Levin says new Drama dean may not come next year

Having failed to find a new dean for the Yale School of Drama in a timely fashion, Yale President Richard Levin announced Friday that current dean Stan Wojewodski Jr. may keep his position for another year.

In a letter addressed to the Drama School community, Levin reported that Wojewodski may keep his position after his previously announced departure date of June 30. Because the world-renowned Drama School is having difficulties finding a replacement, Wojewodski may stay to run the school and select performances to go up at the Yale Repertory Theater next year.

“First, we need to initiate the planning and scheduling of the next year’s Yale Repertory Theater season,” Levin wrote in the letter. “I am grateful that Stan Wojewodski has agreed to undertake the planning and scheduling of the 2001-02 — schedule.”

Levin said in an interview last night that he is “hopeful, but not certain” that the new Drama School dean will be announced by the end of the school year.

Some candidates will only be available to take the job after the summer, Levin wrote in the letter.

“Certain candidates for the position of Dean/Artistic Director will not be free to move to New Haven immediately,” Levin wrote. “Some may need part, or even all, of the next academic year to disentangle themselves from commitments already made.”

Wojewodski announced his departure from the helm of the Yale Rep and the School of Drama last spring, and this fall a search committee gave Levin a list of fewer than 10 names. Despite the elite nature of the position, theater sources said Yale and Levin have had difficulty finding someone to take over Wojewodski’s post. JoAnne Akalaitis of Bard College, Oskar Eustis of Trinity Repertory Theater and Jon Jory of the University of Washington have already turned down the job, sources said.

The position is a unique one in American theater, giving the dean control over both the acknowledged top drama school in the country and a Tony award-winning regional theater. Because of the Rep’s relationship with Yale, its director enjoys massive artistic freedom with little concern for financial success.

Levin said Wojewodski will stay at Yale for “as long as needed,” but likely no more than a year.

This delay of Wojewodski’s departure will likely give Levin more bargaining leverage because the replacement will not necessarily need to start immediately. Many prominent theater artists engage themselves in projects up to a year in advance. Artistic directors like Carey Perloff of the American Conservatory in San Francisco, whom sources named as a likely top choice, often find it hard to leave their positions on short notice.

“If Carey Perloff left if would be a great thing for Yale,” said Gary Demattei, artistic director of the Theater on San Pedro Square in San Jose, Calif. “It would be a tough thing for [the American Conservatory].”

With Levin’s new plan, Wojewodski, and not the new director, will choose the Rep’s line-up next season — putting his replacement in an awkward position. Artistic directors traditionally try to place their own stamp on the style of a theater, and this may not sit well with some candidates.

But the Drama School may not be looking for too much change. Theater sources within the Yale community reported that Anne Bogart, a world-renowned director and theater guru, was rejected for the post because of her desire to make sweeping changes in Yale faculty, performance styles and resource management.

The decision to have Wojewodski schedule the next season indicates that a replacement will not be available until at least the summer, because planning needs to begin in the spring.

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