Playwriting

Department Information

Yale School of Drama’s Playwriting department is one of the oldest in the country. Its deep history and legacy can only be strengthened by continuing to stay at the

Ciara Monique McMillian ('20) in MARTY AND THE HANDS THAT COULD by Josh Wilder ('18), directed by Lucie Dawkins ('18), Carlotta Festival of New Plays, Yale School of Drama, 2018. Photo by T. Charles Erickson.
Ciara Monique McMillian ('20) in MARTY AND THE HANDS THAT COULD by Josh Wilder ('18), directed by Lucie Dawkins ('18), Carlotta Festival of New Plays, Yale School of Drama, 2018. Photo by T. Charles Erickson.

forefront in readying early career playwrights toward leadership in our field. The program seeks to engage artists who possess singular voices and who can, with their command of language, set forth imaginative circumstances that entice audiences and challenge current forms. We are interested in students who are eager to learn and grow within a community of fellow artists, with many of whom they will form lifelong bonds.

While the program seeks to engage in many methodologies and traditions of creation, it challenges playwrights to engage in three questions: Why are you writing? With whom are you making art? And to whom are you writing?

Why are you writing? New work is at the center of the School of Drama, where the play becomes the road map with which great collaboration and examination of the human spirit can begin. Students in the playwriting program are asked to keep a sharp and generous eye on what collaborators are bringing to bear. During this process playwrights learn the time-honored practice of collaboration and begin to find new ways of collective creation that evolve forms and strategies of theater making.

With whom are you making work? New work is at the center of the School of Drama, where the play becomes the road map with which great collaboration and examination of the human spirit can begin. Students in the playwriting program are asked to keep a sharp and generous eye on what collaborators are bringing to bear. During this process playwrights learn the time-honored practice of collaboration and begin to find new ways of collective creation that evolve forms and strategies of theater making.

To whom are you writing? In the third year, the program culminates in the Carlotta Festival of New Plays. On this platform the playwright has an opportunity to develop work as close to professional practice as possible. At this stage the playwright is asked important questions about connection to audience and community. What portion of humanity are you illuminating or examining, and whom are you inviting to witness, examine, with you? The Yale School of Drama and by default the playwriting program seek to embrace the widest and most intoxicating forms of live storytelling; how then do we embrace the widest and most invigorating audience? Asking playwrights to explore what is standard practice in the industry, we then challenge them to construct strategies for expanding and subverting those expectations, in hopes of creating a path toward a unique and ambitious career.