Free Online Seminar: Creating Compelling Characters

Taught by Affliated Writer Sheri Wilner
Tuesday, April 21, 6:00pm - 8:00pm CST
Online via Zoom

In response to the global COVID-19 pandemic, the Playwrights’ Center is taking action to connect people with their communities and create income streams for theater artists who are out of work. Any and all are welcome to join!

Class Type: The Play Class Level: All Experience Levels Welcome

When: Tuesday, April 21, 6:00pm - 8:00pm CDT (4pm PDT, 5pm MDT, 7pm EDT)

Where: Online via Zoom, check out this quick video on the process.

Structure: Lecture w/light participation and exercises 

Participants must register to join this class, Sign Up at the bottom of the page

“Instead, [Tennessee Williams] comes in from underneath, letting everything bubble to the top. I guess he wrote the way he experienced life.” — Olympia Dukakis on the characters of Tennessee Williams

Have your plays ever received one or more of these critiques: “We don’t know enough about your main character,” “Your protagonist is too passive, what does she want?” “All that backstory information is important but is too expositional” or “some of your characters are kind of generic”? If so, this seminar with Sheri Wilner is designed to help you avert such criticism by offering you several tools and techniques for gaining a very thorough and intimate understanding of your characters’ needs, objectives, psychology, and backstories. Participants can expect to be introduced to such techniques, as well as to be offered several writing exercises for later use all designed to yield essential information about our characters while also triggering creativity and inspiring new ideas for our scripts. We’ll discuss the value of creating a highly detailed and comprehensive knowledge of our characters, and then how to transmit that knowledge to audiences through dramatic action and authentic, non-expositional dialogue.  We’ll also explore what kinds of characters our subconscious most wants us to create and how to tell our personal stories by telling someone else’s.  Whether it be Stella DuBois, Walter Lee or Alexander Hamilton, audiences hold on to and remember characters for far longer than they remember their plots, and whether or not our plays touch and move our audiences depends almost exclusively on whether or not they relate to, feel for or see themselves in our characters. Because of this, the goal and focus of the class will be learning to we can connect with each other through the creation of our characters.

Important Things to Note:

  • This class is offered free of charge
  • This class will be offered online only

PostScript: Sheri Wilner, a two-time Jerome Fellow, and past Bush Artist Fellow, is the author of  Bake Off, Relative Strangers, Father JoyKingdom City, and numerous other plays which have been presented at such theatres as the La Jolla Playhouse, The Old Globe, Guthrie Theater, Actors Theatre of Louisville, and the O’Neill Playwrights’ Conference. Also an established playwriting teacher, she is currently an Adjunct Professor for NYU’s Dramatic Writing program and the for Dramatists Guild Institute

 Sign Up Below! 

Questions? Email Education Coordinator, H. Adam Harris, at

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