Off York Street

Off York Street


Celebrating GroundedGretchen Wright ’17, SOM ’17, Rebecca Hampe, George Hampe 17, Gwyneth Muller ’20, SOM ’20Elizabeth Stahlmann ’17Michael Barker ’10, SOM ’10 and son Lawrence, Maya Cantu ’10, DFA ’14Melissa Rose ’18, Daniel Corr, Rachel Shuey ’18Jocelyn Prince (Staff), and Al Heartley 18.

Yale School of Drama faculty and students, past and present, have been well represented at the Westport Country Playhouse this year. Lettice and LovageGroundedAppropriateSex with Strangers, and Romeo and Juliet all featured YSD alumni in the casts, creative teams, and production staffs.

Playhouse leadership includes artistic director Mark Lamos (Former Faculty) and associate artistic director David Kennedy ’00, who have both been at the theater since 2009. Additionally, Michael Barker ’10, SOM ’10 became Westport’s managing director in September of 2016. He is thrilled about the recent influx of talent from Yale. He shares, “It has been fabulous collaborating with so many YSD graduates and faculty this year. This is a golden era for YSD—James Bundy ’95 (Dean) and his team have been nurturing and training the best of the American theater.”

Mark Lamos, who has spent decades making theater in New York and Connecticut, says, “I've enjoyed a rich association with graduates of YSD. This year at Westport Playhouse has been a particular YSD ‘celebration,’ beginning with the arrival of our new managing director, Michael Barker, and continuing on through a season chock full of talented Yalies: Liz Diamond (Faculty) led an all-YSD graduate team on Grounded; associate artistic director David Kennedy and designer Andrew Boyce ’09 (Former Faculty) helmed AppropriateChris Ghaffari ’16 was half the cast of Sex with Strangers with a set designed by Edward T. Harris ’13; and our production of Romeo and Juliet features a charismatic James Cusati-Moyer ’15 as Romeo and designs by Tony-winner Michael Yeargan ’73 (Faculty)Fabian Aguilar ’16Matt Richards ’01, and David Budries (Faculty).” 

Liz Diamond, who directed Elizabeth Stahlmann ’17 in the one-woman play Grounded, described the production, “With the quiet stealth and precision of a Predator drone, George Brant’s Grounded examines up-close the moral cost of modern warfare. At the heart of the play is the Pilot, a vibrant, gutsy young woman whose spirit is shattered by her experience at the controls of a military drone. This role requires an actor with all the ‘right stuff’ of a fighter pilot and more—tremendous emotional range, warmth, and wit—Elizabeth Stahlmann, our Pilot, has it all.”


Sara Holdren Named Theater Critic at New York Magazine


Sara Holdren 15 is now lead theater critic for New York magazine and its online entertainment site, Vulture. Sara studied directing at YSD and had previously dabbled in almost every conceivable theatrical discipline apart from criticism. But then, this March, she published a review of The Public Theater’s production of Joan of Arc: Into the Fire on About a month later, she unexpectedly received an email from an editor at New York who had come across the piece and wanted to know if she had ever considered writing theater criticism full-time. “Until that moment, I hadn’t,” said Sara. “But it was too fascinating an idea not to pursue. I’ve always wanted more artists to be out there talking publicly about art.”

Sara soon received an offer and quickly accepted. Getting started at the new job has been “a whirlwind,” described Sara, primarily because planning what she’ll write about requires a delicate balance of both Broadway and smaller scale productions. And each review takes time to write.  

Though still in transition, Sara has had time to think about her new role and goals as a critic. She intends to remain excited about theater and “respect the vulnerability of the artists. It’s undeniable that, on some level, people are reading criticism with the question on their minds, ‘Is this worth the ticket price?’ But I don’t want to write reviews with that question on my mind. I’d like to give readers an account of my experience of the play that feels nuanced, personal, and even debatable.” 




Lynda PaulLynda Paul ’17, PhD 12, a graduate of the MFA program in dramaturgy and dramatic criticism, has been appointed lecturer in the English and theater studies departments at Yale. As of August 2017, she is also a fellow, college advisor, and residential college writing tutor for the recently inaugurated Pauli Murray College.

With a PhD in musicology from Yale and a long career in academia, as well as vast experience in music and performance, Lynda’s interests span diverse areas. As a teacher, she believes in an interdisciplinary and practical approach. She is teaching a course in the English department this fall called “Reading and Writing the Modern Essay,” in which she works with undergraduate students on their creative responses to the world. In the spring, Lynda will teach an introduction to dramaturgy seminar in the theater studies department, which she envisions as a partly hands-on, partly academic course, meant to prepare students for real situations and challenges they are likely to encounter throughout their theater careers. 

Despite her busy schedule at Pauli Murray College, Lynda still finds time to continue her long-time collaboration with the Yale Writing Center, now part of the Center for Teaching and Learning. As an associate, she helps train teaching fellows across different departments and leads workshops for first-year international students.

She is also involved with directing two theatrical productions this year. The first was the inaugural production at Pauli Murray’s new theater called The Silent Lyre, which ran from November 10-11. Lynda described it as "a baroque mash-up opera and sequel to the Orpheus story, coming from two lesser-known Italian operas from the 1610s and adapted by Dr. Michael Rigsby.” For Lynda this was an exciting project because “it was an across-Yale-and-beyond collaboration. There were both undergraduates and recent graduates from various schools across campus involved, as well as professional musicians.” She is now moving on to her next project—a performance of Tim Crouch’s England, produced by the Henry Koerner Center for emeritus faculty. “We’re going to put it on in the Koerner Center alongside an exhibit of the work of Alexander Purves, an emeritus faculty member in architecture and a watercolor artist. The play takes place in two places, half in the art exhibit and half in another room.” Although the first performance is private, there are discussions about remounting the production for the university community at the Yale Art Gallery and the Center for British Art.


Michael Best ’16 started working part-time for Yale undergraduate production while still a third-year student at YSD, as the TD&P department hires students to supervise specific undergraduate projects across the campus. “The position of technical director opened as I was graduating, so the timing was perfect,” Michael says. “I was initially hesitant to stay in New Haven, but I love working with students and all the challenges that come with managing multi-purpose venues, so I accepted the offer.” 

As a technical director, Michael oversees three different theaters in the Yale residential colleges, as well as all the undergraduate comedy and spoken-word performance groups. “I like to look at most aspects of my job as a large puzzle that requires a certain level of patience and creativity,” he explains. Michael has recently been working on the Lighten Theater, the performance venue at the new Pauli Murray College, making it fully functional for its first production—The Silent Lyre, directed and designed by Yale School of Drama alumni. 

While acknowledging the fast pace and intensity of his position, Michael cherishes his close working relationship with undergraduate students and highlights their talent as well as their creative initiative. “My favorite part of the job is being a part of so many original projects. A lot of the talent and creative productions that I supervise are new works written, composed, or developed by undergraduate students. The amount of passion that they put into their projects is truly awe-inspiring.”


Kathryn KrierKathryn (Kate) Krier ’07, director of Yale undergraduate production since 2012, was appointed interim assistant dean for the arts at Yale College on July 1. An alumna of the TD&P department at the School of Drama, Kate has been working on campus ever since graduating. “I discovered production management over the course of my time at YSD, and that’s what I was hired to do.” Since 2006, Kate has served in arts management for several programs at Yale, including the World Performance Project, the Yale Baroque Opera Project, and Shakespeare at Yale. She was also a lecturer and design advisor for the theater studies program. 

Although juggling two highly demanding jobs is a lot of work, Kate describes her position as interim assistant dean for the arts as “a journey of discovery” that has allowed her to learn more about Yale’s arts landscape and other on-campus organizations, such as the Yale Band, the Symphony, the Glee Club, and the Center for Collaborative Arts and Media. 

One of her special projects for 2018 is designing a virtual art center for Yale College. “Right now, there is no website about the arts at Yale College,” Kate explains. “Several undergraduate organizations have their own websites, but there is no connection between them. We have raised the funds for the website, and we selected the vendor that we’re going to be working with. I’m really excited about working on this new website with the student leaders!”

In her role as the director of undergraduate production, Kate is responsible for heading a team that supports the logistics of, and ensures the safety of, more than 250 productions—theater, dance and opera—every academic year. At this very busy and exciting point of her career, Kate highlights the importance of professional camaraderie—“I’m grateful for my colleagues, who are incredible people. That makes all the difference.”