The deadline to apply for Spring 2018 is February 28, 2018.

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FOUNDATION COURSES | CORE WRITING WORKSHOPS | SPECIALTY WORKSHOPS & MASTER CLASSES

If you find a course you are interested in, stop by our applications page to be considered for admission

All courses and instructors are subject to change


FOUNDATION COURSES

NEW FOR SPRING 2018: Once you've been accepted as a student of the Dramatists Guild Institute using our general application, you will be able to automatically register for a slot in these courses.

Please note: each writer in the Institute will need to take at least one foundation course before advancing to the more accelerated writing workshops. These courses can be taken simultaneously, and in the same semester as your first writing workshop in the Institute.

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The Architecture of Plays: Part II
Political & Cultural Plays

New for Spring 2018

When does the personal become political? Through our writing, can we truly effect change, or are we simply preaching to the converted? How can we use our dramatic ideas to inspire larger, more impactful discussions in our communities about the social, cultural and political issues that shape our future? This course will examine what it means to turn the often covertly personal into the overtly political. You’ll read the works of those that have used their writing to sharpen the conversations between brothers and sisters, men and women, neighbors and community leaders, politicians and the populace. You’ll learn the true power of words and determine the weight of dramatic ideas through the variety of dramatic structures that playwrights use in their narrative storytelling that enliven the world of their stories. Using a completely different catalogue of plays from Architecture of Plays, Part 1, we’ll look at different styles of storytelling, genres, techniques and alternative approaches to writing dramatic texts that will be helpful with your own writing.

Instructor: Gary Garrison
Meeting time:  Tuesdays, 4:00pm - 6:00pm
Location: The Mary Rodgers Room, 1501 Broadway, 7th floor
Fee: $275 (DG members) $475 (non-members)
Duration: 10 weeks
Start Date: March 6, 2018
Limit: 25 Students


The Architecture of Musicals

It is often stated, (and part of musical theatre writer lore), that when the emotion of a particular moment for the character becomes so great that words alone cannot express what they are experiencing, their only choice is to sing, and when that’s not enough, to dance. Obviously, there is so much more to it than that, but for the creator of musicals, it’s a great place to start, “why sing, why dance, and why now?” What makes a musical a musical?

In 1942 there was a seismic shift in the American theatre. The musical Oklahoma opened on Broadway and a radical new form emerged, the completely integrated musical, where every element: music, dance, dialogue, were all working together toward telling a dramatic story in a seamless way. We will begin there, in the tradition of the “Golden Age” musicals, where an actual structure and formula took shape for how a musical should look, feel, and be constructed in order to achieve a successful and satisfying result.  Though the formula would morph, often being completely blown apart and reimagined, as it should be, there are still ingredients in that formula that should be respected as tools for the emerging writer of musical theatre, and they surprisingly continue to pop up today. In this course, we will develop our own toolbox for creating musicals – a toolbox that we will expand and shape over 10 weeks and through the examination of 12 musicals. From Gypsy to Jelly’s Last Jam from Assassins to Dear Evan Hansen, what do these musicals have in common, and yet, how do they successfully offer new and thrilling methods for moving the art form forward through compelling means of storytelling?  

This course will require analyzing book and lyric, as well as understanding the importance of stage direction as a tool for conveying the other integrated elements of a musical such as dance and movement. We will gain an understanding of song form, rhyme scheme, and scansion in lyric writing, as it all relates to the tone of the book and the forward movement of the story. We will develop a vocabulary for understanding musical structure, be able to recognize form, genre and style, allowing us to draw from these tools and discover new ways of approaching our own musical storytelling, because in the end, what makes for a great musical? Abundant creatively, a great story, good craft, and a lot of heart.

Instructors: John Dietrich
Meeting time: Mondays, 6:00pm - 8:00pm
Location: The Rodgers Room, 1501 Broadway, 7th floor
Fee: $275 (DG members) $475 (non-members)
Duration: 10 weeks
Start Date: March 5, 2018
Limit: 25 Students


The Artist as CEO

New for Spring 2018: ONLINE

Did you think your job was done when you finished writing your play or musical?  Think again.  The Artist as CEO will open your eyes to tools essential for taking control of your career, from the smallest details of your development as a writer, to the bigger business and legal principles every writer should be aware of. 

The first six weeks of the course will be devoted to topics about career development tips (with topics including proper formatting of your play, drafting cover letters/bios/resumes/synopses, how to use social media, and more) and the next six weeks will cover business and legal standards and principles relevant to the theater industry (copyright, contract basics, authorial compensation, and more).  When you are finished with “The Artist as CEO,” you will have as much confidence in your understanding of the nuts and bolts of being a writer as you already do in your talent.

March 7 - April 11: career development
April 18 - May 23: business standards
When you register for The Artist as CEO, you are automatically enrolled in all twelve weeks.

Instructors: Tari Stratton, Ralph Sevush, Roland Tec, special guests
Meeting time: Wednesdays, 8:00pm - 9:30pm EST
Location: Online
Fee: $275 (DG members) $475 (non-members)
Duration: 12 weeks
Start Date: March 7, 2018
Limit: 25 Students

Note: Online courses will require students to participate with a camera and microphone enabled computer.


Talking Music: Basic Vocabulary Every Playwright Needs and Every Composer Understands

New for Spring 2018

When you're writing a new musical, you want to do everything within your power to transport your audience, to take them on a unique journey. Music's natural ability to speak to us at our core makes it possibly the most powerful tool you have in your storytelling arsenal, and at times, the most mysterious. Roland's class will explore what it is in the music that might be making you feel something so that when you collaborate with a composer you'll be better equipped to understand specific musical choices and their impact on your characters and their journey. 

By the end of this 10-week course, you'll be have all the vocabulary needed to express yourself clearly and with specificity about what's working and what's not in the music being married to your words.

Instructor: Roland Tec
Meeting time: Wednesdays, 5:30pm - 7:00pm EST
Location: Online
Fee: $275 (DG members) $475 (non-members)
Duration: 10 weeks
Start Date: March 7, 2018
Limit: 12 students


CORE WRITING WORKSHOPS

NEW FOR SPRING 2018: Once you've been accepted as a student of the Dramatists Guild Institute using our general application, these courses will each require a brief, additional application.

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Writing Workshop I

From the genesis of an idea, through the conception of character and structure, to focusing on the conflict, this class will offer weekly exercises, constructive feedback, deadlines, support and community to get you through that first act of your new play. This class is only for those that wish to start a new project, working on that project only for the whole of the semester. Class size is limited to 8-10, and every effort will be made to match skill levels among participants.

IN PERSON AT THE GUILD

Instructor: Matthew Paul Olmos
Pre-requisite: The Architecture of Plays, and/or, The Artist as CEO, or, in very special cases, by permission of the Director of the DGI
Meeting time: Sundays, 6:30pm - 9:30pm
Location: The Mary Rodgers Room, 1501 Broadway, 7th floor
Fee: $450 (DG members) $620 (non-members)
Duration: 10 weeks
Start Date: March 4, 2018
Limit: 10 students

ONLINE

Instructor: Andrea Lepcio
Pre-requisite: The Architecture of Plays, and/or, The Artist as CEO, or, in very special cases, by permission of the Director of the DGI
Meeting time: Sundays, 7:00pm - 10:00pm EST
Location: Online
Fee: $450 (DG members) $620 (non-members)
Duration: 10 weeks
Start Date: March 4, 2018
Limit: 10 students.
Note: Online courses will require students to participate with a camera and microphone enabled computer


Writing Workshop II

This course will help you develop the skills necessary to avoid the Act Two slump. The workshop will offer weekly exercises, constructive feedback, deadlines, support and community to help you accomplish a complete second act (and first full draft) of your full-length play. By focusing on ways of strengthening character and structure, intensifying the conflict, enhancing the dramatic action and amplifying its theatricality, this weekly writing workshop will help you achieve the goal of satisfaction and completion of that elusive first draft. Most appropriate for those dramatists who know they have a solid Act One and now want to strategically finish the project.

IN PERSON AT THE GUILD

Instructor: Chisa Hutchinson
Pre-requisite: Writing Workshop I, or, in very special cases, by permission of the Director of the DGI
Meeting time: Tuesdays, 6:15pm - 9:15pm
Location: The Mary Rodgers Room, 1501 Broadway, 7th floor
Fee: $450 (DG members) $620 (non-members)
Duration: 10 weeks
Start Date: March 6, 2018
Limit: 10 students

ONLINE

Instructor: Andrea Lepcio
Pre-requisite: Writing Workshop I, or, in very special cases, by permission of the Director of the DGI
Meeting time: Thursdays, 8:00pm - 11:00pm EST
Location: Online
Fee: $450 (DG members) $620 (non-members)
Duration: 10 weeks
Start Date: March 8, 2018
Limit: 10 students
Note: Online courses will require students to participate with a camera and microphone enabled computer


SPECIALTY WORKSHOPS & MASTER CLASSES

NEW FOR SPRING 2018: Once you've been accepted as a student of the Dramatists Guild Institute using our general application, these courses will each require a brief, additional application.

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National Song Writing Circle

New for Spring 2018

Lyricists and composers from around the country (6 of each) commit to collaborating on songwriting assignments with one another, rotating collaborators each week so that by the end of the class, each participant will have collaborated on 6 brand-new songs with 6 brand-new potential future collaborators. Interested songwriters must choose to participate either as a composer or a lyricist, but not as both. Please submit 2 contrasting songs in PDF format, for which you were lyricist, composer, or both. Class sessions will be held every other week for 14 weeks to allow collaborators to work together on the off weeks.

Class session dates are: 3/8, 3/22, 4/5, 4/19, 5/3, 5/17, and 5/31

Instructor: Roland Tec
Meeting time: Thursdays, 5:30pm - 7:30pm EST
Location: Online
Fee: $450 (DG members) $620 (non-members)
Duration: 7 courses over 14 weeks (see dates above)
Start Date: March 8, 2018
Limit: 12 students (6 lyricists, 6 composers)


The Art of Rewriting

Back by popular demand

Eight weeks, eight students, eight plays. 

Join Michele Lowe for The Art of Rewriting, where you’ll learn how to evaluate and rewrite the latest draft of your play. Only eight students will be part of this class. Each week we’ll concentrate on another aspect of the rewrite from character to stakes to conflict and more. Two weeks before the semester begins, you’ll send your latest draft to Michele. Incomplete drafts are also acceptable. On Day 1 Michele will have read your play and guide you from the perspective of someone who knows your work as a whole.
Class will meet eight times. We’ll read four students’ work per week. Students can bring up to 10 minutes of writing.  You’ll also receive 20 minutes of one on one coaching via phone, Skype or FaceTime after the fourth class.

The Art of Rewriting is for motivated writers. You choose what you want to rewrite and what you want to bring to class and hear. This class is not about tearing down your play; it’s about giving you tools to make the next draft a better one.

Week 1: Character
Week 2: Stakes
Week 3: Secrets
Week 4: Conflict
Week 5: Dialogue
Week 6: Plot/Structure
Week 7: Transformation
Week 8: Letting go/Hanging On

Class session dates are: 3/4, 3/11, 3/25, 4/1, 4/8, 4/15, 4/22, and 4/29

Instructor: Michele Lowe
Meeting time: Sundays, 11:00am - 2:00pm
Location:  The Mary Rodgers Room, 1501 Broadway, 7th floor
Fee: $450 (DG members) $620 (non-members)
Duration: 8 weeks (see dates above)
Start Date: March 4, 2018
Limit: 8 students


Writing the Biographical/Autobiographical Play

New for Spring 2018: Now Online

It has often been said that a writer draws from the same “well” in all of their work, continually revisiting the same life experiences, challenging relationships, traumas and themes.  I believe this is equally true whether we choose to write autobiographical or biographical work.  Lin-Manuel Miranda told a very poignant and personal story about himself via his biographical musical Hamilton, as have countless other playwrights whose characters were actual historic or present-day figures.  This course therefore is designed to help students identify the contents of their “wells,” and learn some methods to help them tap into it.  Through weekly workshopping of student material, as well as through writing exercises, assigned readings, classroom discussion and individualized guidance, students will learn how to draw from their personal experiences to get their deepest, most urgent and personal concerns onto the page and transform raw emotions into structured and engaging autobiographical or biographical work. The writing exercises and techniques will help both those students who want to generate new material as well as those who are writing or revising an existing script. The goal is to help students develop a writing process that allows them to deepen their work, discover their utmost concerns, and identify the stories they most need to tell.

Instructor: Sheri Wilner
Meeting time: Sundays, 4:00pm - 7:00pm EST
Location:  Online
Fee: $450 (DG members) $620 (non-members)
Duration: 10 weeks
Start Date: March 4, 2018
Limit: 12 students


Acting For Dramatists

Whether we are creating characters as writers or actors, being thorough in our inquiries of their inner workings is essential to building complex and textured vessels for our storytelling. What happens when we make this exploration from an actor’s point of view, asking specific detailed questions and delving into the language of the play in order to mine character subtext? In harnessing an additional perspective, what we discover can enrich our dialogue and the illumination of our characters’ underbellies.

In this workshop, we will undertake two explorations. We will analyze a character from a “classic” play and/or musical, and then a character from a play you have written, by creating a map of what makes these characters tick, their objectives and obstacles (scene by scene and also in the whole of the play), how those elements fit into their overarching journey, and how they are symbiotic with one another.

Instructor: Christine Toy Johnson
Meeting times: Thursdays, 6:00pm - 8:00pm
Location:  The Mary Rodgers Room, 1501 Broadway, 7th floor
Fee: $400 (DG members) $620 (non-members)
Duration: 10 weeks
Start Date: March 8, 2018
Limit: 16 students


Lyric Writing

Join Marcy Heisler in a ten-week, hands-on, interactive writing workshop in which lyricists expand the boundaries of their creative toolkit.   With a core of instructor-based assignments grounded in professional experience, writers  will complete assignments built on themes of adaptation, collaboration,  production environment,  and more. 

Students will be asked to bring an example of an original or contemporary lyric to the first class.  Information regarding an initial pre-class assignment will follow upon registration. In addition to core curriculum, class time will be allotted for lively conversation, sharing original work from existing projects, and Q&A on contemporary lyrical issues. 

Class will meet weekly for three-hour sessions.   Please watch schedule for any changes. 

Instructor: Marcy Heisler
Meeting times: Saturdays, 10:00am - 1:00pm
Location: The Mary Rodgers Room, 1501 Broadway, 7th floor
Fee: $500 (DG members) $650 (non-members)
Duration: 10 weeks
Start Date: March 10, 2018
Limit: 12 students


Master Class: Playwriting

New For Spring 2018: Three Sections to Choose From

AUSTIN PENDLETON

A workshop for the weekend-warrior, this course will focus on problem areas in your play – i.e., plot, structure, conflict or characters that aren’t as fully realized as you’d like.  Dramatists will bring in excerpts from any length of play to be discussed by Mr. Pendleton and fellow classmates. Specific observations and suggestions will be offered to each dramatist to help support the strengths of the work and minimize the weaknesses.

Meeting times: March 17: 6:00pm - 8:00pm, March 18: 1:00pm - 4:00pm and 5:00pm - 8:00pm
Location:  The Music Hall, The Dramatists Guild Foundation, 356 W 40th St, 2nd floor
Fee: $500 (DG members) $650 (non-members)
Duration: One weekend, 8 hours total
Start Date: March 17, 2018
Limit: 10 students

TINA HOWE

Pulitzer Prize finalist and Tony nominee Tina Howe will give students a dizzy writing exercise for a new ten minute play every week. These plays will then enjoy readings in the following class. Some will hopefully blossom into full lengths down the road. Given the present craze for ten minute play festivals, why not? The tone and range of our discussions will come from you, focusing on what you’re yearning for and how we can help you get there. A class field trip to an exciting new art show some Saturday or Sunday afternoon, is also a must. 

Meeting times: Wednesdays, 6:00pm - 9:00pm
Location:  The Mary Rodgers Room, 1501 Broadway, 7th floor
Fee: $500 (DG members) $650 (non-members)
Duration: 6 weeks
Start Date: March 7, 2018
Limit: 10 students

JANET NEIPRIS

The goal of the course is the completion of a short play or a successful opening sequence of a longer play. Lectures and in class exercises will include drawing complex characters, specificity in dialogue,  formulating plot with escalating dangers, dramatic action, writing comedy and rewriting. The lectures and discussion will be based on two books by the playwright: To Be A Playwright (2005) and Master Class: Dramatic Writing (2016).

Meeting times: Sundays, 3:00pm - 6:00pm
Location:  The Mary Rodgers Room, 1501 Broadway, 7th floor
Fee: $500 (DG members) $650 (non-members)
Duration: 6 weeks
Start Date: March 4, 2018
Limit: 10 students


Master Class: 10-Minute Playwriting Workshop

New for Spring 2018: Online

Love or hate them, the ten-minute play isn’t going anywhere. Because so many theatres have found producing an evening or festival of ten-minute plays an excellent resource for sharing so many unique voices in the theatre, the number of production opportunities has increased 300% over the last five years.With this relatively new genre of playwriting comes a perennial question: What makes a good ten-minute play? This course will explore those elements that make engaging theatre of any length, and then discover how those elements apply to the ten-minute play genre. This six week course will allow each writer to complete several drafts of one or two ten-minute plays.

Gary Garrison is the author of the seminal, Perfect Ten: Writing and Producing the Ten-Minute Play, and the sequel to that book, A More Perfect Ten. In the spring of 2014, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts created The National Gary Garrison Ten-Minute Play Award for college and university students. His ten-minute plays have been featured regularly at the Boston Theatre Marathon, City Theater in Miami, StageWorks of Hudson - New York as well as a number of venues throughout the country. A collection of his ten-minute plays, Verticals and Horizontals, was published by Original Play Publishing in the spring of 2015.

Instructor: Gary Garrison
Meeting times: Sundays, 7:00pm - 10:00pm EST
Location:  Online
Fee: $400 (DG members) $570 (non-members)
Duration: 6 weeks
Start Date: March 18, 2018
Limit: 12 students