Playwriting

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View a video introduction from Jeanie O'Hare , Chair
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Jiréh Breon Holder, Playwriting
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See what Justin Taylor, a playwriting student, is working on at YSD.
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See what Susan Soon He Stanton, a playwriting student, is working on at YSD.
Playwriting

Jeanie O'Hare, Chair

M.F.A. and Certificate

Yale School of Drama’s Playwriting department is designed for playwrights who are ready to step forward as leaders of our culture and artists of our time. We work with playwrights who possess an irreducible voice and who can demonstrate their command of language, ideas, and form. We are interested in playwrights who are ready to test their own potential and who want to do so while forming lifelong bonds with a community of fellow artists.

Yale School of Drama creates an environment in which playwrights work, peer-to-peer, with other theatre makers. The resulting atmosphere of like-minded endeavor enables writers to reach through inhibition toward a more resonant, more formally inventive and, crucially, more socially perceptive eloquence. We encourage playwrights to keep one eye on the horizon - to hold a global view of the world but write the particularities of their own stories. We expect playwrights to learn the rules and then shatter them, and to engage with their cultural responsibilities as disclosers of truth.

The Yale playwriting program offers three distinct challenges. 

In Strategies and Inspiration, the writer leaves cohorts for a while and embraces the artist as loner: the person who distils his or her own integrity of voice, who finds a richness of imaginative response, who is self-sufficient, and who has to write. We offer strategies for kick-starting ideas and galvanizing the lifelong habit of writing. The program begins with Paula Vogel's Boot Camp, and there are several bake-off assignments each year; short plays begun from assigned themes and elements, written within forty-eight hours.

In Process and Testing, the joy of making theatre inspires the whole School. The playwright takes the methodologies of the rehearsal room and creates a toolkit to shape and test his or her work. Collaborative muscles are strengthened and sophisticated; supple, inspired, witty, and generous conversations are enjoyed; dramaturgical priorities rule, and favored lines are sacrificed to the greater good; rewriting becomes the most exhilarating skill; and actors' instincts test what is real and what is bogus. The playwright forges relationships with directors and dramaturgs, learns the etiquette of the traditional rehearsal room, and contributes to the feshly evoling etiquettes of new ways of making theatre.

In Professional Practice, the playwright has an opportunity to fulfill a program of work as close to professional practice as possible, focusing on the full-length play written for the Carlotta Festival. We explore what is expected by the industry, construct strategies for honoring and subverting those expectations, and offer an examination of the levels of ambition and accomplishment needed to establish a living as an artist. This is when Yale School of Drama demands the most from its playwrights and when the writer's investment of passion, joy, and tears pay off handsomely.

The Playwriting department believes that Yale Cabaret is an essential part of life and practice at Yale School of Drama and encourages all its students to participate in the Cabaret - not only as writers, but also as theater artists wearing a variety of hats.  A playwright must also balance that participation with the demans of his or her writing schedules and assigned rehearsals.


The Playwriting 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: Gabe Levey (’14), Prema Cruz (’14), and Elia Monte-Brown (’14) in Mexico Play (A Farmer’s Almanac) by Kate Tarker (’14), Yale School of Drama, 2012.