Victoria Nolan — deputy dean of the School of Drama, managing director of Yale Repertory Theatre and professor in the Practice of Theater Management — will step down on June 30, 2020, according to an announcement from the Yale School of Drama last Thursday.
Nolan arrived at Yale in 1993 as managing director of the Yale Repertory Theatre and lecturer in Theater Management, and she was appointed School of Drama’s first deputy dean in 2002. When she steps down, she will have been managing director of Yale Rep through more than 150 productions and exactly half of the theater’s 54-year history.
Nolan is leaving her posts at Yale in order to spend more time with her family, work on other projects and to “make space for people coming up who have the capacity and aspiration to lead,” she said.
Nolan said the advancement of artist compensation has been a cornerstone of her work at Yale. She also cited diversification of theater as an important cause.
Joan Channick DRA ’89, chair of the Theater Management Program, said that Nolan “has advocated in myriad ways for the wellbeing of artists, students, staff and faculty.” Channick explained that Nolan has pioneered equitable, inclusive hiring practices in the theater field.
Under Nolan’s leadership, Yale Rep created protocols for the rehearsal and production of sexual content, including the hiring of intimacy coordinators when staging sexually-explicit material. Channick said that these practices are now considered a national model.
Nolan was the School of Drama’s Title IX coordinator from 1995 to 2009. She has served on the President’s Committee on Diversity and Inclusion at Yale since 2014.
Nolan is currently working on a large-scale cultural assessment of the School of Drama, which investigates how well the school’s work on inclusion and equity align with its mission and vision. According to Nolan, the assessment hopes to “figure out if our training is really doing the right things to help people segue into the field and take this training with them.”
Nolan was awarded the 2019 Kennedy Center Medallion for her work co-creating the League of Resident Theatres and Kennedy Center “ASPIRE” Leadership Fellows Program, as part of the American College Theater Festival. According to the program’s website, the program seeks to “cultivate a new generation of artistic and administrative leaders for the American Theater” by engaging women, men of color and other underrepresented groups in the field. Nolan said that she plans to continue her work with the program, and also hopes to work on a political campaign in the three to four months directly after she concludes her work at Yale.
According to Nolan, her decision to step down at this point in time was also influenced by plans for a new School of Drama building, a project that has been through many years of planning and will commence “hopefully very soon.”
At the moment, School of Drama activity at Yale is spread across nine different buildings, including the Iseman Theater in the School of Art and classrooms on Park and Crown Streets. Nolan said that “for continuity’s sake,” it is important for the organization to have a managing director and deputy dean who will see the project –– which she believes will take at least five years –– all the way through.
Nolan said that she has appreciated the Rep’s programming flexibility made possible by financial support from the University. The Rep does not rely on box office revenue, allowing it to “take risks” and focus on promoting the “development of extraordinary theatrical experience” and the education of students.
“We have this happy obligation to really push the boundaries,” said Nolan. “In that regard, it’s been a dream job.”
James Bundy DRA ’95, dean of the School of Drama and Yale Rep artistic director, described Nolan as “a wise and thorough planner, a progressive advocate, a detail-oriented manager and an ever-resourceful optimist” in an announcement circulated to the School of Drama.
Deborah Berman, director of development and alumni affairs for the School of Drama and Yale Rep, said that Nolan “teaches leadership, and lives it, with tremendous modesty.”
Channick said that Nolan entrusts theater management students with “real responsibility” at the Yale Rep and regards them as professional colleagues.
“Her door is almost always open, intentionally, so that students can overhear whatever is happening inside, and if something interesting is going on, they are welcome to pop in and listen,” Channick wrote. “Vicki knows that the experience of hearing her conduct a thorny negotiation with an agent, for example, is invaluable for theater management students.”
More than anything else, Nolan said she has found facilitating and witnessing the success of her students to be especially rewarding.
“The number of students who have gone on to extraordinary success is incredibly gratifying,” Nolan said.
The Yale School of Drama was founded in 1955.
Carrie Zhou | firstname.lastname@example.org