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On&Off York Street--E-newsletter for the Yale School of Drama Community
On&Off York Street--E-newsletter for the Yale School of Drama Community On&Off York Street--E-newsletter for the Yale School of Drama Community On&Off York Street--E-newsletter for the Yale School of Drama Community On&Off York Street--E-newsletter for the Yale School of Drama Community On&Off York Street--E-newsletter for the Yale School of Drama Community
  VOLUME 3, ISSUE 6 JULY 2015  
    Honored  | FACES OF YSD  
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Sarah in Homeland

Sarah SokolovicThe breakout star of Detroit at Playwrights Horizons, the stellar Stella in Yale Rep’s production of A Streetcar Named Desire, and last year’s Leonore Annenberg arts fellow, Sarah Sokolovic ’11 has landed a featured role in the Showtime hit series Homeland, as an American journalist who is working for a German private security firm. The series will be filming all season in Berlin, the first American TV series to shoot entirely in Germany.

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TD&Ps Gather
TD&P Reunion
Enjoying a chance to share TD&P stories, from left-to-right, Neil Mazzella ’78, Spencer Hrdy ’17, Emily Erdman ’15, Chip Letts ’76, Kathleen Armstrong Letts ’77, Sean Walters ’16. Photo courtesy of Pam Rank ’78.

A small group of Technical Design and Production alumni from the classes of 1974–1980 gathered at YSD on April 24 and 25. The weekend started with a New Haven pizza dinner and theatre on Friday night, with many of the group attending shows at the Rep and the Cabaret. Saturday began with a tour of the Yale campus followed by a lunch with the TD&P faculty hosted by Larraine and Ben Sammler ’74 (Faculty) at their home. That evening, students joined faculty and alumni for dinner at Mory’s—in true Yale tradition.

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Dean Davis at George Mason

Richard DavisRichard Davis ’83 has worn many hats during his more than 20 years at George Mason University (including associate provost, theatre professor, and author of the school song), and now has another title to add to his curriculum vitae: Dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts. “I think becoming dean of a large-ish arts college (1,400 majors across seven programs) is in some ways the ultimate synthesis of the work I did at the School of Drama, which focused on dramaturgy and also offered me opportunities to direct a fair amount and even (gulp) design and perform a little bit. The upshot of all that was—and remains—a busy mind and dirty hands, or to put it more classically, the union of theory and practice. I'm looking forward to articulating and enacting a vision for the arts as a core value of being human, and thus an essential component of a modern university in a changing society.”

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Toasting Shalhoub and Athie

A round of well-deserved applause greeted Tony Shalhoub ’80 and Mamoudou Athie ’14 as they entered the private downstairs room at P.J. Clarke’s on March 22. Earlier, the actors had taken their bows across the street at the Mitzi Newhouse Theater after their critically acclaimed performances in Lincoln Center’s production of The Mystery of Love and Sex. Toasting them were friends, guests, and YSD alumni. No sooner had the curtain come down on his Lincoln Center debut, than Mamoudou was cast to play hip-hop mastermind Grandmaster Flash in the upcoming Baz Luhrmann Netflix drama series The Get Down. Joining him in the Netflix series will be Yahya Abdul-Mateen II ’15, in the role of Cadillac, prince of the disco world, who is the owner and proprietor of the most notorious after-hours nightspot in the Bronx.

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Lauren Wainwright Goes Tectonic

Lauren WainwirghtLauren Wainwright ’14 is the new executive director of Tectonic Theater Project, the award-winning theatre company (33 Variations, I am My Own Wife, The Laramie Project) based in New York. Before joining Tectonic, Lauren was managing producer of of The Foundry Theatre in New York. “When I left my legal career four years ago for a life in theatre,” Lauren says, “this is the kind of company I dreamed of working with. The laboratory that Tectonic has created for the development of rigorous new works has impacted artists and audience communities alike, not only through the company’s experiments with theatrical form but also by its creation of socially relevant plays that inspire.” While at YSD, Lauren served as associate managing director of Yale Repertory Theatre, general manager of the Yale Institute for Music Theatre, and Yale Fellow at Steppenwolf Theatre Company in Chicago.

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New Heads of Marketing and Communications

Daniel Cress and Steven PadlaEarlier this spring, Daniel Cress and Steven Padla were promoted to director of marketing and director of communications, respectively, at Yale School of Drama/Yale Repertory Theatre. The collaborative nature of their partnership is reflected in the daily operations of the newly organized Marketing & Communications Department. “Working together and learning from the other has made us each better in the work that we are primarily responsible for,” Daniel says. Steven agrees: “The give-and-take dynamic has strengthened the department overall: Marketing & Communications is a team.”

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Best Documentary

Peter BartonPeter Barton ’66 won the Best Documentary Feature at the 2015 Queens World Film Festival, for his work entitled Women of ’69, Unboxed. The documentary focuses on the Skidmore College class of 1969, as the women look back, 45 years later, on the societal upheavals of the late 1960s that shaped their lives. The class produced a loose-leaf and unnumbered “Yearbox” rather than a conventional yearbook for their senior year, and this “Yearbox” inspired the alumnae to reflect upon what they’ve done since graduating and what they still hope to accomplish. The award for this latest work adds to Peter’s distinguished career, which includes three Emmy nominations and three CINE Golden Eagle Awards, and the 1989 Edward R. Murrow Award for Names Can Really Hurt Us, a CBS-TV special used in the classroom to combat prejudice. His improvisational feature, The Suicide Auditions, was named best fiction film at the 2003 Georgetown Film Festival.

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A Lifetime of Design

Jess GoldsteinOn May 1, at the Hudson Theatre in New York, Jess Goldstein ’78 (Faculty) received the 2015 Theatre Development Fund (TDF)/Irene Sharaff Lifetime Achievement Award for costume design. During his career, Jess has designed costumes for opera, film, regional theatres, and more than 39 Broadway productions, including Newsies The Musical, Glengarry Glen Ross, The Homecoming, and Love! Valour! Compassion! He is currently represented on Broadway with Jersey Boys as well as On the Town. “When I was notified that I'd be receiving the award, I was asked who I'd like to have present it to me,” Jess says. “My first and only choice was Jane Greenwood (Faculty), who was my teacher when I was a student at Yale, and who I’ve been teaching alongside now for over 25 years. It was a thrilling moment for me and made even better by seeing so many old friends and colleagues as well as current and former students in the audience (many from across my time at Yale) as I gave my speech.” Jess is no stranger to taking the stage at award ceremonies: he received the Tony Award for Best Costume Design of a Play for The Rivals in 2005, and the Michael Merritt Award for Excellence in Design and Collaboration in 2010. TDF/Irene Sharaff Award honorees are selected by the TDF Costume Collection’s Advisory Committee and are presented through the TDF’s Costume Collection.

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On a Winning Streak

Martyna MajokThis year’s recipient of the PoNY Fellowship—awarded every year by the Lark Play Development Center and Playwrights of New York—is Martyna Majok ’13. The PoNY Fellowship includes a large cash grant in addition to an apartment in New York City for a year, three years of health insurance, and a living stipend.  Martyna is extremely grateful: “The PoNY Fellowship is life-changing for me. As it is with many of us who are working in the theatre these days, choosing to pursue a career telling stories on stage can feel dangerous and impossible at times, especially to a person who does not come from wealth. In the last year and a half, my husband and I have lived in 13 different sublets in NYC while we hustled to make rent while pursuing our crafts and careers. I believe it's often this kind of economic pressure that limits the range of stories we see on our stages. The PoNY Fellowship is truly the greatest gift a New York playwright could receive. I’m beyond grateful, humbled, and excited for the future ahead!” Martyna has enjoyed a string of successes since graduating from YSD, garnering The David Calicchio Emerging American Playwright Prize in 2014, the 2015 Fellowship from New York Theatre Workshop, the 2013 National New Play Network Smith Prize Commission for Political Playwriting, and The Jane Chambers Student Feminist Playwriting Prize. 

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An Award-Winning Film
43rd Festival of Nations and Bahar poster

Ali Pour Issa's ’11 second short film, Bahar (Spring), was shown at the 43rd Festival of Nations in Austria this June, where it won the Lenzing Award. The Festival is a showcase of over 1,000 short film and video submissions by independent artists, students, and individuals from around the world. Ali’s submission, Bahar, is about the traditional society and single motherhood in Iran. His debut short film, Cold Ground, appeared in eleven international festivals in North America and Europe, and received an award from the 41st Festival of Nations in Austria.

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Designing for a Tony

Catherine ZuberCatherine Zuber ’84 accepted the award for Best Costume Design of a Musical for her work on The King and I at the American Theatre Wing’s 69th Annual Tony Awards at Radio City Music Hall on June 7 in New York City. This was Catherine’s eleventh Tony nomination, and sixth win. One of theatre’s most sought-after costume designers, her career includes more than 40 Broadway shows (The Coast of Utopia, South Pacific, The Royal Family, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying), and many Off-Broadway productions (Richard III, The Cherry Orchard, The Winter’s Tale, As You Like It), as well as opera (Doctor Atomic, Les Contes d’Hoffmann, and Der Ring des Nibelungen).

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Asa Benally, Elizabeth Mak, and Jason Najjoum
Asa Benally
Elizabeth Mak
Jason Najjoum
Photo courtesy of
Jeffrey Lee/Jeffrey’s Photos

Asa Benally ’16 (Costume Design) “My childhood was spent on the Navajo Reservation. I was raised in a family of artists, weavers, and silversmiths. My grandmother wove traditional Navajo rugs, and some of her designs took up to six months to complete. She taught me my first lessons in color theory and composition. The quality of her work was dependent on her ability to be patient. These early lessons laid the foundation for my work as a costume designer.”

“When people ask ‘Why YSD?’ my answer is simple: quality. The quality of YSD is derived from the collective theatre commonality striving to improve the caliber of our process. What has been vital to my growth here has been my proximity to the creative process of my classmates in every department at YSD.”

“This past year I had the honor to design costumes for The Seagull directed by Jessica Holt ’15 and Coriolanus directed by Yagil Eliraz ’16. Next year I will be designing Cymbeline, directed by Evan Yionoulis ’85, YC ’82, at Yale Rep. It has been an exciting and productive year and I look forward to starting my third year in the fall!”

Elizabeth Mak ’16 (Lighting Design) ”I’ve just finished my second year at YSD, which was especially busy during the final months, with opening two plays (Deer and the Lovers and Preston Montfort) that ran in repertory as part of the Carlotta Festival of New Plays, and desperately running the age-old race against time to finish final projects. That just about sums up the experience of being at YSD: every moment is its own special blend of trauma and drama that threatens to overwhelm us. What is it all for? I attended the reception given in honor of design professor Ming Cho Lee (Faculty) and the new book Ming Cho Lee: A Life in Design. While listening to the author, theatre historian Arnold Aronson, talk about Ming and his work, something he said stuck with me: ‘If you study with Ming, you are linked to some of the greats of 20th century theatre.’ Every day that we spend at this school, we’re sitting (sometimes literally) at the feet of great masters. It is no mystery that YSD’s secret ingredient is a breathtakingly talented community of teachers, staff, and students. All of the heart, generosity of spirit, and dedication to art that exists in this one place is a daily reminder of what it’s all for, and what it’s all about.”

Jason Najjoum ’17 (Theater Management) “I’ve completed my first year in the Theater Management Program, and find my curricular and professional experiences, which felt like a blur due to the intensity of our first-year schedule, coming sharply into focus. I recently traveled to Seattle Repertory Theatre to conduct research for my case study (one of the capstones of the Theater Management Program), and realized that, after just nine months at YSD, I am able to have conversations about mission and strategy alignment, financial management, organizational culture, and leadership, with greater clarity and rigor. I’m so grateful for my faculty, whose curriculum has been enriched by the intelligence and collegiality of my fellow theater management students.”

“This June, I took on the expanded role of co-head of audience services for New Haven’s International Festival of Arts & Ideas. It has been a joy and honor to celebrate and build community by bringing the world’s artists and thinkers to New Haven. Thanks to my time at YSD, my career path has come into focus: to work at every level to inspire active citizenship through the interplay of arts, culture, and education.”

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ON & OFF YORK STREET is a publication of the Office of Development and Alumni Affairs, Yale School of Drama

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July 2015, Vol. Three, Issue 6