The Program

Theater and Performance Studies Overview

The mission of the program in Theater and Performance Studies (TAPS) is to cultivate adventurous artists and scholars with a serious commitment to craft and extensive understanding of the contexts in which cultural productions emerge. Introductory, term, and capstone courses reiterate the core learning objectives of the program: collaboration, craft, the integration of practice and theory, interdisciplinarity, and new work development.

Students are encouraged to gain experience in an array of disciplines including theater, dance, performance studies, musical theater, intermedia arts, and design. As research in theater, dance, and performance studies is interdisciplinary in scope and global in perspective, students are expected to take courses in cognate disciplines such as history, philosophy, anthropology, political science, film, art, and literature. The major provides a solid education in the humanities, as well as preparation for graduate studies or for careers in theater, dance, and the performing arts.

Faculty members are affiliated with a range of departments; their diverse expertise lends breadth and depth to course offerings and enables students to devise a course of study that reflects their developing interests. Faculty affiliated with the David Geffen School of Drama at Yale (DGSD) regularly teach for TAPS, and TAPS students have ample opportunities to interact with graduate students in the various departments of DGSD. Courses across the TAPS curriculum provide opportunities for students to attend performances by professional companies and artists, as well as to learn from discussions, workshops, and lectures offered by prominent guest artists and scholars.

Special features of the program are its production seminars, independent studies, and production-based senior projects. Production seminars, taken with permission of the instructor, offer immersive, semester-long performance research and development, culminating in public productions. Independent studies, taken under the supervision of a faculty adviser, give students the freedom to pursue individual and group-generated projects and to investigate areas of scholarship not offered elsewhere in the curriculum. Independent study courses are typically open only to juniors and seniors in the major. Production-based senior projects are described in the section on Senior Requirements below.

In addition to the theater and performance studies curricula, three additional programs are integrated into the mission of the major.

Dance Studies curriculum 

The Dance Studies curriculum features studio and seminar courses that cover the practice, history, and theory of diverse dance forms and movement phenomena. Students are guided in physical techniques and movement research across a wide range of temporal, geographic, and cultural sites, linking dance to the other arts, the humanities, sciences, and social sciences, and they explore the fluid and fraught relationship between movement and language. Contact: Emily Coates, Director of Dance.

Shen Curriculum for Musical Theater

The Shen Curriculum for Musical Theater examines the American Musical Theater as an indigenous art form, one informed and influenced by changing cultural and socio-economic conditions as well as musical tastes and styles. Shen courses combine a grounding in skill-based study with history, analysis, and theory. The faculty consists of scholars and working professionals, including composers, directors, lyricists, librettists, directors, and performers. Additionally, the Shen Curriculum supports a co-curricular program that includes the Fridays at Five series of master classes and voice lessons in musical theater technique. Contact: Daniel Egan, Coordinator of the Shen Curriculum.

Computing and the Arts

Computing and the Arts is an interdepartmental major designed for students who wish to work at and across intersections between computing and theater, dance and/or performance studies. Through a mix of practical and theoretical exploration, students consider how the live body on stage is reconfigured, reimagined, and reified through technological intervention. Contact: Elise Morrison, affiliated faculty in Computing and the Arts.

TAPS also supports three substantial co-curricular initiatives: the Performance Studies working group, the Yale Playwrights Festival, and the Yale Dance Lab.


TAPS majors in their junior and senior years are required to meet with the DUS at the beginning of each of their final four terms. Students in their first and second years of study who may be interested in the TAPS major are encouraged to meet with the DUS once a semester in order to discuss goals, learn about opportunities, and ask questions.


With the exception of THST 110 and THST 111, all courses in Theater and Performance Studies are limited enrollment courses that require a short statement of interest, writing sample, or audition in order to obtain instruction permission to register. When there are more applicants for a course than can be admitted, priority is given to juniors and seniors who have declared a major in Theater and Performance Studies or first-year students and sophomores who have completed one or both prerequisite courses (THST 110 and THST 111). Undergraduate students in all years of study and in all majors are encouraged to apply to courses in Theater and Performance Studies.


Majors in Theater and Performance Studies are eligible to take DGSD courses in design, theory, dramaturgy, and theater management, with permission of the instructor, the DUS, the DGSD Registrar, and “blue form” approval submitted by their academic dean to the Registrar’s Office. Undergraduates may not, however, enroll in acting or directing courses offered by the David Geffen School of Drama at Yale. Students enrolling in DGSD courses should note that a maximum of four term courses from the professional schools (of which DGSD is one) may be offered toward the bachelor’s degree. Students also should note that the academic calendars of DGSD and of Yale College differ. The DGSD calendar should be consulted for scheduling. A student interested in taking a course at the David Geffen School of Drama at Yale should begin by seeking the permission of the instructor and contacting their academic dean.