Dramaturgy and Dramatic Criticism

Plan of Study

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.

Year One

The Collaborative Process
New Play Lab
Models of Dramaturgy
Editing and Publishing Workshop
Writing for the Ensemble
Criticism Workshop
Issues in Dramatic Structure and Performance Theory*
Literary Office Practicum
Dramaturgy Practicum
Research Methodologies*
Hot Topics
Modular Engagements

At least four elective courses and two modules after consultation with adviser‡†
At least one production dramaturgy assignment

Year Two

Survey of Theater and Drama
Criticism Workshop
Issues in Dramatic Structure and Performance Theory*
Literary Office Practicum
Dramaturgy Practicum
Research Methodologies*
Hot Topics
Modular Engagements

At least four elective courses and two modules after consultation with adviser‡†
At least one production dramaturgy assignment

Year Three

Criticism Workshop
Issues in Dramatic Structure and Performance Theory*
Comprehensive Examinations
Literary Office Practicum
Dramaturgy Practicum
Hot Topics
Modular Engagements

At least four elective courses and two modules after consultation with adviser‡†
At least one production dramaturgy assignment

*Translation (DRAM 246a), Issues in Dramatic Structure and Performance Theory (DRAM 306a/b), and Research Methodologies (DRAM 466a) are offered every other year. When they are offered, all dramaturgs who have not taken these courses previously are enrolled in them.

†Students must choose and complete one of the modular engagements offered by the department in each term. D.F.A. chapter conferences do not satisfy this requirement; however, Carlotta and/or Langston Hughes modules required of students assigned to those productions do.

‡Students in their first year should take the Survey of Theater and Drama (DRAM 6a/b) exemption exam. Those who do not pass may take the test again in their second year. If they do not pass on this second attempt, they must take DRAM 6a/b in their second year.

Modular Engagements

The Avant-Kilroys
Critical Race Theory
Curation Lab
D.F.A. Chapter Conference
How to Go Clubbing
Movement Dramaturgy and Collaborative Theater Making
Professional Development
Stories by Hand

Additional Courses

American Classic Comedy between the Wars
Bertolt Brecht and Augusto Boal
British Postwar Drama
British Restoration and Eighteenth-Century Comedy
Contemporary African American Playwrights
Contemporary American and British Theater
Contemporary American Drama
Corneille, Racine, and Molière: Glory, Honor, and Duty
Hamlet: An Intensive Seminar
Late Works, Late Styles
Opera as Drama
Performance Criticism
Satire: From Aristophanes to Archer and Beyond
Shakespeare and His Comic Brethren
Shakespeare’s Dramaturgy
Shakespearean Drama
Theater about Theater: The Theatricalist Play from Shakespeare to Postmodernism
Theaters of the Black Atlantic
What’s So Funny: Comic Theory and Practice

Students may elect to take appropriate graduate courses in other schools and departments at Yale, subject to permission of the instructor, scheduling limitations, and the approval of the faculty adviser.

Additional Requirements

Dramaturgical Assignments
Each student serves as a dramaturg on one or more productions per year either at Yale Repertory Theatre or in Yale School of Drama and assists the resident dramaturg and Yale Rep’s literary manager in script evaluation and related tasks. During the fall term of their first year, students are not typically eligible to be assigned to production work. In the second term, first-year students may be assigned to a play by a School of Drama playwriting student and may also work on other plays under the supervision of the resident dramaturg. In the second and third years, students may undertake a project at Yale Repertory Theatre, a third-year director’s thesis production (see Directing department, The Director’s Thesis, DRAM 140a/b), a Shakespeare Repertory Project (see Directing department, Second-Year Directing, DRAM 120a/b), or a play by a School of Drama playwriting student.

Students work on Yale School of Drama productions and Yale Repertory Theatre productions subject to availability and suitability of projects and departmental requirements.

Yale Cabaret
Dramaturgy and Dramatic Criticism students are encouraged to work in all capacities at the Yale Cabaret, but this participation is understood to be in addition to, and in no way a substitution for, required departmental work. No student with an “Incomplete” grade in any course, and no second- or third-year student on probation, may participate in the Yale Cabaret in any capacity.

Yale Repertory Theatre Literary Office
Students are trained to read scripts for Yale Repertory Theatre, and each academic year, they are required to submit written evaluations of these scripts to the Literary Office. This work is done under the supervision of Yale Rep’s literary manager, who is a lecturer in the department, and the literary fellow, who is a D.F.A. candidate in the department.

Theater Magazine Office
During their first year, Dramaturgy and Dramatic Criticism students take the Editing and Publishing Workshop (DRAM 106a), taught by the editor of Theater, the journal of criticism and performance co-published by Yale School of Drama/Yale Repertory Theatre and Duke University Press, which introduces them to major aspects of publishing such a journal. In the second and third years, qualified students may have additional opportunities to work on the magazine’s staff in a variety of editing and publishing positions. Select D.F.A. candidates may be appointed to senior staff positions as part of their doctoral fellowships. Along with essays, reviews, and translations by leading authors and professional critics, Theater has published outstanding work by Dramaturgy and Dramatic Criticism students, who are encouraged to propose and submit writing and editorial projects for possible publication.

Language Requirement
The language requirement is satisfied during the first or second year by the translation of a play in the Translation seminar (DRAM 246a). Students who wish to pursue a special emphasis in translation may take this course once more with the approval of their advisers and the course instructor.

Literary Orientation
Upon entering the department, students are required to take orientation seminars introducing them to the Yale University Library system and its various facilities and resources.

Comprehensive Examination Requirement
The comprehensives are a set of final written and oral qualifying examinations in which third-year students demonstrate their ability to bring critical depth and dramaturgical perspective to broad areas of the field. Through this process students take responsibility for mastery of subjects of their own choosing. Often these subjects have not been covered in course work.

Each student must write two independently researched exams. For each of these, the student writes essay-length answers to two questions in the chosen area of study. Topics for written examinations must be chosen in consultation with the student’s adviser and reflect breadth of study across time periods, genres, movements, etc. Areas of study should not overlap and may include major historical periods; important dramatists or other figures; basic dramatic genres; significant theoretically or critically defined movements. Other broad areas also may be devised in consultation with faculty advisers.

Each student must also submit case studies in theater history in the spring terms of the first and second years. Based upon a selection of plays chosen by the faculty in Classical and Medieval Drama in the first year and Pre-Modern Drama in the second year, these case studies demonstrate the student’s mastery of theater history. Guidelines for these case studies are available from the department.

Each student must create one dramaturgical casebook each year based on a production assignment completed during the student’s first five terms at Yale School of Drama and approved by the faculty. Casebooks must include the full and cut scripts, an essay of textual analysis, a comprehensive production history, a critical bibliography, preproduction and rehearsal journals, and other pertinent materials generated by work on the production (program pages, poster design, etc.). Guidelines for casebooks are available from the department.

These written components—exams, case studies, and casebooks—are followed by an oral comprehensive exam. Oral examinations are designed not only as defenses of the written exams but may also be a further exploration of areas students have worked up but not answered in their other comprehensives. The casebooks will provide the basis for discussion during the oral exam of the student’s development as a dramaturg. These exams will be completed in early May.

Final grades for the comprehensive examinations are determined upon completion of the process. Following each written examination, students will be given a Pass/Fail evaluation by their faculty advisers. If the faculty concludes that the exam is not passing work, the student will be informed of the areas of deficiency. In such a case the oral examination becomes an opportunity for the student to redress the deficiencies. A student who fails one or more comprehensives and/or the oral is allowed to reenroll in the comprehensive process once more during the following year. A student failing the second time is not awarded a degree.

Second-year students must adhere to the following schedule:
  • February 3, 2020: Deadline for submission of comprehension examination topics. At this time, exam topics must be submitted in memorandum form via e-mail to all non-visiting members of the departmental faculty for approval.
  • March 16, 2020: Deadline for submission of a full comprehensive proposal, including a carefully researched and selected bibliography, for faculty approval. This bibliography should reflect an understanding of the most essential reading in the proposed subject, and reflect prior consultation with appropriate members of the department's faculty.
  • April 19, 2020: Deadline for submission of final revised comprehensive proposal and bibliography.

Third-year students must adhere to the following schedule:
  • September 6, 2019: Deadline for third-year students to meet with their advisers to review and update comprehensive study procedures and propose a fall examination schedule. Students must take at least one examination during the fall term, according to the schedule below.
  • October 20, 2019: First fall deadline for taking a comprehensive examination.
  • November 4, 2019: Final fall deadline for taking a comprehensive examination.
  • February 16, 2020: First spring deadline for taking a comprehensive examination.
  • April 5, 2020: Final deadline for having completed independently researched exams.
  • May 8, 2020: Final deadline for having completed the oral examination.