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 4, ISSUE 1 FEBRUARY 2016  
    OFF YORK STREET   / OFF OFF YORK STREET   /  FACES OF YSD
Make a Gift
facebook    
    horizontal rule    
 
  ON YORK STREET
Shaunette Renée Wilson Wins a Princess Grace Award

Shaunette Wilson Congratulations to Shaunette Renée Wilson ’16, winner of a 2015 Princess Grace Award. Shaunette received the Grace LeVine Theater Award, named for a niece of Princess Grace (Kelly) of Monaco. “I am extremely honored to receive a Princess Grace Award,” Shaunette says. “This award will allow me to pursue my artistic dreams and to travel and connect with fellow artists and supporters of theatre. I am grateful for their support of my career and I am thrilled to be a part of this incredible community of artists.”

solid rule
Celebrating Diverse Voices
The YSD community hosts five student-run affinity groups. Here, in their own voices, students describe the goals and activities of their groups:
Folks
FOLKS members present during an orientation event. Photo courtesy of Jireh Holder ’16.
Folks By Jiréh Holder ’16 and Tori Sampson ’17

FOLKS, founded by Angela Bassett ’83, exists to cultivate black solidarity, a black legacy, and high-risk artistry amongst the black artists at YSD.

In 2013, FOLKS entered a new era, beginning a staged reading series. The inaugural season presented all 10 of August Wilson’s Century Cycle plays to the YSD and New Haven communities. We went on to present a series focused on women playwrights of color, and this year we are responding to the current political and social climate with a season titled “Black Arts in Movement: Exploring How Theater and Activism Can Work in Tandem.”

FOLKS’s proudest accomplishment of this year has been organizing a schoolwide memorial for those hundreds of Americans who have died at the hands of law enforcement. The event took place during orientation week, serving both to welcome students of all ethnic backgrounds and to claim a safe space for YSD students to align their art with their moral compasses.

Another focus of FOLKS this year is forging connections with alumni. We would especially like to invite alumni to come back to campus to hear our readings. We also have opportunities for alumni to serve as mentors for current students; please get in touch if you’re interested in participating! Our hope is that FOLKS will continue to be a resource and community for black artists long after graduation.

Asian Potluck By Ashley Chang ’17

Dipika Guha

Asian Potluck is the Asian and Asian American coalition of Yale School of Drama students and alumni, so named for our rich history of gathering around food. We convene to discuss topics relevant to current controversies and issues affecting our population in the theatre community, both at Yale and in the United States at large. We celebrate and promote a radically inclusive canon of Asian and Asian American theatrical works.

Our mission is to foster a community of socially and politically engaged theatre artists and activists around Asian and Asian American experiences and cultures, which are often collapsed, misrepresented, and made invisible. Asian Potluck, which is open to all people with or without Asian heritage, allows resources about Asian American theatre, culture, and community to be shared.

The Allies Group By Libby Peterson ’16, Patrick Madden ’18, & Jason Najjoum ’17

The Allies Group came together as a gathering of like-minded people standing in support of our friends. We believe that allyship promotes personal and professional development. Despite the drama and theatre community’s interest in the human condition and the appearance of inclusion, we still see power held in the hands of a few.

We are a group for people who recognize that they have privilege in any way (race, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, class, ability, age, religion, etc.). We want audiences to experience diversity through the varieties of stories, forms, and bodies on stage. We work to build skills that allow us to promote a better world for all people.

We meet bi-weekly to discuss current or past experiences and learn from each other. We read and share articles and celebrate the collective wisdom of the group. The Allies Group is a place to ask questions, challenge one another, and learn from each other.

ActOUT By Sam Linden ’18

For many in the LGBTQ+ community, theatre is a place of refuge—the first place they have felt accepted for who they are, the first time they’re able to express themselves fully, or the first time they’ve truly felt a sense of belonging. In ActOUT, we aim to bring together LGBTQ+ students and allies at YSD and foster connections with LGBTQ+ groups at Yale's other graduate and professional schools. We also want to create a space to acknowledge the rich history of LGBTQ+ theatre, and champion its contemporary artistry and activism.

Some of our plans for this semester include our first-ever public play reading, social events with other graduate schools, and discussions with faculty and staff. In the future, we’d love to bring more LGBTQ+ theatre artists to campus and forge connections to the larger LGBTQ+ theatre community.

El Colectivo By Catherine María Rodríguez ’18

El Colectivo

El Colectivo is Yale School of Drama’s pan-Latinx and Latin American affinity group. A collectively organized ensemble, El Colectivo is a dedicated space for members to engage Latinidad through community building and through works featuring Latinx and Latin American voices and experiences. We also work to connect with the broader YSD, Yale University, greater New Haven, and national theatre communities. Our recent events have included an exploration of new work with Richard Montoya, co-founder of the satirical theatre group, Culture Clash, and late-night tapas with Lydia Garcia ’08, resident dramaturg at Oregon Shakespeare Festival. El Colectivo presented Cloud Tectonics by José Rivera at the Yale Cabaret February 11-13, 2016.

Back to top

dotted rule
Human Rights and the Arts

Dipika Guha
Photo by Andrew Demirjian.

Dipika Guha ’11 has been selected to participate in Yale Law School’s JUNCTURE, a yearlong collaborative exploration of the areas where art and the creative process intersect with human rights. Sponsored by the Orville H. Schell, Jr. Center for International Human Rights at Yale Law School, with support from the Robina Foundation and the Oscar M. Ruebhausen Fund, the program includes a public lecture series, an exhibition, and a multi-disciplinary graduate seminar. Students participating in JUNCTURE discuss topics in human rights, legal theory, art history, and philosophy, while also engaging directly with works of art and drama. The initiative allows students to confront ethical questions surrounding the artistic representation of pain and atrocity, while investigating art’s power to bring about societal change.

Dipika is one of four artists selected to work with students on research projects and the creation of new works of art. She and the students participating are producing a play about migration and refugee crises. This collaboration has afforded Dipika an opportunity to delve into topics that have long been embedded in her work as a playwright. “Most exciting is that the students and I can work to distill a poetics from our research together,” Dipika says. “The initiative is open-ended enough that our focus can evolve as we go. This allows for a deep investment in the process, the conversation, and the work that results.”

solid rule
Meet the Cast
Eclipsed Cast with Dean Bundy
James Bundy ’95 (Dean) with the Eclipsed cast: (Left to right) Pascale Armand, Saycon Sengbloh, Akosua Busia, Lupita Nyong’o ’12, and Zainab Jah. Photo by Samuel Stuart Hollenshead.

Members of the YSD Board of Advisors were joined by students, alumni, faculty, and staff in October to see Lupita Nyong’o ’12 perform in Danai Gurira’s Eclipsed at The Public Theater in New York. The event included a reception with the cast after the performance. Eclipsed ran at Yale Rep in 2009 and opened on Broadway at the Golden Theatre this month.

Back to top

solid rule
Noël Coward's World
Maria Aitken Workshop
Maria Aitken (back row, third from right) and Charles Tuthill (second row, second from left) with second-year actors in the January workshop. Photo by Deborah Berman.

In January, the actress and director Maria Aitken led second-year acting students in a week-long class exploring the works and style of Noël Coward, funded by the Noël Coward Foundation. Charles Tuthill, an actor and acting coach, assisted Maria in teaching the class, where students studied Coward’s plays and learned to employ Coward's particular style.

Maria has performed more leads in Coward productions than any other living actress, and she is an expert in Coward's high comedy technique. “I have taught this class to the second-year acting students annually, for six years now," said Maria. "It's something I look forward to for months and then enjoy rather more than is decorous. This year was no exception. Using language as decoy to the underlying intention is a very British trait, but they eventually took to it like ducks to water. Heaven knows what it will do to their private lives.”

Back to top

solid rule
YSD’s Newest Resource

Ariel YanIn December, YSD welcomed Ariel Yan as registrar and admissions administrator. Ariel has worked at Yale since 2010, most recently as the catering manager for Yale Hospitality. She has also served as a volunteer for the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History. Before coming to Yale, she was a project manager in New York City for an international translation and interpretation business. Ariel is a graduate of Vassar College and holds an MBA from Northeastern University, where she also worked in the business school’s registrar and admissions office. An avid theatergoer, Ariel says, “I am thrilled to be a part of this diverse and creative place.”

In her new position, Ariel coordinates applications, admissions, enrollment, and course registration, while also maintaining academic records. She also works with those alumni who return to YSD to audit classes. Ariel is an important resource for YSD students from the moment they send in their applications until long past graduation.

Back to top

solid rule
  OFF YORK STREET
A Floating Opera

Floating OperaChristina Bullard ’07 has joined her long-time collaborator and close friend, opera director Isabel Milenski, in launching Floating Opera New York. The company presented its inaugural production on October 16-18, 2015 on a restored floating barge in Red Hook, Brooklyn, performing Debussy’s water-themed opera, Pelleas and Melisande. Christina reports, “We had a very successful run. We completely sold out which led us to turn our last dress rehearsal into a preview so that more people could come and see it!”

The one-hundred year-old railroad barge was the inspiration for the company’s name. Christina explains that “Floating Opera” also conveys “the inspirational power of great art and the company’s choice to forego a singular permanent performance space.” Christina writes, “Our hope is to make great art through relationships that extend beyond the opera itself. Through both performance and social events, our goal is to bring together like-minded people from all different fields in a great exchange of thoughts and ideas with opportunities for uncommon collaborations.”

In the spring, the company will produce the New York premiere of John Cage’s Europeras 3 & 4. The performance will be paired with a mushroom tasting, acknowledging John Cage’s role as a founder of the Mycological Society of New York.

Back to top

solid rule
Books on Broadway

Books on BroadwayRoberta Pereira ’08, producing director of The Playwrights Realm, and fellow producer Brisa Trinchero, founder of Make Musicals, have been successfully running Dress Circle Publishing (DCP) since its founding in 2011. “Our company is entirely dedicated to publishing theatre-themed books, written by and for the theatre community,” says Roberta. “No other publisher distributes this kind of work. We identified an underserved niche, and filled it.” Their audience is made up largely of people who don’t live in New York and who have limited access to Broadway. “Our books provide them with that connection,” Brisa says. Roberta agrees, “We give them a peek behind the curtain.”

Dress Circle Publishing is now a successful business with six best-sellers. Their current catalogue includes The Untold Stories of Broadway by Jennifer Ashley Tepper, director of programming for the music and performance venue Feinstein’s/54 Below, and Seth’s Broadway Diary by Seth Rudetsky, Emmy-nominated writer, performer, composer, and radio host. Seth’s Broadway Diary, Volume 2 was released in October 2015. DCP also recently published the novel Starstruck by Ruby Preston, which is being adapted for television by Excelsior Entertainment.

Roberta says, “We run Dress Circle Publishing like a theatre company.” Brisa explains, “Roberta is the equivalent of an artistic director, editing and working with our authors, and I’m like the managing director, handling the business. And we structure our release schedule like a season.”

solid rule
Translating Shakespeare

Play On!The Play on! project at Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF) has commissioned a group of playwrights and dramaturgs to translate all 39 plays attributed to Shakespeare. Thirteen YSD alumni are participating in the project: Christina Anderson ’11, Lydia G. Garcia ’08, Marcus Gardley ’04, Dipika Guha ’11, Mead Hunter ’88, Hansol Jung ’14, Douglas Langworthy ’92, Drew Lichtenberg ’08, James Magruder ’88, DFA ’92, Kate McConnell ’05, Rob Melrose ’96, Brighde Mullins ’87, and Amelia Roper ’13.

YSD Chair of Playwriting, Jeanie O’Hare, is serving as dramaturg for Love’s Labor’s Lost with playwright and current student Josh Wilder ’18. “Working at Play on! while studying at YSD is the best of both worlds,” says Josh. “I get to fully immerse myself in Shakespeare’s text while learning about the engine that made his plays survive for so long. I’m really getting a 360° perspective.”

The goal of Play on! is to update the more antiquated language in Shakespeare’s plays while retaining the original intent. Josh explains, “Shakespeare wrote for the people and I plan to keep the flame alive.” The announcement of Play on! sparked a debate about elitism and accessibility in productions of Shakespeare’s work, but OSF says this is part of their goal. They view Play on! as “an opportunity to join a national conversation about language, the classical canon, the artistic process, and diversity and inclusion.” OSF is committed to bringing a broad range of voices into the conversation, beginning with the diverse group of artists. Of the 36 playwrights working on the project, more than half are people of color and more than half are women.

Drew Lichtenberg, the dramaturg for The Taming of the Shrew, writes, “I have increasingly come to feel that distinctions between new and classical texts are academic. I have seen firsthand how every contemporary production of Shakespeare is actually a translation, how the body of works we term ‘Shakespeare’ is actually the result of hundreds of years of editorial collaboration, how directors have been drawn to Shakespeare’s works because of the opportunities they provide for reinvention.”

solid rule

McManamonBrian McManamon ’06 has been named artistic director of the Shakespeare Academy at Stratford (SA@S), a training program for college students and a repertory theatre company in Stratford, Connecticut. “I am thrilled to be joining the SA@S family,” says Brian. “I look forward to serving as an artistic leader within the community of Stratford and to honoring the rich history of Shakespeare on the grounds of the legendary American Shakespeare Festival Theatre.”

SA@S combines a thorough study of Shakespeare’s works with intensive training, opportunities for professional repertory performance, and ensemble theatre making. About SA@S’s approach, Brian says, “I feel a deep sense of responsibility to the mission and am eager to continue and deepen the rigorous training, repertory experience, and strong commitment to collaboration that are at the heart of the Shakespeare Academy.”

Brian is an actor, teacher, and acting coach based in New York City. He is on the acting faculties of the National Theater Institute at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center, Playwrights Horizons Theater School at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, Collaborative Arts Project 21, and Vassar College’s Powerhouse Apprentice Training Program. But this summer will find him teaching and making theatre just a few towns south of New Haven. “I’m honored to be able to call Stratford-upon-Housatonic my new artistic summer home,” says Brian.

Back to top

solid rule
A New Tool for Exploring Theatre

ShowScoreDeeksha Gaur ’07 and Tom Melcher have co-founded Show-Score, a new website for theatre enthusiasts which launched this past fall. Show-Score provides a comprehensive listing of every show running in New York City on any given night, from Broadway to the outer reaches of the five boroughs, thereby eliminating the frustration of sorting through incomplete listings to decide what to see. Show-Score is the only site where fans can find synopses, dates, locations, and discounts for every show in one place, as well as reviews from critics, bloggers, and members.

Deeksha, who also serves as Show-Score’s director of content and community, says, “As a theatre marketing professional who has made a career of engaging audiences and fans, this felt like a game changer. At all my previous organizations, I knew that I wasn’t even reaching a fraction of the people who would love the work my organization produced. But with Show-Score, we are creating a community where fans can share their love of theatre and discover performances they wouldn’t have otherwise seen. We hope this will lead to fuller houses and a theatre experience that is more vibrant for audiences and artists alike.”

Since Show-Score’s launch in September, the site has attracted more than 40,000 members who have contributed over 50,000 reviews, and audiences around the country have already expressed wishes for Show-Score to expand to other cities. Deeksha says, “Bigger picture, we hope that we’ll be the first stop when anyone, anywhere in the country thinks to themselves, ‘What show should I see?’”

By Trent Anderson ’18. Trent is a first-year MFA candidate studying theater management.

solid rule

Page73Jenny Lagundino ’13 joins Michael Walkup ’06 in leading Page 73 Productions, a theatre company dedicated to developing the work of early-career playwrights. Through a variety of programs, Page 73 gives playwrights the tools they need to get their plays produced, while also producing New York or world premiere performances of plays by emerging playwrights. This year’s P73 Playwriting Fellow, Hansol Jung ’14, says “I’m really excited about the diversity of resources—dramaturgical, financial, and producerial. Page 73 makes these resources as flexible as possible to fit each playwright’s needs.”

Jenny was appointed managing director this January, and Michael, who began as a volunteer before becoming a staff member in 2011, is taking on the new role of producing artistic director. “I was the first full-timer who wasn’t a founder,” he notes. “Now, I’m struck by what a remarkable opportunity it is to assume leadership of a company that I’ve grown up alongside for the past five years.” Jenny adds, “I look forward to partnering with Michael to continue Page 73’s work, which serves such a vital role in the playwriting community.”

Amanda Woods ’03, president of the Page 73 Board of Directors and a member of the YSD Board of Advisors, says, “The Page 73 connection with YSD runs deep, and we are a richer organization in every sense for it.” YSD playwrights who have participated in Page 73’s programs include Janet Allard ’97, Dorothy Fortenberry ’08, Karen Hartman ’97, YC ’92, MJ Kaufman ’13, Kenneth Lin ’05, Caroline V. McGraw ’12, and Michael Mitnick ’10. Caroline, who received the 2013 P73 Fellowship and is returning to the company this year as a Tow Playwright in Residence, says “Page 73 is my artistic home. They know my work, and me, better than pretty much anyone. From my first phone call with Michael, I felt like I was part of the family.”

solid rule
  OFF OFF YORK STREET
The Serious Business of Child’s Play: YSD Alumni Take on Professional Theatre for Young Audiences
Childrens' Theatre
Left: Rose Theater Company Member Stephanie Jacobson and 910 of her closest friends during a Q&A. Photo courtesy of Matt Gutschick. Right: Orlando Repertory Theatre’s production of Diary of a Worm, a Spider, and a Fly, Spring 2015. Photo courtesy of Chris Brown.

“We take our shows very seriously, even if our play is set in a barnyard with cows that know how to type,” says Chris Brown ’08, general and production manager at Orlando Repertory Theatre (the REP) in Florida. He helps bring vibrant, creative, and professional theatre to over 70,000 young people each year. Brown wants to dispel the misconception that Theatre for Young Audiences (TYA) is a lesser genre of theatre. “Just because our productions primarily target a younger audience does not mean we have cardboard sets and volunteer staff,” he says.

The REP is one of only three TYA theatres in the state of Florida and the only one producing professional work. The Rep was also the first theatre to bring sensory friendly programming (for families with youth on the autism spectrum) to Orlando, and they now share those techniques and practices that work best with other theatres around the country. When Chris envisions Theatre for Young Audiences, he does not see amateur work on a small stage in a school lunch room. Chris says he and his colleagues see “a child on the autism spectrum included—and the mom of that child feeling no judgment when her child vocalizes during a sensory-friendly program designed just for her. We see at-risk youth whose parents are incarcerated explore the concepts of empathy, teamwork, and confidence. We see families experiencing the joy and wonder of seeing a child’s imagination come alive.”

Matt Gutschick ’12 is currently in his fourth year as artistic director of the Omaha Theater Company at the Rose Theater. Directing productions and managing the company, Matt is committed to bringing high-quality professional theatre to the children and families of Omaha, Nebraska. He admits that with “Seattle and Minneapolis housing the most celebrated theatres of our kind, it is unusual for a city like Omaha to be home to a professional theatre for young audiences.” Despite this unexpected location, the company reaches over 180,000 children and young people each year. The Omaha Theater Company is “dedicated to outreach and accessibility” and “holding high standards for artistic excellence.” The company also provides a wide array of educational opportunities, “all embodying Omaha’s values of family, fairness, and opportunity.”

Both Chris and Matt understand the necessity and importance of professional Theatre for Young Audiences, especially in cities that aren’t known for their theatre scenes. Chris says, “I like to tell people that the REP and other true, full-time, TYA theatres have the responsibility of introducing new generations of theatregoers to this wonderful industry that we know and love. If we don’t do a good job, or if we dumb down the story, or if we don’t take it seriously, then our audience won’t have an industry to enjoy as adults, and our industry won’t have an audience in the next generation. Our role is extremely important.”

By Helen C. Jaksch ’15. Helen is a DFA candidate in Dramaturgy at Yale School of Drama. She was the producing director of the Dwight/Edgewood Project during the 2014-2015 season and is currently working on a dissertation examining Theatre for Young Audiences and Youth Theatre in America.

Back to top

solid rule
  THE FACES OF YSD
faces

Sylvia Xiaomeng Zhang ’18 (Theater Management) “YSD has been a life-changing experience for me. I first came to the U.S. from China when I was nineteen. I was young and curious, and I spent a lot of time doing different things. I always believe that life is full of adventures and is waiting for me to explore its beauty. I found that beauty in theatre. I entered YSD as an MFA student in Costume Design, dreaming that I could become a successful costume designer on Broadway one day. After meeting people outside my discipline, I realized that I could carry my artistry even further. My aspirations changed, and in the second year of my study, I switched to Theater Management. This program sparks another side of me: the pursuit of becoming a responsible and impactful entrepreneur who can use the power of theatre for social good. I firmly believe YSD is a place that puts students’ personal growth in priority. We create meaningful shared experiences in the art we make. We work in joy, with passion; we learn from collaborations, successes, and even mistakes. We are here to dream big and wild. I love this spirit of boldness and adventure. It is this spirit that encourages me to keep exploring.”

Taylor Barfield ’16 (Dramaturgy) "Unless you count a production of The Music Man Jr. that I performed in during the 7th grade, I didn’t really start doing theatre until my sophomore year in college. I was a biology major working in a lab studying protein structure and somehow I started acting for the African American theatre group on campus. Two years later, I was running the group, producing plays, stage-managing, acting, and directing. I had caught the proverbial bug. When I was applying to graduate schools, I didn’t know what to do. I had spent my entire college career training to be a research biologist, but I really liked this theatre thing. So I applied to schools for both disciplines. Eventually, I found the dramaturgy and dramatic criticism department at Yale School of Drama. My thought process was this: I took enough English classes in college to be a major, I had had great experiences working in theatre, and I loved protein structure. Therefore I would probably like dramatic structure too. I applied. Three years later, I’m in my final year at YSD. I’ve worked on over 24 productions including The Children by Phillip Howze ’15, Paradise Lost directed by Stephen Brown-Fried ’05 (Faculty), and the world premiere of WAR by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins and directed by Lileana Blain-Cruz ’12. I'm currently working on my first professional show as a dramaturg on Cymbeline, directed by Evan Yionoulis ’85,YC ’82 (Faculty) at Yale Rep. My time here has been a blur of sleepless nights, gray hairs, and tons of coffee. But through it all, I still have that darn bug and YSD just gives me more and more reasons to love it."

Genne Murphy ’18 (Playwriting) "I am in my first year at YSD and already feel I've grown tremendously as a writer. In fact, I’ve learned more about myself as an artist in the past six months than in the previous decade in the field. The schedule here is intense and immersive, my peers are beyond talented, and the curriculum is well-conceived. There is ample opportunity for deep conversations with faculty, students, and visiting artists about the nature, intent, and impact of our work, as well as encouragement to create plays that are bold and truthful in content and form. As a writer, I have benefited from classes and collaborations across disciplines; right now I am in the throes of the Thornton Wilder Festival / New Play Lab, working with an amazing team of my fellow classmates. The community at YSD is vibrant and inspiring! I feel especially lucky to have built a strong rapport with my first year playwriting cohort, Josh Wilder ’18 and Majkin Holmquist ’18; we genuinely support and care about one another. I came to YSD hoping to form dynamic relationships with my peers and collaborators—and that’s exactly what I’ve found.”

solid rule
  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
Alice Kenney, Editor
Barry Jay Kaplan, Contributor
Jenny Schmidt, Contributor
Leonard Sorcher, Copy Editor

February 2016, Volume 4, Issue 1