Yale Names Tarell Alvin McCraney Head of Playwriting

by Jacob Coakley
 Tarell Alvin McCraney was also named a playwright in residence at Yale Rep.
Tarell Alvin McCraney was also named a playwright in residence at Yale Rep.

NEW HAVEN, CT — Yale tapped Tarell Alvin McCraney as the chair of the Department of Playwriting at Yale School of Drama, effective July 1, 2017, for a three-year term. McCraney will begin his work part-time this winter in order to admit the incoming class of playwrights. The application deadline for the Playwriting Department will be extended to January 1, 2017, to accommodate this transition.

More details from the Yale School of Drama: 

“Following an international search process, it became abundantly clear that Tarell Alvin McCraney’s inspiring voice as a teacher, experience as a leading practitioner in the English-speaking theatre, and vision for the future of our art form, all position him beautifully for leadership of the Playwriting program, which has been at the center of Yale School of Drama’s mission since George Pierce Baker arrived in New Haven more than 90 years ago,” says Dean James Bundy. “On behalf of the entire community, I’m delighted to welcome Tarell back to the School of Drama. It is thrilling to imagine his impact on early career writers and the field in the years to come.”

Tarell Alvin McCraney, originally from Miami, Florida, earned his BFA from DePaul University and his MFA from Yale School of Drama. He currently serves as Professor of Theatre and Civic Engagement at the University of Miami and also has taught at the School at Steppenwolf, the University of Warwick, and the New World School of the Arts. His plays include The Brother/Sister Plays, a trilogy comprising In the Red and Brown Water, The Brothers Size, and Marcus: Or The Secret of Sweet; Head of Passes; Choir Boy; and Wig Out!. They have been produced at The Public Theater, Royal Court Theatre, Manhattan Theatre Club, Vineyard Theatre, and Steppenwolf Theatre Company, among many others. Tarell's script, In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue, is the inspiration for the critically acclaimed new film, Moonlight. As a director, his credits include Hamlet for the Royal Shakespeare Company, Antony and Cleopatra for the Royal Shakespeare Company, Public Theater, and GableStage, and Romeo & Juliet: Outside the Box for Young Arts/National Foundation for the Advancement of the Arts. Tarell is a member of the Steppenwolf Theater Ensemble and an associate artist of the Royal Shakespeare Company. He has received numerous awards, including the Whiting Award, Steinberg Playwright Award, Doris Duke Artist Award, Windham-Campbell Award, London Evening Standard Award for Most Promising Playwright, New York Times Outstanding Playwright Award, the Paula Vogel Award, and a 2013 MacArthur Fellowship. He also served for several years on Yale School of Drama’s Board of Advisors, retiring from that body in the summer of 2016.

“New plays sit at the heart of training in the Yale School of Drama community. The vision, scope, and execution of the play spawn countless collaborations and inquiries into the personal imagination of the artists who make up the community, while also addressing complicated questions we face in the world today,” says Tarell Alvin McCraney. “This return to Yale marks a need in myself to advocate for these collaborators and their voices, but also to wrestle alongside them with the perplexing and powerful quandaries of the day.”

In addition, Tarell Alvin McCraney will succeed Paula Vogel as Playwright-in-Residence at Yale Repertory Theatre. Ms. Vogel, who received the Pulitzer Prize for her play How I Learned to Drive, served as Chair of Playwriting at Yale School of Drama from 2008–2012. She will make her Broadway debut this season with the critically acclaimed new play, Indecent, created with director Rebecca Taichman, which was co-commissioned by and had its world premiere at Yale Rep in 2015. Jennifer Kiger, Associate Artistic Director of Yale Rep and Director of New Play Programs at Yale’s Binger Center for New Theatre, has served as Interim Chair of Playwriting since July, following Jeanie O’Hare’s tenure 2012–2016.

The Yale School of Drama playwriting faculty also includes Jackie Sibblies Drury, Anne Erbe, Amy Herzog, Jennifer Kiger, Michael Korie, Kirk Lynn, Marsha Norman, and Sarah Ruhl.