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View a video introduction from Walton Wilson, Chair.
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Shaunette Renée Wilson ’16, Acting
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Julian Elijah Martinez ’16, Acting
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Sophie von Haselberg ’14, Acting
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Lupita Nyong’o ’12, Acting


M.F.A. and Certificate

The Acting department admits talented and committed individuals who possess an active intelligence, a strong imagination, and a physical and vocal instrument capable of development and transformation, and prepares them for work as professional actors. The program of study combines in-depth classroom training with extensive production work. At the conclusion of their training, individuals are prepared to work on a wide range of material and in a variety of venues.

Students are required to attend all classes in their curriculum. In addition to courses offered in their department, actors take Survey of Theater and Drama and The Collaborative Process.

Production Opportunities

The first production opportunity comes at the end of the first term with the presentation of collaboratively created projects. Actors work with directors, dramaturgs, and playwrights from their class to create theatre pieces based on source material assigned by the faculty. After this project, students in good standing enter the casting pool for school productions and are cast alongside second- and third-year actors.

Production opportunities include work in a diverse season of six Yale School of Drama plays opened to the general public. All casting is assigned by the chair of the Acting department (pending approval by the dean) based on the developmental needs of each student, and on the needs of the project as articulated by its director.

Not only is each class of actors a working ensemble as it trains, but also each actor works as part of a larger company consisting of all three classes of actors. That company works within a still larger ensemble consisting of members of all eight departments of Yale School of Drama. Actors work with directors, dramaturgs, playwrights, designers, managers, stage managers, and technicians and develop collaborative relationships that continue throughout their three years and indeed, in many cases, throughout their professional lives.

Yale Repertory Theatre serves as an advanced training center for the department. All acting students work at Yale Rep as understudies, observing and working alongside professional actors and directors. Many students have the opportunity to perform in roles on the Yale Rep stage, depending on their appropriateness to the parts available. Through work at the professional theatre, those eligible students who are not members of Actors’ Equity Association will attain membership upon graduation.

Yale Cabaret provides an additional, although strictly extracurricular, outlet for the exploration of a wide range of material: serious, absurdist, improvisational, and musical.

During the school year, acting in projects outside Yale School of Drama is discouraged, and permission to do so is rarely given.

Members of the acting faculty, as well as those of the other departments in Yale School of Drama, are all working professionals and maintain active careers at Yale Repertory Theatre and in theatres in New York and around the country and the world. They bring the energy and vitality of that activity into their work with the students.

 The Acting 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: Jonathan Majors (’16) and Jenelle Chu (’16) in Paradise Lost by Clifford Odets, Yale School of Drama, 2014.