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A blue banner graphic that reads On & Off York Street; E-Newsletter for the David Geffen School of Drama Community
A banner of four photos including Andrew Burnap receiving his Tony Award, a production photo of The Public Theater's Merry Wives, R. Scott Yuille in his shop, and Patrick Foley and Michael Breslin in a production photo from Circle Jerk


Yale Medal to Neil Mazzella

Neil A. Mazzella ’78 has received the Yale Medal, the highest honor presented by the Yale Alumni Association. This prestigious award recognizes those individuals who have shown “extraordinary devotion to Yale’s ideals and demonstrated their support through extensive, exemplary service to the university and its schools, institutes, and programs.”

Mazzella becomes the first graduate of the Drama School to earn this noteworthy distinction for Yale Alumni.

“Neil Mazzella is a tireless volunteer and ambassador for Yale,” said, James Bundy ’95, the Elizabeth Parker Ware Dean of DGSD. “I can think of no alum more worthy of the Yale Medal.”

A photo of Neil A. Mazzella

Neil A. Mazzella  78

After earning a degree in Technical Design and Production, Neil formed Hudson Scenic. Today the company is a world leader in scenic and production services to the entertainment industry, including Broadway and off-Broadway theater, TV, concerts, and special productions such as the lowering of the New Year’s Eve ball in Times Square.

Neil was one of the founding members of the School’s Board of Advisors and served as its chair for 10 years. He was a visiting lecturer in the TD&P department and continues to teach a seminar on important industry topics and career development. For years, Neil has offered paid internships to DGSD students at Hudson Scenic, while regularly hiring alumni to work at the company. He founded the Laurie Beechman Center sound studio in honor of his late wife, helped finance our electromechanical lab, and recently underwrote a program that brought visiting directors to our campus for critiques with design students.

Having been recognized for his generosity, Neil rather unsurprisingly wanted to share the honor. “I would like to accept this award on behalf of all the alumni of the School of Drama,” he said. “All those who came before me, all the friends and colleagues who welcomed me into the Yale community and became my lifelong friends, and all the students who came after me—who asked for my advice, took one of my classes, or came to work in my company. I share it with you all.”

“And the Tony Goes To...”

Eleven months after the nominations were announced, the winners of the 74th Annual Tony Awards were presented on September 26, 2021, at Broadway’s Winter Garden Theatre in New York. DGSD alumni and faculty received 21 nominations and took home four awards: Andrew Burnap ’16, Best Leading Actor in a Play for The Inheritance, David Alan Grier ’81, Best Featured Actor in a Play for A Soldier’s Play, Derek McLane ’84, Best Scenic Design of a Musical, and Catherine Zuber ’84 for Best Costume Design of a Musical, both for Moulin Rouge!. Alex Timbers YC 01 received the award for Best Director of a Musical for Moulin Rouge!.

Slave Play by Jeremy O. Harris ’19 became the most-nominated play in Tony history, garnering 12 nominations, and Daniel Kluger YC ’08 (Faculty), Derek McLane ’84, and Dede Ayite ’11 received multiple nominations for their design work this year. Other nominees included Bess Wohl ’02, ART ’99Robert O’Hara (Faculty)Fitz Patton ’01Ato Blankson-Wood ’15James Cusati-Moyer ’15Chalia La Tour ’16Riccardo Hernández ’92 (Faculty)Emily Rebholz ’06Jiyoun Chang ’08. Congratulations to all!

Photos of David Alan Grier, Andrew Burnap, Catherine Zuber, and Derek McLane receiving their Tony Awards

(Clockwise) David Alan Grier ’81Andrew Burnap ’16Catherine Zuber ’84, and Derek McLane ’84.

Keep Your Friends Close and Your “Fake Friends” Closer

This summer, Circle Jerk by Michael Breslin ’18 and Patrick Foley ’19 was named a Pulitzer Prize finalist in Drama. The show, a contemporary satire aimed at skewering internet culture, was produced by Fake Friends, a theater and media company comprised of Breslin, Foley, Catherine María Rodríguez ’18, and Ariel Sibert ’18, with support from Jeremy O. Harris ’19. The creative team included many Drama School alumni: Rory Pelsue ’19 (Director), Alicia Austin ’20 (Assoc. Costume Design), Kathy Ruvana ’19 (Sound Design), Stephanie Osin Cohen ’19 (Scenic and Props Design), and Cole McCarty ’18 (Costume Design).

Fake Friends had an exceptional year of making digital theater. The company’s subsequent production, This American Wife, that got its start at the Yale Cabaret, garnered critical acclaim from The New York Times and Vanity Fair. The live-streamed performance featured Jakeem Dante Powell ’19 and welcomed back many members of the Circle Jerk creative team.

Inspired by their work on screen, The Actors Fund hired Breslin and Foley to write the book for Ratatouille: The TikTok Musical, a fundraiser that, to date, has raised more than $2M for COVID-19 relief funds for creators. 

Production photo from Circle Jerk featuring Patrick Foley and Michael Breslin

Patrick Foley ’19 and Michael Breslin ’18 in Circle Jerk. Photo by JJ Darling.


Strength in Partnership: DGSD and Long Wharf Join Forces

When Yale Repertory Theatre welcomes back audiences this January for its 54th season, the theater will be presenting three works instead of its usual five—a change necessitated by the ongoing impact of the pandemic on the School.

A photo of the exterior of Long Wharf Theatre at night with two patrons entering the front door

Photo by Christopher Capozziello/The New York Times.

While aligned with the School’s commitment to anti-racist theater practice, this adjustment resulted in fewer assignments for students at the Rep. Eager to maximize professional opportunities, James Bundy ’95 (Elizabeth Parker Ware Dean) approached Yale Rep’s New Haven neighbor, Long Wharf Theatre (LWT), with an innovative collaboration proposal by which LWT would consider DGSD designers for positions in its 2021-22 season. The proposal was met with enthusiasm by LWT Artistic Director Jacob Padrón ’08 (Faculty). He reflected: “One of our core pillars at LWT is revolutionary partnership, and we are so pleased to deepen our collaboration with DGSD in support of the students. When we center the value of abundance, great things emerge.”

After an interview process, in which DGSD students met with LWT’s creative teams, several designers were selected to work on forthcoming Long Wharf productions. For Fires in the Mirror (a co-production with Baltimore Center Stage) by Anna Deavere Smith HON ’14 and directed by Nicole Brewer (Faculty), Camilla Tassi ’22 will serve as projection designer and Uptown Works, a collective comprised of Daniela Hart ’22, Bailey Trierweiler ’22, and Noel Nichols ’22, will design sound. For Queen by Madhuri Shekar and directed by Aneesha Kudtarkar ’19, costumes will be designed by Phuong Nguyen ’22, and Uptown Works will again create the sound design.

Florie Seery (Associate Dean/Managing Director Yale Rep) was thrilled that DGSD students “would have the chance to collaborate professionally with one of Connecticut’s outstanding regional theaters, learning from the visionary artists working at Long Wharf this year.” She added, “I can imagine this kind of partnership continuing well into the future. Long Wharf benefits, DGSD benefits, our students certainly benefit, and, in turn, the field benefits as well.”

Back to the Basement and into the Garden!

For the past year and a half, Yale Cabaret has presented its groundbreaking productions online. This month, to much anticipation, the Cabaret opened its doors to in-person performances with an intimate production of Constellations by Nick Payne. This show was the first theater performance in front of an audience on Yale’s campus since March 2020. To protect both artists and audiences, all in attendance are masked. The new outdoor Garden Bar opened in the Cab Garden for pre- and post-show snacks, desserts, and drinks. For those who prefer to attend virtually, shows will be recorded and available for streaming on demand.

A photo of audience members enjoying the Garden Bar at the Yale Cabaret

The Garden Bar at the Yale Cabaret. 

A production photo of Constellations featuring Reed Northrup and Sarah Lyddan

Reed Northrup ’22 and Sarah Lyddan ’22 in Constellations by Nick Payne, directed by Alexandra Maurice ’22 and Maal Imani West ’22. Photo by Andre Griffith.

“We spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to ‘get it right’ and stick the landing. But during the process, it became clear that doing it together was more important than doing it perfectly. We are so thankful for how our audiences came out to support us for Cab 1 and look forward to the rest of the season!” said Artistic Director Sarah Ashley Cain ’22. The Cabaret’s 54th season is also led by Managing Director Sarah Scafidi ’23 (Fall-term), Associate Artistic Director Abigail C. Onwunali ’23, Associate Managing Director Allison Delaney ’24 (Fall-term), and Production Manager Joe Chiang ’23 (Fall-term). For more information about Yale Cabaret’s 54th season, please visit www.yalecabaret.org.


DGSD Grads Taking the Lead

In August 2021, Kansas City Repertory Theatre announced a new expanded leadership team including the appointment of Nelson T. Eusebio III ’07 as Associate Artistic Director. In this new role, he works in tandem with Artistic Director Stuart Carden to develop the theater’s programming and initiatives.

In a statement from KC Rep’s press release, Eusebio shared, “I am so excited to join this wonderful group of artists and to help build on the tradition of artistic excellence that KCRep is known for. I look forward to bringing my own work to the community, as well as supporting the growth of the theatre under Stuart’s visionary leadership.” 

A headshot of Nelson T. Eusebio III, a headshot of Kelly Kerwin, and a headshot of David Bruin

Nelson T. Eusebio III 07 (Left), Kelly Kerwin 15 (Center), and David Bruin ’16, DFA ’21 (Right, photo by Ezrah Churchill). 

Also this summer, Kelly Kerwin ’15 was named Artistic Director of Oklahoma City Repertory Theater. She succeeds the founding artistic director, Donald Jordan.

In a statement, Kerwin said, “My vision is to produce powerful and innovative works of theater that will help us better understand our own humanity. I am honored to lead OKC Rep into the future, and I see this next phase as one that will be an expression of Oklahoma City’s ambition, creativity, and generosity of spirit.”

David Bruin ’16, DFA ’21 is the new Executive Artistic Director of Celebration Barn Theater in South Paris, Maine.

Bruin shared, “For half a century, Celebration Barn has offered theater and performance artists the opportunity to deepen their craft and collaborate with their peers through training. As the executive artistic director, I look forward to building on this legacy by bringing the next generation of boundary-breaking artists to the Barn. Above all, I am committed to putting the values of courage, justice, sustainability, and joy into practice through the Barn’s programming, operations, and community-building initiatives, as well as to advancing its commitments to antiracism, decolonization, and fair working conditions.”

The cover of the Dark Shadows and Beyond: The Jonathan Frid Story DVD that features a photo of Jonathan Frid

Shining a Light on Jonathan Frid

Dark Shadows, the groundbreaking gothic soap opera that aired on ABC for six seasons in the late 60s, was one of the most popular daytime shows of all time. And no character on the show was more popular than vampire Barnabas Collins, played by DGSD’s own Jonathan Frid ’57.

Award-winning producer Mary O’Leary has created a feature-length documentary, Dark Shadows and Beyond, that reveals Frid’s fascinating story—his rise to TV icon as well as his personal and professional struggles. The film includes interviews with Frid’s family, friends, and Dark Shadows castmates, as well as archival footage, photos, and a Best of Barnabas compilation. It’s available on DVD, Blu-ray, and digital platforms.

A Merry Adaptation 

The Public Theater’s Free Shakespeare in the Park returned this summer with a production of Merry Wives featuring a number of DGSD alumni. The show featured designs from Dede Ayite ’11 (Costumes), Jiyoun Chang ’08 (Lights), and Palmer Hefferan ’13 (Sound). Narda E. Alcorn ’95 (Faculty) led the company as Production Stage Manager and Brandon E. Burton ’20, a member of the ensemble, played Falstaff for two weeks during the run.  

A photo of Dede Ayite

The cast of Merry Wives on stage at the Delacorte Theater. Photo courtesy of The Public Theater.


A photo of Ryan Scott Yuille

R. Scott Yuille 77 at his shop desk in the Capitol Theatre.

R. Scott Yuille ’77 is the Technical Director at the 450-seat Capitol Theatre in Aberdeen, South Dakota—home of the Aberdeen Community Theatre and Capitol Cinema, where he supervises the shop and designs lights, props, and scenery for ACT shows.

Scott’s path to success wasn’t always easy or straightforward. He traces his earliest experiences of racism in the field to his high school days on Long Island. During his junior year at Amityville High School, he was cast as the lead in The Best Man, but the show was cancelled when it was discovered that Scott and the white student playing his wife would kiss onstage. Frustrated and influenced by the revolutionary culture and activism of the late 60s, Scott left high school early to attend Fordham University at Lincoln Center. He remembers the moment when his interest shifted to technical theater: “I was on stage as one of the Rude Mechanicals and the director got angry and started cursing us out. I noticed that the stage crew was going home, and they all had smiles on their faces! And I thought, ‘Why am I standing here with this man yelling at me for something that I didn’t even do? I’m going to the shop!’”

Encouraged by designer Harry Lines, Scott applied and was accepted to the Drama School. When he arrived with his then-wife, Julie, and her two boys, ages 8 and 10, Scott was one of the very few African American students at the School. He recalls, “In 1974, the only Black faces working at the Drama School were staff. Among the students, most Afro-Americans were in Acting, maybe two in Design, and me.” This isolation was exacerbated by the racial tensions in the city. “Navigating New Haven outside of Yale was our biggest challenge. My wife and I felt the strain of two battles: being an interracial couple in a socially segregated city and trying to envision my employment future. The community we found at Yale’s Afro-American Cultural Center was a salve for us.” In 1977, Scott was the first African American student to graduate from the Technical Design and Production program.

The guidance and connections Scott made at the Drama School shaped his career. Ben Sammler ’74 (Faculty Emeritus), John Hood ’61 (Former Faculty), and Bill Warfel ’57, YC ’55 (Former Faculty) were all valued mentors. “Their kindness, dedication, and honesty kept me in good stead all those years,” Scott reflected. “But back then, no one could guide me on how I could practice my craft. In the industry, backstage and on location, there weren’t many Black stagehands. Even Alvin Ailey had an all-white crew.”

Despite this, Scott blazed his own trail and has worked behind the scenes in theater, film, and television for more than 40 years. Career highlights include his time as Production Manager at the Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall in Fort Myers, FL, as Technical Director of the New Cairo Center for the Arts at American University at Cairo in Egypt, and teaching for 12 years at Kimball Union Academy in New Hampshire.

After disc replacement surgery in 2020, Scott began exercising, eating more healthily, and going to church. When he’s not exploring the arts and culture of Aberdeen (Come check it out! he says), you can find Scott gardening or practicing yoga.


Lighting Designer Gil Wechsler

Gil Wechsler ’67, an innovative lighting designer, passed away on July 9, 2021. He was 79.

Gil was the Metropolitan Opera’s first resident lighting designer, and during his 20 years at the Met he created lighting designs for over 112 productions, including iconic performances of La Bohème, Carmen, Turandot, Tosca, and The Marriage of Figaro, as well as many televised “Live from the Met” broadcasts. Gil’s last production at the Met was Verdi’s La Forza del Destino in 1996.

Gilbert Wechsler was born in 1942 in Brooklyn, New York. He earned a bachelor’s degree in theater from New York University and received his MFA from the School of Drama in 1967.

A photo of Gil Wechsler

Gil Wechsler ’67

After graduation, Gil went to work for the well-known lighting and set designer Jo Mielziner. Among Gil’s Broadway credits were lighting for Charles Dryer’s Staircase and George Feydeau’s There’s One in Every Marriage. Before joining the Met in 1976, he designed lights for the Guthrie Theater, the Harkness Ballet, the Lyric Opera of Chicago, and the Stratford Festival in Ontario.

Gil is survived by his husband, artist Douglas Sardo, and a brother, Norman.

A production photo of Tosca at the Metropolitan Opera

Puccini’s Tosca at the Metropolitan Opera with lighting design by Gil Wechsler.


Send us your news!

We are now accepting alumni notes for the 2021-22 David Geffen School of Drama Annual Magazine.

Please submit your note online by Friday, November 5, 2021 to:


If you choose to send a photo, please:  

  • Attach a high-resolution photo as a .jpg file
  • Include a caption (which includes all names) and appropriate photo credit information
  • Be sure to send only photos you have permission to publish

Questions about alumni notes should be directed to Casey Grambo at casey.grambo@yale.edu or (203) 432-4133. We look forward to hearing from you soon.

Join the DGSD Alumni Facebook group!

In addition to the public page, we have a private Facebook group for DGSD alums, where you can share your news and connect with the DGSD community.

Register with YAA

For access to the wider Yale alumni community, register with Yale Alumni Association to be included in the University-wide directory.

Sign up for Cross Campus

YAA is offering a new way to connect to fellow alumni and the entire Yale community: Cross Campus, Yale’s online networking and mentoring program.

Sign up today and join this dedicated forum for members of our School community—the DGSD Cross Campus group, where you can find mentors, exchange ideas, and share resources with alumni and current students.

David Geffen School of Drama blue and white logo

David Geffen School of Drama at Yale

Office of Development and Alumni Affairs

P.O. Box 208244

222 York Street

New Haven, CT 06520-8325


ON & OFF YORK STREET is a publication of the Office of Development and Alumni Affairs, David Geffen School of Drama.

Deborah S. Berman, Editor and Director of Development and Alumni Affairs

Catherine Sheehy ’92, DFA ’99, Senior Associate Editor

Casey Grambo, Managing Editor

Leonard Sorcher, Contributing Editor

Contributors: Sarah Cain ’22 and Will Gaines ’22

October 2021 Issue