Stage Management (M.F.A. and Certificate)

Narda E. Alcorn, Chair

Due to the current and inevitable future disruptions of COVID-19, neither Yale School of Drama nor Yale Repertory Theatre will produce a season of plays in 2020–2021. In service of our mission, the School of Drama is temporarily extending the M.F.A. and Certificate programs by one fully funded year of study. All sections pertaining to production work in this chapter of the bulletin refer to a typical production schedule and are not necessarily applicable for the 2020–2021 academic year.

Stage managers are leaders, creative collaborators, and primary strategists of the theatrical process. They translate, integrate, interpret, and negotiate multiple visions into a cohesive whole, in service of a live performative piece. Throughout each phase of a production process, stage managers serve as artistic partners to every member of a collaborative team and possess a deep understanding of all theatrical disciplines.

The Stage Management department aims to be intentionally anti-racist in its curriculum and in its pedagogy, providing practical and theoretical knowledge of stage management and the other theatrical disciplines. Anti-racist tools and strategies are learned and examined during the course of study and integrated into the practice of stage management. The Stage Management curriculum embraces the dynamic intersection of theory and practice, and recognizes that theory can be an essential guide to how stage managers fulfill their jobs and cultivate style.

The rigorous interdisciplinary curriculum consists of required courses and electives that provide a wide range of knowledge and training essential for today’s professional. In addition to the classroom requirements, students are assigned stage management positions for productions at Yale School of Drama and Yale Repertory Theatre. Stage managers are introduced to mentoring best practices, and they are regularly given opportunities to mentor classmates throughout their production assignments. The curricular and production components are structured to prepare the student for work in the commercial, regional, and nontraditional arenas. Many graduates combine their professional practice with formal educational positions like lecturer and professor. The program of study is devoted to dismantling historic stage management practices that have upheld systems of oppression. Students are encouraged to integrate anti-racism into their daily practice and foster a culture of inclusion where change, flexibility, and adaptability are an ever-present part of the production process.

Yale Repertory Theatre is especially potent because it serves as an advanced training center for the department. During the first or second year, the student may have the opportunity to work at Yale Rep in a production capacity. As part of the second or third year of study, the student may be assigned as an assistant stage manager on a production. In the third and/or fourth year, provided the standards and qualifications set forth by the department are met, the student may be assigned as the stage manager for a Yale Rep production. This assignment fulfills requirements related to the student’s thesis and provides an opportunity to attain membership in Actors’ Equity Association, the union for actors and stage managers. Extracurricular participation in the Yale Cabaret is also encouraged, subject to prior approval by the department chair.

Plan of Study: Stage Management

Class of 2024

Required Sequence

Year one (2020–2021)
Course Subject
DRAM 3a/b Toward Anti-Racist Theater Practice
DRAM 6a/b Survey of Theater and Drama
DRAM 40a/b Principles of Stage Management
DRAM 59a Theater Safety and Health Culture
DRAM 80a Stage Combat and Intimacy for Stage Managers
DRAM 100a/b Stage Management Seminar: Process and Practice
DRAM 108b Music Literacy
DRAM 112a Scenic Design: Background and Practice
DRAM 149a Production Planning
DRAM 191b Managing the Production Process
DRAM 700a/b Stage Management Forum: The Artistic Process
DRAM 900a/b Independent Study and Enrichment
Electives not suggested first year
Year two (2021–2022)
Course Subject
DRAM 21a Founding Visions
DRAM 60a Professional Stage Management Practice in the Equity Agreement
DRAM 60b Professional Stage Management in Performance
DRAM 80a Stage Combat and Intimacy for Stage Managers
DRAM 124a Introduction to Lighting Design
DRAM 141b Law and the Arts
DRAM 158a Introduction to Sound Design
DRAM 189a Costume Production
DRAM 200a/b Stage Management Seminar: Process and Practice
DRAM 600a Theory-Guided Stage Management Practice
DRAM 700a/b Stage Management Forum: The Artistic Process
One required elective with chair approval
Production assignments as assigned
Year three (2022–2023)
Course Subject
DRAM 80a Stage Combat and Intimacy for Stage Managers
DRAM 300a/b Stage Management Seminar: Process and Practice
DRAM 400a Stage Management for the Commercial Theater
DRAM 400b Current Stage Management Practice
DRAM 500a/b The Stage Manager’s Thesis
DRAM 700a/b Stage Management Forum: The Artistic Process
DRAM 800a/b The Call: Yale Rep Stage Management Staff Seminar
Three required electives with chair approval
Production assignments as assigned
Year four (2023–2024)
Course Subject
DRAM 80a Stage Combat and Intimacy for Stage Managers
DRAM 300a/b Stage Management Seminar: Process and Practice
DRAM 500a/b The Stage Manager’s Thesis
DRAM 700a/b Stage Management Forum: The Artistic Process
DRAM 800a/b The Call: Yale Rep Stage Management Staff Seminar
One required elective with chair approval
Production assignments as assigned

Class of 2023

Required Sequence

Year two (2020–2021)
Course Subject
DRAM 3a/b Toward Anti-Racist Theater Practice
DRAM 60a Professional Stage Management Practice in the Equity Agreement
DRAM 60b Professional Stage Management in Performance
DRAM 80a Stage Combat and Intimacy for Stage Managers
DRAM 124a Introduction to Lighting Design
DRAM 158a Introduction to Sound Design
DRAM 189a Costume Production
DRAM 200a/b Stage Management Seminar: Process and Practice
DRAM 600a Theory-Guided Stage Management Practice
DRAM 700a/b Stage Management Forum: The Artistic Process
DRAM 900a/b Independent Study and Enrichment
Electives fulfilled through independent study and enrichment
Year three (2021–2022)
Course Subject
DRAM 80a Stage Combat and Intimacy for Stage Managers
DRAM 300a/b Stage Management Seminar: Process and Practice
DRAM 400a Stage Management for the Commercial Theater
DRAM 400b Current Stage Management Practice
DRAM 700a/b Stage Management Forum: The Artistic Process
DRAM 800a/b The Call: Yale Rep Stage Management Staff Seminar
Three required electives with chair approval
Production assignments as assigned
Year four (2022–2023)
Course Subject
DRAM 80a Stage Combat and Intimacy for Stage Managers
DRAM 300a/b Stage Management Seminar: Process and Practice
DRAM 500a/b The Stage Manager’s Thesis
DRAM 700a/b Stage Management Forum: The Artistic Process
DRAM 800a/b The Call: Yale Rep Stage Management Staff Seminar
One required elective with chair approval
Production assignments as assigned

Class of 2022

Required Sequence

Year three (2020–2021)
Course Subject
DRAM 3a/b Toward Anti-Racist Theater Practice
DRAM 80a Stage Combat for Stage Managers
DRAM 300a/b Stage Management Seminar: Process and Practice
DRAM 400a Stage Management for the Commercial Theater
DRAM 400b Current Stage Management Practice
DRAM 500a/b The Stage Manager’s Thesis
DRAM 700a/b Stage Management Forum: The Artistic Process
Three required electives with chair approval
Year four (2021–2022)
Course Subject
DRAM 80a Stage Combat and Intimacy for Stage Managers
DRAM 300a/b Stage Management Seminar: Process and Practice
DRAM 500a/b The Stage Manager’s Thesis
DRAM 700a/b Stage Management Forum: The Artistic Process
DRAM 800a/b The Call: Yale Rep Stage Management Staff Seminar
One required elective with chair approval
Production assignments as assigned

Required Elective Sequence

One elective is required during the second and fourth years, and three electives are required during the third year from the suggested list of elective courses, other Yale professional schools, or Yale College. All required electives must be approved by the chair.

Suggested electives: DRAM 11a, Theater Organizations; DRAM 111a, Functions of Leadership: Organizational Direction; DRAM 115a, Costume Design: Background and Practice; DRAM 119b, Electricity; DRAM 121a, Managing People; DRAM 158b, Recording Arts; DRAM 169a, Shop Technology; DRAM 169b, Stage Rigging Techniques; DRAM 198a, Sound Design Production Organization; DRAM 199b, Professional Development for Technical Managers; DRAM 207b, Carlotta Tutorial; DRAM 209a, Physics of Stage Machinery; DRAM 209b, Hydraulics and Pneumatics; DRAM 221b, Labor and Employee Relations; DRAM 224a, Introduction to Projection Design; DRAM 249a, Technical Management I; DRAM 249b, Technical Management II; DRAM 253a, Commedia.

Courses of Instruction

DRAM 3a/b, Toward Anti-Racist Theater Practice This course meets both within individual departments and across disciplines, with students and faculty members as fellow learners, using readings, viewings, and discussions in pursuit of these goals: to identify the roots and branches of racism and white supremacy in the structures and practices of theater-making in the United States, including at Yale School of Drama and Yale Repertory Theatre; to interrogate where the practices do harm and hinder; and to invest in the future by inviting students and faculty to imagine and uplift systems and cultures that do not depend upon or promote supremacy, to build a more just and equitable field.

DRAM 6a/b, Survey of Theater and Drama See description under Dramaturgy and Dramatic Criticism.

DRAM 8a/b, The Artist as Citizen This course offers theater artists and managers a forum for reading, writing, and discussion, which may be guided or self-directed. Each student has an opportunity to consider personal responsibility to collaborators, the audience, and the broader society, with specific reference to each artist’s personal history and identity. What ethical and practical frameworks should shape our art form and its professional sphere? How might they align with personal practice and with value systems of the wider world? With an individual’s culture of origin? Or with the culture(s) in which we choose to work? What are the obligations and privileges of national and/or global citizenship? How can love and joy be centered when the artist embraces the role of citizen? This course is offered in person in both fall and spring terms and may be taken no more than eight times during a student’s enrollment. James Bundy

DRAM 11a, Theater Organizations See description under Theater Management.

[DRAM 21a, Founding Visions See description under Theater Management. Not offered in 2020–2021]

DRAM 40a/b, Principles of Stage Management This fundamental course investigates theater making from the point of view of a stage manager. Through exploration of the nine phases of the production process (pre-production, first rehearsal, rehearsals, pre-tech, tech, previews, opening, performances, closing), students learn artistic and organizational techniques needed to professionally stage manage traditional and nontraditional productions. Management theory is integrated into each step of the nine-phase process, allowing each student to identify how their practice can be informed by theory and to begin cultivating their individual stage management style. Required of first-year stage managers. Narda E. Alcorn

DRAM 59a, Creating a Positive Theater Safety Culture See description under Technical Design and Production.

DRAM 60a, Professional Stage Management Practice in the Equity Agreement An introduction to Actors’ Equity Association, the professional stage manager’s responsibilities within an Equity contract, and a stage manager’s collaborative relationship with all stakeholders in that contractual agreement. An emphasis of this course is on practical use and application of the contract with particular focus on rehearsal work rules and provisions. Specific stage management methods and techniques within the collaborative process of rehearsal and tech are closely considered. As a practical guide, this course uses the AEA/LORT agreement as its primary text and as reference for assignments and discussion. Questions are drawn around professional responsibilities and privileges central to the stage manager’s daily work experience. Students are required to consider these questions of privilege and responsibility as they each further develop a personal professional style where active commitment to inclusive and anti-racist theater practice is a hallmark. James Mountcastle

DRAM 60b, Professional Stage Management in Performance This course continues a study of the professional stage manager working in various situations. Looking at specific methods and practices of the work, the focus shifts in the spring term to processes in place after the show has opened. Among the topics discussed in this course: backstage set-up, cue calling, show maintenance, performance assessment and reports, understudies, replacements, and a stage manager’s close working relationship with actors in performance. Serious consideration of these topics is intended to lead to a candid ongoing discussion of practical realities and principles crucial to the notion of professional stage management as a career. James Mountcastle

DRAM 80a, Stage Combat and Intimacy for Stage Managers This course is designed to provide the stage manager an understanding of the techniques and safety measures employed when staging combat and intimacy. Through both group-led discussion and practical learning, we establish how to create and maintain the safe and equitable room needed for this work. We explore the spectrum of staging emotional and physical intimacy, unarmed combat, swordplay, weapon use and maintenance, theatrical effects, interdepartmental collaboration, and safety issues. Kelsey Rainwater, Mike Rossmy

DRAM 100a/b, 200a/b, 300a/b, Stage Management Seminar: Process and Practice This dynamic investigation of process is designed to bring the entire department together with core stage management faculty to explore, reflect, and discuss how we approach the art of stage management through the lenses of COVID-19 and anti-racism; and to consider how we can identify the characteristics of white supremacy and decentralize white culture from our current theater conditions and practices. This deep learning encourages various points of view while stressing commitment, compassion, kindness combined with the courage to name and challenge racism, honesty, focus, dignity, and respect for the subjects at hand. Narda E. Alcorn, Laura Brown-MacKinnon, Diane DiVita, James Mountcastle

DRAM 108b, Music Literacy See description under Sound Design.

DRAM 111a, Functions of Leadership: Organizational Direction See description under Theater Management.

DRAM 112a, Scenic Design: Background and Practice See description under Design.

DRAM 115a, Costume Design: Background and Practice See description under Design.

[DRAM 119b, Electricity See description under Technical Design and Production. Not offered in 2020–2021]

[DRAM 121a, Managing People See description under Theater Management. Not offered in 2020–2021]

DRAM 124a, Introduction to Lighting Design See description under Design.

[DRAM 141b, Law and the Arts See description under Theater Management. Not offered in 2020–2021]

DRAM 149a, Production Planning See description under Technical Design and Production.

DRAM 158a, Introduction to Sound Design See description under Sound Design.

[DRAM 158b, Recording Arts See description under Sound Design. Not offered in 2020–2021]

[DRAM 169a, Shop Technology See description under Technical Design and Production. Not offered in 2020–2021]

DRAM 169b, Stage Rigging Techniques: Part I See description under Technical Design and Production.

DRAM 189a, Costume Production See description under Technical Design and Production.

DRAM 191b, Managing the Production Process See description under Theater Management.

DRAM 198a, Sound Design Production Organization See description under Sound Design.

DRAM 199b, Professional Development for Technical Managers See description under Technical Design and Production.

[DRAM 207b, Carlotta Tutorial See description under Playwriting. Not offered in 2020–2021]

DRAM 209a, Physics of Stage Machinery See description under Technical Design and Production.

DRAM 209b, Hydraulics and Pneumatics See description under Technical Design and Production.

[DRAM 217a, Langston Hughes Tutorial See description under Playwriting. Not offered in 2020–2021]

DRAM 221b, Labor and Employee Relations See description under Theater Management.

DRAM 224a, Introduction to Projection Design See description under Projection Design.

[DRAM 249a, Technical Management I See description under Technical Design and Production. Not offered in 2020–2021]

[DRAM 249b, Technical Management II See description under Technical Design and Production. Not offered in 2020–2021]

[DRAM 253a, Commedia See description under Acting. Not offered in 2020–2021]

DRAM 400a, Stage Management for the Commercial Theater The focus of this course centers on stage management for the commercial theater with emphasis on process and current conditions in the industry. As a primer for the stage manager to work in the commercial theater, this course is an in-depth study of the production process according to the theatrical unions who perform backstage on Broadway, including but not limited to AEA, I.A.T.S.E., Local 764/Wardrobe, Local 798/Hair and Make-up, and Local 802/ Musicians. Laura Brown-MacKinnon

DRAM 400b, Current Stage Management Practice “If not us, then who? If not now, then when?” This course is an insightful study of those next steps into professional stage management using anti-racism as the platform guide. Through this prism, topics include perception and leadership in today’s ever-changing world, ethics, the development of relationships, problem-solving, networking, and the tools by which to pursue potential employment opportunities. Current topics are at the forefront, as well as a candid and honest look into our theatrical practices and how we can proactively combat racism on both a personal and professional level. Diane DiVita

DRAM 500a/b, The Stage Manager’s Thesis Each third- or fourth-year student must fulfill three requirements in fulfillment of their thesis: stage manage a major production at Yale School of Drama or Yale Repertory Theatre; prepare and submit the production book; write a comprehensive production reflection or write about a stage management topic approved by the department chair. Comprehensive production reflections must include a critical examination of the employment of theory and how it influenced the stage manager’s process throughout the production. Written stage management topics must be approved by the chair no later than the end of the second or third year. Both production reflections and stage management topics must be evaluated and critiqued by two approved independent readers. The final, bound edition of the written thesis is considered by the faculty along with production work in determining whether a degree should be granted. Narda E. Alcorn

DRAM 600a, Theory-Guided Stage Management Practice Theory-guided practice incorporates perspective, long-term thinking, a point of view, anticipation, innovation, and anti-racism. Theory-guided practice inspires the stage manager to respond to the present moment with care and creativity while planning for what lies ahead with wisdom and imagination. Through class discussions, writing assignments, and a critical examination of various management texts, students actively and intentionally integrate theory into their daily practice. Narda E. Alcorn

DRAM 700a/b, Stage Management Forum: The Artistic Process This two-term course focuses on stage management techniques and experiences from a variety of collaborators. Through a series of classes and workshops led by professionals in a variety of entertainment fields, students explore artistic process and learn specific management skills pertinent to diverse genres. Topics rotate on a three-year basis and include music theory and practice, dance, opera, event management, industrials, musical theater, touring, film, television, theater for children, theme parks, theatrical technology, computer applications, vocal training, and physical awareness. Open to nondepartmental students with permission of the chair. Narda E. Alcorn; and other professional department lecturers

DRAM 800a/b, The Call: Yale Rep Stage Management Staff Seminar This weekly seminar discussion is required of all stage management students in their second and third years of study. Current issues playing out in Yale Repertory Theatre’s rehearsal rooms and meetings and on its stages are discussed among stage management students working at Yale Rep and with the production stage manager. This course is meant to bring the YSD stage management student class experience into close alignment with the YRT professional experience and to formalize the relationship of Yale Repertory Theatre as a master teacher in professional stage management at Yale School of Drama. James Mountcastle

DRAM 900a/b, Independent Study and Enrichment This independent study course allows the curious stage management student to take a deep dive into a specific area and engage in self-study and reflection. This exploration is student-led, with the guidance of the instructors, and students are encouraged to explore other courses through Yale College, the Graduate School, and the other professional schools. Improving skill sets, studying diverse topics, and exploring the discipline and the field are among the many ways students can engage. Each student is assigned to one of the instructors, who will approve the student’s proposed independent study. Narda E. Alcorn, James Mountcastle