21M.785 | Spring 2012 | Undergraduate
Playwrights' Workshop


Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 1 session / week, 3 hours / session


It is recommended that students take the course 21M.604 Playwriting I or receive the permission of the instructor.

Course Requirements

Requirements for this course consist of attendance at weekly class meetings, seeing at least two professional theatrical productions during the term and reading many plays, keeping a playwright’s journal, participation in Playwrights in Performance, and a term project of sustained dramatic writing.

Weekly Meetings

Weekly class meetings will consist of the reading and discussion of material supplied by the members of the workshop. You can bring in material at any stage of development—fragments, scenes, first drafts. The point is to use the workshop sessions as a reality check and to use responses to deepen and expand your thinking about your project and suggest rewrite possibilities. Be sure to have enough copies for every member of the workshop—and me. Every member of the class will participate in the oral reading of your work.

Readings and Theatrical Performances

Each member of the course will be required to see at least two professional theatrical productions during the term and to read at least one play a week. Be ready to discuss the play you have read or seen during each workshop session. It will be important that you speak about the plays you have read articulately for other members of the workshop who have not read them, and with a clear idea that you want to convey about them. The plays will be of your own choosing.

Final Sustained Piece

This will usually be a full one-act play or the first act of a longer piece. Normally, the final project will necessitate at least one rewrite. Your first draft should be completed on or about mid-term. This will give us time to mount a workshop production if the material is ready for that stage of the process, as well as allow time for further rewrites as you work with a director and actors. This is not a fixed deadline—some people write more slowly than others. It’s only a deadline if you want your work to be considered for Playwrights in Performance.

The Journal

Members of the workshop will keep a Playwright’s Journal. This can include notes to yourself (in any form) about the piece you working on, the plays you have seen or read, the meaning of the cosmos or how you feel about your partner leaving you (or getting together with you). You may paste certain pages together when you submit it at the end of the term.


Members of the workshop will ordinarily have an average of three private conferences with me over the course of the term. You can schedule more if you find them helpful, less if you find them a pain.

Playwrights in Performance

Playwrights in Performance consists of three or four one-acts produced at the end of the term. It is designed as a lab to give all the participants in this course the experience of the process of play development beyond the reading stage through the rehearsal process and performance. Everyone in the Playwrights Workshop is required to participate in the production in some capacity, whether or not your play is being done. It is considered your lab requirement for the course.


The final grade will be based on the development of dramatic writing skills throughout the term, attendance, level of participation in Playwrights in Performance and class discussion.

Course Info
As Taught In
Spring 2012
Learning Resource Types
group_work Projects with Examples