History and Facilities

History of Yale School of Drama

Yale University founded a Department of Drama in the School of Fine Arts in 1924 through the generosity of Edward S. Harkness, B.A. 1897. In 1925, while the University Theatre was under construction, the first class of students was enrolled. George Pierce Baker, the foremost teacher of playwriting in America, joined the faculty to serve as the first chair of the department, and the first Master of Fine Arts in Drama was conferred in 1931.

In 1955, by vote of the Yale Corporation, the department was organized as a separate professional school, Yale School of Drama, offering the degrees of Master of Fine Arts, Doctor of Fine Arts, and Certificate in Drama (for those students who complete the three-year program without having the normally prerequisite bachelor’s degree).

History of Yale Repertory Theatre

In 1966, under the leadership of Dean Robert Brustein, Yale Repertory Theatre was founded as part of Yale School of Drama, establishing a complementary relationship between conservatory and professional practice similar to that of a medical school and a teaching hospital.

A hallmark of Robert Brustein’s artistic leadership of Yale Repertory Theatre from 1966 to 1979 was his insistence on a resident company of artists. Brustein’s dream of a permanent repertory company became an inspiration to the emerging field of nonprofit theater. The model of Brustein’s programming choices, emphasizing the production of new plays and classics of the world theater in vivid and inventive interpretations, has remained the centerpiece of the work of Yale Repertory Theatre.

During the tenure of Lloyd Richards, dean and artistic director from 1979 to 1991, the theater increased its emphasis on the production of new plays. Athol Fugard, Lee Blessing, and August Wilson were among the playwrights who premiered their work at Yale Rep during Richards’s leadership. Yale Rep was one of the first resident theaters to regularly transfer serious work to the commercial theater, developing a model of professional producing that changed the course of new play development in the American theater.

Stan Wojewodski, Jr., dean and artistic director from 1991 to 2002, was notable for his commitment to the individual artist. Wojewodski made long-term commitments to Suzan-Lori Parks, Len Jenkin, and Ralph Lemon, as well as numerous actors, directors, and performance artists.

James Bundy, dean and artistic director since 2002, has continued Yale Rep’s tradition of presenting bold interpretations of classics and extended the Rep’s legacy of producing new plays and musicals. The Binger Center for New Theatre, established in 2008, underwrites commissioning, development, and production at Yale Rep and across the country. To date, the Binger Center has supported the work of more than sixty commissioned artists as well as the world premieres and subsequent productions of more than thirty new plays and musicals. More information on the Binger Center for New Theatre can be found at www.yalerep.org/productions-and-programs/binger-center-for-new-theatre.

Yale Repertory Theatre has produced well over one hundred premieres, including two Pulitzer Prize winners and four other nominated finalists. Seventeen Yale Rep productions have advanced to Broadway, and many plays first produced at Yale Rep have been presented at theaters across the country. Yale Rep productions have garnered more than forty Tony Award® nominations and ten Tony awards; the theater is also the recipient of the Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theater.


The University Theatre at 222 York Street is Yale School of Drama’s center. It includes a proscenium theater, seating 636, which is shared with the undergraduate dramatic association. The University Theatre also houses the main administrative offices; the scene, prop, metal, and costume shops; a lounge; and several classrooms.

Yale Repertory Theatre is in a distinctive historical building on the corner of Chapel and York streets. Formerly the Calvary Baptist Church, the theater contains a 479-seat auditorium facing a modified apron stage, and the Yale School of Drama/Yale Repertory Theatre box office.

The Iseman Theater in Holcombe T. Green, Jr. Hall, located at 1156 Chapel Street, contains a flexible performance space seating up to 200. This building also houses the Yale School of Art.

205 Park Street, also known as the School of Drama Annex, houses the Design and Sound Design departments; the Robertson Computer Lab; the Laurie Beechman Center for Theatrical Sound Design and Music; a lighting, sound, and projection lab; and several classrooms.

217 Park Street contains the Yale Cabaret as well as rehearsal rooms and performance space, classrooms, faculty offices, and the offices of Theater magazine.

149 York Street is home to several key administrative offices, including registrar, admissions, business, and financial aid, as well as the paint shop, rehearsal rooms, classrooms, drama storage, and faculty offices. This building also houses the Center for Collaborative Arts and Media.

212 York Street is home to faculty offices of the Dramaturgy and Dramatic Criticism department.

305 Crown Street houses faculty, administrative offices, classrooms, rehearsal space, and a media workshop for projection design.

The Robert B. Haas Family Arts Library at 180 York Street encompasses the merged holdings of the former Art & Architecture and Drama Libraries, the Arts of the Book Collection, and the staff of the Visual Resources Collection. This makes it the primary collection for the study of art, architecture, and drama production at Yale. Currently, the drama collections have approximately 20,000 volumes, including plays by American, British, and foreign playwrights; books on the history of theater, theater architecture, dramatic criticism, scenery, costume, lighting, sound, and projection design, technical production, and theater management; biographies; and related reference books. Other materials from the former Drama Library that document theatrical production through photographic prints, production books, scrapbooks, and ephemera are now part of the Arts Library Special Collections department. Highlights include the Rollo Peters Archive, the Rockefeller Theatrical Prints Collection, the Doolittle Collection of Japanese Theatre Prints, and the George Pierce Baker Collection. Yale School of Drama students are free to use all Yale University Library collections, including those of the three central libraries—Sterling Memorial Library, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, and the Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Library—and of the other graduate and professional schools.

The Center for Collaborative Arts and Media (CCAM) at 149 York Street is a multimedia facility that establishes connections between traditional art and the computer age. The CCAM serves the several arts departments and institutions at Yale. Beyond providing classroom and laboratory facilities, the CCAM provides instruction and equipment that allow faculty and students in all arts disciplines to discover and create in the diverse fields of electronic media. Advanced technologies, staff expertise, and interdisciplinary approaches make the CCAM an ideal auxiliary for Yale’s arts community.

Yale School of Drama Computing

Yale School of Drama urges all students to consider the purchase of a computer and appropriate software to use during their time at the School. The University has established purchase programs with several vendors that provide the opportunity to purchase reliable, competitively priced laptops, desktops, and software compatible with the Yale network. More information on these programs is available from IT at Yale at https://software.yale.edu/software-technology/buying-guide. Students should also check the YSDinfo website at https://ysdinfo.yale.edu for recommendations or requirements specific to their department. Please see the chapter Financial Aid Policy for information regarding available computer loans.

Student Computer Labs

Yale School of Drama maintains the Robertson Computer Lab in the basement of 205 Park Street. The facility is open to School of Drama students twenty-four hours a day for school-related projects. It features twenty Lenovo workstations, two flatbed scanners, and one networked laser printer/copier. Software in the lab includes Adobe Creative Cloud, AutoCAD, Microsoft Office 365, and Vectorworks.

Six Lenovo all-in-one workstations are available in the lounge area on the third floor of 222 York Street, and two Lenovo computers and one iMac are available for casual use in the Business Office lobby of 149 York Street.

Other student computers are assigned to the various departments for use by students engaged in department-related academic and production work. Networked laser printers assigned to each department can be accessed by students. Students should check with their department chair for further information.

Software Training

An extensive online library of software training is available at no cost to all Yale students, staff, and faculty at https://lynda.com/portal/yale. The training library includes detailed instruction on Adobe Creative Suite, Microsoft Excel and other Office applications, and AutoCAD, among many others. To learn more about Lynda.com and other training resources provided by Yale, please visit https://its.yale.edu/about-it/climate-culture/learning-development.

Yale Software Library

Yale has obtained site-wide licensing for some widely used software, and it makes copies available for download at https://software.yale.edu. These include Microsoft Office and antivirus applications. Please check the site to download these and to see what other titles are available.

Wireless Network Access

Yale University and Yale School of Drama provide a range of computer resources aimed at supporting student needs. Students should visit https://ysdinfo.yale.edu or https://its.yale.edu to learn how to access the University computer network and wireless networking, e-mail, antivirus and anti-spyware software, and other crucial information.

Student Websites

The director of digital technology and the digital communications associate are available to provide advice and consultation on students’ personal websites. Please contact them directly to set up meeting times.