Spot On is a series of community conversations designed to illuminate the major themes of selected plays in Northern Stage’s main stage season. Featuring artists, academics, community leaders, and inspirational figures you will want to hear from, these conversations are curated to spark resonant dialogue among our community members. Conversations take place prior to a Sunday afternoon performance: talks begin at 3 PM and end at 4 PM and – NEW in 2018 – are followed by receptions in the Roesch Family Lobby with light snacks and beverages. Spot On conversations are free and open to the public, but you must reserve your seat by contacting the Box Office at or by calling (802) 296-7000.

2018-19 Spot On Conversations:

Spot On Oslo: Peacemakers and Paths to Hope
September 23, 3 – 4 PM
Free and Open to the Public, with lobby reception to follow
NEW this season: Book your free Spot On tickets through the Box Office at (802) 296-7000 or
Ticketed performance of Oslo begins at 5 PM

If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner. ~ Nelson Mandela

What does it take to be a peacemaker in today’s tumultuous world? How do individuals play a role in peacemaking? In this, the 25th Anniversary of the 1993 Oslo Accord, Northern Stage is proud to present a Spot On conversation about cultivating peace locally and internationally. With Northern Stage’s regional premiere production of J.T. Rogers’ Tony Award-winning play Oslo and the historical events and people surrounding the 1993 Oslo Accord as a jumping off point, this discussion will center around the international history, culture, and society of the modern Middle East. Spot On Oslo features Bernard Avishai and Ezzedine Choukri Fishere in conversation with Oslo director Peter Hackett and Northern Stage Director of Artistic Outreach Amanda Rafuse.

Bernard Avishai is a visiting Professor of Government at Dartmouth College, Adjunct Professor of Business at the Hebrew University, and formerly taught at MIT and Duke. A Guggenheim fellow, he is the author of The Tragedy of Zionism, A New Israel, The Hebrew Republic, and Promiscuous: Portnoy’s Complaint and Our Doomed Pursuit of Happiness. He contributes regularly on political economy and Israeli affairs to the New Yorker and has written dozens of articles for Harper’s, The New York Review, The Nation, and New York Times Magazine. He is a former editor of Harvard Business Review, and International Director of Intellectual Capital at KPMG.

Ezzedine Choukri Fishere is a leading Arabic novelist, educator, and diplomat. Touted as one of Egypt’s brightest political analysts, Fishere has had a long and storied career in and out of the Egyptian diplomatic service. He served in the cabinet of Boutros Boutros-Ghali, in the Egyptian embassy in Tel Aviv, as counselor to the Egyptian foreign minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit, and as a political advisor to the United Nations Special Envoy to the Middle East during the Second Intifada. He was part of the UN Advance Mission to Sudan UNAMIS and contributed to establishing the first UN peacekeeping mission in that country after the signing of the Naivasha peace agreement in 2005. During his year in Sudan, Fishere served as the UN’s focal point for the Darfur negotiations in Addis Ababa, Ndjamena, and Abuja. Fishere served as the political advisor to a UN fact-finding mission, lead the Egyptian Supreme Council for Culture, provided political advice to Egyptian democratic political groups and presidential candidates, coordinated the Independent Panel on Restructuring the Arab League, and was an independent member and chair of a short-lived government committee to monitor democratic transition (which he publicly denounces when that government issued a controversial protest law restricting freedom of expression). Fishere continues to write  (novels include the international best-sellers Exit, Embrace on Brooklyn Bridge, and Intensive Care) and is now Associate Professor of Political Science at the American University in Cairo and Visiting Professor of Asian and Middle Eastern Languages and Literature at Dartmouth College. He writes and speaks extensively about socio-political conditions in Egypt and the Middle East with articles appearing regularly in Egyptian dailies Shorouk and Al Tahrir.

Peter Hackett is the Avalon Foundation Chair in the Humanities and a Professor of Theater at Dartmouth College. From 1994 – 2004, Mr. Hackett served as Artistic Director of Tony Award-winning Cleveland Play House, America’s oldest professional regional theater company. During his tenure, he instituted several innovative artistic programs including the Professional Actor Training Program in partnership with Case Western Reserve University and the Next Stage new play development program. Of the over 80 plays he produced at the Play House, six moved to Broadway and off-Broadway theaters, earning national distinctions including Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle nominations and the AT&T Onstage and Obie awards. Mr. Hackett has directed at many theaters across the country and abroad including 59E59 in New York, the Denver Center Theater, the Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Lyric Theater Dallas, Geva Theater, Cape Rep, the National Theater in Miskolc, Hungary, and the Vigszinhaz in Budapest. At Northern Stage he has directed A Christmas Carol, Orwell in America, The Hound of the Baskervilles, Living Together, and Noises Off.

Spot On Dear Elizabeth: Imagination, Freedom, and Poetry
October 14, 3 – 4 PM
Free and Open to the Public, with lobby reception to follow
NEW this season: Book your free Spot On tickets through the Box Office at (802) 296-7000 or
Ticketed performance of Dear Elizabeth begins at 5 PM

The first thing democracy requires is also the first thing poetry requires, namely, imagination…In democracy and poetry we are all “one of them, too,” but only if we exercise our imaginations in acts that are both compassionate and metaphysical, both discerning and fearless, both common and radical. Such transport is human and thereby nation-saving business. 

~ Chard DeNiord, excerpts from Democracy and Poetry Both Require Imagination (Brattleboro Reformer, 7-23-18)

Sarah Ruhl’s Dear Elizabeth follows the beautiful and bittersweet friendship between poets Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell as told through the letters they wrote to one another. But what place does poetry hold in our modern culture, community, or democracy? Join us for a Spot On conversation featuring Vermont’s Poet Laureate Chard DeNiord discussing Bishop, Lowell, their relationship, and the role of poetry in our world today.

Chard deNiord is the poet laureate of Vermont and author of six books of poetry, including Interstate, (The University of Pittsburgh Press, 2015), The Double Truth (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2011), Night Mowing (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2005), Sharp Golden Thorn (Marsh Hawk Press, 2003), Speaking in Turn (a collaboration with Tony Sanders, Gnomon Press, 2011), Asleep in the Fire (University of Alabama Press, 1990), a book of essays and interviews with seven senior American poets titled Sad Friends, Drowned Lovers, Stapled Songs (Marick Press, 2011), as well as a forthcoming book of interviews with ten contemporary American poets titled I Would Lie To You If I Could (University of Pittsburgh Press). He teaches English and creative writing at Providence College, where he is a professor of English. His poems have appeared in The Kenyon Review, Ploughshares, The Antioch Review, The American Poetry Review, The American Scholar, The New York Times, Best American Poetry, and The Pushcart Prize.

Spot On Venus Rising
February 3, 3 – 4 PM
Free and Open to the Public, with lobby reception to follow
NEW this season: Book your free Spot On tickets through the Box Office at (802) 296-7000 or
Ticketed performance of Venus Rising begins at 5 PM


A new programmatic offering, Lobby Talks offer an intimate conversation prior to select shows with special guests including artists, scholars, and community leaders. Join us 45 minutes prior to selected performances for these engaging dialogues contextualizing the work you will see on stage. Lobby Talks are free and open to the public, but space is limited, so please reserve your free seat by contacting the Box Office at or by calling (802) 296-7000.

Information about the 2018-19 Lobby Talks coming soon.