First-Year Studies: The Playwrights’ Gym


This class is designed for students interested in writing plays or short screenplays. No previous experience is required. The focus is on writing exercises that develop characters and stories that become short plays or short screenplays. In addition, we will study theories about the nature of creativity and a variety of plays and playwrights—from classical to contemporary. We will study writing methods that help to inspire, nurture, encourage, and sustain our urge/need to write. And we will learn how to transform personal experiences and observations into imaginative short comedies or dramas. Each student will draft a series of short plays based on a variety of styles—from realism to farce to experimental. We will study a series of short, multicultural, contemporary plays as examples of the elements of the playwriting craft. The goals of the class will be: 1) to concentrate on building the inner lives of our characters through in-depth character work in order to create stronger stories; 2) to explore—that is to say, investigate and gain access into our spontaneous ideas; 3) to articulate and gain a more conscious relationship with the “inner territory” from which we draw ideas; 4) to confront issues that block the writing process; and 5) to gain greater confidence in relation to revision as we pursue clarification of the work. Overall, we will create a safe and supportive classroom community and environment in which our writing processes can flourish.