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    Classes

    The Art of Musical Collaboration with Michael Hollinger

    640 433 Play Penn

    The process of creating a musical is all about forging strong creative partnerships.

    Led by PlayPenn regular and The Foundry co-founder Michael Hollinger—who has authored more than two dozen plays, including comedies, dramas, musicals, and plays for children—the course will bring playwrights, lyricists, composers, and book writers together in a “speed-dating”-style introduction to musical theater collaboration. Through written exercises and open conversation, the class will delve into how music and text can work together to tell complex and theatrically rigorous stories.

    October 14 and 18: 6-9pm, October 19 and 20: 2-5pm

    TBD in Center City, Philadelphia

    Michael Hollinger is a playwright, librettist, lyricist and composer whose works have enjoyed numerous productions around the country, in New York City and abroad. Plays premiered at Philadelphia’s Arden Theatre Company include the recent musical TouchTones (co-authored with Robert Maggio) and the plays Opus, Red Herring, Incorruptible, Ghost-Writer, Under the Skin and others. Work premiered elsewhere includes the musical A Wonderful Noise (co-authored with Vance Lehmkuhl) at Colorado’s Creede Repertory Theatre, Hope and Gravity at Pittsburgh’s City Theatre, a new translation of Cyrano (co-adapted with Aaron Posner) at the Folger Theatre in Washington, D.C., and Sing the Body Electric at Philadelphia’s Theatre Exile. Awards include the Frederick Loewe Award for musical theatre, a Steinberg New Play Citation from the American Theatre Critics Association, a Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award, a Mid-Atlantic Emmy, an Edgerton Foundation New American Plays Award, four Barrymore Awards (including the F. Otto Haas Award for an Emerging Theatre Artist), nominations for Lucille Lortel and John Gassner awards, and fellowships from the Independence Foundation, Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation and Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. Michael holds degrees from Oberlin Conservatory and Villanova University, where he is currently Professor of Theatre and Studio Art, as well as Artistic Director of Villanova Theatre. He is a proud alumnus of New Dramatists and the PlayPenn new play conference.

    $250

    Tuition

    Register Here

    Click the link below to visit our Reservation Page, where you can view all classes and register for this course. For questions or to inquire about payment plans, please email classes@playpenn.org.

    When you register for a PlayPenn class before September 20, 2019 you’ll be invited to submit your unproduced, full-length play for consideration for a professional staged reading. PlayPenn will produce one student’s play as a reading with a professional director, professional actors and a PlayPenn dramaturg in Philadelphia in early 2020. Only plays that have not had a professional production or reading will be considered. PlayPenn will cover the cost of the reading, but the student is responsible for their own housing and transportation. If you register for a class by the deadline, additional details will be emailed to you along with a submission form.

    “If you like expanding theatre’s depth and breadth, you’ll love PlayPenn, a unique and exciting Philadelphia program to develop plays, playgoers, and playwrights, appealing to today’s diverse audiences and helping create tomorrow’s artistic communities.”

    -Tasha Maria T., 2019 student

    “If you are thinking about taking a class from PlayPenn, do it.”

    -Stacey, 2018 Student
    John Yearley

    Playwriting II with John Yearley

    640 433 Play Penn

    Playwriting II is designed to take the art of playwriting from something you've tried to something you do.

    You’ve taken a class. You’ve written scenes. Maybe you’ve even written a play. Now you want to delve more deeply into the art of playwriting. Playwriting II is designed to take the art of playwriting from something you’ve tried to something you do. We will use a series of prompts, assignments, and in-class exercises to further develop your writing. We will study modern masterpieces like Jez Butterworth’s The Ferryman, Naomi Wallace’s One Flea Spare, and Sarah Ruhl’s The Clean House to deepen your understanding of what makes great plays great. Finally, we will explore what steps we can take to try and make our own work great.

    Thursday, October 10, 17, 24; Wednesday, October 30; Thursday, November 7, 14, 21: 6-9pm

    Independence Learning Lab at Asian Arts Initiative, 1219 Vine Street

    All students must have taken a PlayPenn class or have previous playwriting experience.

    John Yearley is the author of The Unrepeatable Moment (“Thought provoking…exhilarating…painfully hilarious” – New York Times, “Yearley is a master” – Huffington Post), Leap (Mickey Kaplan New American Play Prize), Ephemera (John Gassner Award), Another Girl (PlayPenn), and Bruno Hauptmann Kissed My Forehead (Abingdon Theatre). His latest play, Eight Minutes, Twenty Seconds, was workshopped by LABryinth Theatre Company and performed at Temple University. Work for young audiences include The Last Wish (Macy’s New Play Prize for Young Audiences) and an adaptation of Sophocles’ Antigone. Short plays All in Little Pieces and A Low-Lying Fog are available through Samuel French. He currently writes for the animated TV show Treasure Trekkers. Previous TV/film work include the PBS Kids show Arthur, and a stint as a “script doctor” for New Line Cinema. He teaches playwriting and TV writing at Temple University, Drexel University, and the Barrow Group in NYC. Member of the Dramatists Guild, Writers Guild, and twice a MacDowell Fellow.

    $450

    Tuition

    Register Here

    Click the link below to visit our Reservation Page, where you can view all classes and register for this course. For questions or to inquire about payment plans, please email classes@playpenn.org.

    When you register for a PlayPenn class before September 20, 2019 you’ll be invited to submit your unproduced, full-length play for consideration for a professional staged reading. PlayPenn will produce one student’s play as a reading with a professional director, professional actors and a PlayPenn dramaturg in Philadelphia in early 2020. Only plays that have not had a professional production or reading will be considered. PlayPenn will cover the cost of the reading, but the student is responsible for their own housing and transportation. If you register for a class by the deadline, additional details will be emailed to you along with a submission form.

    “PlayPenn is THE place in Philadelphia to develop and hone your craft. It’s the most worthwhile investment I ever made in my writing.”

    -2019 Student

    “If you are thinking about taking a class from PlayPenn, do it.”

    -Stacey, 2018 Student
    1024 690 Play Penn

    One day workshops, master classes, and more to be announced soon!

    Check back at https://www.playpenn.org/classes/

    “PlayPenn instructors genuinely care about helping students improve their writing, and have the practical experience to back up what they teach.”

    -Mark C., 2018 Student

    “I was nervous, but excited before I took this class. And I was very excited when it was finished. I can’t wait to write!”

    -Michelle P., 2018 Student

    Playwriting for Playgoers with John Yearley

    640 433 Play Penn

    After taking this class you will never look at a play the same way again.

    Any theatregoer can tell you about a play they saw that they’ll never forget. But how much do even lifelong theatregoers know about the art of playwriting itself? Playwriting for Playgoers will mix the educational and the experiential so that students will really understand the practice and experience of playwriting. First, we will read and discuss a great play, breaking down how and why it works so well. Then we will do exercises to explore how you write for plays, how you write in the voice of other characters and create conflicts that reveal their deepest truths.

    July 10 and July 16, 6:30 – 9:30pm

    Bluver Theatre at the Drake, 302 S. Hicks Street

    Please read The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams in advance of class.

    John Yearley is the author of The Unrepeatable Moment (“Thought provoking…exhilarating…painfully hilarious” – New York Times, “Yearley is a master” – Huffington Post), Leap (Mickey Kaplan New American Play Prize), Ephemera (John Gassner Award), Another Girl (PlayPenn), and Bruno Hauptmann Kissed My Forehead (Abingdon Theatre). His latest play, Eight Minutes, Twenty Seconds, was workshopped by LABryinth Theatre Company and performed at Temple University. Work for young audiences include The Last Wish (Macy’s New Play Prize for Young Audiences) and an adaptation of Sophocles’ Antigone. Short plays All in Little Pieces and A Low-Lying Fog are available through Samuel French. He currently writes for the animated TV show Treasure Trekkers. Previous TV/film work include the PBS Kids show Arthur, and a stint as a “script doctor” for New Line Cinema. He teaches playwriting and TV writing at Temple University, Drexel University, and the Barrow Group in NYC. Member of the Dramatists Guild, Writers Guild, and twice a MacDowell Fellow.

    $125

    Tuition

    Register Here

    Click the link below to visit our Reservation Page, where you can view all classes and register for this course. For questions or to inquire about payment plans, please email classes@playpenn.org.

    “PlayPenn instructors genuinely care about helping students improve their writing, and have the practical experience to back up what they teach.”

    -Mark C., 2018 Student

    “I was nervous, but excited before I took this class. And I was very excited when it was finished. I can’t wait to write!”

    -Michelle P., 2018 Student

    21-Hour Summer Playtime Intensive with L M Feldman

    640 433 Play Penn

    Write, play, and discover with PlayPenn instructor L M Feldman in this immersive summer intensive.

    We’ll spend each session in the spark and buzz that comes from writing a lot in a short period of time among a community of other writers who are doing it with you. Each time we meet, we’ll have a prompt or two to run with, a hefty chunk of time to write, and then time at the end for half of the class to share their writing aloud and hear immediate responses on what’s landing, what’s exciting, what we’re hungry for more of. Prompts will be open-ended enough to use however is most useful to you — so feel free to come with a play in mind that you’ve been meaning to write, a half-finished play you’re craving to finish drafting, or utterly fresh and open to just saying a radical yes to whatever ideas come up from each prompt, and then writing to see where they take you!

    July 29, July 31, August 2, August 5: 5:30pm-9:30pm

    August 12: 5:30pm-10:30pm

    Rehearsal Room at the Drake Theatre 

    L M Feldman is a queer, feminist playwright (and circus artist) who pens plays that are wildly theatrical but deeply intimate. Formally ambitious plays that move, take up space. Plays that are questing, wrestling, asking. Plays without answers. Plays about women and queers, plays about outsiders and searchers. Plays grappling with voice and agency, opportunity and access, history and its wake. Plays about the human connection. Plays that seek to be a greater, communal, rare theatrical event in which something transcendent transpires – for those both onstage & off. Her plays include THRIVE, OR WHAT YOU WILL (Page 73 Residency, New Georges Audrey Residency); ANOTHER KIND OF SILENCE (Magic Theatre Virgin Play Festival, PlayPenn Conference, Playwrights Realm Fellowship, FEWW Prize Honorable Mention); AMANUENSIS (Georgetown University); A PEOPLE (Orbiter 3, Jewish Plays Project); THE EGG-LAYERS (Jane Chambers Honorable Mention, New Georges/Barnard College commission); GRACE, OR THE ART OF CLIMBING (Denver Center, Art House Productions, Nice People Theatre, ATCA/Steinberg New Play Award Nomination, Barrymore Nomination); ensemble-devised works, including GUMSHOE (New Paradise Labs + Free Library of Philadelphia + Rosenbach Museum), WAR OF THE WORLDS: PHILADELPHIA (Swim Pony + Drexel University), AND IF YOU LOSE YOUR WAY, OR A FOOD ODYSSEY (The Invisible Dog, New York Innovative Theatre Award Nomination), and others; and a baker’s dozen of short plays. A graduate of the Yale School of Drama, L is also a New Georges Affiliated Artist, a devised-work collaborator, a teacher of playwriting (Bryn Mawr College, Lantern Theatre/Jefferson Medical School, PlayPenn), and a freelance dramaturg.

    $450

    Tuition

    Register Here

    Click the link below to visit our Reservation Page, where you can view all classes and register for this course. For questions or to inquire about payment plans, please email classes@playpenn.org.

    “PlayPenn instructors genuinely care about helping students improve their writing, and have the practical experience to back up what they teach.”

    -Mark C., 2018 Student

    “I was nervous, but excited before I took this class. And I was very excited when it was finished. I can’t wait to write!”

    -Michelle P., 2018 Student

    Creating Character with Sheri Wilner

    640 433 Play Penn

    Whether you’re revising a play, or beginning a new one, or have a character but no story, the course’s exercises and discussions will apply to you.

    Have your plays ever received one or more of these critiques: “I want to know more about your main character; ” “I don’t understand your protagonist’s objective;” “She’s so passive, what does she want?” or “We need more backstory”? If so, this weekend-long intensive is designed to help you avert such criticism by creating lucid yet complicated three-dimensional characters. Together we’ll work on multiple in-class and at-home writing exercises that help us develop a deep understanding of our character’s wants and needs, psychology and back stories and then how to transmit that understanding to audiences through action and dialogue rather than exposition. Wilner’s class will deepen your knowledge of your current characters and provide tools to create vivid, distinct, three-dimensional characters in your future work.

    Saturday and Sunday, August 10 and 11, 1-5pm

    Young Playwrights Independence Foundation Learning Lab (1219 Vine Street, 2nd Floor: there are stairs and an elevator from the lobby)

    Students will need to come to class having read a play so that we can share a common vocabulary, and to do one short writing exercise in advance. There may be homework overnight.

    Sheri Wilner’s plays include Kingdom City, Bake Off, Father Joy, Relative Strangers, Labor Day, Joan of Arkansas, The End, A Tall Order, Equilibrium, Little Death of a Salesman, and Hunger, and have been performed at such major theatres as the La Jolla Playhouse, Old Globe, Guthrie Theater, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Williamstown Theatre Festival, the O’Neill Playwrights’ Conference, City Theatre (Miami), Naked Angels, Primary Stages, New Georges, Contemporary American Theatre Festival and Old Vic/New Voices in London. Her work has been published in over a dozen anthologies and have received over four hundred productions across the United States as well as in Australia, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Japan, United Kingdom and India. Also an established playwriting teacher, Sheri is currently on the faculty of New York University, the Dramatists Guild Institute and is the Master Playwright for the Miami Dade Department of Cultural 2017-19 Playwrights Development Program.

    $170

    Tuition

    Register Here

    Click the link below to visit our Reservation Page, where you can view all classes and register for this course. For questions or to inquire about payment plans, please email classes@playpenn.org.

    “PlayPenn instructors genuinely care about helping students improve their writing, and have the practical experience to back up what they teach.”

    -Mark C., 2018 Student

    “I was nervous, but excited before I took this class. And I was very excited when it was finished. I can’t wait to write!”

    -Michelle P., 2018 Student

    An Evening with Ayad Akhtar and J.T. Rogers: Politcal Theater in the United States

    640 356 Play Penn

    Don't miss this exclusive opportunity to learn from these influential and legendary writers at PlayPenn.

    Internationally acclaimed playwrights Ayad Akhtar (Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award Nomination, Disgraced; The Who and the What, Junk)  and J.T. Rogers (The Overwhelming, Blood and Gifts; Tony Award, Oslo, PlayPenn Conference, 2015) have transformed the American theater scene with their searingly political works, which have been produced all over the world. In this one-night only session, Rogers and Akhtar will cover everything from the nitty-gritty of playwriting to broader questions about the American and world theatre.

    June 24, 2019; 7-10pm

    Bluver Theatre at the Drake, 302 S. Hicks Street

    Ayad Akhtar is the author of Junk (Lincoln Center, Broadway; 2018 Kennedy Prize for American Drama); Disgraced (Lincoln Center, Broadway; Pulitzer Prize for Drama, Tony nomination); The Who & The What (Lincoln Center); and The Invisible Hand (Obie Award, Outer Critics Circle John Gassner Award, Olivier and Evening Standard nominations). As a novelist, he is the author of American Dervish (Little, Brown & Co.) published in over 20 languages. Recipient of an Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the 2017 Steinberg Playwriting Award, 2017 Nestroy Award, as well as fellowships from the American Academy in Rome, MacDowell, the Sundance Institute, and Yaddo, where he serves as a Board Director. He is a Board Trustee at PEN/America and New York Theatre Workshop.

    J.T. Rogers’s plays include Oslo (Lincoln Center Theater, then Broadway; National Theatre, London, then West End); Blood and Gifts (Lincoln Center Theater; National Theatre); The Overwhelming (National Theatre, then UK tour with Out of Joint; Roundabout Theatre); White People (Off Broadway with Starry Night Productions); and Madagascar (Theatre 503, London; Melbourne Theatre Company). He is a three-time PlayPenn Conference writer, where he developed Oslo (PlayPenn, 2015), Blood and Gifts (PlayPenn, 2009), and The Overwhelming (PlayPenn, 2005). For Oslo he won the Tony, New York Critics, Outer Critics, Drama Desk, Drama League, Lortel, and Obie awards, and was nominated for the Olivier and Evening Standard Awards. As one of the playwrights for the Tricycle Theatre of London’s The Great Game: Afghanistan he was also nominated for an Olivier Award. His works have been staged throughout the United States and in Germany, Canada, Australia, South Korea, Japan, Israel, and Norway. Rogers’s essays have been published in The New York Times, The Guardian, and the New Statesman. He is a Guggenheim fellow and has received three NYFA fellowships in playwriting. Rogers is a member of the Dramatists Guild, where he is a founding board member of the Dramatists Legal Defense Fund. He is an alum of New Dramatists and holds an honorary doctorate from his alma mater, the University of North Carolina School of the Arts.

    Tuition: $50

    Student price: $30 (must present valid student ID at the event)

    Register Here

    Click the link below to visit our Reservation Page, where you can view all classes and register for this course. For questions or to inquire about payment plans, please email classes@playpenn.org.

    “PlayPenn instructors genuinely care about helping students improve their writing, and have the practical experience to back up what they teach.”

    -Mark C., 2018 Student

    “I was nervous, but excited before I took this class. And I was very excited when it was finished. I can’t wait to write!”

    -Michelle P., 2018 Student

    Diving into the PlayPenn Conference with Michele Volansky

    1024 681 Play Penn

    In celebration of PlayPenn's 15th Anniversary New Play Development Conference, join Associate Artistic Director and Conference Dramaturg Michele Volansky in an exploration of the six extraordinary plays in our 2019 roster.

    This course will meet to discuss each of the Conference plays during their second week of public readings, teasing out thematic links and talking through the Conference season as a whole. Students will also read the starting drafts of each script, examining how the projects grow and evolve over the course of the Conference.

    Class: Tuesday, 7/16: 7-8pm (online)

    Attend Reading: STRANGE MEN on 7/25 at 7pm

    Class: Thursday, 7/25, 9-10p

    Attend Reading: THE PIPER on 7/26 at 8pm

    Class: Saturday, 7/27: 12:30-1:30pm

    Attend Reading: INCENDIARY at 4pm and ARCHIPELAGO at 8pm on 7/27

    Class: Sunday, 7/28: 11:30a-1:30pm

    Attend Reading: CAVE CANEM at 2pm and WAYFINDING at 5pm on 7/28

    Class: Monday, 7/29: 6-8pm (online)

     

    A seat will be reserved for you at each of the Conference readings listed above.

    The Drake Theater, Center City Philadelphia (locations TBD) and online

    Each student will be required to read six scripts and attend the six Conference readings (final week) as part of the course, and will have a seat reserved as part of their registration.

    Michele Volansky is Chair and Associate Professor of Drama at Washington College (MD), from which she earned a B.A. in English. She has worked on nearly 200 new and established plays in her professional career, developing new works by such writers as Sam Shepard, Daniel Stern, Warren Leight, Jeffrey Hatcher, Bruce Graham, Tina Landau, Charles L. Mee and Bruce Norris, along with many others. Her work on Shepard’s rewrite of Buried Child (directed by Gary Sinise) and Dale Wasserman’s One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest (directed by Terry Kinney and starring Gary Sinise) earned her two Broadway credits and participation in the Tony Award for Best Revival of Cuckoo’s Nest. She has guest dramaturged at the Arden Theater Company, South Coast Rep, the Atlantic Theatre Company, Victory Gardens and Next Theatre, in addition to her staff time at Actors Theatre of Louisville (1992-95), Steppenwolf Theatre Company (1995-2000) and Philadelphia Theatre Company (2000-2004). Her own play Whispering City was produced as part of the Steppenwolf Arts Exchange Program in the Fall of 1999. Since its inception, Dr. Volansky has served as Conference Dramaturg and Associate Artist for the Philadelphia-based new play development conference PlayPenn. She has served as an artistic consultant for the TCG playwright residency program, a reader for the Eugene O’Neill Center’s National Playwrights Conference and the New York Shakespeare Festival/The Joseph Papp Public Theatre’s Emerging Voices Program, as well as a grants review panelist for Philadelphia-area arts organizations. She is the 1999 inaugural co-recipient of the Elliot Hayes Award for Dramaturgy and was the President of LMDA, the Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas (2002-2004). Volansky’s book on playwriting and collaboration with Bruce Graham entitled The Collaborative Playwright was published in March, 2007 by Heinemann Press. She holds an M.A. from Villanova University and a PhD from the University of Hull (England); her dissertation explores the politics and advocacy of the critics Kenneth Tynan and Frank Rich.

    $135

    Tuition

    Register Here

    Click the link below to visit our Reservation Page, where you can view all classes and register for this course. For questions or to inquire about payment plans, please email classes@playpenn.org.

    “PlayPenn instructors genuinely care about helping students improve their writing, and have the practical experience to back up what they teach.”

    -Mark C., 2018 Student

    “I was nervous, but excited before I took this class. And I was very excited when it was finished. I can’t wait to write!”

    -Michelle P., 2018 Student

    Stay Tuned for Winter/Spring Offerings

    640 433 Play Penn

    One day workshops, master classes, and more to be announced soon!

    Check back at https://www.playpenn.org/classes/

    “PlayPenn instructors genuinely care about helping students improve their writing, and have the practical experience to back up what they teach.”

    -Mark C., 2018 Student

    “I was nervous, but excited before I took this class. And I was very excited when it was finished. I can’t wait to write!”

    -Michelle P., 2018 Student

    Creating an Electrifying 10-Minute Play with Deborah Zoe Laufer

    640 493 Play Penn

    Designed for short-form pros and novices alike!

    Most successful ten-minute plays have all the elements of successful full-length plays – conflict, high stakes, suspense, complex characters with strong needs, a big unifying idea. And that all must take place within ten pages. In this class, we’ll examine the ten-minute play, and, through a series of exercises — some drawing from memory, some flights of fancy — we’ll write our own short plays! You’ll leave with two early drafts of 10-minute plays by the end of the weekend. We’ll also discuss where to send those plays once they’re polished, and what “polishing” entails. Deb will walk you through exercises to create new work and break out of your usual patterns.

    February 23 and 24: 1 – 5pm

    The Drake Downstairs Rehearsal Hall, 302 South Hicks Street, Philadelphia, PA

    Deborah Zoe Laufer’s plays have been produced at Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Cleveland Playhouse, Geva Theatre Center, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Portland Stage, and The Humana Festival. Informed Consent, was developed at PlayPenn in 2013. It was an Alfred P. Sloan/EST commission and appeared at The Duke Theatre in NYC in 2015 where it was a NYTimes Critic’s Pick. End Days won The ATCA Steinberg citation, and has received over 70 productions around the country, and in Germany, Russia and Australia. Other plays include Leveling Up, Out of Sterno, The Last Schwartz, Sirens, Meta, The Gulf of Westchester, Miniatures, Fortune, and Be Here Now. Deb is a recipient of the Helen Merrill Playwriting Award and the Lilly Award, a graduate of Juilliard, an alumna of the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop and a member of The Dramatists Guild. DEBORAHZOELAUFER.com

    $170

    Tuition

    Register Here

    Click the link below to visit our Reservation Page, where you can view all classes and register for this course. For questions or to inquire about payment plans, please email classes@playpenn.org.

    When you register for a PlayPenn class before January 15, 2018, you’ll be invited to submit your unproduced, full-length play for consideration for a professional staged reading. PlayPenn will produce one student’s play as a reading with a professional director, professional actors and a PlayPenn dramaturg in Philadelphia in the spring/summer of 2019. Only plays that have not had a professional production or reading will be considered. PlayPenn will cover the cost of the reading, but the student is responsible for their own housing and transportation. If you register for a class by the deadline, additional details will be emailed to you along with a submission form.

    “PlayPenn instructors genuinely care about helping students improve their writing, and have the practical experience to back up what they teach.”

    -Mark C., 2018 Student

    “I was nervous, but excited before I took this class. And I was very excited when it was finished. I can’t wait to write!”

    -Michelle P., 2018 Student