Science Play Team

Denise Gillman is an Associate Professor of Directing & Dramatic Literature at Christopher Newport University in Newport News, VA and a Stage Directors and Choreographers Society member.  For over two decades, science plays and theater have been a major focus of her teaching, directing, and scholarship.  At CNU, she teaches “Science on the Stage” for the Honors Program that promotes interdisciplinarity between the arts, humanities, and sciences.  She has co-authored articles and a book chapter for Oxford University Press, Scholarship and Practice of Undergraduate Research (SPUR), Journal for Performing Arts Leadership in Higher Education (JPALHE), and Southern Theater Magazine.  She received her MFA in Directing from California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) and has directed professionally in California, Florida, Minnesota, and Virginia.  Her directorial work has been lauded in Backstage West, LA Weekly, LA Times and American Theater Magazine. She has given multiple science theater presentations and papers at regional, national, and international conferences.  She is the first recipient of the CNU Faculty Excellence Award in Interdisciplinarity and recently received CNU’s Faculty Development Award for Mentoring and Service.  She is the first recipient of the Prize for Teaching Innovation from Association of Theater in Higher Education (ATHE) and the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival Region IV (Southeast) for her teaching, directing, and scholarship on science plays.  She launched the science play digital database ( in 2017 and continues to build the website with her students.  She is the Founder and Artistic Director for CNU’s annual Science Play Festival. Questions or inquiries regarding her science play work can contact her at

Anna Galanides is currently a Christopher Newport University senior, majoring in Theater with double concentrations in Arts Administration and Design/Tech. Her experience with science plays began with CNU’s 2nd Annual Science Play Festival, where she acted as Stage Manager and Artistic Associate. She continues her work on science plays through an internship with Denise Gillman and the Summer Scholars Program at CNU where she has made 40 posts to the website, and interviewed theatre practitioners around the world. Anna is looking forward to acting as the Associate Artistic Director for CNU’s 3rd Annual Science Play Festival in January of 2021.

Meaghan Yesford is a senior at Christopher Newport University and is majoring in Theater with a double concentration in Design/ Technical Theater and Directing/ Dramatic Literature. She was an Assistant Stage Manager on the science play Photograph 51 in the fall of 2017 and was the Stage Manager for the science play An Experiment with an Air Pump in the fall of 2019, both directed by Denise Gillman. Meaghan’s work on the Science Plays website began in the summer of 2018 with the Summer Scholars Program at CNU. She has contributed about 80 posts to the website and presented her work at the National Conference of Undergraduate Research in April, 2019. She is currently a part of the Research Apprenticeship Program at CNU as the Assistant Director for TheaterCNU’s production of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. 

Jake Caracciolo received a BA from Christopher Newport University in May of 2020. He majored in environmental studies and minored in theater and museum studies. While at Christopher Newport, Jake has assisted in the building of sets for multiple productions. He also contributed to the Science Plays Catalogue, starting in February of 2017. Jake currently works for an audio/visual company in New York focused on musicals, plays, and concerts. He is looking to continue his passion for theater as his interests and skillsets expand. 

Shannon Farrow McNeely is an educator in Richmond, Virginia interested in science theatre and STEAM education. She presented “Act Like a Scientist: Science Theater as a Creative Approach to Address Gender Disparity in STEM Careers” at the Comparative Drama Conference (2017) and has co-authored 2 articles on interdisciplinarity in the arts with Denise Gillman and Danielle Hartman. She had the joy of participating in Christopher Newport’s Annual Science Play Festival as an actor in The How and the Why (2019) and director of The Effect (2020). McNeely graduated from Christopher Newport with her B.A. in Fine and Performing Arts (2016) and her M.A. in teaching (2017). She previously served as a Museum Educator at NASA Langley’s Virginia Air and Space Center and currently teaches third grade.

Danielle Hartman received a BA in theater and English from CNU and an MFA in theater pedagogy from Virginia Commonwealth University, where she wrote her thesis, “In Pursuit of Women Scientists: Using Science Plays to Promote Women Entering STEM Disciplines.” This work received the Association for Theatre in Higher Education/Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival Region IV prize for Innovative Graduate Studies in 2016. Her play Core of Temptation won the 42nd Annual National Playwriting Competition hosted by Wichita State University, where it was produced in 2016. Her play tackles the question of religion versus science in the creation of the universe. She has presented her work at several regional and national conferences including Southeastern Theater Conference and the Comparative Drama Conference and as part of the VCU Honors College Berglund Series and Diverse Conversations.  She works professionally in Richmond with 5th Wall Theatre and has worked with CAT Theatre and Wishing Winds Creations.  Danielle directed in the 2019 and 2020 Science Play Reading Festival at Christopher Newport University and helped to develop the online science play catalog  She currently works as an educator at Virginia Commonwealth University and University of Mary Washington and has co-authored 2 articles with Denise Gillman and Shannon Farrow on science theatre and interdisciplinary studies

Brooke Sanders began working on the Science Plays website alongside Denise Gillman in January 2017 of her Junior year at Christopher Newport University. From there, the website has been updated weekly with tens of blog posts and research.
In March of 2018, Brooke and Denise Gillman presented the catalogue at the Comparative Drama Conference in Orlando, Florida. In May 2018, Brooke graduated from Christopher Newport University with a Bachelors of Arts in Communication and a Minor in Digital Humanities. Since graduation, Brooke has worked in the social media realm for Spark Brand, an advertising firm in Tampa, Florida. More recently, she relocated to Washington, D.C. to pursue Market Research for a Public Relations organization. For further questions or inquiries, she can be reached at

Trevor Hoag (@DrHoagCNU) is an Assistant Professor of English and Director of Digital Humanities at Christopher Newport University. His forthcoming book, Occupying Memory: Rhetoric, Trauma, Mournin, investigates the rhetoricity of memory in relation to clinical/political struggle, and his articles have appeared in the journals Enculturation, Hybrid Pedagogy, and Liminalities. Dr. Hoag’s professional website can be found at: http://trevorhoagphd.o