Juilliard Appoints Evan Yionoulis as Director of Drama

Thursday, Mar 08, 2018
Press Release
Evan Yionoulis (photo by Beowulf Sheehan)

NEW YORK –– Juilliard today announced that Obie-award winning director Evan Yionoulis, currently professor in the practice of acting and directing at Yale School of Drama and a resident director at Yale Repertory Theatre, will become the school’s Richard Rodgers Director of Drama at Juilliard starting with the 2018-19 academic and performance season. The Juilliard Drama Division, celebrating its 50th anniversary this season, offers a program that encompasses one of this country’s most respected conservatory educations for actors as well as highly successful pre-professional mentoring for playwrights.

Ms. Yionoulis has been on the faculty of Yale for the past 20 years and was Lloyd Richards Professor and Chair of Acting from 1998 to 2003.

In announcing the appointment, Juilliard President Joseph W. Polisi said, “Evan’s impressive work at Yale and extensive directing credits make her the perfect person to develop our gifted actors and playwrights as she leads Juilliard’s Drama Division into the future. We were deeply impressed by her thoughtfulness and rich understanding of the educational process in both classic and contemporary work.”

On accepting the position, Ms. Yionoulis remarked, “I am honored and excited to lead Juilliard’s Drama Division into its second half-century, carrying on the school’s great tradition of excellence, and preparing the next generation of actors and playwrights to transform the future of our field through their passion and artistry.”

Joseph Haj, who studied with Ms. Yionoulis and is now artistic director of the Guthrie Theater, said, “Juilliard has made a brilliant choice. Evan is a significant artist and working professional; she has been teaching and mentoring students at the highest level for many years and, not least of all, the human being side is as fully developed as the artistic side. Juilliard could not have done better. I am thrilled for the school and for Evan.”

Ms. Yionoulis will succeed James Houghton, who was head of the division from 2006 until his death from cancer in 2016. 

In addition to her Yale position, Ms. Yionoulis is an award-winning director; she has directed new plays and classics in New York and across the U.S. She has enjoyed collaborations with major American playwrights including Adrienne Kennedy and Richard Greenberg. She most recently directed the critically acclaimed world premiere of Kennedy’s He Brought Her Heart Back in a Box for Theatre for a New Audience, where she previously directed her Ohio State Murders (Lortel Award for Best Revival) and the Off-Broadway premiere of Howard Brenton’s Sore Throats. 

Ms. Yionoulis opened Manhattan Theatre Club’s Biltmore Theatre (Broadway) with Greenberg’s The Violet Hour, directed his Everett Beekin at Lincoln Center Theater, and received an Obie Award for her direction of his Three Days of Rain at Manhattan Theatre Club, having directed the premieres of all three at South Coast Repertory. 

At Yale Repertory Theatre, she has directed Cymbeline, Richard II, The Master Builder, George F. Walker’s Heaven, Brecht’s Galileo, Gozzi’s The King Stag (which she adapted with her brother, composer Mike Yionoulis, and Catherine Sheehy), Caryl Churchill’s Owners, and numerous other productions including the world premiere of Kirsten Greenidge’s Bossa Nova, and, upcoming, Kiss, by Guillermo Calderón.

Other credits include productions at the Mark Taper Forum, the Huntington, NY Shakespeare Festival, the Vineyard, Second Stage, Primary Stages, Dallas Theatre Center, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Denver Center, Williamstown Theatre Festival, and many others. 

Ms. Yionoulis has directed Seven, a documentary theater piece about extraordinary women from across the globe who work for human rights in New York, Boston, Washington, Aspen, London, Deauville, and New Delhi.

Her short film Lost and Found, made with Mike Yionoulis, premiered at Cleveland International Film Festival.  Their most recent collaborations are the multiplatform project Redhand Guitar, about five generations of musicians across an American century, and The Dread Pirate Project, about the malleability of identity between the digital and natural worlds.

Ms. Yionoulis has received a Princess Grace Foundation Fellowship, Works-in-Progress Grant, and the Foundation’s prestigious Statuette. She serves on the executive board of SDC, the labor union representing stage directors and choreographers, as secretary.

This 2017-18 season Juilliard Drama presented fully staged productions featuring Juilliard’s Group 47 acting students in their fourth and final year in the drama program. The fall season’s productions included Suzan-Lori Parks’s Father Comes Home From the Wars, directed by LA Williams; alumnus Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’s Everybody, co-directed by Danya Taymor and Branden Jacobs-Jenkins; and Pierre de Marivaux’s Triumph of Love, translated, adapted, and directed by Stephen Wadsworth. In February, Juilliard Drama presented three plays in repertory: Euripides’s Trojan Women, directed by faculty member Ellen Lauren; alumna Katori Hall’s Hoodoo Love, directed by Kym Moore; and Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, directed by faculty member Moni Yakim. All performances took place in the Stephanie P. McClelland Drama Theater at Juilliard.

About Juilliard’s Drama Division

Since its inception five decades ago, Juilliard’s Drama Division has become one of the most respected and renowned training programs for theater artists in the world. The program is dedicated to training versatile 21st-century theater artists and empowering them to thrive in an ever-evolving performing arts landscape.

Founded in 1968 by the celebrated American director, producer, and theater administrator John Houseman and the French director, teacher, and actor Michel Saint-Denis, the four-year drama program combines vocal and physical training, extensive work on text, and appreciation of style with a fierce commitment to emotional honesty, immense physical energy, and imaginative daring. The program is both highly selective and extremely rigorous, attracting committed and focused young actors. 

To add to its long standing BFA program, in the fall of 2012, Juilliard Drama began its new MFA program, providing a diversity of experience for undergraduate and graduate students working side by side on projects that span classic texts of Shakespeare and Chekhov to contemporary works. This variety and breadth of repertoire ensures that Juilliard actors enter the profession with the experience and the craft to tackle the full spectrum of work, and to bring to life the stories of writers who are deeply ingrained in theater history as well as the exciting work of living writers.

In fact, Juilliard actors have many opportunities to explore contemporary work during their training, as an essential component of the artists’ work within the Drama Division lies at the intersection with the distinguished Lila Acheson Wallace American Playwrights Program under the direction of Tony Award-winning playwright
Marsha Norman and Pulitzer Prize winner and Juilliard alumnus David Lindsay-Abaire, who joined the program in fall of 2016. Actors and playwright fellows collaborate regularly on new works, which encourages the development of fresh and diverse voices in the American theater.

The Juilliard Drama program seeks not only to provide a challenging and full curriculum of training, but also to give students valuable exposure to the professional world. Over the course of their studies, Juilliard actors have many opportunities to work with professional directors, who come in to work as teachers and guest artists as well as to direct productions. For the fourth-year class, Juilliard’s training aims to create a real bridge into the profession through the creation of the Juilliard Drama Division’s Professional Studio hosted by Signature Theatre, recipient of the 2014 regional theater Tony Award. Signature is set in the Pershing Square Signature Center, a Frank Gehry-designed complex in the heart of New York City’s Theater District. At the Studio, Juilliard’s writers and actors collaborate closely on new works, building lasting artistic relationships.

This connection to the broader theater community ties into the strong ethos of citizenship and community service at Juilliard. In addition to many other opportunities for interdivisional collaboration between students, Juilliard actors and playwrights regularly join forces with music and drama students to use their art to reach out to underserved communities around the world.

Juilliard Drama’s outstanding creative reputation, distinguished faculty, and rigorous professional training have enabled alumni of the program to excel as artists, leaders, and global citizens for more than four decades and will continue to shape the future of American theater for decades to come. 

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Alexandra Day

Gloria Gottschalk

(212) 721-0965