UNIVERSITY COURSES

 

FALL 2021

Playwriting (PWC 300)
Instructor: Sheri Wilner
4 credits

FROM THE INSTRUCTOR

This playwriting workshop is designed to teach you the fundamentals upon which all dramatic writing is based. Although our focus and intent will be on writing plays, the building blocks you’ll learn in this class are the same ones you’ll use if your passion is writing for television, film, video games or whatever new ways we’ll tell stories in the future. Each week we’ll examine such crucial dramatic elements as character, objective, action, conflict, climax, dialogue, and theme in depth; through a brief lecture; by reading and viewing plays, and by doing writing exercises that help you understand and practice a particular skill. But the best way to learn is to write a play—especially one in which you let yourself make mistakes, take risks, try bold experiments and learn there’s no such thing as a bad play when you have an earnest intention to tell a meaningful story. You’ll work on two different scripts—a ten-minute play and a one-act (30-45 pages)—and by the end of the course have a clear understanding of the most essential elements of dramatic writing. You’ll also have a chance to work with actors, who will join us twice a semester to perform excerpts of your work. All along the way, we’ll make sure to remember that what we’re writing is called a play. And that is what we’ll try to do as we work and learn. Play. Let’s not try to be perfect or brilliant, let’s just try to tell the stories that won’t get told unless we tell them.

 

Writing for Television (PWC 320)
Instructor: James Anthony Tyler
4 credits 

FROM THE INSTRUCTOR

This course will introduce television series structure and how to keep stakes high in your pilot script so you can keep an audience glued to the screen. Through in-class exercises, participants will experiment with developing complex and active characters that both push the story forward and speak in dialogue that is rich and contains subtext. We will analyze accomplished shows, and then each student will write original scenes for in-class workshops and discussions. Students will also develop an original series idea and create a pitch document that includes an outline/beat sheet, character descriptions, and themes to be tackled in the show before they start work on their own pilot script. Let's get started on creating the next Mad Men, Queen Sugar, The Sopranos, This Is Us, or The Wire

 

SPRING 2022

Playwriting: Exploring the Writer’s Theatrical Voice (PWC 300)
Instructor: Raquel Almazan
4 credits

FROM THE INSTRUCTOR

In this course, the writer will develop a technique that is individual, yet grounded in fundamental dramatic writing skills. Writers will write weekly scenes and journal entries and be guided through exercises to develop facility with storytelling, plotting, stage action, dialogue, and thematic unity. They will read select plays by contemporary playwrights of color as inspiration and as a catalyst for their work. The class will analyze these plays to identify a variety of skills, themes, and concepts within four categories: Language as Identity, Intersection of Arts and Activism: The Playwright as Activist, Form, and Aesthetics, and Gender Narratives. Writers will utilize key elements of dramatic writing (time, place, action, voice) in short exercises and scenes, and writers’ work will be read and discussed at each class session. The heart of this course is about providing a collaborative space where the writer is liberated to find, explore, and expand their theatrical voice to create a series of short works or a full-length play.

 

Themes in Playwriting: Human Rights and Social Justice (PWC 310)
Instructor: Catherine Filloux
4 credits

FROM THE INSTRUCTOR

Are you passionate about making change? In a climate where human rights and social justice are obscured by “fake news,” we will explore writing plays that expose truths. This class will inspire you to focus on diverse perspectives, tell a story from a unique angle, and feature communities not often heard from. You will write about not just what you know, but what you care deeply about. In this course, you will create a short play about human rights or social justice based on an article and photograph. You will examine research and oral histories. And you will create a communal workshop atmosphere with other writers. In a collaborative approach to problem-solving, we will discuss each other's work for the rewriting process, and writers will receive ongoing individual mentorship. Playwright and novelist Kia Corthron will join the class as a guest speaker and model for social justice playwriting.

SUMMER 2022

Writing for Television: Writing the Television Pilot (PWC 320)
Instructor: Christina Ham
4 credits

FROM THE INSTRUCTOR

Do you love watching television and have ever wondered how the creators wrote their pilot for that hit t.v. show you love to watch? Or, are you a writer in a different medium and have always wanted to try your hand at writing for television? Or, perhaps you are already familiar with the medium and would simply like the accountability and deadlines to write your next pilot? Today, there are over 500 broadcast and streaming shows made for television for the average American who watches close to 6 hours of television a day. This is an industry that continues to need new material. This 4-week intensive course will provide a primer for understanding the inner workings of a writer’s room and generating content within it. This course will be modeled on a professional writer’s room and as such all students will be required to actively participate. Students will be expected to participate in the development and breaking of story while learning to pitch ideas, create outlines, and reading and providing feedback on your colleagues’ work. Each of these steps will be instrumental in aiding you with creating your own pilotmost important if you are interested in future staffing opportunities and/or development.

 

 

PAST COURSES

SPRING 2021

Themes in Playwriting: Excavating Your "Stuff" (PWC 310) 
Instructor: Tori Sampson
4 credits

FROM THE INSTRUCTOR

This class is about discovering and writing your “stuff.” To be a playwright you must take the time to discover your voice and that’s what we will be excavating in this class. Your voice is you and you are your stuff. Your stuff…well, your stuff is what’s going to make your plays original and truthful. 

Let’s dig into some great examples of playwrights who wholeheartedly offer pieces of themselves and by doing so help to unlock truths within audiences. Then, let’s play! And write! And write and play until you are writing a play only you can pen. 

You will read, write, share, listen, and ask questions of yourself and fellow playwrights. You will draw pictures and illustrate memories. You will learn that playwright is often misspelled h-o-n-e-s-t-y. Catharsis comes in multiple structures. It is not reserved for spectators alone. This class is about you: the playwright. Your stuff is waiting on you to boldly and beautifully release it to the world. C’mon...your voice is waiting…you know you want to. 

 

 

FALL 2020

Playwriting (PWC 300)
Instructor: Philip Dawkins
4 credits

FROM THE INSTRUCTOR

The course's online format offers a distinct opportunity to explore what it means to be creators of live, in-person content when the definitions of "in-person" are changing every day. Through the study of various approaches to playwriting, including mold-breaking visionary responses to the current moment, Playwriting (PWC 300) will provide a generative and collaborative space not only to learn the basics of the form but to challenge and reshape them to meet the future.