Music theater workshops to debut

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Musical-lovers, rejoice. The next “Spring Awakening” may be produced at Yale.

On Wednesday, the School of Drama and the School of Music announced the establishment of the Yale Institute for Music Theatre — a two-week workshop where selected writers of three pieces of music theater will rehearse their own work with other participants.

The workshop, which will take place from June 7 to 21, will invite young writers and composers from around the country to submit original works of music theater. The selected writers and composers will be matched with directors, music directors, actors and singers in order to further develop the emerging artists’ work.

Current graduate students and alumni who have graduated within the past five years are eligible.

The idea originated two years ago as James Bundy DRA ’95, dean of the School of Drama, and Robert Blocker, dean of the School of Music, decided to address the absence of a music theater program on campus.

“We are interested in supporting young writers and composers and giving them a meaningful context for developing their work with the help of other people,” Bundy said.

Mark Brokaw DRA ’86, who is the artistic director of the institute, will lead one of the pieces in June. The leaders for the other two pieces have not been selected yet. Brokaw and the Institute’s producer Beth Robinson , who have both worked extensively with music theater performances, will participate in the selection process for determining which music theater pieces will be accepted.

Brokaw said the program aims to create original, non-traditional works in music theater.

“People are always asking for the next generation of musical theater,” Brokaw said. “We are wide-open to anything young writers are doing.”

He cited “Spring Awakening,” “Passing Strange” and “In the Heights” as examples of non-traditional — albeit mainstream — productions.

Music theater is often more expensive to produce and requires a great amount of time and commitment on the writers’ part, Brokaw explained. For young writers trying to make a living, music theater is an occupation that is often difficult to afford.

“This program gives support to young writers at a time when they need support the most and are looking to test and stretch their talents,” Brokaw said.

The costs for the project are substantial, though achievable, according to Bundy. He said the University will be funding the program, but declined to comment on the exact cost of the Yale Institute for Music Theatre. The institute will pay an honorarium of $1,000 to all participants as well as round-trip transportation to New Haven and accommodation for the duration of the workshop.

Although the program was only announced Wednesday, there are already enthusiasts. Becca Wolff DRA ’09, who directed “Bicycling for Ladies,” a musical that showed at the Cabaret last year, said she definitely intended to apply and had a couple of projects in mind already.

“The hard-brow low-brow argument over musicals has finally evaporated,” Wolff said. “More and more serious artists are interested in doing musical theater.”

Bundy estimated that there would be around 30 participants in the program. The deadline for applications is Jan. 23.

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