Whether you’re writing your first play or your hundredth, it’s not always easy to set the creative wheels in motion. This 8-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
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Leah Nanako Winkler (Writer, Kentucky at EST)
Wednesdays from 10:00am – 1:00pm
June 21, 28, July 12, 19, 26, August 2, 9, 16
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.
Abe Koogler (Writer, Kill Floor at Lincoln Center Theater, upcoming Fulfillment Center at MTC)
Thursdays from 6:30pm – 9:30pm
June 29, July 6, 13, 20, 27, August 3, 10, 17
Writing the first draft of a new play should be both exciting and frightening. Abe believes the best writing comes from the deep unconscious, so this class will help you identify your unconscious impulses, calm your doubts and worries, and write toward the unknown. Everyone will bring in 10 pages a week, which you'll read and discuss. Many classes will also begin with a short writing exercise, if time permits, and Abe will encourage you to keep track of the routines and sources of inspiration that are feeding you as you write.
Abe's goal as a teacher is to help you stay excited about what you're writing, and—if you need it—to help you clear away blocks that are preventing you from moving forward. To that end, you'll spend very little time in this class discussing what isn't working. You'll discuss your ten pages with an eye toward what is working, then you'll have the chance to ask the class any questions that will help you generate the next ten pages. If you know where you're going, everyone will get out of your way. The class will be a warm, supportive environment appropriate for both first-time and experienced playwrights, and by your final session, Abe expects that you'll have a complete or near-complete draft of a new play, as well as a greater understanding of how you write best.
Abe writes plays that are rooted in naturalism but often have more heightened elements, including stylized/rhythmic language, absurd humor, and the presence of unseen forces. His plays often touch on political themes.
Eddie Sanchez (Writer, Barefoot Boy with Shoes on at Primary Stages)
Sundays from 11:00am – 2:00pm
July 9, 16, 23, 30, August 6, 13, 20, 27
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.
Michael Walkup (Producing Artistic Director, Page 73)
Wednesdays from 6:30pm – 9:30pm
June 21, 28, July 12, 19, 26, August 2, 16, 23
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: $480
New Students: $540
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