HISTORY of yale repertory theatre  
Yale Repertory Theatre

 

 

Dean Robert Brustein founded Yale Repertory Theatre in 1966 as the "Master Teacher" of the Yale School of Drama. During his tenure as its first Artistic Director, the Rep transformed the landscape of American theatre training: to this day, theatres and training programs across the country strive to emulate the Rep's unique convergence of talented students and leading professionals in meaningful collaboration. Moreover, Yale Repertory Theatre became one of the first distinguished regional theatres, with an emphasis on the production of new plays and classics of world theatre in vivid and inventive interpretations.

From 1979-1991, Lloyd Richards served as Dean of the Drama School and Artistic Director of Yale Repertory Theatre. Under Richards, who also headed the Eugene O'Neill Center for New American Plays, the Rep fostered the work of notable playwrights such as Athol Fugard and August Wilson, while maintaining a commitment to the classical repertoire. The Rep became one of the first regional theatres to transfer serious work to the commercial sector on a regular basis, pioneering a model of production that has become common practice at Lincoln Center Theater, Manhattan Theatre Club, the Roundabout, and other major resident theaters.

Stan Wojewodski, Jr., Dean and Artistic Director from 1991-2002, made a unique commitment to artists the hallmark of his tenure. Associate Artists at the Rep included playwrights Suzan-Lori Parks, Len Jenkin, and Eric Overmyer, director/choreographer Ralph Lemon, actor Byron Jennings, composer Kim D. Sherman, Clowns of Horror Mump and Smoot, and the 52nd Street Project.

James Bundy succeeded Wojewodski as Dean and Artistic Director July 1, 2002.

Yale Rep has produced 89 world and American premieres, four of which have received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. The Theatre has sent ten productions to Broadway, earning nine Tony® Awards and a total of 37 Tony® Award nominations. Recognized as one of the leading regional theaters in the United States, Yale Rep itself received the Tony® Award for Outstanding Regional Theatre in 1991, and it was awarded the 1992 Jujamcyn Theatres Award for its outstanding contribution to the development of creative talent for the theatre. In 2002, Yale School of Drama/Yale Repertory Theatre received the Governor's Arts Award from Governor John Rowland in recognition of its remarkable artistic achievement and contribution to the arts in the state of Connecticut.

   
    1960s
 

1966

Robert Brustein - photo by Bill Miles
Robert Brustein
 

Yale University and Yale School of Drama, guided by the vision of George Pierce Baker, the first chairman of Yale's drama department, establish Yale Repertory Theatre in the former Calvary Baptist Church building, located on the corner of York and Chapel Streets in downtown New Haven. The formation of this professional theater under the leadership of Robert Brustein, then-dean of Yale School of Drama, creates a laboratory in which theoretical study in the classroom with experienced theater artists is related continuously to professional practice in production work alongside experienced theater artists.

  Dynamite Tonight  - photo: Eugene Cook
Alvin Epstein and Eugene Troobnick in Dynamite Tonight

In his selection of seasons, Brustein says his objective is to create ambitious, quality theater for New Haven area audiences and to inspire new generations of American theater artists, prepared to realize the potential of their talents and assume leadership roles in theater institutions across the country.

On Dec. 6, 1966 Yale Rep opens its doors to the public with a production of the comic opera Dynamite Tonight by Arnold Weinstein, music by William Bolcom.

1967-68
The world premiere of We Bombed in New Haven by Joseph Heller is presented at the Rep.

1968-69
Yale Rep presents the world premiere of Jules Fieffer’s God Bless.

 
    1970s
 

1970-71
This season sees the world premiere of Where Has Tommy Flowers Gone? by Terrence McNally and the American premiere of Two by Brecht and Weill: The Little Mahagonny and The Seven Deadly Sins by Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill, translated by Michael Feingold and W.H. Auden and Chester Kallman, respectively.

1972-73
Yale Rep produced the world premiere of Are You Now or Have You Ever Been? by Eric Bentley.

1973-74

The Frogs -  photo: William Baker
The Frogs
by Aristophanes
 


Schlemiel the First
by Isaac Beshevis Singer makes its world premiere, as well as Aristophanes’ The Frogs adapted and directed by Burt Shevelove, with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim.

The Frogs receives much attention for its unconventional staging in a Yale University swimming pool.

 

  The Idiot’s Karamazov
Ralph Redpath and Meryl Streep in The Idiot’s Karamazov

1974-75
Christopher Durang and Albert Innaurato, Yale School of Drama graduates, see their play The Idiots Karamazov produced for the first time at the Rep.

Suicide in B-Flat -  photo: Eugene Cook
William Hickey in Suicide in B-Flat
 

1976-77
Suicide in B-Flat by Sam Shepard premieres.

1977-78
Making their world premieres at Yale Repertory this season are Reunion and Dark Pony by David Mamet, Terra Nova by Ted Talley, Wings by Arthur Kopit, and The 1940’s Radio Hour by Walton Jones.

1978-79
Sam Shepard’s Buried Child and Christopher Durang’s ‘dentity Crisis premiere.

1979-80

Lloyd Richards  - photo: Gerry Goodstein Lloyd Richards  

Lloyd Richards takes the helm as Yale Rep’s Artistic Director and Dean of the Yale School of Drama. In an interview with Chris Angermann of the New Haven Advocate, Richards states, "The theater... has responsibilities to the communities in which it exists: the university and New Haven, which is a very complex city. I hope that the theater will have an ever-widening relationship to those communities. And that is not a simple matter. You don’t by yourself develop a program and attempt to impose it. That’s sure death. The relationship must be interactive." Later in the article he says, "It’s (Yale Rep) not a museum. It’s a theater, and a theater should be alive.... It is a place where people should come not just to rest after a big meal, but to agree, to disagree, to be provoked in thought and feeling, and even sometimes to be bored. That can happen: okay — this time you don’t agree; next time you might."

  A Lesson from Aloes - photo: Gerry Goodstein
Harris Yulin and James Earl Jones in A Lesson from Aloes

 

A Lesson from Aloes by Athol Fugard has its American premiere at Yale Rep.

 

 

 
    1980s
 

1981-82

"Master Harold"... and the boys - photo: Gerry Goodstein
Danny Glover, Zakes Mokae, and Zeljko Ivanek in "Master Harold"... and the boys
 

Kathleen Betsko’s Johnny Bull and Athol Fugard’s "Master Harold"... and the boys are produced for the first time.

This year Yale Rep received the Drama Desk Award for New Play and the Outer Critic’s Circle Award for Outstanding Production of a New Broadway Play for "Master Harold"... and the boys.

1983-84
August Wilson begins his long association with Yale Rep with the premiere of Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. It advances to Broadway.

  August Wilson  photo: Gerry Goodstein
Playwright August Wilson

Also making its world premiere this season is Athol Fugard’s The Road to Mecca.

1984-85
Among the six world premieres this season is August Wilson’s Fences, which travels on to Broadway.

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom receives the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award for Best Play.

1985-86
Joe Turner’s Come and Gone marks the third play by August Wilson to premiere at Yale and transfer to Broadway.

1986-87

A Walk in the Woods -  photo:  Gerry Goodstein
Joseph Sommer and Kennth Welsh in A Walk in the Woods
 

A Walk in the Woods by Lee Blessing premieres at Yale Rep.

Also that season, Athol Fugard directs the world premiere of his A Place with the Pigs.

Almost by Chance a Woman: Elizabeth by Dario Fo also premieres.

Fences receives the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award for Best Play and the Outer Critics’ Circle Award for Outstanding Broadway Play.

1987-88

  Sarcophagus  - photo: Gerry Goodstein
April Shawhan, Gail Dartez, and Pearce Beunting in Sarcophagus

Sarcophagus: A Tragedy by Vladimir Gubaryev makes its American premiere, and The Piano Lesson by August Wilson makes its world premiere.

Fences receives an American Theatre Wing Tony Award for Best Play and Yale Rep is presented a Drama Desk Award for "nurturing plays of significance."

1989-90

August Wilson premieres Two Trains Running.

The Piano Lesson receives the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award for Best Play.

 
    1990s
 

1991

Artistic Director Stan Wojewodski, Jr.  - photo:  T. Charles Erickson
Artistic Director Stan Wojewodski, Jr.
 

Stan Wojewodski, Jr. begins his tenure as Artistic Director of Yale Repertory Theatre and Dean of Yale School of Drama. His first directing project at Yale is Eric Overmyer’s On the Verge or the Geography of Yearning. In a program note, Wojewodski states, "The union of professional theater with conservatory training has long been my ideal. Yale’s achievement — and potential — in this regard are unique. There is no other position that could have made me contemplate leaving Center Stage, which has been an extraordinary artistic home to me for fifteen years. I am aware of the enormity of the challenge and energized by the scale of possibility. I can’t wait to get started."

Also in 1991 Yale Rep is presented an American Theatre Wing Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theatre

  Suzan-Lori Parks - photo by Donald Parks
Playwright Suzan-Lori Parks

1991-92
Suzan-Lori Parks begins her association with Yale Rep. The Death of the Last Black Man in the Whole Entire World premieres.

The New York Drama Critics’ Circle presents their award for Best American Play to Two Trains Running.

 

Hamlet  - photo:  T. Charles Erickson
Roxanna Augesen and Melody J. Garrett in Hamlet
 

1992-93
Hamlet by William Shakespeare, directed by Stan Wojewodski, Jr., is the first Yale School of Drama Special Project of the Graduating Acting Class to appear on the Yale Rep stage.

Yale School of Drama and Yale Repertory Theatre are presented the 1992 Jujamcyn Theaters Award for "an outstanding contribution to the development and creative talent for the theater."

 

  The America Play  - photo:  T. Charles Erickson
Reggie Montgomery in The America Play

1993-94
Suzan-Lori Parks’ The America Play receives its world premiere at Yale Rep. Resident Director Liz Diamond directs, marking her sixth collaboration with Parks.

 

  Figaro/Figaro - photo:  T. Charles Erickson
Reg Rogers and Susan Cremin in Figaro/Figaro

1994-95
Premiering this season is Figaro/Figaro, Eric Overmyer’s adaptation of Beaumarchais’ The Marriage of Figaro and its 20th Century sequel, Odon von Horvath’s Figaro Gets a Divorce.

 

Venus  - photo:  T. Charles Erickson
Adina Porter and Sandra Shipley in Venus
 

1995-96
Stan Wojewodski, Jr. directs the American premiere of David Edgar’s Pentecost.

Premiering in a co-production with The Joseph Papp Public Theater/New York Shakespeare Festival this season is Suzan-Lori Parks’ Venus, directed by Yale Alum Richard Foreman. For Venus Suzan-Lori Parks receives an Obie Award for playwriting.

Yale Repertory Theatre and Yale School of Drama launch the Dwight-Edgewood Project, a community outreach program encouraging New Haven children to express themselves through theater.

Trumph of Love - photo:  T. Charles Erickson
Susan Egan and Christopher Sieber in Trumph of Love
 

1996-97
Triumph of Love, book by James Magruder, music by Jeffrey Stock, and lyrics by Susan Birkenhead, premieres in a co-production with Baltimore’s Center Stage. The show advances to Broadway the next season.

Julie McKee’s The Adventure of Amy Bock makes its world premiere.

 

  Geography - photo by T. Charles Erickson
Ralph Lemon in Geography

1997-98
The world premiere of Geography, conceived and directed by acclaimed choreographer Ralph Lemon opens the season. It explores issues of race and features a cast of West African and American dancers. The production leaves Yale and tours nationally.

The season wraps up with the world premiere of C.B. Coleman’s stage adaptation of Andrei Bely’s novel Petersburg.

  Mikhail Baryshnikov - photo: Annie Leibovitz
Mikhail Baryshnikov

1998-99
Yale Rep presents the world premiere of Mikhail Baryshnikov's White Oak Dance Company's national tour.

1999-2000
James Magruder's world-premiere translation/adaptation of Molière's The Imaginary Invalid opens the season.

Tree: Part 2 of the Geography Trilogy - photo by T. Charles Erickson
Ralph Lemon in Tree: Part 2 of the Geography Trilogy
 

 

Tree: Part 2 of the Geography Trilogy, a world premiere conceived and directed by Ralph Lemon, closes the season. Tree brings together artists from the United States, Africa, and Asia to explore spirituality and sexuality through dance. The work travels nationally the following fall.

 

 
    A New Millennium of Theater
 

2000-2001
Yale Repertory Theatre celebrates its 35th season, while Yale School of Drama marks its 75th anniversary, and Yale University turns 300. To celebrate, Yale Rep and Yale School of Drama team up with the Yale Dramatic Association to present Stage Blue, a gala bi-coastal party and performance featuring alumni and presented simultaneously in New York, Los Angeles, and New Haven via satellite.

The Way of the World  illustration: Rafal Olbinski
The Way of the World
 

Rice Boy by 1999 Yale School of Drama graduate Sunil Kuruvilla makes its world premiere at Yale Rep.

In celebration of Yale's 300th birthday, the comic masterpiece The Way of the World written by William Congreve in 1701, is offered as the centerpiece of the season.

Len Jenkin's new adaptation of Aristophanes' The Birds premieres at Yale Rep and features the graduating acting class of Yale School of Drama.

 

2001-2002
Tennessee Williams' Kingdom of Earth is the first production to be performed at the New Theatre, the Rep's flexible performance space located inside Holcombe T. Green, Jr. Hall.

The 2002 Graduating Acting Class of Yale School of Drama is showcased in the Rep production of Caryl Churchill's Serious Money, directed by Jean Randich.

Rebecca Bayla Taichmann directs a new adaptation and translation of Iphigeneia at Aulis by Kenneth Cavander.

July 1, 2002, James Bundy succeeds Wojewodski as Dean of Yale School of Drama and Artistic Director of Yale Repertory Theatre.

 

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