Cassandra Medley

on leave spring semester

Producer of plays, including American Slavery Project (2012-13). Cell (2013), Ensemble Studio Theatre Marathon (2011), is pending publication in the anthology Outstanding One-Act Plays—2012, Dramatists Play Service; Daughter, Ensemble Studio Theatre Marathon (2009), published by Broadway Play Publishing (2012). Noon Day Sun (August, 2008), Diverse City Theatre Company, Theatre Row, New York City, was nominated for the August Wilson Playwriting Award (2008); Noon Day Sun was also published by Broadway Play Publishing. Relativity, a commission from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, Ensemble Studio Theatre (2004), was produced by Kuntu Repertory of Pittsburgh, Southern Repertory of New Orleans (2007), the Ensemble Studio Theatre  (May 2006), St. Louis Black Repertory Theatre (February 2006), and the Magic Theatre in San Francisco (June 2004); Relativity, published by Broadway Play Publishing, also won the Audelco August Wilson Playwriting Award (2006) and was featured on Science Friday on National Public Radio and in an online broadcast of the Los Anegeles Repertory Theatre (February 2008). Marathon (2004-06) was also published by Broadway Play Publishing. Recipient of the “Going to the River Writers” Life Achievement Award (2004), Ensemble Studio Theatre 25th Anniversary Award for Theatre Excellence (2002), the Theatrefest Regional Playwriting Award for Best Play (2001), the New Professional Theatre Award (1995), and the Marilyn Simpson Award (1995); a finalist for the Susan Smith Blackburn Award in Playwriting (1989) and winner of the National Endowment for the Arts Playwright Award (1990). Recipient of a New York Foundation for the Arts Grant (1986) and a New York State Council on the Arts Grant (1987). Taught at New York University and served as guest artist at Columbia University, the University of Iowa Playwrights Workshop, and Seattle University. Staff writer for ABC Television, One Life to Live (1995-97), and a playwright member of the Ensemble Studio Theatre and New River Dramatists. SLC, 1989–

Course Information

Current undergraduate courses

Experiments in Language and Form

Fall

In this class, we focus on writing “experimental theatre”; that is, we experiment with theatrical forms that extend beyond traditional portrayals of time, three-dimensional space, language, character, and dramatic structure to discover the impact that different types of onstage presentations might have on audiences. We are not interested in imitating the style of “experimental” playwrights but, rather, using their texts as influence, stimulus, and encouragement as we attempt our own “experiments.” We will also style experimental texts to ascertain the types of environments—political, spiritual, mental, social—-that influenced such texts to be generated; that is, created. Our aim, first and foremost, is to investigate and explore ways to genuinely investigate and give theatrical expression to our own personal, political, and spiritual interior lives, values, observations, and beliefs. We will then strive to examine the most effective manner of communicating our theatrical experiments to an audience. Our experimental writing may include multimedia presentations as part of the scripted onstage play or performance.

Faculty

Medley Workshop: Developing the Dramatic Idea

Fall

The purpose of this workshop is to develop and complete a draft of a final project play of any length. Our focus is on originating character-driven stories that involve multiple events and/or multiple turning points and revelations, concluding with a major crisis and/or consequence for the characters. From the very beginning of the semester, writers create several short drafts of “mini plays,” as we practice the components that lead to effective playwriting. Writers allow various characters, topics, and concerns to be revealed to them as their in-process project(s) take shape. We will also study a selection of full-length plays and/or screenplays for inspiration, guidance, and analysis of various contemporary styles of drama. Styles may be varied; but as dramatists, we are all challenged by a form of storytelling that requires us to try and hold the public attention of an audience for a condensed length of “real” time in a public space.

Faculty
Related Cross-Discipline Paths

Writer’s Gym

Fall

“You can’t wait for inspiration; you have to go after it with a club.” —Jack London

Writer’s Gym is a yearlong writing workshop designed for writers of any genre and any level of experience, from beginner to advanced. Our focus is on writing exercises that develop characters and stories—whether for the stage, screen, or prose narration. In addition, we study theories about the nature of creativity. Our goals are as follows: to study writing methods that help to inspire, nurture, encourage, and sustain our urge/need to write; to learn how to transform personal experiences and observations into imaginative dramatic and/or prose fiction or poetic metaphor and imagery; to concentrate on building the inner lives of our characters through in-depth character work in order to create stronger stories; to explore—that is to say, investigate—and gain access to our spontaneous ideas; to articulate and gain a more conscious relationship to the “inner territory” from which we draw ideas; to confront issues that block the writing process and gain greater confidence in relation to revision as we pursue clarification of the work.

Faculty
Related Cross-Discipline Paths

Current graduate courses

Experiments in Language and Form

Fall

In this class, we focus on writing “experimental theatre”; that is, we experiment with theatrical forms that extend beyond traditional portrayals of time, three-dimensional space, language, character, and dramatic structure to discover the impact that different types of onstage presentations might have on audiences. We are not interested in imitating the style of “experimental” playwrights but, rather, using their texts as influence, stimulus, and encouragement as we attempt our own “experiments.” We will also style experimental texts to ascertain the types of environments—political, spiritual, mental, social—-that influenced such texts to be generated; that is, created. Our aim, first and foremost, is to investigate and explore ways to genuinely investigate and give theatrical expression to our own personal, political, and spiritual interior lives, values, observations, and beliefs. We will then strive to examine the most effective manner of communicating our theatrical experiments to an audience. Our experimental writing may include multimedia presentations as part of the scripted onstage play or performance.

Faculty

Medley Workshop: Developing the Dramatic Idea

Fall

The purpose of this workshop is to develop and complete a draft of a final project play of any length. Our focus is on originating character-driven stories that involve multiple events and/or multiple turning points and revelations, concluding with a major crisis and/or consequence for the characters. From the very beginning of the semester, writers create several short drafts of “mini plays,” as we practice the components that lead to effective playwriting. Writers allow various characters, topics, and concerns to be revealed to them as their in-process project(s) take shape. We will also study a selection of full-length plays and/or screenplays for inspiration, guidance, and analysis of various contemporary styles of drama. Styles may be varied; but as dramatists, we are all challenged by a form of storytelling that requires us to try and hold the public attention of an audience for a condensed length of “real” time in a public space.

Faculty
Related Cross-Discipline Paths

Writer’s Gym

Fall

“You can’t wait for inspiration; you have to go after it with a club.” —Jack London

Writer’s Gym is a yearlong writing workshop designed for writers of any genre and any level of experience, from beginner to advanced. Our focus is on writing exercises that develop characters and stories—whether for the stage, screen, or prose narration. In addition, we study theories about the nature of creativity. Our goals are as follows: to study writing methods that help to inspire, nurture, encourage, and sustain our urge/need to write; to learn how to transform personal experiences and observations into imaginative dramatic and/or prose fiction or poetic metaphor and imagery; to concentrate on building the inner lives of our characters through in-depth character work in order to create stronger stories; to explore—that is to say, investigate—and gain access to our spontaneous ideas; to articulate and gain a more conscious relationship to the “inner territory” from which we draw ideas; to confront issues that block the writing process and gain greater confidence in relation to revision as we pursue clarification of the work.

Faculty
Related Cross-Discipline Paths

Previous courses

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.

Faculty

Medley Playwriting Workshop: Developing the Dramatic Idea

Year

You have an idea or vision for a play that you would like to write. You have no particular idea for a play, yet you feel eager to explore and learn how to write in the dramatic form—which involves live characters interacting in three-dimensional space before a live audience. Either way, this course involves learning craft techniques, as well as advanced methods, for dramatizing your ideas from initial scenes to completed rough/first drafts. The course will involve in-class writing exercises and reading selected plays. We incorporate free writing and brainstorming techniques, acting improvisation, and audio and video recordings from your in-process work. In-progress drafts of your work will involve 1-, 5-, 10-, and 30-minute versions of your play as it comes into being.

Faculty

Writers Gym

Year

“You can’t wait for inspiration, you have to go after it with a club.”—Jack London

Writers Gym is a yearlong writing workshop designed for writers of any genre and for any level of experience from beginner to advanced. Our focus is on writing exercises that develop characters and stories, whether for the stage, screen, or prose narration. In addition, we study theories about the nature of creativity. Our goals are as follows: to study writing methods that help to inspire, nurture, encourage, and sustain our urge/need to write; to learn how to transform personal experiences and observations into imaginative dramatic and/or prose fiction or poetic metaphor and imagery; to concentrate on building the inner lives of our characters through in-depth character work in order to create stronger stories; to explore—that is to say, investigate—and gain access to our spontaneous ideas; to articulate and gain a more conscious relationship to the “inner territory” from which we draw ideas; to confront issues that block the writing process; and to gain greater confidence in relation to revision as we pursue clarification of the work.

Faculty