Program Information

The entire aim of the David Geffen School of Drama Directing program is the education of the director as creative artist and collaborative leader. Our goal is to train directors whose future work will advance human understanding and compassion through the infinitely expressive interplay of image, action, and word unique to our art form. The Directing program strives to be a space for students to engage together in lively exploration and experimentation; rigorous, generous critique; and shared discovery. Our graduates go on to play significant roles in communities around the world as directors of theater, opera, television, and film; as founders of opera and theater companies; as artistic directors of theaters and community arts organizations; and as arts educators.

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

Each year, three directors are admitted to the program on the basis of demonstrated artistic ability and capacity for collaborative leadership. They bring to the School a wide range of sensibilities, but share some crucial qualities. They are generators of ideas and projects. They have lively imaginations, an appetite for hard questions, and a robust curiosity about, and respect for, the world beyond their own cultural borders. They are not afraid to take risks, and they take responsibility for the philosophical and political implications of their work. Above all, they have a deep respect for the colleagues with whom they work and are eager, in coming to Yale, to contribute to a mutually supportive community of fellow learners.

In course and production work, emphasis is placed on nurturing directorial imagination: developing every student’s ability to articulate and transform artistic vision into theatrical image and embodied action. Equal emphasis is placed on strengthening the director’s capacity for inclusive leadership. Our core courses are (a) the Directing Practicum, which engages the student in a practical exploration of theatrical composition—the relationship of form to content—through studio exercises 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. The Directing program also hosts an annual opera practicum with singers from the School of Music, and, through Yale College and the School of Art, provides opportunities for students to gain an introduction to filmmaking. In addition, we welcome visiting theater artists to conduct workshops and engage in discussion throughout the year.

Because the art and craft of directing require an understanding of all the expressive modes that together embody theater, the Directing curriculum integrates core courses in acting and design into its programming. Directors also take courses in dramaturgy, playwriting, and theater management. Additional courses in these and other disciplines may be taken as electives.

Production work, involving intensive collaboration with fellow students in all School programs, is central to our training. Throughout their time at the School, directors practice their craft in diverse forums, ranging from scene work in classrooms to full productions in various performance spaces. Through these opportunities, directors put theory into practice, developing their ability to respond to a range of artistic, logistical, and leadership challenges. In the first year of training, directors participate in collaboratively created projects in DRAM 50a, The Theatrical Event, and direct workshop stagings of new plays by first-year playwrights in the New Play Lab. In the second year, directors direct a Shakespeare Repertory Project and a new play by a peer playwright. In the culminating year of training, directors direct a full production of their own thesis project and may direct a new play by a peer playwright in the Carlotta Festival. In addition, directors may be assigned to serve as assistant directors on Yale Repertory Theatre or School productions.

All directing and assistant directing assignments are made by the chair of the Directing program (pending approval by the dean). Additional or alternative projects may be assigned to directors in all years of training, including new works, assistantships, and, on occasion, casting in School and Yale Rep productions.