Playwriting Workshop: Visual Metaphor - Creating a Magical Object
with Sherry Kramer
There is a great difference between a prop and an object on stage that is built or filled with the dramatic forces of a play. Such objects become metaphors, they become fresh comprehensions of the world. In the theatre, we believe in magic. Our gaze is focused on ordinary objects...a glass figurine, a pair of shoes, a wedding dress...and then our attention is shaped, and charged, and we watch the everyday grow in meaning and power. Many of our greatest plays, written by our most poetic playwrights, contain a visual metaphor, an object with metaphorical weight that we can see on stage, not just in our mind's eye.
How do we make the ordinary into the extraordinary? How do we create something that can carry meaning across the stage, into the audience and then out of the theatre, all the way home, and into the lives of these strangers who come to sit together in the dark? How do we generate a magical object on stage?
In the workshop we will explore the essence of a magical object on stage and discuss the steps for making a magical object. During the first session, we'll do some short writing exercises in class, discuss visual metaphor, visual gesture, creating magical objects and magical objects in your own life. Playwrights will go home and write a 10-minute play with a magical object to share and discuss in class the next day.
You will leave the class with a more complete understanding of how to create a play with strong visual metaphors, as well as a brand new 10-minute play with feedback for revision.
The workshop will use The Piano Lesson by August Wilson and Buried Child by Sam Shepard as templates for understanding how magical objects work, and you will get more from the workshop if you have read them. Both of these plays are available at the Philadelphia library, in bookstores and on Amazon.com.
Perfect for beginning, intermediate, and advanced artists of all stripes.
Materials: Everyone should bring something to write with and on to all sessions. (Please charge your electronics in-advance as there are limited plugs in the classrooms.) Also bring copies of The Piano Lesson and Buried Child. (Make sure to have read both plays before the first day of the workshop.)
WHEN: Saturday, January 31, 1-5pm and Sunday February 1, 1-5pm
WHERE: University of the Arts, Terra Building (Broad Street, between Walnut and Locust)
BIO: Sherry Kramer's plays have been produced in theaters across the country and abroad. She is a recipient of N E A, New York Foundation for the Arts and McKnight Fellowships, the Weissberger Playwriting Award and a New York Drama League Award (What A Man Weighs), the LA Women in Theater New Play Award (The Wall of Water), The Jane Chambers Playwriting Award (David's RedHaired Death). She is a graduate of both the Iowa Writers' Workshop and the Iowa Playwrights Workshop, and was former head of the Iowa Playwrights Workshop. She was the first national member of New Dramatists, teaches regularly at the Michener Center for Writers, UT, Austin, and is on the permanent faculty at Bennington College. SherryKramer.net
Questions? Email our Director of Educational Programs at
In very extreme circumstances, we may need to cancel a class for reasons beyond our control and will offer full refunds.