Our Plans for 2020–21
June 16, 2020
Yale School of Drama/Yale Repertory Theatre today announced that neither the School nor Yale Rep will produce a season of plays in 2020–21, due to the ongoing incompatibility of theatrical production with best public health practices in response to COVID-19. Practical production work is a central tenet of the School’s conservatory training; the three-year MFA program is being extended temporarily to a fourth year to best meet and overcome the current and inevitable future disruptions of the pandemic. Similarly, the one-year Technical Internship program will be extended by one semester. The School’s next student recruitment cycle will be for admission in the fall of 2022.
“The coronavirus pandemic demands of us that we slow down as never before, to care for our community while bringing our best selves to theater training. At the same time, the state of our nation and field calls us more urgently than ever to continuous work toward anti-racist pedagogy and practice, in order to prepare our graduates to lead in a more just and joyful profession for which we must altogether take responsibility now,” said Dean/Artistic Director James Bundy, Deputy Dean/Managing Director Victoria Nolan, Associate Dean Chantal Rodriguez, and Assistant Dean/General Manager Kelvin Dinkins, Jr., in a message earlier today to all faculty, staff, students, and interns.
The additional fourth year of training is optional, but strongly encouraged, for all currently enrolled students beginning their second and third years of training in the fall; and is mandatory for the incoming class of first-year students, who will now graduate in 2024.
The cost to students of this additional year/semester will be underwritten entirely by the School. For any student in their first three years, need-based financial aid will continue in accordance with standing policy. In their fourth year or third internship semester, each student or intern will receive a full-tuition scholarship, a living-expenses scholarship, and work-study employment totaling the entire cost of attendance, regardless of demonstrated financial need.
The School has identified $3.1 million of savings in its 2021 fiscal year budget, which will be put in reserve to underwrite this endeavor. These savings are realized by the absence of production, as well as sacrifices borne by the entire community in the coming year. Faculty and management employee salaries have been frozen and overtime pay for clerical and technical staff will be eliminated. The visiting faculty will be reduced by approximately 20% in 2020–21, and there is a freeze on new hires. No layoffs or furloughs of year-round or full-time seasonal staff or faculty are contemplated in 2020-21.
“We want to emphasize that curriculum and production planning for the coming year has slowed the pace of work, and created more space for reflection. These adjustments offer our community an opportunity to continue training at a high level, while centering responsible self-care as an antidote to the exhaustion that many people regard as a field-wide norm and manifestation of a culture of white supremacy,” said the deans. “Prior to COVID-19, our plan for next year called for spending only five days each week in production, up until technical rehearsals. Our adjusted plans call for similar restraint in pursuit of a new paradigm, and include deeper investment in the anti-racism work that must be at the heart of our training, here at Yale, within our profession, and across the country.”
Jason Bowen and Jerod Haynes (foreground) with members of the company of Native Son by Nambi E. Kelley, directed by Seret Scott, scenic design by Ryan Emens, costumes by Katie Touart, lighting by Stephen Strawbridge, sound design and original music by Frederick Kennedy, technical direction by Jen Seleznow, and stage management by Caitlin O’Rourke. Photo © Joan Marcus, 2017.