Acting at Yale
by Clare Barron '08

If you love to act, then you've come to the right place! Each year Yale undergrads mount roughly one hundred theatrical productions. Most productions at Yale are student-produced and student-directed. (Exceptions include the Dramat fall and spring mainstage, and a handful of faculty directed shows.)

Getting Started
  1. Go to the Bulldog Days and freshman Extracurricular Bazaars. You can't miss it. The Yale Drama Coalition and Yale Dramatic Association, among other theater groups, will be there to tell you more about theater opportunities
  2. Sign-up for the YDC and the Dramat email bulletins and check the YDC website regularly for audition postings. The YDC and the Dramat put out electronic bulletins that publicize upcoming auditions, performances, and technical theater opportunities. Crucial to staying current with what's going on in theater on campus
  3. Attend the season preview. The Yale Drama Coalition hosts a season preview at the start of each term, where the director of every show will speak briefly about their production and the people they're looking for, as well as information on auditions. Check our website for information at the start of each semester
  4. Check the YDC website regularly! Information about upcoming shows, auditions and technical opportunities are all posted on the YDC website (where you are now!) under AUDITIONS and OPPORTUNITIES.
The Audition Process
  1. Sign up for auditions. Audition information is regularly posted on our website on the AUDITIONS page. Sign up for as many auditions as you'd like — don't be shy. If you have any questions regarding location or anything else, email the show's stage manager directly
  2. Preparing for an audition. Some directors request that you prepare a monologue ahead of time (either of your choosing or from the show). Other directors will have you read sides from the show. This is usually a cold reading although you may have the opportunity to look over the sides before you audition. The director will make it clear what he or she wants to see. When auditioning for musicals, be sure to have the sheet music for your song neatly printed for the accompanist, in the appropriate key. You should select a song that showcases your vocal range, ideally in a similar style to the show you are auditioning for (i.e. don't sing a Mozart aria in your audition for RENT). But do not sing a song from the show you're auditioning for unless asked specifically to do so
  3. At the audition. Make sure you know where you're going, and arrive at least ten minutes early to fill out a brief questionnaire. If you are auditioning for more than one show on the same day, allow yourself ample time between each audition. Bring water, dress comfortably, and be confident and composed — you want to show your best self in the audition room
  4. Callbacks. At your audition, the director will tell you how and when she will announce callbacks. Callbacks can take many forms including an individual callback, callbacks with a scene partner, or group callbacks. They can last anywhere from 10 minutes to 3 hours. At callbacks, the director will inform you how she will announce the final cast list.
  5. Final Note. Auditions tend to occur in two clumps — one at the beginning of September and one at the beginning of December. September auditions can be particularly overwhelming because they occur during the first few days of school. Your best bet is to jump in and have a good time!
  6. Check out more details on our auditions guide!
The Nitty-Gritty
  1. What to do if you don't get cast. You may not be offered a role your first time auditioning. But do not be discouraged; it's important to keep trying. There are always stories about Yale actors who were not cast as freshmen only to go on to star in the most exciting productions later on in their Yale careers. Stay involved by exploring another side of the production, perhaps as an assistant stage manager, assistant producer, or assistant director. The more you do, the more people you know, and the more likely you are to be cast in the future.
  2. What to do if you are cast in more than one show. The most important thing is to communicate this immediately to both production teams. You want to respect the significant time commitment required by each show, and if the shows are too close together in the semester that may be difficult (i.e. starring in two shows that go up in October). Consider what other commitments you will have, and be honest with yourself about what you can take on. You can respectfully decline a role at this point, if you feel you cannot handle the commitment of multiple shows
  3. What to expect during tech week. Tech week will be very intense. Rehearsals will start right after class and can go well past midnight. You will live at the theater so clear your schedule well ahead of time. Professors may be understanding if you approach them well in advance to ask for extensions
  4. What about the Theater Studies program? The Theater Studies major at Yale is a B.A. meaning that your in-class time will be split between theory, history, and practical courses. Students CANNOT take acting classes until they complete a yearlong introductory course (THST 110 and 111). Auditions for the beginning acting class (THST 210) occur at the end of the spring semester and are open only to those students who have successfully completed the introductory course.
Other Acting Opportunities at Yale
  1. Yale Repertory Theater. Once or twice a year this professional theater company holds non-equity auditions for local actors. Undergraduates typically play peripheral, non-speaking roles. Commitment is intense. For most people involved, these productions are their fulltime job. But you will be juggling rehearsals AND school. Basically you'll have a fulltime job and be a fulltime student. Despite the intense commitment, many feel that the opportunity to obtain practical experience in "the business" is definitely worthwhile and that the connections they make at the Yale Rep will come in handy during their time at Yale and beyond.
  2. Yale School of Drama. YSD directors are always looking for extra actors but don't know how to find them. Check the YDC page as well as YSD postings for information on how to audition for Drama School productions
  3. Yale Cabaret. The Yale Cabaret provides talent from the Yale School of Drama a place in which to experiment. Most of these productions go up in a matter of weeks--rehearsals are intense over a short period of time. The YDC website and YSD website are great places to look for these postings.