Clark Atlanta University Theatre Student Accepted into Yale School of Drama Graduate Program


ATLANTA, GA – March 5, 2019 Joanelle Polk, a senior majoring in Theatre Arts, has been accepted to The Yale School of Drama, the number one ranked theatre program in the United States.  Ms. Polk was one of four students accepted into the 2019-2020 incoming class for the Masters of Fine Arts (MFA) degree in Stage Management at the Yale School of Drama.  Former Alumni of Yale School of Drama include Paul Newman, Lupita Nyong’o, Meryl Streep, Angela Bassett, Charles S. Dutton, Sigourney Weaver, and Sanaa Lathan.

Ms. Polk is a Dean’s List student at Clark Atlanta University with a 3.62 GPA, pursuing studies at The School of Arts and Sciences, Department of Speech Communication and Theatre Arts.  Ms. Polk was encouraged to apply to Yale University by her academic advisor and the Chairperson of the Department Dr. Eve Graves. 

“The Department of Speech Communication and Theatre Arts at Clark Atlanta University is training scholar-practitioners who are fulfilling the university mission to be innovative change agents and leaders in the discipline,” said Dr. Eve Graves, chair of the Department of Speech Communication and Theatre Arts. “Ms. Polk is an extremely bright and gifted young scholar/artist who will learn and contribute greatly to Yale University’s historic culture.”  

CAU theatre professor Eric J. Little, MFA first introduced Polk to the art of stage management, for which she developed an ongoing passion. While studying at CAU, Ms. Polk frequently “shadowed” professional stage managers at local theatre companies, including CAU alumnus Kenny Leon, owner of True Colors Theatre Company.  Last year, Mr. Leon invited Ms. Polk to visit the cast and crew in rehearsal for Children of a Lesser God on Broadway.  Mr. Leon, as well as her departmental faculty, supported Ms. Polk’s post-graduate application to Yale University.

Ms. Polk decided to apply and study at the Yale school of Drama to get a firmer foundation in the field of stage management and to overall become a better artist.   She hopes to gain a wider understanding of the theatre discipline and learn how to better sync the art form with diverse voices.

“Studying at CAU has prepared me by giving me the basic blueprint of how technical theatre works, and it has put me in front of great people who have been in the field and who have become my lifelong mentors,” said Ms. Polk. 
“I know my success is due to God and the people HE has allowed me to learn from, such as my professors at CAU--Professors Jonathan Kitt, Michael Oby, Yolanda West, Marion Wright, Eric J. Little, Dr. Eve Graves--my family at Kenny Leon’s True Colors Theatre Company, my own family, and my stage management mentors that I’ve gained along the way.”

Before leaving for Yale University, Ms. Polk was accepted into a highly competitive stage management workshop for college students sponsored by United States Institute for Technical Theatre (USITT).  Ms. Polk will study stage management techniques from Broadway stage managers and other technical theatre professionals at the USITT Annual Conference in Louisville, KY.  Some of Ms. Polk’s future professors at Yale University will attend the USITT conference.

For more information, please contact Dr. Eve Graves at


About Clark Atlanta University

Established in 1988 by the consolidation of Atlanta University (1865) and Clark College (1869), Clark Atlanta University (CAU) is one of the Nation’s foremost research institutions, offering students from around the United States and several foreign countries the opportunity to engage in 38 exciting areas of study at bachelors, masters and doctoral levels. Located in the historic heart of Atlanta, one of the world's great international cities, CAU’s nearly 4,000 students enjoy access to academic and co-curricular experiences, from forensic debate, to on-air broadcasting, to cancer research with world-renowned investigators. From the arts to zoology, CAU combines nearly 300 years of tradition with a solid focus on academic excellence to produce leaders who will shape the future of the global community. To learn more about Clark Atlanta University, visit