Playwriting

Department Information

Yale School of Drama’s Playwriting department is one of the oldest professional training programs in the country. Its deep history and legacy can only be strengthened by continuing to ready early career playwrights toward leadership in our field. The program seeks to engage artists who possess a singular voice 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 whom they will form lifelong bonds.

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.

Why are you writing? Playwrights must accept the heavy, sometimes lonely, task of bringing their intimate voice to the page. Now called to practice, students are asked to dig deeper into their imaginative responses and forge specific theatrical visions that urge staging. The aim of the program is to engage with students’ instincts and offer methods and means to keep exploration deep, personal, and sustainable.

With whom are you making art? New work is at the center of the School of Drama, and students in the playwriting program are asked to keep a sharp and generous eye on what collaborators are bringing to bear. 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 invigorating forms of live storytelling; how then do we also embrace the widest and most engaged audience?

The Playwriting department believes that Yale Cabaret is an essential part of life and practice at Yale School of Drama and encourages all its students to participate in the Cabaret—not only as writers, but also as theater artists wearing a variety of hats. Playwrights must also balance that participation with the demands of their writing schedules and assigned rehearsals.