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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 4 DECEMBER 2014  

    Honored |  FACES OF YSD |  ON STAGE & SCREEN
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From York Street to 54th Street
Fatal Eggs
Some of the members of Old Sound Room. From L to R: Laura Gragtmans ’12, William DeMeritt ’12, Elia Monte-Brown ’14, Adina Verson ’12, Michael McQuilken ’11, and Jackson Moran ’13.

Thanks to the support of the Araca Project, a program that strives to foster artistic entrepreneurship, two original Yale Cabaret productions, The Fatal Eggs (2012) and Bones in the Basket (2009), as well as a work entitled October in the Chair and Other Fragile Things, by Yale alumni company Old Sound Room, premiered Off-Broadway at the American Theatre of Actors this October.

The Fatal Eggs, translated and adapted from Mikhail Bulgakov’s 1924 novella by Ilya Khodosh ’14, DFA cand., and Dustin Wills ’14 (who also directed the show), played October 2–5 in NYC. With additional support from the Princess Grace Foundation, and sponsored by Fractured Atlas, the cast included Josiah Bania ’13, Chris Bannow ’14, Ceci Fernandez ’14, Michelle McGregor ’14, Daniel Reece ’14, Mickey Theis ’14 and Ilya Khodosh. The play included costume design by Nikki Delhomme ’13, dramaturgy by Kate Attwell ’13, lighting and projection design by Solomon Weisbard ’13, scenic design by Carmen Martinez ’14 and Kate Noll ’14, sound design by Matt Otto ’13, and puppetry by Dustin Wills. The show was produced by Lauren Wainwright ’14 and Kate Attwell. Dustin was “thrilled that a majority of the original team was reassembled for the production.”

Bones in the Basket, a story about a group of Russian storytellers that takes over a theatre, was conceived by Alexandra Henrikson ’11 and directed at both the Cabaret and in NYC by Devin Brain ’11. The show ran October 9–22, with a cast that included Danny Binstock ’11, Stéphanie Hayes ’11, Blake Segal ’11, Jill Taylor ’12, and Alexandra Henrikson. Other YSD alumni involved in the production included Valérie T. Bart ’10 (costume design), Tanya Dean ’11, DFA cand. (dramaturg), Alan C. Edwards ’11 (lighting design), Tara Kayton ’11 and Lindsey Turteltaub ’11 (producers), Michael McQuilken ’11 (sound design), Kirsten Parker ’11 (stage manager), and Meredith Reis ’13 (scenic design).

Old Sound Room, a new company comprised of 12 recent YSD alumni, presented October in the Chair and Other Fragile Things October 29–November 2, in New York. Directed and sound-designed by Michael McQuilken ’11, who created the show’s original music with Laura Gragtmans ’12, the show is an original adaptation of short stories by the English author Neil Gaiman. The cast included William DeMeritt ’12, Elia Monte-Brown ’14, and Jackson Moran ’13. Solomon Weisbard ’13 designed the lighting and Liz Groth ’10 created the puppets. The show premiered in September at the Amsterdam Fringe Festival in its Best of Fringe category.

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TD&Ps Gather Near and Far
Right: Members of the TD&P Classes of ’88 and ’89 with Ben and Laraine Sammler. Left: Ben Sammler lecturing in Beijing.
Members of the TD&P Classes of ’88 and ’89 with Ben and Laraine Sammler. Photo by Kenny Sanders. Ben Sammler lecturing in Beijing. Photo by Xiao Sun and Huabin Fu.

Ben Sammler ’74 (Faculty) traveled to Beijing, China, this past June for the Education of Stage Technologies and Theatre Architects Forum & Exhibition, co-hosted by the National Academy of Chinese Theatre Arts and the Chinese Association of Stage Design. The two-day event brought together 14 international guest speakers, including Ben, as well as a number of theatre professionals from China, with the goal of forging connections between theatre schools in China and abroad. Ben presented a talk entitled, “Technical Design: Past and Present.” He also visited Taiwan, where he lectured at Taipei National University of the Arts Performing Arts Center as well as the National Theatre and National Concert Hall on production planning and Yale School of Drama and Yale Repertory Theatre. While there, he also met with YSD TD&P alumni Pater Liao ’98, Lung-Kuei Lin ’05Pu Lin ’00, Tien-Tsung Ma ’92 (Former Faculty), and Eugene Yang ’01, who not only participated in the Forum & Exhibition in Beijing but also served as Ben’s interpreter for the lectures.

This summer saw the 25th reunion of the TD&P Class of 1989. Six of its eight alumni, including Todd Berling ’89 (Former Faculty), Tim Fricker ’89, Rod Hickey ’89, Vicki Peterson ’89, Kenny Sanders ’89, and Shane Smith ’89, gathered at Ben Sammler’s home to celebrate with a mini “Mandatory Fun” cookout. They were joined by fellow TD&P alumni Patricia Bennett ’90, Richard Gold ’91, Ross Richards ’88, and Tom Sullivan ’88, as well as Don Harvey ’85 (Former Faculty), Alan Hendrickson ’83 (Faculty), Bill Reynolds ’77 (Faculty), Laraine Sammler, and Don Titus (Staff). “We were a close knit group from the very beginning. We had tremendous respect for one another as theatre artists, engineers, managers, and as people,” writes Kenny Sanders in an email. “By 2014, it was just time to get together. It took us less than 30 seconds to reconnect.”

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Theater Managers Emerge as Leaders
Meghan Pressman. Jennifer Lagundino. Hannah Granneman.
Meghan Pressman
Photo by Erik Pearson ’09
Jennifer Lagundino
Photo by Flordelino Lagundino
Hannah Grannemann
 

Meghan Pressman ’10, SOM ’10 is the new Managing Director of Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company. “This is a remarkable organization,” Meghan says, “and Woolly's innovative ideas regularly impact artists, the Washington, DC community, and the industry at large. My background and passion as an arts administrator lies in supporting artists in the development of new work and engaging with the community through dynamic productions, and I am looking forward to continuing that work at a company that is a leader in the field at both.” Previously, Meghan served as the Director of Development for New York City’s Signature Theatre.

As Meghan exits the Signature, Jenny Lagundino ’13 enters as its new Development and Special Events Associate. “I am thrilled to join the team,” she says. “I admire the Company’s commitment to exploring the voice and vision of the playwright through its unique residency programs and to making theatre more accessible through the Signature Ticket Initiative, which subsidizes two-thirds of the cost of every initial-run ticket.”

Children’s Theatre of Charlotte recently announced that Hannah Grannemann ’08, SOM ’08 is its new Executive Director. Hannah is former managing director of PlayMakers Repertory Company in Chapel Hill. “I plan to do a lot of listening and learning about how the organization runs before I make any changes,” Hannah says. “I want to be responsive to how the theatre is now, which is very strong.” Jami Farris, chair of the theatre’s board of directors, called Hannah “a rising star on the national scene.”

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  HONORED
Best in Show
Cole Lewis and Leora Morris.
Cole Lewis and Leora Morris with their SummerWorks awards.
Photo by Erika Jacobs.

He Left Quietly, written by Yaël Farber and directed by Leora Morris ’16, was awarded Best Production at Toronto’s 23rd annual SummerWorks Performance Festival. Originally produced at the Yale Cabaret this past February, the show went on to the Festival in August with its School of Drama design team—Fabian Aguilar ’16, Michael F. Bergmann ’14, Andrew Griffin ’16, Kate Marvin ’16, Christopher Thompson ’16, and stage manager Sonja Thorson ’14—and a new cast of Toronto actors.

“It was thrilling to return to my hometown of Toronto with He Left Quietly, and to bring my incredible creative team with me,” Leora says. “We all embraced the opportunity to revisit and expand this work—and winning the Best Production Award was a wonderful recognition of everyone's passionate commitment to the story and the collaborative way in which we brought it to life.” Reviews praised the production as “biting, shocking, and uncomfortable in the best possible ways” and proclaimed: “Hats off to the production team, led by director Leora Morris, for a fine job.”

At the same festival, Cole Lewis ’14 directed Antigonick, an unconventional take on Sophocles’s Antigone by the acclaimed Canadian poet, scholar, and translator Anne Carson. The show was also named one of the top ten productions at the Festival and won Cole its Theatre Centre Emerging Artist Award. The play was produced by Cole and her new company, Guilty By Association, whose members include Lauren Dubowski ’14, DFA cand., Nick Hussong ’14, Masha Tsimring ’13—and, for this production, Sam Ferguson ’14 and Reid Thompson ’14. “It was amazing to bring my YSD colleagues to Canada to make theatre,” Cole says. “Our work inspired conversation in Toronto about different design styles and acting techniques. It was a real joy to inspire the talented cast with our ideas and collaborative process.”

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The Groundbreaking Annie Dorsen

Annie DorsenAnnie Dorsen ’00, YC ’96 recently won the prestigious Herb Alpert Award in the theatre category. Annie developed Passing Strange with Stew and Heidi Rodewald at Berkeley Rep and at the Public Theater, and then went on to direct its Broadway production.

Directing mainstream musicals was never Annie’s plan. After Yale, she spent a lot of time traveling through Europe, “cobbling together my own custom-designed secondary training, or anti-training,” she says. “You could say that I was building up a traditional American directing career at the same time that I was dismantling it.”

Next on her schedule is a decidedly un-Broadway lecture on algorithmic theatre at Impakt Festival, Utrecht, Netherlands, in November. “She's one of a kind,” says Liz Diamond (Faculty), “and in many ways exactly the type of searching, ground-breaking director I most love to let loose on the world!”

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  THE FACES OF YSD

Sarah Holdren, Brendan Pelsue, and Jon Roberts
Sara Holdren
Photo By Jessica Holt
Brendan Pelsue
PHOTO BY Alexander Olden
Jon Roberts
Photo By Stephanie Smith

Sara Holdren ’15, YC ’08 (Directing) “‘Our doubts are traitors and do make us lose the good we oft might win by fearing to attempt.’ That line comes from Measure for Measure, which I directed as my Shakespeare Repertory Project, and it’s one I continue to carry with me on my YSD journey. This place is a whirlwind, like an overwhelming three-ring circus where everyone is juggling flaming chainsaws while balancing on a tightrope. It’s easy to get lost, distracted, emotional, and just generally astonished by the immensity of the world and the challenge of making one’s way in it. But being surrounded by a cohort of smart, fascinating, multi-talented fellow circus freaks is a daily invitation to conquer insecurity with joy—to face the not-knowing with a smile and a leap off the cliff. Working on my thesis, The Master and Margarita, renewed my love for what I do and the people I’m lucky enough to do it with. ‘Once more unto the breach, dear friends….’”


Brendan Pelsue ’16 (Playwriting) “Returning to YSD after my first summer away, I am struck with a renewed sense of the extraordinary collaborative and creative opportunities available to me here. This semester, I have two exciting projects. First, I am trying my hand at a contemporary version of a Japanese Noh play for my Studio Presentation, a project in which I am working with director Leora Morris ’16 on a personal obsession of mine: theatrical vocabularies that portray both the inside and the outside of a character’s experience. Then, I am working with director Andrej Visky ’15 and dramaturg Samantha Lazar ’15 to complete a new translation/adaption of Molière's Don Juan for Andrej’s thesis. It has been a real joy to sit with those two and mine the richness of the text—as a playwright, it’s a rare experience to have such an in-depth encounter with a classic. Both projects make me grateful for the collaborators I’ve found at YSD. My conversations with them, both inside and outside the rehearsal room, are the richest part of my time here.”


Jon Roberts ’15 (Sound Design) “As an ‘older’ student, I had some trepidation about coming to YSD. I was not certain how the Yale organization and my colleagues would accept being around someone who could be their father (or even their grandfather). For example, I had trouble registering because of an ‘error’ in my birthdate. Surely, my year of birth was 1984, and could not possibly be 1948, since that would have put me one foot in the grave. When moving into my rental apartment, the real estate agent insisted I put my son’s or daughter’s name on the rental form as the person occupying the apartment. My healthcare forms required that I write down when I received my measles, mumps, and rubella shots, but there were no such shots when I was a kid—I got my immunity from getting those illnesses!

“Everything has been much smoother, however, with my fellow students. I have found everybody to be remarkably accepting of having someone of my ‘maturity’ in their midst. All of the teachers and classmates I’ve encountered have been nothing but friendly, welcoming, and extremely helpful in my adapting to YSD, and indeed using many of the tools that are required for the academic activity. Now, if I could only get more sleep!”

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  On STAGE AND SCREEN
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Below is a sampling of the work of YSD alumni and faculty.

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The Oldest Boy by Sarah Ruhl (Faculty) opened at the Mitzi E. Newhouse Theatre on November 3, directed by Rebecca Taichman ’00, with costumes by Anita Yavich ’95.

Sticks and Bones by David Rabe opened at the Pershing Square Signature Center on November 6, with sets by Derek McLane ’84 and costumes by Susan Hilferty ’80.

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Jim Simpson ’81 directs I See You by Kate Robin at the Flea Theater. It opened November 16.

A Delicate Balance by Edward Albee opened November 20 at the John Golden Theatre, with sets by Santo Loquasto ’72.

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The Cocktail Hour by A.R. Gurney ’58 opened November 28 at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis.

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Peter and the Starcatcher by Rick Elice ’79 opens at the Lucie Stern Theatre at Theatre Works in Palo Alto on December 6.

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Airline Highway by Lisa D ’Amour opens December 4 at Steppenwolf, with set design by Scott Pask ’97.

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The Elephant Man, lighting by Philip Rosenberg ’59 (Former Faculty), featuring Patricia Clarkson ’85 and Chris Bannow ’14, opens December 7 at the Booth Theatre.

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Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike by Christopher Durang ’74 opens January 7 at the Huntington Theatre Company in Boston.

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I’m Gonna Pray for You So Hard by Halley Feiffer opens January 7 at Atlantic Stage 2, directed by Trip Cullman ’02, YD ’97.

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Stagger Lee, a new musical, opens at the Dallas Theater Center on January 21, directed by Patricia McGregor ’09.

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Lupita Nyong’o ’12 has optioned the film rights to author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s novel Americanah and will partner with Brad Pitt's Plan B to produce it. The story is about the immigrant experience from the point of view of Nigerians in America.

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Paul Giamatti ’94 YC ’89 has joined the cast of Universal's N.W.A. biopic, Straight Outta Compton, playing Jerry Heller, manager of the group N.W.A. (an abbreviation of Niggaz Wit Attitudes), an American hip hop group, sometimes credited as the most important group in the history of rap music.

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Charles “Roc” Dutton ’83 will return to network television in the new series Comeback Dad for the UP channel.

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  Yale School of Drama

Yale School of Drama
P.O. Box 208244
New Haven, CT 06520-8244
203 432 1559

drama.yale.edu/alumni

 

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

Deborah S. Berman, Director
Barry Jay Kaplan, Editor
Katherine Ingram, Associate Editor
Kathleen A. Martin, Graphic Designer

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December 2014, Vol. Three, Issue 4