The Acting department admits talented and committed individuals who possess an active intelligence, a strong imagination, and a physical and vocal instrument capable of development and transformation, and prepares them for work as professional actors. The program of study combines in-depth classroom training with extensive production work. At the conclusion of their training, individuals will be prepared to work on a wide range of material in a variety of venues.
The first year is a highly disciplined period of training. The year begins with a concentration on realism and contemporary American playwrights, and actors are introduced in the second term to the plays of Chekhov, Ibsen, and the Greeks. The first production opportunity comes at the beginning of the second term with collaborative workshops on three new plays written by Playwriting students for the acting company. At the conclusion of the New Play Lab (DRAM 51b), students in good standing enter the casting pool for Yale School of Drama productions. Students who have demonstrated and developed their talent during the year will be invited by the faculty to return for a second year of training.
Second-year work expands the focus into verse drama, with emphasis on understanding and performing the works of Shakespeare. Students strengthen their skills and attain a higher level of ensemble work through their classes and through increasing production assignments. In the second term of the second year, the emphasis on heightened and extended language continues through work on Molière, George Bernard Shaw, and diverse texts from world literature. The third year is spent exploring the plays of Bertolt Brecht and challenging material from the twentieth century and today. Students also have multiple courses in learning to work on camera, transferring their techniques to the medium of film.
Yale School of Drama production opportunities include work in a wide-ranging season of directors’ thesis productions, Shakespeare Repertory Projects, and new plays by student playwrights. All casting is assigned by the chair of the Acting department (pending approval by the dean) based on the needs of the project as articulated by its director, the developmental needs of each student, and the desire to achieve a balance of collaborative opportunity. Actors should take note of the casting policy, described under Departmental Assignments. During the academic year, acting in projects outside the School of Drama is strongly discouraged, and permission to do so is rarely given.
Yale Repertory Theatre serves as an advanced training center for the department. All acting students work at Yale Rep as understudies, observing and working alongside professional actors and directors. Students may have the opportunity to appear in roles during the season, depending upon their appropriateness to the parts available. Through work at Yale Repertory Theatre, those students who are not members of Actors’ Equity will attain membership upon graduation.
Yale Cabaret provides an additional, although strictly extracurricular, outlet for the exploration of a wide range of material, including self-scripted material, company-devised original work, adaptations, and musicals. The department’s chair works directly with the Yale Cabaret artistic directors regarding approval of Cabaret participation by actors. Actors who are double cast may not participate in Yale Cabaret productions.
Students are required to attend all classes in their curriculum.