James Bundy DRA ’95 has been reappointed for a fourth five-year term as dean of the Yale School of Drama and artistic director of the Yale Repertory Theatre, University President Peter Salovey announced Friday.
In an email to the YSD community, Salovey cited Bundy’s innovative leadership that has sustained the success of the Drama School and the Rep. Salovey also noted Bundy’s role in increasing philanthropic support for drama at Yale, namely through the $18 million gift that endowed the Binger Center for New Theatre in 2012 — an initiative that supports the production of new plays and musicals at the Rep.
“I’m looking forward to the next five years of supporting an extraordinary student body, faculty and staff at the heart of this great conservatory and professional theater,” Bundy said.
Bundy said he was excited to build a new home for the YSD and the Rep in the form of a “state-of-the-art facility” that will house the Rep and its production shops, as well as the Drama School’s classroom, performance and administrative space. Bundy said the drama program is currently spread across 10 buildings “with over 700 years of deferred maintenance among them,” making this new project a significant undertaking.
The Rep’s Managing Director, Victoria Nolan, said she is thrilled with Bundy’s re-appointment.
“I’m especially proud of our progress on financial aid for our students, which has been a central goal of James’s tenure to date,” Nolan said, noting that it is nearly impossible for people to commit to working in nonprofit theater if they are saddled with debt. As of the 2016–2017 school year, the YSD offers more than $6.2 million in financial aid to 92 percent of its students.
Bill Rauch, artistic director of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and a longtime colleague of Bundy’s, described him as one of the most significant leaders in American theater.
Bundy and Rauch have known each other since they were undergraduates at Harvard University, Rauch said. He directed the first show produced by the Rep under Bundy’s leadership, “Medea/Macbeth/Cinderella,” in September 2002.
“The world-class training received by the students coming out of the Yale School of Drama continues to dramatically impact our field,” Rauch said. “James leads with heart and with great integrity.”
The Rep’s Director of Communications Steven Padla explained that since the Rep’s 1966 founding by former YSD Dean Robert Brustein, the deanship of the YSD and the Rep’s artistic directorship have been a dual role performed by the same person in order to establish a “complementary relationship between conservatory and professional practice,” according to the YSD website.
Rachel Shuey DRA ’18 said Bundy seamlessly connects the YSD and the Rep in a way that allows both institutions to work to improve each other for the benefit of students, faculty, guest artists and audiences alike.
“[Bundy] absorbs and embraces the needs of the student body and enacts change with a level of fervor that is inspirational to many of us, including my department of theater managers who will go on to lead and manage some of the country’s most influential regional theaters,” Shuey added.
Flo Low DRA ’17, who describes herself as a beneficiary of Bundy’s leadership, said she is thrilled that future generations of drama students will experience Bundy’s accessible style as dean. She added that Bundy aims to select socially relevant projects for the YSD and the Rep, which contribute to important conversations on- and off-stage.
News of Bundy’s reappointment coincides with celebration of the Rep’s 50th anniversary. Last Friday, Bundy and a number of other Rep affiliates, including former Artistic Director Stan Wojewodski, Jr., sat on a panel honoring the theater’s contributions to the performing arts.
During Bundy’s time at the University, the Rep has showcased more than 30 world and American premieres of new plays and musicals.
Clarification, Oct. 12: A previous version of the article stated that a $2.85 million gift endowed the Binger Center for New Theatre in 2008. Rather, an $18 million gift in 2012 from the Robina Foundation was responsible for the endowment, following the initial $2.85 million gift.
Correction, Oct. 12: A previous version of this article misstated the type of premieres the Rep has showcased during Bundy’s tenure.