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Chicago Dramatists FacultY

The class curriculum at Chicago Dramatists is led by six faculty members. These industry leaders are professionals who develop our courses and create areas of specialization. Chicago Dramatists is proud to have these writers leading our classes. 


Mary Ruth Clarke • Head of Screenwriting

"Mary Ruth's guidance is invaluable for an aspiring screenwriter. The two most fundamental things I learned from her were, first, how to organize the basic structure of the script...and second, how to always look for ways to turn dialogue into action."

Mary Ruth Clarke co-wrote and starred in the original MEET THE PARENTS and co-adapted it into the blockbuster version, starring Robert De Niro. Her screenplay CHIMNEY ROCK is under option, and she has been a script doctor for many screenplays, including A GUY THING and DESPERATION BOULEVARD. Her play BONHOEFFER'S COST just finished a run at The Agape Actors Co-op in Austin and has been produced at the Beacon Theater in Philadelphia and the Provision Theater in Chicago.  Agape also produced her farce SUFFER THE LONG NIGHT, co-written with her MEET THE PARENTS partner, Greg Glienna. SUFFER THE LONG NIGHT was also produced in Los Angeles at Meta Theater.  Clarke's play ADDRESS UNKNOWN was produced by 20% Theater Company in August 2016. It was also produced by Fury Theater in 2014. Her solo performance, I COULD KILL HIM FOR DYING, recently ran at Three Cat Productions in Chicago. Clarke is a Resident Playwright at Chicago Dramatists, where  she just finished a 28 hour workshop and had two Saturday Series readings of her almost one-woman musical FAY BURNS. Another recent Saturday Series reading is ALICE AND CELIA AND WHATEVER IT TAKES, a comedy screenplay directed by Second City's Pat McKenna.  Mary Ruth teaches screenwriting and writing for television at Chicago Dramatists and has critiqued about a gazillion plays and screenplays. She is a regular guest lecturer at the Chicago Screenwriter’s Network monthly meet up and ran a Master’s Class for the Chicago Independent Film Project in December. She is a member of the Writer’s Guild of America East and the Dramatists Guild.


Cheryl Coons • Head of Musical Theatre

"Cheri is the most supportive, encouraging instructor I have ever had. She is so perceptive that I feel my musical is much better because of her. She has a way of helping you mold your work without making you feel as if you are being criticized."

Cheryl Coons serves as the Chicago Regional Representative for the Dramatists Guild. She has co-written more than a dozen musicals which have received professional productions, including AT WIT'S END (Carbonell Award for Best New Work), RIVER'S END (ASCAP Foundation Harold Arlen Musical Theatre Award, Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle Awards for Original Script and Original Score, Theatre for the American Musical Award), SYLVIA'S REAL GOOD ADVICE (Joseph Jefferson Award for Best New Work), FEMALE PROBLEMS (After Dark Award for Best Music and Lyrics), and PHANTOM OF THE COUNTRY OPERA, published by Music Theater International. Her work has been produced on the stages of Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, Northlight Theatre, the Marriott Theatre at Lincolnshire, Drury Lane Oakbrook Terrace, Florida Stage, and Marin Theatre Company, as well as other theatres across the US, and internationally in the United Kingdom, Canada, Kuwait, and Russia. Her musicals have been developed and showcased at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center’s National Music Theatre Conference, the National Alliance of Musical Theatre’s Festival of New Works, and the New York Musical Theatre Festival (NYMF.) A revue of her work, YADDA, YADDA, YADDA: THE LYRICS OF CHERI COONS was produced at the Royal George Theater, and was honored as one of Chicago’s 10 Best Cabaret Shows of the year by Cabaret Scenes magazine, Gay Chicago, and Cabaret Online. Her original novelty songs have been featured on Good Morning America, The Today Show, and NPR’S Morning Edition, and her lyrics have been quoted in The New York Times and USA Today. Cheri has appeared at Carnegie Hall, performing her original material in an evening hosted by Michael Feinstein. She is a proud member of ASCAP and the Dramatists Guild.


Will Dunne  Head of "Scene Shop" Play Development

"I think that Will Dunne is an institutional treasure. His workshop reveals a great depth and breadth of knowledge and the structure of the workshops provide critical feedback in a nurturing environment. I feel like I am getting an Ivy League education on playwriting in Scene Shop."

Will Dunne is an author, playwright, and teacher. His book THE DRAMATIC WRITER’S COMPANION was published by the University of Chicago Press in 2009 and translated into Polish by PWN in Warsaw in 2014. The English version continues to top the Amazon bestseller list in Playwriting and Scriptwriting, and will be released in a second edition in 2017. His second book, THE ARCHITECTURE OF STORY, was published by the Press in April, 2016, and is being translated into Chinese by Gingko Book Company in Beijing. His third book, CHARACTER, SCENE, AND STORY: NEW TOOLS FROM THE DRAMATIC WRITER'S COMPANION, is scheduled for publication by the Press in 2017. Mr. Dunne’s plays have received many awards and honors and have been presented in three languages worldwide. Locally, THE ROPER was produced at The Den Theatre (2014) and received a Joseph Jefferson nomination for Best New Work. Other Chicago area productions include: DEEP GARDENS at Second City (2005), THE ASCENSION OF CARLOTTA at 16th Street Theatre (2008), HOW I BECAME AN INTERESTING PERSON at Chicago Dramatists (2009), TWO MEN ON A TRAIN PLATFORM JUST BEFORE THE APOCALYPSE at Artistic Home (2012), LOVE AND DROWNING at 16th Street Theatre (2012), IN THE DARK at Intuit (2012), CAPE COD MORNING at Arts on Elston (2014) and THE DEATH AND LIFE OF JOHN SMITH at Madison Street Theatre (2016). Three of his plays - HOW I BECAME AN INTERESTING PERSON, LOVE AND DROWNING, and HOTEL DESPERADO - were selected for development and presentation at the US National Playwright’s Conference at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center. Through the O’Neill, INTERESTING PERSON received a Charles MacArthur Fellowship for comedy. MOONRISE (2000) and GOOD MORNING, ROMEO (2007) were finalists for the Heideman Award at Actors Theatre of Louisville. In 2013, he received the Baer-Hall Award from Chicago Dramatists for outstanding service to the Chicago playwriting community.


Dana Lynn Formby  Head of Essentials

"Dana's analyses are insightful, but she leads a discussion that allows for other ideas, enabling us to find our own analyses as well.  The goal, though, is always toward our own work.  It's a class that teaches structure we can use. And there's a bonus:  it's a lot of fun."

Dana Lynn Formby was a finalist for the 2016 Emory Fellowship in Playwriting as well as a finalist for the 2015 Princess Grace Award for playwriting. Dana’s most recent play, THE LABELER, is a 2016 finalist for the American Blues Theatre Blue Ink Award and listed on the Kilroys’ honorable mention list for 2016. Her play JOHNNY 10 BEERS’ DAUGHTERS was listed on the Kilroys’ honorable mention list for 2015 and is a finalist for the O’Neill 2016 National Playwrights Conference. Her play AMERICAN BEAUTY SHOP was read at Steppenwolf’s First Look 2014, nominated for The Kilroys’ 2014 list, and was published with Bloomsbury Methuen in conjunction with the world premiere at Chicago Dramatists. Dana’s plays have been produced, workshopped, and read by Pegasus Theatre Chicago, Chicago Dramatists, Mortar Theatre Company, Steep, PICT, Victory Gardens, WordBRIDGE, Florida Studio Theatre, The Alliance Theatre of Atlanta, The Kennedy Center, and New York Theatre Workshop. Her short play, A DECK OF MONSTERS, was featured in Goodman Theatre’s New Play Bake-Off. Her play UNTIL DEATH was produced in 2015 at Concordia University Chicago in association with Chicago Dramatists.

 

Arlene Malinowski  Head of Solo Show and Storytelling

"Arlene Malinowski gives us the freedom to be oneself while providing incredible direction. She is the BEST!!!!"

Actor and playwright Arlene Malinowski views her solo work as an artistic extension of her social justice work. Plays include: A LITTLE BIT NOT NORMAL; FULL DISCLOSURE, AIMING FOR SAINTHOOD; KICKING THE HABIT; JFK AND ME; WHAT DOES THE SUN SOUND LIKE. Short Plays Include: DEAF SANTA, OR FOREVER HOLD YOUR PEACE, INTERROBANG; SILENCED, IN A DIFFERENT VOICE. As a solo artist her plays have been produced; In Chicago;  Victory Gardens, Pritizker Pavillion, Millennium Park, Live Bait, 16th Street Theater. In LA; HBO Workspace, West Coast Ensemble, Blue Sphere Alliance, Ojai Theater150. Nationally; St Louis Center of Contemporary Art, National Center On Deafness, Minneapolis Arts Center, Palmdale Cultural Arts Center, Chicago Street Theater, Riverside Performing Arts Center, UCLA, National Organization Theater Educators, National Alliance on Mental Illness, Las Vegas Performing Arts Center, and colleges nationwide. These works are an exploration of disability in our culture through the lens of her family’s and her own disability. Her short plays have produced at Chicago One Minute Play Festival, United Kingdom’s UK-60 Festival and NY Playsmiths Theater Company.  Arlene is recipient 3Arts/UIC Department of Disability and the Arts Fellowship 2015-2016. Her solo work has been honored with an LA Theater Ovations Award, LA Garland Award, and LA Weekly Award. Her work has been chosen for as a finalist Chicago’s Fine Print Theater Festival, finalist in the New Plays From the Heartland and a semi-finalist Blue Ink Award from American Blues Theater. She has been nominated for a 3 Arts award in 2009 and 2014. Two of her solo works have been commissioned by 16th Street Theater, Berwyn, IL. As an actor Arlene has appeared in the word premiere of The Music of the Spheres at the Goodman Theatre, Chicago premiere of Love Person at the Victory Gardens and Pancake Breakfast with the New Colony. Television credits include: CSI, ER, The Division, The Practice, X Files, Any Day Now, and the CBS movie, Sweet Nothing in My Ear.  As a spoken word artist she has performed at Victory Gardens, Story Sessions, This Much Is True, 2nd Story, Here Chicago, Thats All She Wrote, Tuesday Funk, Story Club. Her work appears in Paramanu Pentaquark, and En Posse Review and “Women Of Letters Anthology” by Penguin Press.


Douglas Post  Head of Developing Plays-In-Progress

""Having taught for 23 years, I have a few ideas myself regarding quality instruction, and I was sincerely impressed by Doug's generosity, knowledge and encouragement he brought to the table every week."

Douglas Post's plays, which include BLOODSHOT, CYNICAL WEATHERS, DROWNING SORROWS, EARTH AND SKY and MURDER IN GREEN MEADOWS, and musicals, which include GOD AND COUNTRY, THE REAL LIFE STORY OF JOHNNY DE FACTO and THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS, have been produced in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Canada, England, Wales, Germany, Austria, Russia and China. He has also been commissioned to write screenplays for Warner Bros. and NBC, teleplays for WMAQ-TV, and several radio adaptations of his scripts. On three occasions, he has been selected to develop his work at the O'Neill National Playwrights Conference and once at the O'Neill National Music Theater Conference. He has received the L. Arnold Weissberger Playwriting Award, the Midwestern Playwrights Festival Award, the Cunningham Commission Award, the Blue Ink Playwriting Award, and three Playwriting Fellowship Awards from the Illinois Arts Council, and has been nominated for a Jeff Award and an Emmy Award. Mr. Post is a founding member of the Victory Gardens Playwrights Ensemble, has taught at Northwestern University, DePaul University, and the O'Neill National Theater Institute, and serves on the Council for the Dramatists Guild of America.


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