Brad DeFabo Akin is a director, actor, and educator with a passion for new play development and advocacy. While in high school, Brad began teaching theatre workshops to incarcerated women in North Carolina, where he grew up. Out of those workshops sprang C.H.A.I.N.S., a theatre ensemble comprised of incarcerated women who devised performances to tell their stories to audiences on the outside. The opportunity to express themselves through C.H.A.I.N.S. - which stood for Creating Hope And Inspiring New Stories - had a profound impact on many of the women involved, connecting them to jobs and educational opportunities once they were released. Following his work with C.H.A.I.N.S., Brad went on to lead educational workshops for many diverse groups in both North Carolina and Illinois.
After graduating from Northwestern University, Brad was invited to join Chicago’s critically acclaimed Steep Theatre Company. From 2005 to 2016, Brad served as the Literary Manager for Steep, leading it in it’s long-term commitment to developing new plays and introduce new playwrights to Chicago audiences. During his tenure, Brad initiated the Backyard Reading Series which helped develop and introduce 12 new plays to Chicago, a number of which went on to receive productions at theaters like Dog & Pony, The Side Project, and Chicago Dramatists. Brad also developed partnerships with the MFA Playwriting programs at Carnegie Mellon and Northwestern University, commissioning and developing new plays from some of the most promising new American playwrights. Brad was instrumental in developing three world premiere productions at Steep during this time, as well.
In 2016, Brad helped Founding Director Elizabeth Antonucci transform theater company Step Up Productions into Step Up Chicago Playwrights, an organization that supports Chicago playwrights in writing plays about who we are as Chicagoans. As Step Up's Executive Director, Brad is developing residency and commission programs that will build meaningful relationships between Chicago's talented playwright's and it's diverse neighborhoods.