Dramaturgy and Dramatic Criticism

Department Information

Students in the Dramaturgy and Dramatic Criticism department receive intensive training to prepare for careers in three areas: to work in theaters as dramaturgs, artistic producers, literary managers, and in related positions; to work in theater publishing as critics and editors as well as in other capacities; to teach theater as practitioners, critics, and scholars.

FATHER COMES HOME FROM THE WARS, PARTS 1, 2 & 3 by Suzan-Lori Parks, directed by Liz Diamond. Yale Repertory Theatre, 2018. Photo by Joan Marcus.
FATHER COMES HOME FROM THE WARS, PARTS 1, 2 & 3 by Suzan-Lori Parks, directed by Liz Diamond. Yale Repertory Theatre, 2018. Photo by Joan Marcus.

At the core of the training are seminars in literature, theory, criticism, and history offered by the department’s faculty. These may be supplemented by courses taught elsewhere in the University if approved by students’ advisers. The aim is to impart a comprehensive knowledge of theater and dramatic literature—a knowledge necessary to the dramaturg, the writer and editor, and the teacher. Regarding the latter, every effort is made to give qualified students teaching experience within the University.

Of particular importance in the program of study are the criticism workshops, which are taught by various members of the faculty and which students must take in each of their six terms. These courses are designed to improve skills in thinking and writing, and are an essential component in the faculty’s evaluation of students’ progress from term to term.

Historically, Yale School of Drama has been a pioneer in this country in introducing and establishing the dramaturg as an essential presence in the creation of theater and as a key member of a theater’s staff. Under the supervision of the resident dramaturg of Yale Repertory Theatre, students are assigned to work on many varied productions, including those of new scripts by School of Drama playwrights, workshops and full productions by School of Drama directors, and professional presentations of classical and contemporary works at Yale Repertory Theatre. Among the areas in which students participate are text preparation and oversight; translation and adaptation; preproduction and rehearsal work on issues of design, direction, and performance; contextual research; program notes and study guide preparation; the conducting of audience discussions; participation in programs in educational outreach; and related work in conjunction with the marketing and media departments. Students also assist in Yale Repertory Theatre’s literary office with script evaluation and communication with writers and agents. Thus students are trained in topics in institutional dramaturgy, including the formulation of artistic policy and its communication and implementation, and as production dramaturgs, operating within the rehearsal process.

In recognition of the fact that dramaturgs may not only assume the leadership of theaters under such titles as artistic director and producer but may also found theaters themselves, the Dramaturgy and Dramatic Criticism department has entered into a collaboration with the Theater Management department to create an optional course of study drawing from the strengths of both disciplines. By creating this interchange, Yale School of Drama seeks to remain at the forefront in fostering the discovery and exploration of new organizational models so that the art of theater will continue to flourish. More information on this partnership is available from the department.

In addition to their training in production dramaturgy and literary management, students have opportunities to develop as writers, editors, and translators through their work on the professional staff of Theater magazine, published three times annually by Yale School of Drama/Yale Repertory Theatre and Duke University Press.

Theater has been publishing new writing by and about contemporary theater artists since 1968. The magazine’s perspectives are different from those of any other American publication: at once practical, creative, and scholarly. Issues include new plays, translations, and adaptations; forums about policy, politics, and productions; interviews with writers, directors, and other artists; creative dossiers and polemics; and book and performance reviews. The publication maintains an electronic archive, a website, and social media pages, and it curates symposia and live events on campus and beyond.

Click here to learn more about the M.F.A. degree requirements, or here for more information about the D.F.A. program.