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The Writer's Studio

The Writer's Studio at Chicago Dramatists  is the premiere learning and development center for dramatic writing in Chicago. Writers can study and develop work in a variety of disciplines, from plays to solo shows to screenplays. There are opportunities to work with industry professionals, including award-winning playwrights, actors, directors, and dramaturgs.

Get involved! There are classes to explore as well as the reading programs, script reviews, and community involvement opportunities outlined below. 


First Draft 
Rolling $150 annual membership fee

First Draft is a series of weekly play readings in the style of a playwrights’ salon. The playwrights themselves read aloud and discuss each others’ work in a relaxed, supportive setting. This cycle of First Draft will open for enrollment on March 1 and will begin May 1. First Draft meets every Tuesday except May 30, July 1, September 5, November 21, December 19, December 26, January 3, March 27, and April 3. A total of 42 sessions (an increase of 6 sessions from the prior format) with a paid moderator (Resident Playwright or city theatre maker) to provide quality post-show discussions. One reading is guaranteed annually, so membership is limited to 42 participants at any given time. Each member will receive 4 one-time passes to share with friends. 

Script Review 
$175 per script, up to 120 pages, 3 week turn-around

Chicago Dramatists has been offering script evaluation services for decades. In this new iteration -- once your payment and your script have been received -- a theatre professional will read and evaluate your script within the following three weeks, offering a 2-3 page written response to your story. While we try to honor specific reader requests, often they can not be accommodated due to reader scheduling conflicts. We welcome plays, screenplays, and TV pilots. 
If you wish to speak further to the reader about this same script, either in person or over the phone, there is an additional charge of $60. 

All scripts should be properly formatted and in 12 point font. If you are unsure what the accepted industry formats are, here are some acceptable guidelines. 
Any scripts exceeding 120 pages will be charged an extra dollar per page. Extremely monologue-heavy plays may also incur an extra fee. 
Only .pdfs will be accepted.

If you have a script that you would like feedback on, please fill out this form, and then email a .pdf of your play to mmccullough@chicagodramatists.org. Once we check the formatting and confirm the page number on your script, we will send you an invoice. Once the invoice is paid, the clock will start ticking on that 3 week turn-around time. 

Writers Groups and Classes 
Charges depend on option chosen

Join one of our writers’ groups or take a class in your area of specialty. The faculty at Chicago Dramatists has designed coursework for all levels, from beginner to professional. View our list of upcoming classes for more details and registration information.

Table Readings
$220 flat fee plus $20 per actor

Application window opens March 1.  Readings will begin in April. Only 12 readings are offered in the first year of this program. Fee includes dramaturg or director to facilitate discussion, casting, and room for up to 4 hours. A specific room request can be made for an additional $20 fee. Application and curating is done by the staff.

Artist’s Studio Package Deal
$335 flat fee

This special offer, available to Network Playwrights who have been members continuously since August 2013, includes First Draft, an Artist Membership, and a Script Review for the discounted price of $335. It is a savings of $115. A limit of 42  Package Deals are available.

Artist Membership

$75 flat fee

Available to Artistic Associates and anyone engaged in programming at The Writer’s Studio, Artist Memberships include 12 transferable free passes to Saturday Series, invitations to the Playwright Preview Performances of the Grafting Projects, special discounts and notifications on designated classes, recognition in Chicago Dramatists' annual report and website donor listing, as well as participation in the Chicago Dramatists Annual Picnic. These will be available as of March 1, 2017.

Writer’s Studio Facebook Page  

Available February 1. Anyone enrolled in an activity through the Writer's Studio is invited to join the Writer's Studio Facebook page. The page is a place to share activities, receive information on industry deals, submission opportunities, early bird specials, and other theatre announcements.

Access to funding

If you need assistance to pay for classes or Script Review. there are scholarships available, including the MEH Lewis Scholarship Fund, and the soon-be-be-available Neill Shanahan Scholarship, an annual scholarship that includes First Draft, an Artist Membership, and a Script Review. 

What if I'm a Network Playwright?

If you are a current Network Playwright, your benefits will be honored until your membership expires. In addition, we will be allowing 6-month Network membership renewals for a short time, through March 1, 2017. When Network Memberships  expire, if you are participating in programming at the time of your Network expiration you will automatically be a part of The Writer’s Studio, allowing access to the Writer's Studio Facebook page. Additionally, any current Network member will be able to attend First Draft through April 18, 2017 even if their membership expires before that date. 

Should I purchase a 6-month membership?

6-month Renewal Option $120

As the Network Playwright program is replaced by The Writer's Studio, 6-month memberships are available to current Network Members only until March 1, 2017. 6-month membership includes a single script analysis by a Chicago Dramatists Resident Playwright or an associate dramaturg, consideration for public readings, submission opportunities, discounts on classes, and participation in the First Draft Series readings. The 6-month memberships expire 6 months from the day you join. To enroll in the 6-month membership, go to your account/profile, and click "change membership level."  You will be directed to that option.


Choose the path for you! The Writer's Studio is designed to give options to all playwrights, beginners and professionals alike. 

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