ACT director courted for Drama dean post

The list of candidates to replace outgoing Yale School of Drama Dean Stan Wojewodski Jr. is getting shorter now that key prospects Jon Jory, Anne Bogart and JoAnne Akalaitis are no longer being considered, sources said.

Sources in the theater community said Carey Perloff, artistic director of the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco, is now likely being courted for the high-profile job of Yale drama dean. Yale President Richard Levin updated the Yale Corporation this weekend on the search, which has been ongoing since early fall.

Perloff has been named by many as the main contender for the post. Perloff is known for her talents both as a director and fundraiser, yet many sources doubt she will leave her current position at the ACT.

Perloff could not be reached for comment.

Although Levin said he does not know when Yale will announce the new dean, he says he is hopeful about current prospects.

“I’m hoping [the announcement will be] pretty soon,” Levin said. “The field is narrowed.”

Despite Levin’s optimism, theater artists across the country said several candidates have taken themselves out of the running for the Yale position.

Following failed negotiations with Trinity Repertory Theater director Oskar Eustis, authorities in the American theater community said the University is meeting more resistance with candidates. Sources said negotiations have fallen through with Jory, former artistic director of the Actor’s Theater of Louisville and current faculty member at the University of Washington.

And Akalaitis, founder of the avant-garde theater company Mabou Mines and professor at Bard College, said Yale approached her as well, but she declined.

“I don’t want to live in New Haven,” Akalaitis said.

Bogart said she pursued the position as far as she could, but Yale did not offer her the job. Bogart is a famous director and creator of her own widely used method of performance, the “Viewpoints” theory.

“I went after it pretty hard,” Bogart said. “I was obviously not what they were looking for.”

Yale’s difficulty in finding a new dean in a timely fashion is causing concern among some theater professionals. The position is regarded as hugely important for the development of theater in America and very prestigious, so many theater professionals said they do not understand the delays.

“My question is: Where is the leadership? Who are the leaders?” Akalaitis said. “Why aren’t there 17 people beating down the doors to be at Yale?”

The dean of the Yale School of Drama also serves as artistic director of the Yale Repertory Theater.

Without a director for next year, the Yale Rep has not begun plans for selecting the plays for next year’s performance season. Though managing director Victoria Nolan said recently she was not concerned about the delays, Levin said Wednesday he recognized that delays could cause problems.

“It’s late, we will have to scramble,” Levin said. “The show must go on.”

An 11-person search committee, comprising mostly faculty and administrators from the Drama School, has spent almost a year compiling lists of potential candidates to replace the current dean, Wojewodski. Levin has the final authority on who is ultimately chosen.

Wojewodski announced last spring he will be leaving at the end of this academic year after serving as dean for 10 years.

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