Directing

Department Information

The Directing department at Yale School of Drama admits a few talented individuals each year who have demonstrated the potential to become professional directors. They bring to the School of Drama a wide range of sensibilities, but they share some crucial qualities. They are generators of ideas and projects. They are not afraid to take risks, and they take responsibility for the philosophical and political implications of their work. They have a deep respect for the artists with whom they work. Above all, they have lively imaginations, an appetite for hard questions, and a robust curiosity about the world beyond their own cultural borders.

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TENT REVIVAL by Majkin Holmquist, directed by Rory Pelsue. Carlotta Festival of New Plays, Yale School of Drama. Photo by T. Charles Erickson, 2018.

The Directing department’s entire aim is the education of the director as creative artist and leader. To that end, in course and production work, emphasis is placed on developing the director’s unique artistic imagination and mastery of collaborative leadership. We want our directors to leave Yale School of Drama able to make theater that reveals our world to us in surprising ways, that speaks to us now, whether the project is a new play or old, whether it centers on a text or is derived from material not based on the written word.

Our core courses are: (a) the Directing Practicum, which engages the student over three years in a practical exploration of theatrical composition- the relationship of form to content- through studio exercise and projects; (b) the Directing seminars, which teach practical skills in text analysis, directorial interpretation, and production preparation, using a broad range of dramatic writing, theory and production histories as course texts; and (c) the Labs, where directors, playwrights and actors develop their ability to collaborate creatively through exercises, scene work, and critical feedback.  In addition, throughout the academic year, the Directing department hosts master classes and workshops with visiting theater artists from around the world.

Because mastery in directing also requires a deep understanding of all the expressive modes that together embody theater, the Directing department’s curriculum integrates core courses of key collaborative disciplines into its programming. Directors are required to participate in the core acting courses in their first and second years. They take core courses in costume, set, lighting, and sound design, and in dramaturgy and theater management. A variety of courses in these and other disciplines may also be taken as electives.

Hands-on production work involving intensive collaboration with fellow students in all departments of Yale School of Drama is central to our training. Throughout their three years at the School of Drama, directors practice their craft in diverse forums, ranging from scene work to full productions in various performance spaces. First–year directors participate as directors in collaboratively created projects in DRAM 50a, The Collaborative Process, and direct workshop stagings of new plays by first-year playwrights in the New Play Lab. In the second year, directors direct one Shakespeare Repertory Project and one new play by a second-year playwright. Third-year directors direct a full production of their own thesis project, and direct a new play by a third-year playwright in the Carlotta Festival. Directors, in the first or second year, serve as assistant directors on Yale Repertory Theatre or School of Drama productions. All directing and assistant directing assignments are made by the chair of the Directing department (pending approval by the dean). Directors are encouraged to direct productions for Yale Cabaret and to participate in the work of the Cabaret in other capacities. Participation in a Cabaret production by a director is subject to the prior approval of the department chair. Additional projects may be assigned to directors in all three years, including new works, assistantships, and on occasion, casting in School of Drama and Yale Rep productions.