Producing a Dramat Mainstage

For the past year, I have served as the Spring Mainstage Producer for the Yale Dramatic Association (affectionately known as the Dramat.) It has been such a unique and exciting experience. In this role, I ran a year-long production process that culminated in five performances of my show, Pride and Prejudice, in University Theater. Before I came to Yale, I never thought I would have access to this level of theater, let alone be in charge of a process that involved theater professionals. I can say with confidence that this has been one of the most surreal experiences I’ve had at Yale, and I am so grateful that I had this opportunity since in high school I never could have conceived of working on theater in this way. 

The University Theater, where the Dramat Mainstages go up! 

To start, the Dramat is Yale’s largest undergraduate theater organization and is a producing organization that puts on six shows per year, two of which are directed and designed by professionals (these are known as the Mainstages). The organization is completely run by students with an 11-member Executive Board managing the organization’s budget, choosing the shows for the season, and doing outreach to the Yale and New Haven community to get Yale students as well as New Haven residents involved in theater. Any Yale undergraduate can be a member of the Dramat if they work on two Dramat shows in some capacity. I became a member my freshman year and then I ran for the position of Spring Mainstage Producer which is the role I’ve been serving in. There are lots of different ways to do theater at Yale (I even wrote an article about this last year), but the Dramat is unique in the resources and opportunities it provides in terms of working with professionals and working with the David Geffen School of Drama. 

Me with my cast and crew! 

Before I came to college, I wasn’t really sure what a producer did, but now having done it for a year I have come to understand it as a very difficult but very rewarding job. As the producer, you effectively serve as the head of the project which means you manage all the hiring and recruitment, control the budget, run all production-related meetings, and oversee the whole process to make sure everything gets done from actors learning their lines to lights going in the air. In practice, this becomes answering a lot of emails, making a lot of phone calls, and having a lot of meetings. I personally learned a lot in this position since I had to know so much about every department, I become much more well-rounded as a theater-maker. I also learned a lot of skills that transfer to any field including financial management, project management, hiring, and overseeing a large team of people. I think this is one of the coolest roles someone can have as it not only teaches you a lot about theater but also gives you a lot of useful career and life skills. 

Me at one of our performances giving the non-profit speech to help raise money for the organization the show supported. 

My experience in this role was definitely positive, it was surely one of the most significant parts of my sophomore year. While it was a substantial time commitment, particularly right before the performances of the show started, I can attest that there is truly nothing like watching the show that you pick come to life on stage. Even though I did theater in high school, I never did it in this capacity and I would have never in a million years had the opportunity to work with theater professionals and put on a show of this scale. These opportunities are so unique to Yale and to the Dramat specifically and I feel so lucky that I had this opportunity. 

While I may not pursue theater as a career, having this experience was super eye-opening for me and definitely taught me a lot about theater, about working in a professional setting, and about myself. I wish I had known about the breadth and depth of these opportunities when I was applying to college; it’s sometimes hard to conceptualize what different extracurriculars will look like before you get to campus, but this has definitely been a defining moment of my Yale experience.