Gift of $2.85 Million to Fund Yale Center for New Theatre

The Yale School of Drama and Yale Repertory Theatre have received a $2.85 million gift from the Robina Foundation to establish the Yale Center for New Theatre. 

Through the new center, the Yale Rep will substantially increase its annual commissions of new plays and musicals, and support these commissions through all stages of artist-driven development, including residencies, readings, workshops and full productions.

The Yale Center for New Theatre will also facilitate playwrights’ residencies as lecturers at the School of Drama, and the development of curriculum in writing for musical theatre at Yale. Paula Vogel, who was recently appointed the Eugene O’Neill Professor (adjunct) and chair of playwriting at the School of Drama, will also serve as playwright-in-residence at the Yale Rep.

The gift includes a $600,000 production fund to be administered by the Yale Center for New Theatre as support provided to other not-for-profit theaters producing world premiere or second productions of plays commissioned by Yale Rep through the center.

The Yale Center for New Theatre will be overseen by James Bundy, dean of the School of Drama and artistic director of the Yale Rep, and Jennifer Kiger, associate artistic director of the Yale Rep and director of its new play program.

“For more than four decades, the Yale Repertory Theatre has developed and produced new work by some of the most vital and important voices in contemporary drama,” said President Richard C. Levin. “This generous gift from the Robina Foundation is a direct investment in the future of the American theater, and ensures that the Yale Rep will continue to have a significant and lasting impact on the development of new work for the stage.”

Bundy noted: “The Yale Center for New Theatre will provide artists with the time and resources to create new work, and build a larger community of playwrights, composers, lyricists and directors promoting professional training in every discipline of the theater. We are particularly pleased to extend meaningful support to emerging playwrights through commissions and production opportunities that help them reach a wider audience.”

Gordon M. Aamoth, president of the Robina Foundation, said: “The Robina Foundation is pleased to participate in Yale School of Drama and Yale Repertory Theatre’s commitment to providing playwrights with the means to actively pursue careers in the theater at a time when more lucrative forms of media may lure them away. Supporting the creation of new work will help maintain this creative wellspring. Supporting them in a university environment, in particular, offers a unique and especially creative venue for developing plays and for nurturing their talents and imagination.”

The Robina Foundation, a Minnesota-based private grantmaking foundation, seeks to positively impact critical social issues by encouraging innovation and financially supporting transformative projects of its four institutional partners which were selected by the foundation’s founder, James H. Binger. They are: Abbott Northwestern Hospital and the University of Minnesota Law School in Minneapolis, Minnesota; The Council on Foreign Relations, New York City; and Yale University.

A champion of new work, the Yale Rep has produced well over 100 world, American and regional premieres - including two Pulitzer Prize winners and four other nominated finalists - by emerging and established playwrights. Eleven Yale Rep productions have advanced to Broadway, garnering more than 40 Tony Award nominations and eight Tony Awards, and the Yale Rep itself is the recipient of the Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theatre.

In its 42-year history, Yale Repertory Theatre has produced the world premieres of plays by David Adjmi, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, Lee Blessing, Christopher Durang, Jules Feiffer, Athol Fugard, Marcus Gardley, Kama Ginkas, John Guare, Albert Innuarato, Walton Jones, Adrienne Kennedy, Arthur Kopit, Sunil Thomas Kuruvilla, Wendy MacLeod, Julie McKee, Terrence McNally, Richard Nelson, Suzan-Lori Parks, David Rabe, Keith Reddin, José Rivera, Sarah Ruhl, Sam Shepard, William Styron, Derek Walcott, August Wilson and Doug Wright, among many others.

Current Yale Repertory Theatre commissions include “Notes from Underground,” a new play by Robert Woodruff and Bill Camp adapted from Fyodor Dostoevsky’s novel, which will have its world premiere at Yale Rep in March 2009; as well as original plays by Adjmi, Hilary Bell, Gardley, Amy Herzog, Naomi Iizuka, Rolin Jones, Elizabeth Meriwether, Octavio Solis, Kate Walat, Anne Washburn and Marisa Wegrzyn; and a new musical by playwright Adam Bock and composer Todd Almond based on Shirley Jackson’s “We Have Always Lived in the Castle.”

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