Online Workshop: Poking the Canon

Emilio Williams
Tuesdays, Feb 22nd, Mar 1st, 8th, 15th, 22nd, and 29th @ 7:00pm - 8:30pm CT
Online via Zoom
$150 for Members, $175 for Non-Members

Class Modality: Synchronous (Live via Zoom)

Class Type: Playwriting Craft          

Class Level: All Experience Levels Welcome

Class Dates: Tuesdays, Feb 22nd, Mar 1st, 8th, 15th, 22nd, 29th @ 7:00pm - 8:30pm CT

(5pm PT, 6pm MT, 8pm ET)

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

Structure: Presentational with discussion, writing exercises, homework assignments, and readings.

Questions: Email Alayna at

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

"Sweet, crazy conversations full of half sentences, daydreams and misunderstandings more thrilling than understanding could ever be." 

        —Toni Morrison


How can we adapt and subvert traditional plots and story-telling conventions to refresh the classics in a way that makes them relevant to our present day? In this generative workshop, award-winning playwright Emilio Williams will share best practices on ways to honor and question well-known stories and forms. From a content perspective, we will look at how other dramatists have probed the traditional narratives from a class, race, and gender perspective. We will also look at classic story-telling structures and how we can play with them to generate alternative and unexpected theatrical experiences.

This is the class for you if you:

  • Are interested in adapting or reinventing a classic.
  • Are interested in how writing from theater includes but goes beyond dialogue and stage directions. 

What to expect:

  • Learn best practices from theater artists who have adapted classics in unexpected ways.
  • Practice how to research and prepare to work on an adaptation

Important Things to Note:

  • This class will be using Google Classroom. Therefore, you must have or create a Gmail account to fully participate in the class.
  • Payment plans are available as needed. Please contact Membership Programs Associate, Alayna Jacqueline Barnes, to discuss payment options.

To learn more about synchronous and asynchronous classes click here.


This subject is important because we tend to either idealize or reject the classics, instead we propose a form of looking at the classics where we can take what we want and discard what we don't.

This is an opportunity for you to consider how the theatrical canon is a living thing not a setlist of dusty old plays, but something alive that can feed your learning and creative practice. All of us, as theater artists need to develop our own personal canon. Understanding other people's canons is not an ending in itself but a first step in building your own canon.


Emilio Williams is a bilingual (Spanish/English) award-winning writer and educator. His critically acclaimed plays have been produced in Argentina, Estonia, France, Mexico, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States, including New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Washington DC. Emilio has lectured around the world, and taught at several U.S. universities, including DePaul University, Columbia College Chicago, The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and Georgia State University.  He holds a BA in Film and Video and an MFA in Writing. He is a resident playwright at Chicago Dramatists where he is also a faculty member.

 Sign Up Below! 

Questions? Email Membership Programs Associate, Alayna Jacqueline Barnes, at