Whether you’re writing your first play or your hundredth, it’s not always easy to set the creative wheels in motion. This 10-week class will guide you through the development of your first draft, providing concrete deadlines, constructive feedback, and a collaborative environment that will encourage you to get your ideas on the page. This class is geared toward all writers, from those just starting out in the world of playwriting to experienced playwrights looking for a chance to start a new piece. Writing can often be a solitary process, but this class will allow you the opportunity to strengthen your writing skills while building connections with your artistic peers. Each week, bring in new pages to hear them read aloud in class, engage in discussion with fellow writers, and ultimately work toward—or complete!—a full-length play.
This class is also available online! For more information, see Online Classroom.
REGISTRATION AND SCHEDULE
Before enrolling, please agree to our terms and conditions, found here.
Winter Miller (Writer, In Darfur at The Public)
Wednesdays from 10:00am – 1:00pm
March 8, 15, 22, 29, April 5, 12, 26, May 3, 10, 17
Winter sees the class as being part of a sacred team, all working to elevate the work. She will seek for you to be an active participant in your own development as a writer and expect you to pay close attention to the puzzles and obstacles your fellow writers come up against, because the thing someone is trying to unlock may be a mirror for something your own play needs. You can begin the first class with a piece you're already writing or only an idea of your project – Winter will help you clarify your writerly and emotional instincts so you can serve your play and your characters, and write the play in a way that is true to your vision. The goal of this class is to mine your personal truths along with what compels you about the world around you to determine what's drawing you to write the play and how to go in deep from the start.
In class, you will bring in approximately 8-11 pp per week so that everyone keeps working. In-class writing will be included if that is what the class warrants, and Winter will suggest prompts tailored to individual writers focused on what their play needs. In addition to weekly page assignments, Winter will recommend other plays for you to see or read.
Winter tries to never write the same play twice, thinking of her plays as an attempt to connect with audiences through authenticity, plausibility, comedy, tragedy, and a window into the joy and suffering of what it is to be human.
Eddie Sanchez (Writer, Barefoot Boy with Shoes on at Primary Stages)
Sundays from 11:00am – 2:00pm
March 12, 19, 26, April 2, 9, 23, 30, May 7, 14, 21
Eddie's class is all about being a safe place to try things. One week you may bring in a scene that totally slays, the next week, not so much. But this is the room where you can try. Eddie will send out a questionnaire with the first class to help you focus on what you want to write (and sometimes those initial answers change as the play develops). You will then bring in up to 10 pages each class, and assign others to read your pages aloud—you will never read your own work as it is more valuable in this setting to hear your work without trying to perform it. Each session will end with ten minutes of writing, with Eddie's goal being to demystify the thought that you need to have hours set aside to write. Sometimes ten minutes is what you got.
As a playwright, Eddie writes everything (including novels!) and doesn't ascribe one specific style to his work. He believes that you should dive into whatever you are passionate about, so his class is dedicated to making a commitment to yourself as a writer—to really write and just go for it.
Section A: CLASS UNDERWAY
To be notified the next time this class become available, please fill out our waitlist form.
Leah Nanako Winkler (Writer, Kentucky at EST)
Mondays from 10:00am – 1:00pm
February 27, March 6, 13, 20, 27, April 3, 10, 17, 24, May 1
This class will be a collaborative environment where you are encouraged to bring in unfiltered pages and give and receive feedback from classmates in a safe space. Leah views the first draft as a time to write and take risks without neurosis, and will urge you to write from the heart and let everything fall into place from there. Sure, you'll handle structure and character – but the most important thing is authenticity. This course will teach you the unteachable – being unafraid to tell truths, molding those into a story, and ultimately finding your voice as a writer within these first, precious pages.
You will take turns bringing in larger number of pages on specific weeks, as this structure will force you to write pages without thinking too much about it, eliminating fear and encouraging making choices. For the first class, you will all read a first draft of a play that Leah has, and then the class will give Leah feedback followed by a writing exercise. Students will then bring pages into class in larger chunks in the following weeks, following the feedback model that you explored in the first class.
This will be a funny, casual environment with a purpose. Leah expects people to be on time and be present, but to also be kind to one another. She wants honesty but discourages a competitive room, and she loves instilling confidence in her students.
Leah writes dark comedies that are often playful in style and highly theatrical, and that walk the fine line between laughter, sadness, satire, and gut-wrenching sincerity.
Section B: CLASS UNDERWAY
To be notified the next time this class become available, please fill out our waitlist form.
A. Rey Pamatmat (Writer, House Rules at Ma-Yi Theatre Company; Co-Director, Mi-Ya Writer's Lab)
Tuesdays from 6:30pm – 9:30p
February 28, March 7, 14, 28, April 4, 18, 25, May 9, 16, 23
Rey teaches this class as a workshop where you create a safe enough peer group that people can write whatever they want without worrying that it'll be good or bad. (In fact, he sometimes encourages people to write badly on purpose!) You will bring in 10-15 pages and 1-2 feedback questions to pose to the group each class, which will allow you to learn to solicit feedback that will help you write pages for the next week. The semester will typically start with a writing exercise tailored to the needs of the group, followed by reading pages and discussion. Rey joins the other students in providing feedback, and also helps the playwright to reshape their feedback questions in order to get away from questions with yes/no or good/bad answers and to move toward questions that ask their peers what they see and understand from what the playwright has written. Rey may assign additional assignments/exercises for work outside of class, and the door is always left open for writers of all experience to request assignments as needed!
As a playwright, Rey’s style really runs the gamut—when he writes, he really seeks to remove obstacles that might get in the way of his imagination so he can let it run loose. Just this year, he’s presented or workshopped a psychological thriller about intimidation and abuse, a family comedy about the crazy things people do when they realize their parents might die, and a noir-inspired murder mystery about underage Internet webcam whores.
Section C: SOLD OUT
Crystal Skillman (Writer, Geek and Rain and Zoe Save the World)
Wednesdays from 6:30pm – 9:30pm
March 1, 8, 15, 22, 29, April 5, 19, 26, May 3, 10
This is a class of the IMAGINATION. This class will be very much focused on what you are passionate to write a full length about and what is theatrical – and what MUST be a play. In the class, you will focus mainly on structure, in addition to character, language, and dramatic action. Consider Crystal your producer, that at times you adore and at times you find challenging, but who always keeps you on track. Each 3-hour session will be mixed with writing exercises Crystal has created which will support the play you are writing, lessons, and feedback each week on 8-10 pages. Crystal will be your guide and advisor as you write. Your full-length will embrace a modern two act structure (though it very might well be a long one act, 45-60 minutes, or a classical 90 minutes, or longer), and the class is set up to move onto act two at the mid-way point of meeting, so there will strict deadlines that will help you achieve this goal. Breaking of the rules is very exciting, but you'll be sure the rules are learned to smash all the more efficiently. Crystal will touch on the rules of dramatic action in all media, and will often discuss the differences between TV, screenwriting, musical theater book writing, and playwriting as you make strong choices of what unfolds on stage in your play. You will also learn how to "dramaturg" you own work and drive your own feedback sessions/process. In addition to weekly page assignments, you will be assigned specific playwrights to read.
As a playwright, Crystal is known as a theatrical "geek girl" or a "creative insurgent writer" who tackles big, sociopolitical issues through genre. She works as a musical book writer for musicals as well, and is starting to work in television. She will push you to discover what you want to write TODAY and what is important to you to share as a theatrical story on stage.
Section D: SOLD OUT
Michael Walkup (Producing Artistic Director, Page 73)
Mondays from 6:30pm – 9:30pm
March 6, 20, 27, April 3, 17, 24, May 1, 8, 15, 22
In this class, the room will be run in the spirit of a dramaturg running a workshop for playwrights. Each week, you’ll complete an individual or group writing exercise to encourage you to share work. As a way to create a common language, there will be some assigned readings. Each week, every writer will share some new writing, and while you’ll be encouraged to bring in as many pages as the mood strikes, you’ll commit to actively reading and discussing around 15 pages per student per week. We will stay flexible, but never let anyone fall off the wagon of steadily writing toward a complete first draft. Michael will lead a carefully structured conversation about the work—the aim of which is to illuminate what the pages have already accomplished, and not predict what you should do next. He will help you articulate the style and structure that your particular play wants to be told in. He will meet you on your own turf and reflect back to you what he sees in your writing—where it may want to push ahead, where it may be losing steam or clarity, and where he thinks certain playwriting tools (such as character, reversals, language, song, and physical action) may push a scene to the next level.
As a dramaturg and Artistic Director of a playwright's theater, Michael enjoys collaborating with writers who are working in all manner of forms, and tailors his feedback to the play's particular style.
All classes take place at Primary Stages Studios at 307 West 38th Street in New York City. Get directions here.
Returning Students: $560
New Students: $580
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