Faces of YSD

Faces of YSD



Al Heartley '18, Theater Manager

I received two important pieces of advice from my mentor when I graduated from college—first, that it was fine for me to explore my options for a career in theater, and second, that if I wanted to go to graduate school, I needed to choose a program and figure out how to get there. 

I developed my passion for leadership at Steppenwolf Theatre Company, first as an undergraduate casting intern and then as a theater management fellow after college. I enjoyed working in teams and solving complex problems. After leaving there, I spent three more years working in the field before deciding to go back to school. I am grateful I made that decision and came to YSD. Here, I have not only learned new skills but have developed many relationships, both with theater managers and with my colleagues from each of the various departments. I have also cultivated relationships in the Yale Cabaret, FOLKS, and the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Working Group, and know that these will be life-long friendships I will treasure and learn from throughout the coming years.

The program’s rigorous and holistic training has helped me grow as a manager and expand my thinking. My case study on East West Players allowed me to delve deeply into an organization of color—a personal passion of mine—and to explore the theater landscape on the West Coast. My second-year fellowship at the Guthrie Theater gave me the opportunity to work closely with an industry leader and gain practical experience within a large organization. And my faculty interactions and professional assignments have given me access to acclaimed, caring professors and staff members who offer guidance while being open to my ideas and concerns.

Now, as a third-year, I know that when I graduate next spring, I will have the training, skills, and network to tackle critical issues facing the arts at any theater in the country successfully.



Stephanie Machado ’18, Actor

Soon after I arrived at YSD, a few of my fellow first-year Latinx students and I realized that there wasn’t a dedicated space for Latinx artists to gather and make art, so we created an affinity group and named it “El Colectivo” (The Collective). Our first production was José Rivera’s Cloud Tectonics at the Yale Cabaret. It was the first time I played a role written for a Latina woman! I had previously played white women, especially British and Jewish characters, but never a Latina. Having the chance to express my culture and identity onstage through the poetic, rich language of Rivera’s world is to this day the most freeing experience I have ever had working on a play. These opportunities are few and far between, which is why El Colectivo has become such an integral part of my life at the School.

This fall, I played Petra in Yale Rep’s production of Ibsen’s An Enemy of the People. This was my first professional show, and what a great one to start with! To be in rehearsal with actors who have worked in theater for almost 50 years was an incredible learning experience and our director James Bundy ’95 (Dean) chose a diverse cast. The production emphasized individual identities, rather than the performers’ transformation into Norwegian characters. Having that consciousness when approaching work in the American theater seems to be of absolute importance, especially in light of our world today. 



Lucie Dawkins ’18, Director

I came to YSD from the UK, where, in addition to directing, I curated mass performance events in museums. Interdisciplinary collaboration has always been a fundamental part of my work, so when I decided to undertake professional training as a director, Yale was at the top of my list. It is thrilling to collaborate with artists working not only within the many disciplines at YSD but also across the broader Yale community.

The joy of directing is to be in a room with inspiring people who push your boundaries in every direction, and few places outside YSD offer a young artist so many talented collaborators. For example, when I directed and adapted my Yale Cabaret debut, Styx Songs, a meditation on mortality and the mythic grandeur of rivers throughout the history of literature, I could bring students from the schools of Art and Architecture to work with our projection designer, and I was also able to incorporate opera singers from the School of Music into the company.

In my thesis production of David Edgar’s Pentecost, a play about the interplay between art and nationalism which ran earlier in October, the actors spoke 10 languages, representing characters from eight countries. The diversity of the Yale community allowed me to invite native speakers of each language to work one-on-one with the actors, classical Indian dancers to choreograph, and the painting restoration team from Yale University Art Gallery to share their expertise. Over 40 collaborators from the wider Yale community were involved in rehearsals to guide the company through the cultural and religious heritages of their characters. It was a huge privilege get to flex my artistic muscles among such a fascinating group of people.