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text April 29 2021 helpful cues for our current setting. five photos of new appointments

Clockwise from top left: Sarah de Freitas, Riccardo Hernández, Tamilla Woodard, Toni-Leslie James, and Mikaal Sulaiman.

Good morning!

The Yale School of Drama/Yale Repertory Theatre community is celebrating a number of recent faculty and staff appointments. Sarah de Freitas has joined us as Director of Human Resources; Mikaal Sulaiman has been named Head of the Sound Design Concentration, and Tamilla Woodard (’02) will be the next Chair of the Acting Department. In addition, Toni-Leslie James and Riccardo Hernández (’92) have been appointed the next Co-Chairs of the Design Department, which will align all five concentrations—Costume, Lighting, Projection, Set, and Sound—in one department instead of two, starting this fall. 

Well-being & Well, Being

photo of two women holding plants and flowers
photo of crunchy coconut sambol and sauce like dahl curry
dutch pancake on a plate with fork and knife

Isuri Wijesundara and Henriëtte Rietveld; sambol and dhal; and a Dutch pancake (pannenkoek).

In the Spring of 2021, Yale School of Drama offered a course “On Happiness and Well-Being for the Artist," convened by faculty Cynthia Santos-DeCureErica Fae, Joan MacIntoshJessica Wolf, and Grace Zandarski.

Isuri Wijesundara (’23, Acting) and Henriëtte Rietveld (’22, Dramaturgy and Dramatic Criticism) will explore some of the topics from this class in upcoming issues of The Prompter. This month, they share some of their favorite foods and current media obsessions.

Henriëtte recommends Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer, and Isuri is reading Plastic Emotionsa novel based on the life story of Minnette de Silva, by Shiromi Pinto.

Isuri is obsessed with the based-on-true-events thriller series The Serpent on Netflix, while Henriëtte is watching Veneno, a series based on the memoir by Valeria Vegas, on HBO Max.

For comfort food, Isuri turns to rice, dhal, and coconut sambol or Thai Red Curry. Or fries. Henriëtte's recipe for delicious Dutch pancakes with Gouda or syrup can be found on our website.

We're looking forward to hearing more from them both!

Operation: Teamwork

photo, smiling woman and a man in front of flowers in separate frames

Jennifer Gonsalves and Nadir Balan.

It is easy to assume that most professionals working at a theater must, at some level, crave the limelight. But for Jennifer Gonsalves, Director of Facility Operations, and Nadir Balan, Operations Associate, this could not be further from the truth. “Not being noticed is a success for us,” said Balan. Gonsalves elaborated, “You may not hear from us very often, but if you don’t notice us, that means everything is working as it should. No news is good news!”

The Operations team is responsible for overseeing and maintaining all the buildings and physical assets of Yale School of Drama/Yale Repertory Theatre. It is a monumental task that allows them to draw on their wealth of diverse experiences.

Read more about Jennifer and Nadir's work here!


woman looking into the camera and leaning on her hand
a young woman playing a tall stringed instrument while a young man observes
 several men playing large percussion instruments in a small room

Laurie Beechman; Christopher Ross-Ewart (’17) and Fan Zhang (’17) in the Blue Room; Matthew Suttor (Faculty) and David Budries (Chair of Sound Design) with students playing the Cristal Baschet sound sculptures.

Singer Laurie Beechman is best known for originating roles in the musicals Annie and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and for her powerful performances as Grizabella in Cats and Fantine in Les Misérables. Living with ovarian cancer for almost a decade, she remained positive and loyal to her music, saying it was “a kind of medicine.” Laurie Beechman died in 1998.

With a gift from her husband, Neil A. Mazzella (’78), the School created the Laurie Beechman Center for Theatrical Sound and Music, located at 205 Park Street. Rooms that had once been costume storage and a fraternity squash court became an international collection of instruments—including the Cristal Baschet sound sculptures—and recording studios. The Hartford Symphony offered a collection of orchestral instruments, which the School obtained with a gift. Each time a Yale Cabaret, Yale School of Drama, or Yale Rep production requires a unique instrument, the Beechman Center purchases and maintains that instrument in its Blue Room.

Matthew Suttor, Professor in the Practice of Sound Design and the Director of the Beechman Center, joined the School’s faculty in 2005 to oversee the collection and teach sound design and composition. Suttor has called the Center a sort of “Room of Requirement for sound designers and musicians.” He continued, “For us, the Laurie Beechman Center is a place to explore sound and music in all theatrical contexts, whether recorded or live, electronic or acoustic, virtual or physical—a fitting tribute to such a life and career.”

Learn more about Laurie on our Named Spaces page.

Una Exploración de Shakespeare en Español

Dándole Voz! text, three photos women looking into the camera and smiling

Clockwise from top: Cynthia Santos-DeCure, Chantal Rodriguez, and Daniela Varon.

On May 13 at 7PM, Elm City Shakespeare presents Dándole Voz!: An Exploration of Shakespeare in Spanish.

Associate Dean Chantal Rodriguez moderates a conversation with Acting Department faculty members Cynthia Santos-DeCure and Daniela Varon and their students. The actors will share some of their scene work from Macbeth. The conversation will be primarily in English, the scenes in Spanish, and a Q&A in either or both languages.

Learn more and register for free.

Booked It!

five young actors in separate photos

Clockwise from top left: Lauren E. Banks, James Cusati-Moyer, Adrienne Wells, Moses Ingram, and Ilia Isorelýs Paulino, center.

Here are some recent School of Drama Acting graduates coming soon to screens near you.

Lauren E. Banks
(’17) will be a regular in Season 2 of Showtime’s City on a Hill.

James Cusati-Moyer (’16) will appear in New Line/DC’s superhero film, Black Adam.

Adrienne Wells (’20) has joined Showtime’s series Black Monday for Season 3.

Moses Ingram (’19) will be a regular in the hotly-anticipated Obi-Wan series on Disney+.

Ilia Isorelýs Paulino (’20) has been cast in Mindy Kaling’s HBO Max series, The Sex Lives of College Girls.

The Best!

two smiling women holding Academy Awards

Frances McDormand with Chloé Zhao with their Oscars for Nomadland.

Honored as Best Actress in 1997 and 2018 for her roles in Fargo and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, respectively, Frances McDormand (’82) received her third Academy Award in that category for her performance in Nomadland, and her fourth Oscar as producer of the Best Picture winner.

Chloé Zhao became the first woman of color to receive the Best Director Award for her work on the film, which incorporates the stories of real American wanderers into the story of a woman searching the heartland for herself after losing everything.

Nomadland is streaming on Hulu.

Steven and Martha: 2 Solo Shows

Yale Cabaret, two posed photos, looking into the camera

Madeline Seidman and Matthew Elijah Webb.

Thursday, May 6–Saturday, May 8 at 8PM and Saturday at 4PM

Kitchen of Truth: A Martha Stewart Special
Written and Proposed by
Madeline Seidman (’22)
Directed by Kimberly Golding

It’s 2004 and the mogul you love and adore (?) has been convicted. She’s got 30 minutes to convince you she’s a victim before she’s taken away to prison. So, what’s cooking in her kitchen? A roast of white privilege? CYOC (Cream Your Own Cupcakes).

the moment before…
Written and Proposed by
Matthew Elijah Webb (’22)
Directed by Alexandra Maurice (’22)

when people die they are escorted from this life to another. there is only one person who carefully guides that journey. he is death, and there’s so much that you don’t know about him.

Learn more and buy tickets.

BONUS TRACK: “On a Clear Day”

a still of a woman singing and smiling

Laurie Beechman’s numerous solo albums are hard to come by, but you could fall down a pretty deep rabbit hole of her television performances online. Here’s a clip of her singing “On a Clear Day,” music by Burton Lane and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner, on The Rosie O’Donnell Show in 1997.

Mask up and enjoy the sunshine. We’ll see you again soon!


Yale Repertory Theatre, P.O. Box 208244, New Haven, CT 06520-8244 

Yale School of Drama/Yale Repertory Theatre photography by Joan Marcus.

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