Jane Park, staff reporter

Yale Performing Arts is set to have a busy upcoming fall season with casting cycles soon opening for upcoming plays, musical theater stages and other performances throughout the next month.

The Yale Drama Coalition held their Season Preview show on Aug. 27 at the Off-Broadway Theatre, an event which gave shows with September, October, November or December casting cycles a chance to introduce themselves to prospective actors and production members. With a total of over 21 shows listed for those fall semester casting cycles, the Season Preview included a mix of genres and performance-styles, from household-name shows like “West Side Story” and “Little Women” to student-written, original productions like “Gaucho.”

 “I think many people in theatre will tell you that there were a lot of shows going up all at once [last year], and there were a lot of people almost competing for the same resources because there were so many shows,” said YDC President Jeffrey Steele ’24. “This year, there seems to be a sense of more collaboration, which I’m excited for. There seems to be more people who are bonding together to work together on shows rather than everyone having a separate show, which I’m hoping will lead to less shows being canceled and more shows going up successfully and much healthier processes.”

The Season Preview re-introduced organizations such as the Yale Dramatic Association, Yale Artist Cabaret, YAC, and the Shen Curriculum for Musical Theater — a curriculum the Department of Music and the Theater and Performance Studies Program administer offering master classes. 

In addition to existing theater-making groups, the event showcased three of many student-written productions including “Gaucho,” “Jazz” and “Education,” written by Emma Ventresca ’26, Zyria Rodgers ’21 and Chesed Chap ’25, respectively

“Gaucho is about the story of a young boy who dreams of leaving a pastoral, traditional life in favor of something more modern and cosmopolitan,” said Ventresca. “There’s a lot of elements of magical realism in Latin American literature in the show.”

In addition to newer productions, the fall semester casting cycle includes long-established shows such as “West Side Story,” “Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812” and “Little Women.” However, Elsie Harrington ’25, director of “Little Women,” has emphasized her desire to adapt the well-known classic with a “unique retelling.”

“It is thrilling to become a part of that legacy, but it would be easy for the actors, and myself, to fall into the trap of trying to emulate book Jo, or movie Beth, or a preconceived perception of Laurie,” Harrington wrote in an email to the News. Little Women feels particularly relevant to a college campus where, just like Jo and the other sisters, we are all trying to figure out how to forge our own paths in the world, changing our minds on what those paths might be, and often wishing we could just stay seventeen forever.”

There are multiple casting cycles throughout the semester for student productions. The varied audition timelines offer flexibility to prospective actors and production members so they can avoid overlap between productions. These casting cycles space out casting opportunities so that students can have the chance to join productions throughout the entire academic year. 

Steele said he is looking forward to the hopefully improved accessibility of this year’s productions.

“From what I did hear from a lot of newer theatermakers in particular and newer students was that they felt like they had a very hard time accessing theater last year,” he said. “So many of them would just try and start their own productions, but then they felt like they didn’t have the resources necessary to do so, and that wasn’t really the fault of the University. It was just because you need designers and actors, but if there’s 15 actors already for a different show, and your show’s going up the next weekend, that’s 15 people that you can’t put in the same show, because there’s a limited amount of time to put something up.” 

With two mainstage performances and various pop-up events throughout the year, YAC is a student-run concert where 10 to 15 acts perform musical theatre songs, relating to a certain theme. Last year, YAC opened the fall season with “Origin Story,” a villain-themed Halloween show. 

“10:59 P.M.” is the theme of YAC’s first show this year, slated to go on in October. The term “11 o’clock numbers” refers to the moment in a musical, usually in the second act, where the protagonist reaches an epiphany through a grand, musical climax. These musical numbers have earned this name from occurring towards the end of the show, near 11 o’clock. 

“Our shows aren’t just sites to marvel at talent but to enjoy the experience it comes with…” YAC Co-Artistic Director Lauren Marut ’25 told the News. “The YAC community is incredibly loyal and broad, and because our shows recur so often our audience members (and performers) see each other quite frequently. We build our shows to engage a social experience, not just a spectatorial one.” 

Through the course of the semester, each of these student-run productions will be featured on stages across Yale’s campus and tickets will become available as the performance dates approach.  

“I trust that our board can adjust to what the needs of what people are and what the community says is going wrong, because that’s ultimately our hope,” Steele said. “We’re driven by other people trusting in us to help make things better. I’m feeling really inspired about the changes we’re making.”

There are over 130 undergraduate arts organizations registered on the Yale College Arts website