James Bundy: My American Theatre Magazine Profile
The search for a new artistic director for Yale Repertory Theatre and dean for Yale School of Drama—a unique hyphenate in American theatre—was not a smooth one in 2001 for Richard C. Levin, then president of the Ivy League university in New Haven, Conn.
After a protracted process—several high-profile names passed on the job—James Bundy, artistic director of Great Lakes Theater of Cleveland, then 42, was chosen, becoming the fifth dean since Yale became a professional school, and only the fourth artistic director in Yale Rep’s 51-year history, following founder Robert Brustein, Lloyd Richards, and Stan Wojewodski Jr.
What made the appointment even more surprising was that just six years earlier, Bundy had been a student at the school.
But if it started as an unexpected choice, the Bundy era at Yale Rep has grown over the decades into an unprecedented theatrical legacy. At last year’s golden anniversary celebration for the Rep, current Yale president Peter Saloway announced Bundy’s fourth five-year appointment. He is reportedly the longest-serving artistic director/dean in the U.S., and by the end of his fourth term in 2022 he will have overseen nearly seven generations of graduate classes.
“He has been a force of advocacy for building a more equitable and inclusive theatre field,” says Teresa Eyring, executive director of Theatre Communications Group and an ’89 YSD grad. “People also look to him for that combination of wisdom and clarity of thought that he brings to complex decision-making.”
Though few may have predicted Bundy’s long run at the start of his tenure, those who know him well were not surprised at his appointment.