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Institute Archive


2013 Classes


 Instructor/ClassDescription
   
Jason Grote
Television for the Experimental Playwright
May 10 - 13, 2013

Learn how your playwriting skills can translate to silver screen success. Spend four days with "Mad Men" writer and award winning playwright Jason Grote, traveling to Playwrights Foundation from Los Angeles. In this weekend long class, you will learn about the unique possibilities of TV and how to utilize avant-garde writing for original TV and in service of your own TV pilot.

   
Eugenie Chan Bio
Fool Yourself to the Finish – Complete That Play!
March 16 – April 20, 2013

Have a play you've always wanted to finish? Stuck in the rut of dread? Then play your way into finishing it! We're talking some serious fun. No matter your playwriting experience or the work you’ve completed so far-- you'll get your imagination juiced and that play finished with Eugenie Chan.

   
Chinaka Hodge Bio
Writing the Experimental Urban Play
January 29 - April 2, 2013

For beginning playwrights and experienced trouble makers! This class will investigate the basics of character development and story design with an ear toward urban poetic style. Taught by award-winning spoken word artist, playwright and screen writer, Chinaka Hodge fuses immediate experience with poetic language to craft an utterly contemporary urban performance experience..

   
Lauren Gunderson Bio
Finding The Simple Story
March 28 & 29, 2013

This class is about helping folks find the simple, strong story of their plays so that they can use it as a foundation for the more complex, layered story that the play will become. Once you know your simple story, you can deepen it, enrich it, and expand it.

   
Octavio Solis Bio
Quiet Time with Master Playwright & Bay Area Legend
February 28 - March 3, 2013

This class is intended to conjure up the forces inside oneself in order to write the play. Exercises in relaxation and visualization will be explored. Much of the time will be spent writing in the room and some of it will be spent sharing what we write. We are after the unexpected word, the unlikely moment, the impossible act. We’ll work toward a redefinition of time and space and the possibilities of theatre.

   
Lauren Gunderson Bio
Writing Backwards
January 13, 2013

This intensive class will help you understand your play from end to beginning and back. Using a combination of traditional dramatic structure and a "backwards" approach, this class will help you explore the "point" of your play, help you define the goals of your characters, and craft a plot that carries you to the end. The class will use writing exercises and discussion to unpack how to make mysteries, discoveries, and revelations the spine of your play. Knowing the ending of your play is knowing your play, so let's start at the end.

   
Eugenie Chan Bio
FIND YOUR CENTER; i.e., Find the Core of Your New Play
January 12 - February 2, 2013

Thinking about starting a new play, but can't quite find exactly what you want to write about? This 4-week workshop will work through the conception and drafting of the beginning of a full-length play. We'll explore ways to uncover and create character, story, and text with a multitude of exercises that will play with event, memory, sound, rhythm, word, object, person, and more. Exercises will be tailored to the needs of the group and will be designed to help you establish the world of your play. We will devote our last class to the exploration of structure, especially to uncovering the rules by which your play plays.

2012 Classes


 Instructor/ClassDescription
Dominic Orlando Bio
Writing Musicals: A Bootcamp!
October 17 through 20, 2012
Curious about this most American of theatrical forms (which after 70 years suddenly seems like the hot new thing)? Wondering exactly what scansion is, and whether the “I Want” song is a worn-out cliché or an absolute necessity? Finally ready to admit you’ve loved musicals since you snagged the lead in Godspell in 6th Grade? In this four-day workshop we’ll dissect the amazing machinery of the American musical, reassembling it piece by piece in a series of in-class exercises designed to make book & lyric writers out of even the most tone-deaf playwrights.
Marcus Gardley Bio
A Call to Action: Accessing the Poet Within
August 20 through 23, 2012
Are you a playwright, spoken word artist, poet, novelist, journalist and/or lyricist who wants to make your work come alive in a performance setting? This one week intensive will teach you how to make highly poetic and dense work live and breathe on stage. The class time will focus on how to make language active and how to use the power of an image to create the theatricality that moves and exhilarates audiences. Using images, sound/music, costume, lights, language and tapping into one's specific voice and passions, participants will stretch the imaginative dramatists within.
Lachlan Philpott
A Beginner’s Tool-Belt: Writing a Non-Linear Play From the Inside Out
July 14 through August 10, 2012
A unique opportunity to gain an entirely new perspective on dramatic writing. Join a six-week crash course in the basics of playwriting for writers from any genre who want to learn more about the building blocks of dramatic writing – from a non-traditional, non-linear perspective. By the end of the course each participant will have created a powerful and personal, uniquely structured one-act play. This course will offer explorations in entry points, the pulse and rhythm of characters, writing cracking dialogue, inventing an interesting form, and discovering the internal structure required for the play you want to write. The course will offer you the tools and inspiration needed to get to the final scene. Excavate your imagination, spark your creativity, free yourself from preconceptions about playwriting! Come take a risk and develop new techniques through a range of fun, invigorating writing exercises with one of Australia’s leading new voices.
Dominic Orlando Bio
New Play Bootcamp
April 29 - May 5, 2012
This is a repeating class that focuses on a different aspect of the writing process each time. Join Dominic Orlando in his latest New Play Bootcamp as he delves into the writer's world-view, which is another way of saying "theme"—which is another way of saying, "What Exactly Are You Writing and Why?"
   
Anthony Clarvoe Bio
I think I maybe... kind of... sort of... might...no, do... Have The First Draft of a Play! Now what do I do?
September 19-December 12, 2012

Learn techniques and tools from a master teacher to advance your brilliant play to completion, ready for submission!.

   
Margot Melcon
Principles of Dramaturgy II: Tackling your own script
June 2 - 25, 2012

Marin Theatre Company's literary manager and resident dramaturg will guide you through this six-week course as you stretch your muscles as both dramaturg and playwright. You'll apply the basic principles of dramaturgy to your own work.

   
Eugenie Chan Bio
Crack That Whip
February 28 - May 1, 2012

You know you want to. You know you can. With a little nudge, a gentle push, and a little trickery, inspiration, and elbow grease along the way, you can finish that first draft.

   
Liz Duffy Adams Bio
The Tao of Playwriting: The Way of Writing Quickly
January 27 - February 5, 2012

A Returning Class—Back by popular demand! Join Liz Duffy Adams, inspired, award-winning writer, and get that draft finished in ten days! The final class is a showcase of excerpts with professional actors. In the summer of 2008, Liz Duffy Adams taught a course at the Playwrights Foundation called the Tao of Playwriting, using the ancient Chinese book, the Tao de Ching, as a practical playwriting manual. Playwriting is an art of negotiating between strategy/impulse, intellect/raw creativity, yin/yang. There is no better guide than the Tao for a roadmap to getting out of your own way and letting the creative juices flow. For new or accomplished playwrights, for writers who have been stuck, or those who just want to change up their process and see what happens, this will be an exciting, high-focus, all-out writing challenge. Speed without haste, language without obstacles—a first draft in ten days!

   
Anthony Clarvoe Bio
Full Tilt to the Finish Line, Writing a Successful Full-Length Play
January 16 - March 19, 2012

Learn to master the demands of the full-length form through skills, techniques, some endurance training, and a few tricks of the trade from master veteran playwright Anthony Clarvoe.

   
Lauren Gunderson Bio
PlayMath, A Secret Guide to Dramatic Structure
January 10 - February 21, 2012

Math? Really? But this is theater! No worries! Learn Lauren's geeky way to have some serious fun with your writing and learn to think about your play in a whole new way. The results are an equation all their own.

2011 Classes


 Instructor/ClassDescription
   
Erik Ehn Bio
Writing and Memorial - Space for What's Lost
December 27-29, 2011

During this workshop Erik Ehn will lead a sequence of in-session exercises designed to bring the writer through features of memorial writing.

   
Anne Washburn
The Play You Didn't Expect To Write
November 19-22, 2011

In this class you will document and exploit the under observed life around and inside each of us -- overheard conversations, simple actions, stray thoughts, and dreams -- to create notes, characters, and scenes towards a play which will surprise you. Learn how to overcome old expectations and fears that can limit your work.

   
Lauren Gunderson Bio
PlayMath, A Secret Guide to Dramatic Structure
November 8 - December 20, 2011

Math? Really? But this is theater! No worries! Learn Lauren's geeky way to have some serious fun with your writing and learn to think about your play in a whole new way. The results are an equation all their own.

   
Abigail Katz
So You Wrote A Play, Now What?
November 3-6, 2011

From The Civilians, to Classic Stage Company, to her current job in NYC at the Atlantic Theater Company, Abby has amassed a great deal of coveted industry insider tips. Do you have a play, but don't know how to get your work out there? This workshop is designed specifically for you.

   
Margot Melcon
Principles of Dramaturgy II: Tackling your own script
October 3 - November 14, 2011

Marin Theatre Company's literary manager and resident dramaturg will guide you through this six-week course as you stretch your muscles as both dramaturg and playwright. You'll apply the basic principles of dramaturgy to your own work.

   
Anthony Clarvoe Bio
I think (I maybe...kind of...sort of...might....no, do) Have the First Draft of a Play! (Now what do I do?)
September 28 - November 16, 2011

Award-winning playwright and acclaimed Institute teacher Anthony Clarvoe will offer a series of classes designed for the writer who wants to know how to advance a play to the next level.

   
Bill Cain
The Sacred Duty of Finding Your Own Voice
July 25-28, 2011

During this intensive four-day workshop, you will discover and identify what's undeniably singular and authentic about your own writing voice.

   
Margot Melcon
Principles of Dramaturgy, or, How I Learned to Embrace My Inner Nerd and Love the Library
June 14 - July 5, 2011

In four Tuesday evening summer sessions Margot will take you through an active, participatory exploration of 8 questions that will bring you closer to understanding structure, identifying theme, and getting to the root of what a play is truly about.

   
Anthony Clarvoe Bio
Full Tilt to the Finish Line, Writing a Successful Full-Length Play
April 25 - June 20, 2011

Learn to master the demands of the full-length form through skills, techniques, some endurance training, and a few tricks of the trade from master veteran playwright Anthony Clarvoe.

   
Thomas Bradshaw Bio
Truth on Stage, a 3-day adventure writing moral depravity for the theater
April 6-9, 2011

Do you want to write characters that behave with absolute honesty and truth, say things you'd rather not hear, and still defy the rules of 'naturalism' onstage? Then this is the class for you!

   
Lauren Gunderson Bio
PlayMath, A Secret Guide to Dramatic Structure
April 4 - May 23, 2011

Math? Really? But this is theater! No worries! Learn Lauren's geeky way to have some serious fun with your writing and learn to think about your play in a whole new way. The results are an equation all their own.

   
Liz Duffy Adams Bio
Short Plays, Hot & Fast
March 21-30, 2011

Write three short plays in two weeks! Inspired master of the word Liz Duffy Adams, the award winning author of Or, and Dog Act, returns to PF to teach in a style that is quick, intense, and has surprising results.

   
Christine Evans Bio
Accidents and Found Objects
February 2-6, 2011

Award-winning writer and Harvard playwriting instructor Christine Evans explores the power of ordinary objects to inspire extraordinary writing.

2010 Classes


 Instructor/ClassDescription

Anthony Clarvoe Bio
Training for the Marathon
November 3, 2010 through January 26, 2011
Full Tilt to the Finish Line, Writing a Successful Full-length Play Wednesday evenings this winter, learn how to write a successful full-length play by Training for the Marathon with playwriting veteran Anthony Clarbove.

Julia Jarcho Bio
Brian Thorstenson Bio
Strange Days, Strange Plays
October 16 through November 20, 2010
Enhance your creative impulses and challenge yourself to move beyond your own expectations in Strange Days, Strange Plays taught by Julia Jarcho and Brian Thorstenson.
Aaron Posner Bio
Adaptations: Transforming Stories Into Theater
October 6 through 9, 2010
Playwright, director, adaptor and co-founder of Arden Theater comes to the New Play Institute with Adaptations: Transforming Stories Into Theater. Using an experiential approach, the entire class will work together on an adaptation of a short story and a short piece of poetry or non-fiction, and use that work as a jumping off point to addresses the core issues of adaptation: what elements make an adaptation ‘work’; pitfalls to watch out for; criteria to weigh when choosing your source material; effective and inspirational processes that help make your adaptation exciting and creatively challenging.
Marcus Gardley Bio
Playwriting Bake-Off
August 3 through 12, 2010
The award winning writer and author of …and Jesus Moonwalks the Mississippi Marcus Gardley is returning this summer to the New Play Institute for a Bake-Off. During Gardley's Playwriting Bake-Off participants will be offered 5 ingredients to draft a play and Marcus will help them stir it up into a fresh, rich and bold new dish!
Lee Blessing Bio
Good Note, Odd Note, Better Play? The Art of Revisions
July 28 through 31, 2010
Lee Blessing, veteran playwright, returns to the Institute this summer, as part of the 2010 Bay Area Playwrights Festival, to offer a hands on, 4-day workshop on the joys and challenges of revisions! Good Note, Odd Note, Better Play? The Art of Revisions will teach students how to take a piece in a variety of different directions through revisions.
Dominic Orlando Bio
New Play Bootcamp
May 4 through 15, 2010
This is a repeating class that focuses on a different aspect of the writing process each time. Join Dominic Orlando in his latest New Play Bootcamp as he delves into the writer's world-view, which is another way of saying "theme"—which is another way of saying, "What Exactly Are You Writing and Why?"
Thomas Bradshaw Bio
Morality and Depravity in Modern Drama
April 7 through 11, 2010
This class covers transgression, censorship and the unspeakable. Exercises will focus on ways to humanize characters that you'd perhaps rather not write about at all!
Octavio Solis Bio
Writing Like a Mo Fo/
Writing In Slo Mo

March 13 and 14, 2010
In this amazing new class by Octavio Solis writers experience new ideas for modern storytelling. Writing Like a Mo Fo/Writing In Slo Mo, will inspire writers to bend, fold, spindle and manipulate time in the pursuit of modern storytelling.
   
Liz Duffy Adams Bio
The Tao of Playwriting
February 6 to 15, 2010

A Returning Class—Back by popular demand! Join Liz Duffy Adams, inspired, award-winning writer, and get that draft finished in ten days! The final class is a showcase of excerpts with professional actors.
In the summer of 2008, Liz Duffy Adams taught a course at the Playwrights Foundation called the Tao of Playwriting, using the ancient Chinese book, the Tao de Ching, as a practical playwriting manual. Playwriting is an art of negotiating between strategy/impulse, intellect/raw creativity, yin/yang. There is no better guide than the Tao for a roadmap to getting out of your own way and letting the creative juices flow. For new or accomplished playwrights, for writers who have been stuck, or those who just want to change up their process and see what happens, this will be an exciting, high-focus, all-out writing challenge. Speed without haste, language without obstacles—a first draft in ten days!

   
Eugenie Chan Bio
Crack That Whip: Ten Weeks to a Full-Length Play
September 23 to January 6, 2010
You know you want to. You know you can. With a little nudge, a gentle push, and a little trickery, inspiration, and elbow grease along the way, you can finish that first draft by the time the holiday season rears its mighty head.
This 10-week workshop will work through the conception, execution, and completion of a first draft of a full-length play. In the first part of our course, we'll explore ways to uncover and create character, story, and text with a multitude of exercises that will play with event, memory, sound, rhythm, word, object, person, and more. Exercises will be tailored to the needs of the group and will be designed to help you establish the world of your play. In the second part, we will move to the nuts and bolts of furthering your play's world -- developing character, story, and the logic of your play. Our last weeks will be devoted to the exploration of structure, especially to uncovering the rules by which your play plays.
Expect to romp (metaphorically) in places dark and light, sacred and profane. In each session, you will be engaging in on-your-feet exercises, writing, listening and responding to each other's work.

2009 Classes


 Instructor/ClassDescription
Lee Blessing Bio
Find a Play in Yourself
November 19 to 22, 2009
Sometimes the most powerful stories really are homegrown. Plays like Long Day's Journey into Night, The Glass Menagerie, How I Learned to Drive, The Ohio State Murders and Marvin's Room--to name but a few--come directly from the life experience of their creators. Everyone's life is interesting--to a writer, at least--and everyone has secrets. This workshop will start you on a journey into your very own heart of darkness--or light, or both. Find a play in yourself. Each writer will be asked to generate a short piece based on these explorations, to be read and responded to in class.
   
Dominic Orlando Bio
New Play Boot Camp Intensive
July 7 to 23, 2009
Let's be honest--what's is the highest value in a writing workshop? Time devoted to your work! Sometimes you just want the time and attention focused on only your work to take it to the next level of development. That's why playwright Dominic Orlando is offering a Boot Camp Intensive this July at The Playwrights Foundation. The intensive is limited to five students, and five students only. The students will be selected by Mr. Orlando--prospective candidates will submit an application, Mr. Orlando's previous students excepted.
The Intensive consists of two 3-hour sessions per week for 3 weeks, giving the writers more time between classes to generate work. The sessions will include intensive workshopping and analysis of each student's work, as well as general discussions on the art of writing and the business of being a professional playwright. This is the ideal way to begin a new piece, or to finish that play that just won't get finished (you may also use the Intensive to revisit a completed work).
Accepted students will be given a pass to the first weekend of this year's Bay Area Playwrights Festival, so that the group will have a common theatrical experience to analyze and discuss.
   
Steve Cosson Bio
Creating Theater From True Events
2009
Working with methods developed by the award-winning New York company The Civilians, we'll discover how we can make theater from the intersection of documentary and creativity. We'll each conduct an experimental mini-project, looking at how to pick a subject, frame an inquiry, research/interview, and ultimately how to form and structure a theatrical text. This course is open to any theater artist: writer, director, actor or combination thereof who is interested in making theater from real life.
   
Lee Blessing Bio
Afraid to Write that Play? Good.
May 21 to 24, 2009
A rare opportunity to study with one of America's most treasured dramatists, this course examines the usefulness of identifying our own worst fears and using them to create a play. On the principle that truly ambitious works in any genre result from penetrating the most fiercely-guarded areas of a writer's psyche, we will seek to gain mastery over what terrifies us and convert it into drama.
Along the way, we'll discuss the dynamic relationship of the unconscious to the conscious mind during the writing process. With any luck, we'll encounter what's scary about that as well. Each writer will be asked to generate a short piece based on these explorations, to be read and responded to in class.
   
Lisa Kron Bio
It's Funny 'Cause It's True: Your Life Onstage
May 20 to 21, 2009
Renowned playwright, monologist and comedian Lisa Kron, celebrated for her Broadway hit Well and revered as head writer for The Five Lesbian Brothers, offers a potent two-day intensive on transforming personal stories into evocative, side-splitting drama. The best personal stories are unexpectedly universal, deliciously funny, and contain the raw material you need to make your theater unique. But tapping them is a fine art, and one that Kron has mastered. Participants will be privy to The Lisa Kron Condensed Bible on mining your life for drama and avoiding the pitfall of personal excavation therapy on stage.
   
Adam Bock Bio
Language As Action
May 2 to 24, 2009
In a play, to talk is more than to express. To talk is to act. Characters use language. To batter each other. To bully, to dare, to delight, to dishearten. How active is the language in your work? Can you suffocate, terrorize, or beguile with language? How does action impact language and vice-versa?
Obie Award winner Adam Bock's workshop will look at the many languages of the stage, from awkward silence to song. You'll break language and build traps. And then, when you're tired and it's late in the day, you'll talk about your careers - how to work, where to work, and who to work with.
   
Thomas Bradshaw Bio
Provocative Playwriting
2009
Write electrifying plays with the playwright who has "has sliced open the pretensions of the white avant-garde with a wittily glistening axe." (the New Yorker).
   
Dominic Orlando Bio
New Play Boot Camp
February 28 to March 12, 2009
Award-winning writer Dominic Orlando returns with his hit New Play Boot Camp, an intensive two-week workshop to sweat your playwriting muscles and flex your imagination. By the end of this six-Day workout, you'll finish a forty-page one-act or die trying.
The focus is on plot and structure, moving the action forward toward resolution. The method is composition, understanding how to shape the rhythms of action and character in the same way composers shape notes and tempos into symphonies. This unique approach and intensive energy will give both new and experienced playwrights a workout they'll be feeling for years. Writers working to finish an existing script also welcome.

2008 Classes


 Instructor/ClassDescription
Ken Prestininzi Bio
Creative Sparks Fly: How To Catch Them
December 7 to 28, 2008
This workshop/seminar will explore the territory between the creative process (attention, commitment, imagination and pleasure) and the demands of structure (narrative, imagistic, performative and spatial). It will ask questions so that writers may articulate and aim at their personal and cultural impulses for writing and making meaningful theatre. Through playful, purposeful and rigorous writing prompts and guided discussions, participants will creatively and critically employ character recipes, narrative strategies, organizing principles of form, poetic images, political and aesthetic manifestos, sinewy language, and their own passion for what makes a stage play necessary.
   
Eugenie Chan Bio
Crack That Whip
October 8 to December 10, 2008
You know you want to. You know you can. With a little nudge, a gentle push, and a little trickery, inspiration, and elbow grease along the way, you can finish that first draft by the time the holiday season rears its mighty head.
This 10-week workshop will work through the conception, execution, and completion of a first draft of a full-length play. In the first part of our course, we'll explore ways to uncover and create character, story, and text with a multitude of exercises that will play with event, memory, sound, rhythm, word, object, person, and more. Exercises will be tailored to the needs of the group and will be designed to help you establish the world of your play. In the second part, we will move to the nuts and bolts of furthering your play's world -- developing character, story, and the logic of your play. Our last weeks will be devoted to the exploration of structure, especially to uncovering the rules by which your play plays.
Expect to romp (metaphorically) in places dark and light, sacred and profane. In each session, you will be engaging in on-your-feet exercises, writing, listening and responding to each other's work. You will also be asked to write at home each week.
Please come to the first class with 1-3 ideas of what you're thinking about writing. These do not have to be well-formed concepts. Shards are most welcome. Please also bring an object germane to one of these ideas, one of these shards.
   
Stephanie Fleischmann Bio
Writing Image/Writing Sound
September 9 to 25, 2008
You dream up your plays. Long before they land on a stage, you see them unfolding before you, you hear them in your head. Sound and image are invaluable tools, as instrumental to the playwright as dialogue and character, responsible not just for the visceral texture of the layered, 3-dimensional world of your play but catalysts also for change, for movement, for meaning and emotional resonance.
In this workshop we will explore the realm of the stage direction—sound and image as event and action—both as literal blueprint for the staging of your play and as amazingly impossible jumping off point for your collaborators. We will parse the theatrical gestalt and narrative thrust of sound, approaching plays as music—full of shifts and interruptions and the ghosts of the return. And we will explore the music inherent in the juxtaposition of images. We will also investigate the dramatic potential of song, as well as the presence of audio/visual technology on stage, embedded within your text, as a tool for propelling narrative, distance, and intimacy.
Exercises will be geared towards generating new material as well as deepening works already in progress. We will also read some excellent (and mostly very short) plays for inspiration/example.
   
Naomi Wallace Bio
Transgression, Politics, and the Engaged Play
July 31 to October 3, 2008
In this 4-day intensive writing workshop/experience with the incomparable Ms. Wallace, students will gain techniques and opportunities to transgress their own deeply held assumptions about themselves and their relationship to mainstream culture and society. How does an artist achieve what bell hooks calls "self-transgression" and a "critical awareness of self" that will allow her/him to dissect the social issues s/he are most passionate about? How can a playwright develop a new "way of seeing" for her/him self—a term coined by John Berger that refers to the socially and culturally determined choices an individual makes when writing. The class is designed to move writers to find new ways to think outside their own experience, their own gender, race, class, age, sexual orientation and culture. Ms. Wallace will engage the class in her six-point process to nudge participants to transgress and disrupt normative ways of seeing and create a more compelling and engaged drama for the stage.
"If writers can re-imagine language, with an effort that aspire to fluency in history and its myriad forces, then we can re-imagine ourselves and our communities—and that, for me as a writer, is the highest aspiration—I am not calling for a condescending theatre... but a welcoming, vigorous, inquisitive and brutal theater... to get out of what I call the "wow" state of mind to a 'how' state of mind." -Naomi Wallace
   
Lee Blessing Bio
Whose Climax Is It, Anyway?
July 10 to 13, 2008
A rare and significant opportunity to study with one of America's most treasured dramatists—Lee Blessing, who teaches an intensive, hands-on practicum investigating one of the most critical structural underpinnings of playwriting: the nature and utility of a dramatic climax; and fundamental power this choice has on the outcome of your play. Through in-class and assigned writing exercises, discussion and debate, each writer will create a ten-minute play. The intensive will offer a wide range of dramatic strategies to be utilized by students in varying ways—to paint a vivid portrait about how these choices can lead to varying outcomes; Mr. Blessing will also help students extrapolate these concepts from the ten-minute form to the full length. Students will delve into a broad range of issues within the class, such as play structure, characterization, tone, and dialogue.
The class will also investigate more logistical questions, including career choices for dramatic writers, "how it works" in the wonderful world of productions, and the dynamics of a commission—and/or other topics that arise from the class.
   
Erik Ehn Bio
Writing & Testimony: Exploring the Writer's Responsibilities to Received Stories
June 3 to 8, 2008
A short and intensive workshop is designed to look at ideas of writing for performance, especially its relation to the world in light of trauma. The class will explore questions such as what are the writer's responsibilities to received stories? How may testimony be ethically gathered, handled and re-presented? The class will include in-session writing and take-home assignments.
   
Liz Duffy Adams Bio
The Tao of Playwriting: The Tao de Ching as a Playwriting Manual
June 16 to July 5, 2008
In this workshop we'll use the ancient Chinese book of philosophy, the Tao de Ching, as a playwriting manual. This is not a spiritual journey, but a practical one. This is not a spiritual journey, but a practical one. How do we as writers balance our conscious decision-making intellectual brain with our wilder anarchic creative instincts? How do we create characters, stories, theatrical language that surprise and enrapture ourselves and our audiences? Most simply how do we keep working? The Tao is startlingly useful to the work of the playwright.
Playwriting is an art of tension/cooperation between strategy and impulse; intellect and raw creativity; right brain and left brain; yin and yang. The Tao te Ching has a lot to say about this.
We'll begin each class with a quote from the book, then write; exercises will be applicable to a play you're already writing, or to beginning something new right then and there. We'll address Getting Started, Tools (language/character, story/structure), Process of Rewriting, and Working with Feedback and Collaboration.
I don't consider myself a Taoist (partly because I think any ist or ism is contradictory to the Tao), but I've used the Tao te Ching as part of my playwriting process for years, and find this small book an inexhaustible well of guidance and inspiration. I'll be pulling our quotes from the Stephen Mitchell translation.
   
Christine Evans Bio
Chance, Found Objects and Umbrellas: Creating A New Play From What's All Around Us
June 12 to 15, 2008
Where do ideas come from? How do you find the seeds of an inspiring idea? In this workshop, you don't have to have an idea to start writing. By noticing and creating from what's all around us, writers can learn ways to enter the dreaming-field of a new play through the thousand tiny moments, objects and gestures that make up the everyday.
This is an intensive writing workshop that challenges students to find their new play through a process drawn from close attention to "found objects", chance, and the poetry of everyday things. Participants will work (in guided exercises) from humble, everyday materials close to hand.
We'll start on the outside, working with pictures, "found" dialogue, gestures, objects, chance encounters. Based on the principle that our attention acts as a magnet to organize material into meaningful patterns, we'll work from external to more internal "found objects": memories, dreams, emotions, scenarios. We will use techniques drawn from early 20th century art practices and concepts, including Tadeusz Kantor's "poor object" and "reality of the lowest rank."
By the end of the workshop, students will have the outline of a new work-in-progress and have learned some inventive new ways to continue developing it.
   
Peter Sinn Nachtrieb Bio
Funny Theatre: The Effective Use of Hilarity in Contemporary Playwriting
April 2 to May 5, 2008
Somebody famous once said that while drama is "easy", comedy is "hard." This is a terrible lie. They're both kind of hard. But, in this potentially fun and invigorating workshop, we'll take a particular look at the use of "comedy" (in as broad a sense of the word as possible) in our playwriting. Comedy has the potential to engage and disarm an audience with it's ability to simultaneously infiltrate the intellect and the gut. With the often full-body attention that comedy requires from an audience, ears become extra-sensitive, thoughts can be subtly provoked, and attitudes can be challenged. In discussions, readings, exercises and assignments we will explore humor and develop work that is funny, provoking, subversive and maybe, god forbid, highly entertaining.
   
Nakissa Etemad Bio
Drama? What?: Unlocking the Mystery of Dramaturgy
April 17 to May 22, 2008
Nakissa Etemad, dramaturg, producer, former literary manager of Philadelphia's Wilma Theater, San Jose Repertory and San Diego Rep, returns to the Playwrights Foundation to unlock the mysteries behind this essential yet often misunderstood profession. Learn the full definition of the dramaturg's role in theatre, the in's and out's of collaboration with every kind of theatre artist, all facets of new play development, and the how-to's of nurturing the right skill set for a career in dramaturgy. Understanding the many roles a dramaturg can play will lead to a more effective relationship for both the dramaturg and the artists they work with.
   
Dominic Orlando Bio
New Play Boot Camp: Emerge from the Trenches with a New One Act Play
April 19 to May 1, 2008
Award-winning writer Dominic Orlando returns with his New Play Boot Camp, an intensive two week workshop to sweat your playwriting muscles and flex your imagination. By the end of this 6-Day workout, you'll finish a 40-page one-act or die trying. This time out, Orlando focuses on what classical music and composition can teach us about the making of plays, which have more in common with symphonies than they do television or film scripts. This unique approach and intensive energy will give new and experienced playwrights a work out they'll be feeling for years.
   
Kent Nicholson Bio
Staging the Developing Play: A page-to-stage workshop for Playwrights & Directors Working Together
March 3 to April 7, 2008
Are you a Playwright with a New Play who wants to learn how to work with a director? Are you a director looking to work with New Plays? Are you a playwright, actor or designer wanting to break into directing? This is the workshop for you!
Staging the Developing Play with Kent Nicholson, premier Bay Area director of new plays, is an in-depth hands-on, practical exploration of the director/playwright relationship and collaborative process in staging a developing play. Additional outside rehearsals are encouraged, but not required. Participants without access to a rehearsal space may contact Playwrights Foundation for assistance. Final class will include a showcase of work.
   
Leigh Fondakowski Bio
Moment Theatre: Making Theatre from Recorded Events
February 11 to 23, 2008
Leigh Fondakowski, creator of The People's Temple and head writer for The Laramie Project, teaches a rare two-week intensive and collaborative workshop on how to create riveting theatrical plays from researched material and/or found text. Students will learn the highly evolved process Leigh has created through her work with Tectonic Theater Project, and can either start something new or work on an existing unfinished draft. Students will work on projects that are based entirely upon text discovered and uncovered through interviews and archival sources—from current and/or historical events or non-fiction.
The goal of the two-week course is to generate new material with an eye on understanding the overall narrative, structure and theatrical event of the piece. Students will have a clear sense of how to structure the material, what the forms are and how to proceed in the writing of the whole play. A studio will be available to students for developing work outside of class. The workshop will culminate in a reading/showing of moments created over the course of the two weeks.

2007 Classes


 Instructor/ClassDescription
John O'Keefe Bio
Breaking the Mold: How to work outside familiar forms and find new shapes for your work
November 17 to December 22, 2007
San Francisco playwright and veteran theater artist John O'Keefe brings his unique vision to this intensive workshop, designed to help playwrights break out of their established modes of working. In this five week course, students will begin work on a new play. Every writer has a particular comfort zone, and the focus of the course will be to push beyond familiar forms.
   
 Dan Milne Bio
Caught By the Tale: A Two-Day Intensive in Theatre Creation
October 13 to 14, 2007
Using personal memory, myth, fairy-tale, rumor and reportage as our material, we will examine the art of the story-teller--be s/he a playwright, a performer, a director or a Psychologist, and precisely how it connects to our artistic practice in the theatre. Through away your pen and paper for a practical, hands-on workshop in theater creation.
What are your Stories? Working with the idea that the process of memory is fundamentally a creative act, the workshop will begin to explore the layers of story that make up who we are, from the defining events of our lives to the forgotten corners of remembrance. We will look at how our stories can become the inspiration for dramatic performance or writing.
What are the Myths and Fairy-tales that resonate for you, what are the character archetypes that speak to you? What can we learn about how story operates from the impact that these ancient tales have on us?
What is the Story of Now? How can we encapsulate what it feels like to be alive at this precise moment in time? What is the Zeitgeist and how can that be communicated in a dramatic form?
   
Marcus Gardley Bio
Magic, Myth and the Playwright's Imagination
October22 to 26, 2007
Marcus Gardley (Love is a Dream House in Lorin, Shotgun Players) teaches his unique and magical weave of myth, history, memory and poetry, providing organic and concrete techniques for creating contemporary urban legends. One of the most sought after up-and-coming playwrights in the country, and a multiple PF Alumnus, Marcus is a top shelf teacher (currently in the Bay Area on leave from Columbia University) who will ignite your imagination, and teach you ways to listen deeply to your own voice singing.
   
 Annie Smart Bio
The Visual Aspect of Playwriting: a Critical Eye. A workshop for playwrights, designers and directors
October 9 to November 6, 2007
The visual world of the writer--imagination is often neglected in the process of creating a play and yet we know playwrights see their plays in as rich and specific ways as the language s/he crafts.
Annie Smart, one of the most sought after and creative theatrical designers working today, will set a playwright's visual imagination free--allowing you to find theatrically sound concepts that match the world you imagine for your story and characters. Designers will have an opportunity to work in depth on the development of a new piece WITH a writer. Directors will have an opportunity to collaborate with writers on the three-dimensional reality.
   
Dominic Orlando Bio
New Play Boot: Emerge from the Trenches with a New One Act Play
April 19 to May 1, 2007
Award-winning writer Dominic Orlando returns with his New Play Boot Camp, an intensive two week workshop to sweat your playwriting muscles and flex your imagination. By the end of this 6-Day workout, you'll finish a 40-page one-act or die trying. This time out, Orlando focuses on what classical music and composition can teach us about the making of plays, which have more in common with symphonies than they do television or film scripts. This unique approach and intensive energy will give new and experienced playwrights a work out they'll be feeling for years.

Earlier Classes


More 2007 Classes


Leigh Fondakowski
Events in Performance: The Archeology of Playmaking

Rachel Axler
Writing in Someone Else's Voice

Anne Washburn
Human Speech

D. W. Jacobs
The Art of Playwriting: Principles of Movement and Dramatic Structure

Octavio Solis
How to Sabotage Your Own Play and Make Beautiful Art

Mickey Birnbaum
Souling Out: Writing Unconventional Movies for Unconventional Times


2006 Classes


Migdalia Cruz
Migdalia's Method: A Memory Playshop

Sheila Callaghan
A Playwright's Errant Treasure Chest: Finding Character Through Unusual and Improbable Objects

Christine Evans
Building Story

Motti Lerner

Brian Thorstenson
Architectonics

Prince Gomovilas
Rock 'n' Roll Playwriting

Stephanie Fleischmann
Visual Playwriting

Brighde Mullins
Playwriting: A Crash Course in Materials/Methods/Magic

Christine Young
New Play Exploratorium

Dan Milne
From Scratch: Inspiration to Realization

Dijana Milosevic
War Stories


2005 Classes


David Kranes

Kent Nicholson
Staging the Developing Play

D.W. Jacobs

Naomi Wallace

Christine Evans
Developing the Full-Length Play

Amy Wheeler

Arthur Kopit

Claire Chafee
Orderly Disorder

Dijana Milosevic
War Stories

Liz Duffy Adams


2004 Classes


Adam Bock
The Playwright's Vision

Amy Freed
Sharing Stuff That Works: The Courage to Cut, Shape and Refine

Erik Ehn
Dark Night Writing: Approaches to Making and Meaning for Theatrical Texts

Joan Holden
Farce and Melodrama

Liz Duffy Adams
Borrowing, Recycling and Originating: The Art (and trickery) of inventing original language

Mac Wellman
Pataphysics

Octavio Solis

Prince Gomolivas
Don't Try This at Home: The Fundamentals of Playwriting

Tanya Shaffer
The Dramatic Heart: Finding and Defining Your Story