Dramaturgy and Dramatic Criticism

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View a video introduction from Catherine Sheehy, Chair.
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Kelly Kerwin ’15, Dramaturgy and Dramatic Criticism
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Taylor Barfield ’16, Dramaturgy and Dramatic Criticism
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Lauren Dubowski ’14, Dramaturgy and Dramatic Criticism
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Davina Moss ’17, Dramaturgy and Dramatic Criticism
Dramaturgy and Dramatic Criticism

Catherine Sheehy, Chair

M.F.A. and D.F.A.

Students in the Dramaturgy and Dramatic Criticism department receive intensive training to prepare for careers in three areas: to work in theatres as dramaturgs, artistic producers, literary managers, and in related positions; to work in theatre publishing as critics and editors as well as in other capacities; to teach theatre as practitioners, critics, and scholars.

At the core of the training are seminars in literature, theory and criticism, and history offered by the department’s faculty. These may be supplemented by courses taught elsewhere in the University if approved by students’ advisers. The aim is to impart a comprehensive knowledge of theatre and dramatic literature — knowledge necessary to the dramaturg, the writer and editor, and the teacher. Regarding the latter, every effort is made to give qualified students teaching experience within the University.

Of particular importance in the program are the criticism workshops, which are taught by various members of the faculty, and which students must take in each of their six terms. These courses are designed to improve skills in thinking and writing, and are an essential component in the faculty’s evaluation of students’ progress from term to term. Qualified students also have the opportunity to work in various capacities for Theater, a leading international journal of contemporary criticism and plays published by Yale School of Drama/Yale Repertory Theatre and Duke University Press.

Historically, Yale School of Drama has been a pioneer in this country in introducing and establishing the dramaturg as an essential presence in the creation of theatre and as a key member of a theatre’s staff. Under the supervision of the resident dramaturg of Yale Repertory Theatre, students are assigned to work on many varied productions, including those of new scripts by School of Drama playwrights, workshops, and full productions by School of Drama directors, and professional presentations of classical and contemporary works at Yale Rep itself. Among the areas in which students participate are text preparation and oversight; translation and adaptation; preproduction and rehearsal work on issues of design, direction, and performance; contextual research; program and study guide notes and preparation; the conducting of audience discussions; participation in educational outreach programs; and related work in conjunction with the marketing and media departments. Students also assist in Yale Repertory Theatre’s literary office with script evaluation and communication with writers and agents. Thus students are trained in topics in institutional dramaturgy, including the formulation of artistic policy and its communication and implementation, and as production dramaturgs, operating within the rehearsal process.

In recognition of the fact that in recent years dramaturgs have not only assumed the leadership of theatres under such titles as artistic director and producer but have also founded theatres themselves, the Dramaturgy and Dramatic Criticism department has entered into a collaboration with the Theater Management department to create an optional course of study drawing from the strengths of both disciplines. By fostering this interchange, Yale School of Drama hopes to remain at the forefront in helping new organizational models to be discovered and explored, through which the art of theatre will continue to flourish. More information on this partnership is available from the deparatment.

Upon completion of the Dramaturgy and Dramatic Criticism program requirements for an M.F.A. degree and graduation from Yale School of Drama, a student is eligible to register to remain in residence for the proposal year to apply to the Doctor of Fine Arts (D.F.A.) program. Upon acceptance of the proposal by the D.F.A. committee, the student is expected to complete the dissertation within two years. Dissertation proposal guidelines are available through the department.


The Dramaturgy and Dramatic Criticism department’s three-year plan of study and detailed course descriptions appear in the Bulletin of Yale School of Drama.  Click here for the Bulletin.


Photo Credit: Niall Powderly (’16), Matt Raich (’15), and Paul Cooper (’16) in The Troublesome Reign of King John by William Shakespeare, Yale School of Drama, 2015.