Drama School to gain new building

In the literature for the Yale Tomorrow campaign, just half a sentence is allotted to the proposed construction of a new facility for the Yale School of Drama and the Yale Repertory Theater.

But this small, 17-word statement may have great implications for the school’s future, Drama School Dean James Bundy said. While the location, funding and other details of the building have yet to be announced, students said it will be a welcome addition to existing performance spaces on campus, demand for which has exceeded availability in recent years.

The Yale School of Drama and the Yale Repertory Theater have been allotted funding for a new facility that, when built, will contain classroom and performance spaces.
Jonathan Jimenez
The Yale School of Drama and the Yale Repertory Theater have been allotted funding for a new facility that, when built, will contain classroom and performance spaces.

University President Richard Levin said more work needs to be done in order to determine the specifics of the project, and the University is still considering a few possible sites for the building.

”We’ve done a programming study to identify [the School of Drama’s] space needs,” Levin said. “We have not hired an architect. We haven’t worked through the issues in great detail.”

Levin said a timeline for the construction of the proposed facility is partially dependent on the amount of funds raised, and donations specifically intended for the drama building will likely be necessary.

Bundy said he anticipates that the facility will be open for use by both graduate and undergraduate students.

“We hope the new facility will contain appropriate classroom and production space, as well as a world-class performance space,” Bundy said in an e-mail.

Elizabeth Woods ’09, treasurer of the Yale Drama Coalition, said although the high competition for theater spaces has dropped off this year, she does not think the administration should ignore the lack of performance space on campus.

“Last year, there was a big demand for theater spaces, and the existing spaces, given the restrictions on their usage, couldn’t meet that demand,” Woods said. “But this year, we’re finding much-reduced theater space demand, and I have to wonder if that’s not at least in part because the community remembers last year’s crisis.”

Toni Dorfman, director of undergraduate studies for theater studies, said the space will no doubt affect undergraduate theater studies, but she does not know to what extent.

Undergraduates continue to struggle to book performance spaces, Dorfman said, but new facilities will not be as useful unless additional technical directors are hired to oversee load-ins and ensure that safety guidelines are followed. Larger theater spaces are in especially high demand, she said.

“What we need are performance spaces that can accommodate a small orchestra and a cast for musical productions, operas and dance concerts,” she said in an e-mail. “The Off-Broadway space, which can do this, is a jewel, but the competition for its slots is fierce.”

In addition to possibly alleviating undergraduate theater crowding, Bundy said, the facility will also provide the Yale community and nearby residents another venue in which to enjoy theater.

“I am confident that such a purpose-built facility would provide Yale with both a platform for the highest standard of theatre training and practice in the 21st century, and a welcoming destination for the tens of thousands of local residents who attend theater performances at Yale each year,” he said.

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