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Yale School of Drama Announces Design Department Reorganization and Leadership Succession

Current faculty members Toni-Leslie James and Riccardo Hernández will succeed Michael Yeargan and Stephen Strawbridge as Co-Chairs of Design. AS CO-CHAIRS

Yale School of Drama Announces Design Department Reorganization and Leadership Succession

Beginning July 1, 2021, Yale School of Drama will align all five Design disciplines--Costume, Lighting, Projection, Set, and Sound--in one department instead of two, to promote the most robust common core offerings for all Design students, and to build upon the School of Drama's historic practice of training designers who are flexible and fluent collaborators with their colleagues.

The Design Department will continue to be led by two co-chairs, who will also serve as the heads of their respective disciplines. Beginning on July 1, the Department will begin rotating the positions of Chairs more frequently on renewable three-year terms.

"Some time ago, Design Co-Chairs Stephen Strawbridge and Michael Yeargan suggested to me that the School of Drama make a transition to a more inclusive model of leadership in these programs, one that could both undo traditionally problematic hierarchies in the field and promote broad engagement of the department's brilliant faculty, by rotating the positions of chairs more frequently. For historical context, only five men have chaired or co-chaired the Design program since its inception 95 years ago," said Dean James Bundy.

Current faculty members Toni-Leslie James and Riccardo Hernández will succeed Michael Yeargan and Stephen Strawbridge as Co-Chairs of Design on the following schedule:

Michael Yeargan will conclude his term as Co-Chair of Design on June 30, 2021, after eight years of service in that role, continuing as Head of the Set Design Concentration through December 31, 2021; subsequently he will continue his regular teaching and mentoring in the program.

Toni-Leslie James will become Co-Chair of Design and Head of the Costume Design Concentration, effective July 1, 2021, for a renewable term of three years.

Stephen Strawbridge will conclude his term as Co-Chair of Design on December 31, 2021, after twenty-three-and-a-half years of departmental leadership, while continuing to serve as Head of the Lighting Design Concentration and teaching in the department.

Riccardo Hernández will become Co-Chair of Design and Head of the Set Design Concentration, effective January 1, 2022, for a renewable term of three years.

Wendall Harrington will continue in her role as Head of the Projection Design Concentration.

Mikaal Sulaiman will begin his fulltime duties as Head of the Sound Design Concentration on July 1.

"I am honored to serve as the Co-Chair of Design with my respected colleagues, Stephen Strawbridge through the end of the year and Riccardo Hernández beginning in January. Teaching has required me to continually recalibrate how I view my own work and the environment in which that work takes place," said Toni-Leslie James. "The Design Department is committed to working with our faculty to foster a safe, welcoming, and inclusive learning environment that promotes anti-racist practices at the School of Drama and in the profession."

"Toni-Leslie James and I look forward to building on the incredible foundation first laid by Donald Oenslager and Ming Cho Lee, as we continue the journey and evolution of the Yale School of Drama Design Department," Riccardo Hernández said. "Outreach to young artists will be a top priority for us. Our goal is to undertake a vigorous recruitment strategy in order to nurture the tapestry of voices that is so necessary in the American theater today."

"I am deeply grateful to Toni-Leslie James and Riccardo Hernández for their willingness to step into leadership and extend the legacy of excellence that has been the hallmark of Yale's training in Design for nearly a century, exemplified today by each and every faculty member in the program," James Bundy added. "Similarly, I want to thank Michael Yeargan and Stephen Strawbridge for their energetic and empathetic leadership over many years, as well as for their thoughtful contributions to this transition and their gracious support of their successors."

Applications for admittance to Yale School of Drama for the 2022-23 academic year will be accepted beginning in September 2021.

drama.yale.edu


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