Course Description

"Theatre is the place which best allows me to figure out how the world works."
–Suzan-Lori Parks, "Possession"

"Jesus. Right from the jump, ask yourself 'Why does this thing I'm writing have to be a play?' The words 'why', 'have', and 'play' are key."
– Suzan-Lori Parks, "Elements of Style"

This conference is an exploration of the craft and form of playwriting. In it, we will read a selection of plays from contemporary playwrights, work regularly on writing exercises, and delve into the questions "what is a play" and "why playwriting?" Our primary focus is on developing the craft of writing plays. We will focus on process in lieu of product, and hold two in-process public showcases during the term.

Throughout, we will focus on many technical and thematic aspects of writing for the theatre. We will discuss character, plot, producing new work, devising, and more. Each week is punctuated by in-class readings where several of you will have the opportunity to hear your work aloud. The rest of you will trade written work with your classmates and practice the art of criticism. Towards the end of the semester, we will touch on practical issues concerning playwrights, as well as on the partner art of dramaturgy.

Our overarching goal is to practice writing and rewriting. We will approach playwriting from both theoretical perspectives and from those of practice. As playwrights, we will develop craft, get in touch with passion, develop our voices as skilled and thoughtful critics, and explore the art of writing for the theatre.