Technical Design and Production

Department Information

Jimmy Anne Gunn ('18). Photo by Joan Marcus, 2017.
Jimmy Anne Gunn ('18). Photo by Joan Marcus, 2017.

Contemporary theater design and production practice are profoundly influenced by modern technology. As this technology has become more complex, practitioners in the performing arts must be trained to understand and apply these technologies to the achievement of artistic goals. To meet the need for ever more knowledgeable and collaborative technical managers, the Technical Design and Production (TD&P) department selects highly motivated students who are ready to use the resources of Yale School of Drama and Yale Repertory Theatre to benefit their professional growth.

The department’s academic and practical programs of study train students for the wide range of career paths in our profession including producing organizations, commercial enterprises, consulting firms, manufacturing companies, and academic departments. The program gives students the production planning tools and technical expertise to work on complex projects and with large teams immediately after graduation. The testimony to our success is the exceptional range of accomplishments of our graduates.

Students complete a required sequence of courses in addition to selecting electives that allow concentrations in such fields as Production Management, Technical Direction, Stage Machinery and Automation, or Theater Planning and Consulting. The department’s faculty and staff offer courses that cover a wide range of topics including production planning, drafting, structural design, rigging, automation, mechanical design, show control, sound and video technology, theater engineering, technical management, and health and safety. Seminars introduce students to noted professionals, and we encourage students to augment their education with courses from other departments and schools at Yale, including Architecture, Management, and Engineering & Applied Science.

These academic pursuits are partnered with production assignments that further students’ skills and professional goals. Production assignments place students in key technical management roles in mounting School of Drama and Repertory Theatre productions. The roles often served by TD&P students include: production manager, associate production manager, associate safety adviser, technical director, assistant technical director, stage carpenter, props master, assistant props master, master electrician, assistant master electrician, sound engineer, and projection engineer. Additional roles or research projects can be requested as a production assignment. All assignments serve to give students practical management training to complement and reinforce theory from the classroom. Additionally, they expose students to new technical disciplines, and students learn how to work with new teams effectively and safely. The successful completion of eight production assignments is necessary for the degree.

The three-year program culminates in a research thesis, written by the student in the student’s area of concentration. This is an opportunity to investigate and highlight a topic in technical theater that has or will have an impact on the field.