Few inexperienced members perform on Yale stages

For Yale students who arrive in New Haven with little or no theater experience, getting involved with the field may prove challenging.

Most undergraduates interviewed who take part in the undergraduate theater community said they had been involved in the field prior to their arrival at Yale. Still, students said opportunities for getting involved with live performance abound on campus, adding that they think organizations such as the Dramat offer plenty of resources for undergraduates with different levels of experience. Students with little previous acting experience said they often flock to improv groups, as these groups organize initiatives such as acting workshops prior to their auditions, where students can familiarize themselves with the types of performance that will be required of them during the tryouts.

“Most freshmen I’ve seen audition have been involved in theater before coming to Yale,” said Katie Kirk ’17 who said she has acted in several plays while in high school. “There are a few people who do tech and things, who weren’t involved in theater before coming here but most people did at least a little theatre, if not seriously.”

Simone Policano ’16, a member of the improv group Red Hot Poker who said she had plenty of acting experience before coming to Yale, said that while she does not see the theater community at Yale as insular, she does see “a lot of familiar faces” in campus theater performances. Sarah Rose ’17, who is involved with the technical side of productions, said she thinks it would be difficult for someone with no prior experience to get involved, adding that she thinks inexperienced students with theater aspirations have to either know someone already involved with the field or be extremely motivated.

Most members of the theater community interviewed said they think theater-related organizations on campus offer students new to the field plenty of ways to familiarize themselves with the way the scene works at Yale. Many students mentioned the constant stream of flyers on the tack boards around campus, which advertise opportunities to get involved with performance-based organizations. Some students involved with theater said they think attending the extracurricular bazaar is crucial for students new to performance, as all performing arts groups offer a variety of informational material for beginners.

Students new to performing said the improv community is easier to get involved with than conventional theater, partly owing to improv groups’ efforts to emphasize that auditioners do not need prior experience. Paul Buckley ’17, who said he was new to the improv scene when he arrived at Yale and is now a member of the improv group Purple Crayon, said that getting into an improv group often does not require formal training.

“I was encouraged by the fact that on their websites and when I talked to the groups, they all said that quite a few members had no experience doing improv before,” Buckley said.

Kameron Hutchinson ’17, another member of Red Hot Poker, said that he has been acting from a young age, which he said helped him when he tried out for the sketch-comedy group.

There are 11 theater-related undergraduate organizations registered with the Yale Undergraduate Organizations Committee.

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