A year ago, Noah Diaz decided it was time to study theater in graduate school.
The Council Bluffs native had amassed an impressive list of local credits: By the time he was 21, he had appeared in more than 80 productions at theaters including the Rose and the Omaha Community Playhouse, and had been nominated for numerous awards.
He’d been an actor, a director and a stagehand, but after some soul-searching, Diaz decided to focus his attention on playwriting.
He already had written five scripts, and one — “The Motherhood Almanac” — was produced this year at the Shelterbelt Theatre.
Diaz, now 24, applied to 14 schools and received five offers.
He had no trouble deciding which one to accept. In about a month, Diaz will travel to what many consider a thespian mecca: the Yale School of Drama.
He’s one of only three new students in the school’s three-year playwriting program, chosen from hundreds — if not thousands — of applicants. His tuition is fully funded.
“And they offer a monthly stipend so I will be able to be a human and exist,” he said.
Yale’s theater program has launched some impressive careers. Acting alumni include Angela Bassett, Julie Harris, Holly Hunter, Ernie Hudson and Meryl Streep. Omaha alums include Matthew Gutschick, artistic director of the Rose Theater, who got his degree in theater management.
Diaz, who has a bachelor’s degree in special education, will have a master’s in fine arts when he’s finished.
On the way, he’ll be among some of the theater world’s most accomplished people, including one of this year’s Academy Award winners.
He said local playwright Ellen Struve encouraged him to apply to various places. An encounter with a current Yale student at last year’s Seven Devils Playwrights Conference pushed him further.
He submitted “The Motherhood Almanac” with his…