Registration deadline is February 1, 2019 at 5pm EST.

FOUNDATION COURSES | CORE WRITING WORKSHOPS | SPECIALTY WORKSHOPS | MASTERCLASSES


FOUNDATION COURSES

Architecture of Plays: Plays by Women

In 2015 the Dramatists Guild launched a study called The Count in order to determine who is being produced in American theatres. The Count revealed that, during the past three years, only 22% of the tallied plays were written by women. This means men wrote four out of every five plays produced on America’s stages.

The primary goal of the class will be to address such gender disparity by familiarizing ourselves with a wide array of female playwrights; including not just those in the 22%, but, more importantly, those in the near and distant past whom history has forgotten, and those in the present whose work is rarely, if ever, produced.  What stories are not being told and what stories do we urgently need on today’s stages? Each week we’ll read and discuss one or more plays, identifying and appreciating the key elements of the writers’ artistry, style and craft; and throughout the semester, we’ll continually debate whether or not there is an overtly female aesthetic and what differences might exist between female and male written plays.  A secondary goal will be to look at the studies and statistics that prove gender disparity in the theatre, so that we can formulate informed opinions about why women are produced in fewer numbers than men, what barriers and obstacles exist in achieving gender parity, and what strategies might be employed to raise awareness and impel change.

IN PERSON

Instructor: Sheri Wilner
Meeting time: Saturdays, 1pm - 3pm
Location: The Mary Rodgers Room, 1501 Broadway, 7th floor
Fee: $275 (DG members) $325 (non-members)
Duration: 10 weeks
Start Date: February 16, 2019
Enrollment: Auto-register


The Architecture of Musicals

IN PERSON

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.

Instructor: John Dietrich
Meeting time: Tuesdays, 6pm - 8pm
Location: The Rodgers Room, 1501 Broadway, 7th floor
Fee: $275 (DG members) $325 (non-members)
Duration: 10 weeks
Start Date: February 12, 2019
Limit: 20 Students
Enrollment: Auto-register

ONLINE

“In musicals, everything is more important than anything,” says lyricist/librettist Tom Jones. But how do you keep your perspective on everything?  Especially while you’re writing and it feels like everything’s in flux?  Or when you’re collaborating and one “small” change that someone wants affects everything?

One of the biggest challenges for musical theatre writers is the need to see both the forest and the trees. We must constantly shift perspective through the writing process, and we must do it as a team. While crafting individual scenes and songs, and working collaboratively over the looooong gestation periods that musicals sometimes have, writers can lose a sense of the shape of the story. Yet good musicals require- possibly above all else- good bones.

This ten-week class is about good bones. Really, it’s about great bones. We’ll excavate a variety of musical theatre masterworks, including six of the nine musicals that have won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. We’ll dig deep into both the timeless craft principles and the breathtaking innovations that drive each musical’s success. We’ll look at both the “forest” (musical genre, storytelling style, overall dramatic structure), and the “trees” (song forms, lyric craft elements, character arc through song, key scenes.) We’ll talk about the unique story and song challenges the architects of these musicals faced, and the innovative solutions they discovered. Along the way we’ll also share some gritty behind-the-scene anecdotes about the creation and evolution of some of these shows. It wasn’t always pretty, but looking at the finished products, it was well worth it.

Musicals we’ll discuss in this class include (but are not limited to) South Pacific (1949), How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (1962), Don’t Bother Me, I Can’t Cope (1971), A Chorus Line (1975), Working (1977), Sunday in the Park with George (1984), Rent (1994), Ragtime (1996), Next to Normal (2008), Fun Home (2013), Hamilton (2015), and Dear Evan Hansen (2016).

Instructor: Cheryl Coons
Meeting time: Mondays, 8pm - 10pm EST
Fee: $275 (DG members) $325 (non-members)
Duration: 10 weeks
Start Date: February 11, 2019
Limit: 20 Students
Enrollment: Auto-register


The Artist as CEO

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.

When you register for The Artist as CEO, you are automatically enrolled in all twelve weeks.

IN PERSON

Instructors: Tari Stratton, David Faux, Roland Tec, special guests
Meeting time: Tuesdays, 2pm - 3:30pm EST
Location: The Rodgers Room, 1501 Broadway, 7th floor
Fee: $275 (DG members) $325 (non-members)
Duration: 12 weeks
Start Date: February 12, 2019
Limit: 20 Students
Enrollment: Auto-register


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

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 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.

IN PERSON

Instructor: Roland Tec
Meeting time: Tuesdays, 4:15pm - 5:45pm
Location: The Rodgers Room, 1501 Broadway, 7th floor
Fee: $275 (DG members) $325 (non-members)
Duration: 10 weeks
Start Date: February 12, 2019
Limit: 12 students
Enrollment: Auto-register

ONLINE

Instructor: Roland Tec
Meeting time: Wednesdays, 5:30pm - 7pm EST
Fee: $275 (DG members) $325 (non-members)
Duration: 10 weeks
Start Date: February 13, 2019
Limit: 12 students
Enrollment: Auto-register


CORE WRITING WORKSHOPS

Writing Workshop: Core Skills

From the genesis of an idea, through the conception of character and structure, to focusing on conflict, this class will offer weekly exercises, constructive feedback, deadlines, support, and community to get you through a draft of your new play. Students are given time each week to hear fresh pages, ask questions and receive feedback. We will focus on building core skillsets: structure, character, dialogue, complications, theatricality, and conflict. Participants may work on short pieces or a full-length. Class size is limited to 8-10, and every effort will made to match skill levels among participants.

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: Thursdays, 8pm - 11pm EST
Fee: $450 (DG members) $520 (non-members)
Duration: 10 weeks
Start Date: February 14, 2019
Limit: 10 students
Enrollment: Additional application required


Writing Workshop: The Challenges of Dialogue (Weekend Warrior)

How to elevate the dialogue in your play so that it illuminates character, enhances the story, and fulfils your artistic voice. Through in-class exercises and working through your own plays, we’ll move through the challenges of writing dialogue such as: exposition, on-the-nose, overwriting, repetition, rhythm, and subtext. We’ll also look at the work of current and diverse playwrights as examples of differing styles of dialogue. Class size is limited to 8-10.

IN PERSON

Instructor: Matthew Paul Olmos
Meeting time: Saturday (March 16) & Sunday (March 17), 5:15pm - 9pm
Location: The Mary Rodgers Room, 1501 Broadway, 7th floor
Fee: $275 (DG members) $325 (non-members)
Duration: 2 days, 7.5 hours total
Start Date: March 16, 2019
Limit: 10 students
Enrollment: Additional application required


Writing Workshop: Crafting Character

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 course is designed to help you avert such criticism and create lucid yet complicated three-dimensional characters, as well as craft authentic, non-expositional dialogue.  Through a multitude of in-class and at-home writing exercises that focus on character development, we’ll learn a myriad of tools that help us gain a very thorough and intimate understanding of our characters, and then how to transmit that understanding to audiences through action and dialogue rather than exposition. We’ll examine some of theatre’s great characters – such as Stella DuBois or Alexander Hamilton -- to identify not just what makes them so memorable and compelling, but also to analyze the techniques their authors used to dispense vital information about them.  Whether you’re revising a completed draft of a play, at the early stages of beginning a new one, or have a character but no story, the course’s exercises and discussions will apply to you.

IN PERSON

Instructor: Sheri Wilner
Meeting time: Sundays, 1pm - 4pm
Location: The Mary Rodgers Room, 1501 Broadway, 7th floor
Fee: $450 (DG members) $520 (non-members)
Duration: 10 weeks
Start Date: February 10, 2019
Limit: 12 students
Enrollment: Additional application required


Lyric Writing for Playwrights and Beginners

Lyrics are the foundation of musical theater storytelling and, for many playwrights, the final frontier. Over ten weeks, this class will cover the basics of lyric writing craft—song structure, scansion, rhyme, and more—allowing you to channel your existing storytelling impulses into a song. In class, we’ll examine great lyrics of the musical theater canon, analyzing what makes them tick. Through weekly assignments, you’ll begin your own exploration of the classic musical theater song forms and learn to write with music, a musical collaborator, and a librettist in mind. Whether you’re a playwright who wants to try a hand at lyric writing, or one who simply wants to be a more fluent musical theater collaborator, you’ll leave this class with a solid foundation in lyrical storytelling.

IN PERSON

Instructor: Adam Gwon
Meeting time: Wednesdays, 7pm - 10pm
Location: The Mary Rodgers Room, 1501 Broadway, 7th floor
Fee: $450 (DG members) $520 (non-members)
Duration: 10 weeks
Start Date: February 13, 2019
Limit: 12 students
Enrollment: Auto register


SPECIALTY WORKSHOPS

The Writers Lab

Though you’ve taken writing workshops, rewrote your script, thought about it constantly, fretted about writing the next draft and maybe have had a casual reading or two among friends, you know to take your play to the next level of development you need to hear your words in the mouths of trained actors guided by a professional director. And in a city like Manhattan, that should be an easy thing to do, right? We’ve all discovered that it’s not as easy as we think… until now.

Running through the course of our spring semester, a group of professional actors and directors will gather each Monday from 7-10 pm to hear the work of DGI playwrights that’s either fresh off the printer or something you’ve worked on for a good while. If possible, you’ll have the opportunity to have a rehearsal prior to Lab with director and actors. We’ll hear your work in Lab and then open a moderated discussion for all to contribute their reactions and observations.

Up to fifteen writers will be chosen for the inaugural Lab. Admission to the lab is competitive among DGI students only. To be considered for the Lab, you must:

  1. Have already taken (or be taking in the Spring 19’ semester) Architecture of Plays (any of the series) and Artist as CEO.

  2. Have already taken (or be taking in the Spring 19’ semester) at least two writing workshops within the Institute.

  3. Have already taken (or be taking in the Spring 19’ semester) a Masterclass in writing and completed a Plays In Progress (PIP).

  4. Complete a Lab application.

You can make an appeal to be released from one of these requirements by writing to the moderator of the Lab and the Director of the Institute, Gary Garrison. Allowances will be made on a case-by-case basis and reliant on space in the class.

IN PERSON

Instructor: Gary Garrison
Meeting time: Mondays, 6pm - 9pm
Location:  The Mary Rodgers Room, 1501 Broadway, 7th floor
Fee: $500 (DG members)
Duration: 10 weeks
Start Date: February 11, 2019
Limit: 15 students
Enrollment: Additional application and pre-requisites required


Writing Workshop: Finishing What You've Started

Have you ever started a play only to hit the mid-point with no idea how to move forward? Maybe you pushed through to an ending but it’s forced, unearned, and doesn’t effectively resolve the play. So, you throw what you’ve got into your “desk drawer” (or more likely, into a miscellaneous folder on your computer) and move on. But no matter how many months or years go by, you can’t shake the feeling that you abandoned something worthwhile. If you could only figure out where things went wrong.

In this class, we’re going to dust off those “desk drawer” plays and rediscover the core ideas that inspired you to start writing in the first place. Through workshop and discussion, you’ll gain fresh perspective on the choices you’ve already made, analyzing your existing story, structure, and characters to make a new plan to move forward – either by finishing what you started or using your existing material to devise something new that reflects who you are and where you’re at right now.

ONLINE

Instructor: Edith Freni
Meeting times: Sundays, 4pm - 7pm EST
Fee: $450 (DG members), $520 (non-members)
Duration: 10 weeks
Start Date: February 17, 2019
Limit: 12 students
Enrollment: Additional application required


Composers and Orchestrations: De-mystifying the Collaboration (Weekend Warrior)

New for Spring 2019

This Weekend Warriors’ workshop series seeks to engage our members who compose or are interested in composition. Offered over a long weekend in mid-April and led by Rona Siddiqui, a NYC-based composer/lyricist with extensive experience in both orchestrations and music direction, this course will help you discover how and why orchestrations help set the mood and tone of a piece, how choosing the right instrumentation can give audiences quick clues into understanding the world of a show, and how to communicate and collaborate with orchestrators so that the sound of your show surpasses your expectations.

The dates of this weekend warrior workshop will be Saturday, April 13, and Sunday, April 14, from 5pm - 9pm each day.

IN PERSON

InstructorRona Siddiqui
Meeting times: Saturday April 13, 5pm - 9pm; Sunday April 14, 5pm - 9pm
Location:  The Mary Rodgers Room, 1501 Broadway, 7th floor
Fee: $275 (DG members) $325 (non-members)
Duration: 1 weekend, 8 hours total (dates listed above)
Start Date: April 13, 2019
Limit: 12 students
Enrollment: Additional application required


Writing Plays for Young Audiences

New for Spring 2019

Theatre for Young Audiences is a vast and growing field. Where do you fit in? Is your target audience in preschool, lower elementary, upper elementary, middle or high school? Is your most likely producer a youth group, professional company, community theatre, or school group -- elementary, secondary, or university? How can you best make your way through this world of possibilities? Let's tackle the challenge together. In this workshop, we'll examine exemplary plays, consider production opportunities and other resources, and -- perhaps most importantly -- explore your connection to it all: your interests, intentions, and passions. Weekly writing prompts will help you brainstorm ideas, find your unique voice, and discover the stories you were born to tell.

ONLINE

Instructor: Sandy Asher
Meeting times: Tuesdays, 8pm - 10pm EST
Fee: $275 (DG members), $325 (non-members)
Duration: 6 weeks
Start Date: February 12, 2019
Limit: 10 students
Enrollment: Additional application required


Devised Theatre

New for Spring 2019

As devised theater continues to enter into the mainstream, you may have been asking yourself “what exactly is devised theater” or “how can I begin working in this collaborative manner?” Join Gab Cody, playwright and creator of devised theater projects, and Deborah Murad, Esq., Director of Business Affairs at the Dramatists Guild, for a new course which will introduce concepts of Devised theater and examine the multiple modes for creating non-traditional work with a focus on the role of the writer. During this 6-week online course which will culminate in a Weekend Warrior Workshop, participants will learn technique as they devise a short work as a class ensemble. Throughout the process of creation, participants will learn about authorship and how to best negotiate a deal that preserves authorial credit, compensation and control. This course is recommended for any artist looking to create theater that is original, avant-garde, and experimental.

The weekend warrior portion of this course will take place on Saturday, March 23, and Sunday, March 24, from 4pm - 7pm each day.

IN PERSON

Instructor: Gab Cody, Deborah Murad
Meeting times: Sundays, 4pm - 7pm
Location: The Mary Rodgers Room, 1501 Broadway, 7th floor
Fee: $450 (DG members), $520 (non-members)
Duration: 6 weeks + Weekend Warrior (3 hours)
Start Date: February 10, 2019
Limit: 12 students
Enrollment: Additional application required


MASTER CLASSES

Master Class: Playwriting

This three-session master class 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.

IN PERSON

Instructor: Austin Pendleton
Meeting times: Sundays, 6pm - 9pm
Location:  The Mary Rodgers Room, 1501 Broadway, 7th floor
Fee: $500 (DG members) $650 (non-members)
Duration: 3 weeks (February 24, March 3, March 10)
Start Date: February 24, 2019
Limit: 10 students
Enrollment: Additional application required


Master Class: Ten-Minute Plays

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. 

IN PERSON

Instructor: Tina Howe
Meeting times: Thursdays, 6pm - 9pm
Location:  The Mary Rodgers Room, 1501 Broadway, 7th floor
Fee: $500 (DG members) $650 (non-members)
Duration: 6 weeks
Start Date: February 14, 2019
Limit: 10 students
Enrollment: Additional application required


Master Writers Group

Based on Neipris’s best-selling book “To Be a Playwright.”

Among other things, we’ll investigate:

  • Endings as destinations: how to discover and craft the final image for your play;

  • Beginnings: how to  grab your audience immediately and get them involved in the real stuff of the play;

  • Murky middles: nailing the  focus and escalating the plot;

  • Questions to ask, dos and don’ts, rewriting tricks and techniques. With many exercises.

 We will do it all.

IN PERSON

Instructor: Janet Neipris
Meeting times: Mondays, 6pm - 8:30pm (every other week)
Location: Location sent after registration (in Manhattan)
Fee: $500 (DG members) $650 (non-members)
Duration: 6 weeks (over the course of 12 weeks)
Start Date: February 18, 2019
Limit: 10 students
Enrollment: Additional application required

All courses and instructors are subject to change.

Please note: our registration service, Eventbrite, collects an additional 6.7% registration fee on all course prices listed above.