot

Barbot's quick-witted, Invasion of the Bodysnatchers-esque exploration pits a young woman against the thing that used to be her brother in a battle of cunning and survival.

Part of The Navigator's 2nd Annual Lift-Off Festival.
Ft. Kaela Garvin, Mieko Gavia, Galen Sho Sato,

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Operation Cairo - 2016 Benefit Reading
by Rebecca Jane Stokes

A 10-minute short presented for The Dirty Blondes' Bombshell Benefit.
Ft. Anjili Pal and Dondrie Burnham.


The Cave - 2016 Developmental Lab
by Eleanor Burgess

As winters get colder and food gets scarce, a makeshift tribe of cavemen struggles to decide whether to remain in the place they call home or head to greener pastures in the south. This new play by Eleanor Burgess shows us the lives that we evolved to lead, exploring our relationship with nature, our place in the universe, and what relationships mean in a time of survival.

Developed as part of Everyday Inferno Theatre Company's 2016 Playwright & Director Lab.
Ft. Mary Baynard, Zachary Clarence, Briana Sakamoto*, and Daniel Morgan Shelley*.


Deliberations - 2016 Play-in-a-Day Festival
by Hope Weiner

Part of The Dirty Blondes' Play-in-a-Day Festival: The Comments Section. Deliberations was an intense exploration of courtroom dramas, the internet, and sports metaphors that were arranged in a delightfully physicalized tête-a-tête in the short span of about 12 hours. 

Ft. Molly Elizabeth Bennett, loise Edwards, and Tyler Gardella


Derek and the Sheep - 2015 World Premiere Production
by Nora Sørena Casey
composed by Christopher Dennison

Derek and the Sheep is about community, time-travel, and siblings. It follows Derek, a young man thrown into the future, who finds his community has changed. There he meets Alice, a young girl, and Sheep, a... sheep(?). Derek tries to find a way back to the past to change the future, and Sheep revels in the idea of escaping her currently unhappy life. Will they make it into the past? Will the future stay the same? Music, Dance, and sheep tell a story about trying to find home.

Part of the Motor Company's 2015 Communal Spaces Garden Play Festival.
Ft. Koryna Flores, Marc Hem Lee*, Alison Shilling, and Christopher Dennison.


Let's Play Play - 2015 World Premiere Production and Remount
by Ben Ferber

What happens when it's your job to be friends with someone? When do you compromise artistic integrity for cash? Two Internet personalities skyrocket to stardom with a new “Let’s Play” video game show. But when a female gamer joins them, things get ugly. And then even uglier.

Let’s Play Play is about selling out, and how we use Internet personalities as replacements for real friends. It also embodies the infamously horrifying vitriol of YouTube comments.

Part of the 2015 Game Play Festival.
Part of the 2015 FRIGID Festival.
FRIGID New York Sell Out Award
Ft. Paul Karle, Brittany K Allen, and Jonathan Iglesias*.

"Easily the most interesting production of this year's bunch is Let's Play Play." - Matt Hawkins, Attract Mode

"Let’s Play Play stages a layered snapshot of Internet culture in action... A production that skillfully weaves together in-person, online, and text interaction... Small flourishes give additional force to the big-picture questions and critiques that Let's Play Play puts forth."
- Dr. Leah Richards & Dr. John Zeigler, Culture Catch

"Let's Play Play deals nicely with this IRL/URL tug-of-war, something to think about the next time you try to have an opinion on the internet."
- Liz Richards, Indie Theater Now


Stage Whispers: Founders - 2014 Reading
by Nora Sørena Casey, Shannon Stockwell, and Ella Wrenn

Curated and directed for the second series of staged readings. This evening featured selections of three plays in progress by founding members of PowerOut Casey, Stockwell, and Wrenn: Dreams of Malinche, The Continental Point of Inaccessibility, and Song Cycle .


Stage Whispers: Sarah Kane - 2014 Reading
by Sarah Kane

Curated and directed for the second series of staged readings. This evening featured selections of three of Sarah Kane's plays: Phaedra's Love, Crave, and 4.48 Psychosis


The Shadow - 2013 Workshop
by Shannon Stockwell

The Shadow, written by Hans Christian Andersen in 1847, is widely known as one of his darkest and most disturbing fairy tales. Taking inspiration from both Tennessee Williams’ poetry and Hans Christian Andersen’s prose, Shannon Stockwell’s creative adaptation explores love, art, and what it means, in the most literal sense, to be human.

Ft. Spencer Kiernan McGrath, Katie Reid, Sean Senior, and Ann Tracy.


For the Lulz - 2013 World Premiere Production
by Ben Ferber

A politically-motivated black hat hacker named poof begins attacking social networks. Fay, a stalwart tech journalist, Gale, a professor and embezzler, and MrJ, a patriotic grey hat hacker, decide to take him down for fame, for revenge, and for the lulz.

For the Lulz is a thriller based on real hacking, exciting Internet adventures, and online intrigue.

Nominated for the PEER Award for New Frontiers.
Ft. Caroline O'Connor, Shannon Stockwell, Eric Darrow Worthley, and Ella Wrenn.

"[For the Lulz’s] fast-paced dialogue abounds in the clipped syntax of Twitter, technical explanations (DDoS, “phreaking”), and the wild-west obscenities of the blogosphere (“Nice tits, cuntmuffin!”). It’s exhausting, but it does nicely express the thrills of online anonymity and alliances, as do its capable actors, who are energetic and quirkily comic."
– The Portland Phoenix


Stage Whispers: Sarah Ruhl - 2011 Reading
by Sarah Ruhl

Curated and directed the first in a series of staged readings. This evening featured selections of three of Sarah Ruhl's plays: Melancholy Play, The Clean House, and Dead Man's Cellphone.


Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde - 2011 Thesis Production
by Moisés Kaufman

A dramatic examination of a historical moment, The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde attempts to piece together the series of events leading up to and following after Oscar Wilde's three trials in relation to his romance with Lord Alfred Douglas. Using multiple (often contradictory) sources Kaufman examines the nature of truth and art in this intricate ensemble piece.


* Member, Actors' Equity Association.