Playwriting

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Jiréh Breon Holder ’16, Playwriting
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Justin Taylor ’13, Playwriting
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Susan Soon He Stanton ’10, Playwriting
Playwriting

JENNIFER KIGER, INTERIM CHair

TARELL ALVIN MCCRANEY, CHAIR (eFFECTIVE JULY 1, 2017)

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 embraces the artist as loner: the person who distills their own integrity of voice, who finds a richness of imaginative response, who is self-sufficient, and who has an urgency to write. We offer strategies for sourcing ideas and galvanizing the lifelong habit of writing. The program focuses on how stucture and form control the emotional power that a writer can exert, allowing the spoken word to hit the back wall of any auditorium. 

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 their work. Collaboration quickly becomes the natural flow of ideas, as writers thinking on their feet in the rehearsal room inform a more alive, more actor-friendly form of playwriting; generosity of spirit fuels inspiration; dramaturgical sense is sharpened; rewriting becomes the most exhilarating skill; and actors' instincts become a litmus test of great writing.  The playwright forges relationships with directors and dramaturgs, learns the etiquette of the rehearsal room, and contributes to the freshly evolving models of making theatre.

In Professional Practice, the playwright has an opportunity to fulfill a program of work as close to professional practice as possible, culminating in 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.  Playwrights must also balance that participation with the demands of their 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: Cornelius Davidson (’15) and Tiffany Mack (’15) in The Rules by Jiréh Breon Holder (’16), Yale School of Drama, 2015.