Theater was founded in 1968 as yale/theatre, “a gathering of responses to real events” in that tumultuous year. In the magazine’s first issue, Ren Frutkin declared that it would consist of “theatre, thought, discussion, dream, art, people.” Since its first issue (“Do We Need Greek Drama?”), Yale’s magazine has fulfilled Frutkin’s call.
Theater has introduced countless important international dramatists to U.S. readers and theaters, among them Thomas Bernhard, Thomas Brasch, Dario Fo, Peter Handke, Elfriede Jelinek, Sarah Kane, Biljana Srblanovic, René Pollesch, Falk Richter, Vassily Sigarev, George Tabori, Michel Vinaver, and Ivan Virypaev.
Theater has also published — often for the first time — some of America’s most innovative playwrights, including Richard Foreman, Maria Irene Fornes, David Greenspan, David Hancock, John Jesurun, Adrienne Kennedy, Les Freres Corbusier, Suzan-Lori Parks, Sarah Ruhl, Mac Wellman, and others.
Many distinguished critics have contributed groundbreaking essays, commentary, and reviews, including: Una Chaudhuri, Katerina Clark, Stanley Crouch, Arthur Danto, Elinor Fuchs, Daniel Gerould, Richard Gilman, Margo Jefferson, Jonathan Kalb, Stanley Kauffmann, Renate Klett, Jan Kott, Sylvère Lotringer, Annette Michelson, Joseph Roach, Marc Robinson, Gordon Rogoff, Denis Salter, Susan Sontag, and many others.
In early years yale/theatre’s editorial board included Michael Feingold, Ren Frutkin, Richard Gilman, and Gordon Rogoff. From 1973 to 1977 Rocco Landesman served as editor (with co-editor Robert Marx until 1976). In 1978 their successor, Joel Schechter, shortened the magazine’s name to Theater while expanding its purview and enlarging its page size and distribution. Under editor Erika Munk (1992-2003), Theater launched a major redesign and began regularly commissioning new writing from professional critics, journalists, and artists from around the world. The current editor, Tom Sellar, was appointed in 2003, introducing new writers and features such as photo essays and an expanded editorials section, and reinvigorating Theater’s commitment to new international voices and developments.
Theater’s groundbreaking special issues have included:
- Russian Theater: The Twenty-First Century
- Theater and Violence
- Witold Gombrowicz’s Century
- Theater and Social Change
- Polish Directors Now
- Theater in the New South Africa
- Performances Under Siege in Sarajevo
- Theater and Landscape
- Rethinking Meyerhold
- 100 Years of Kurt Weill
- Contemporary Children’s Theater
- The Apocalyptic Century
In 1998, the magazine formed a partnership with Duke University Press, publisher of many outstanding journals firmly committed to a general readership beyond academia. Under the agreement, Duke Press handles Theater’s production, marketing, fulfillment, and distribution, while all editorial work continues to originate from Yale. Since launching this partnership, the magazine has won awards for its redesign and has continuously expanded its distribution to include electronic forms.