Next weekend marks the start of the Yale Theater Studies 2019–20 curricular season — a series of production projects by theater studies majors in the class of 2020. This year’s season will feature eight productions, including three musicals and three student-written scripts.
“In Theater Studies, the mounting of a production is a synthesis of artistic practice and academic research. The theater is our laboratory,” said Nathan Roberts, production manager for Yale’s Theater Studies Program, in an email to the News. “Rather than a season comprised entirely of faculty-selected plays and musicals (as is the case at other institutions), each Theater Studies season is built upon projects proposed by our majors.”
Theater studies students must apply to participate in a production project in the spring of their junior year in order to satisfy the senior requirement. According to Shilarna Stokes, Theater Studies director of undergraduate studies, there is a “rigorous selection process” to determine which seniors are granted a spot in the season. Stokes said that seniors submit project proposals to a faculty committee, which considers questions such as “How does the project further the student’s research goals and creative goals?” and “How does it serve as a platform for intellectual and artistic growth?”
This semester, four senior project productions will take place in the Whitney Theater. The first will be “Laughing at Crying Babies,” an original solo performance by Tarek Ziad ’20. The show description online calls the production “an hour long stand up special of sorts … that interrogates [Ziad’s] relationship with race in America and American Theater as a person of color.”
The season will also include “Working,” a musical adaptation of the 1974 book Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do by celebrated historian and radiojournalist Studs Terkel.
The final two projects of the semester will be culminations of two production seminars, courses taught by Theater Studies faculty members and open by audition to all Yale College students. Each production seminar is a senior project for one or two seniors in various disciplines. Stokes will direct the first, an adaptation of Shakespeare’s “Measure for Measure.” “Rumspringa,” the last project of this semester, will be the final product of a seminar taught by Annette Jolles, a lecturer in the Theater Studies Department. “Rumspringa” is an original musical by Walker Caplan ’20 and Scott Feiner ’20.
“Students across the board are interested in what seems like a simple task, but is actually very complex which is how to tell a story, not just any story, but a story rooted in authentic experience,” Stokes said.
Roberts said that seniors in the theater studies major who are not engaging in a production are also working on creative projects this semester. Paige Hann ’20, he noted, is creating a virtual reality adaptation of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Astouline Nutakor ’20 is engaging in a community-based, community building theater research project in New Haven. Other students are writing original plays and adaptations.
The first production of the Yale Theater Studies 2019–20 curricular season will open in the Whitney Theater on Thursday, Sept. 26.
Lindsay Daugherty | email@example.com
Correction, Sept. 24: This article previously stated that “Working” takes place in the 2040s. In fact, it is a musical adaptation of the 1974 book Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do by celebrated historian and radiojournalist Studs Terkel.