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Upcoming Courses

Each quarter, Chicago Dramatists offers a variety of courses selected from our extensive full course list. Here, you'll find summary information for each of the upcoming courses that are currently scheduled (but not yet started), listed in order of the dates of their first sessions.

    • 01 Apr 2017
    • 10:00 AM
    • 02 Apr 2017
    • 5:00 PM
    • Chicago Dramatists
    • 7

    Instructor: Resident Playwright Mary Ruth Clarke—Original Screenwriter of Meet the Parents

    Have a play you feel might work well as a movie?  Or a story idea that you can’t seem to make work as a play?

    This weekend workshop offers an intensive, nuts and bolts study of the essentials of writing for film. First we will explore the similarities and differences between the mediums of stage, film, and TV. We will dive deep into how to think and write visually, with less emphasis on dialog and more on action.  There will be a particular focus on the classic story structure of screenplays and why genre is so important, as well as unearthing that great hook that will cause a producer to shout, “That’s a movie!”

    We will tackle the exacting demands of correct screenplay formatting, which often mystifies playwrights; and we'll discuss common mistakes playwrights make when writing for the screen. 

    There will be ample time allotted for in-class writing assignments, as well as time to read and discuss participant’s ideas, scenes, and stories. Participants should come to the first session with a play they want to adapt or an idea they want to cinematically bring to life.

    Sessions/Weekday 1 Saturday/Sunday
    Start/End Date April 1- April 2
    Time Slot 10AM-5PM Saturday (hour for lunch)
    1PM-5PM Sunday
    Notes

     

    • 04 Apr 2017
    • 06 Jun 2017
    • 10 sessions
    • Chicago Dramatists
    • 4

    The RAC (Risk, Access, Community) Writers Group is a ten session weekly writers group for early career playwrights and screenwriters who have studied dramatic writing extensively, have a portfolio, and are looking for structure, community, and accountability. Up to 8 writers will present anywhere from 30 pages to a full length piece twice during the 10 week session, providing feedback for their cohort and honing their projects. An industry professional (director, literary manager, or dramaturg) will be present for the last 5 sessions to hear the writers' work and offer feedback.

    There is no teacher for this group, and participants are expected to work out a schedule. Staff support is available for this if it's necessary. Hard copies of the script pages for workshop – with enough notice – are included in the fee for the group.

    Sessions/Weekday 10 Tuesdays
    Start/End Date April 4 -June 6
    Time Slot 1pm - 4pm
    Notes Writers will be contacted in advance to arrange who will bring pages to the first session.
    • 04 Apr 2017
    • 25 Apr 2017
    • 4 sessions
    • Chicago Dramatists, Window Room
    • 7

    Instructor: Resident Playwright MT Cozzola

    Prerequisite: Writing the Solo Play or Monologue (either the full class or the Warrior Weekend), or permission of instructor

    A month-long deep dive into the heart of your story, this workshop is for playwrights, actors, and storytellers of all levels who want to work on the development of a one-person show or long-form narrative. Each week offers an opportunity to work and develop your piece with the goal being to advance to production readiness. The 4-week class offers supportive feedback, structure, and cheerleading. It is designed to serve you and your personal creative goals. We will write hard and have big fun - we promise.

    Sessions/Weekday 4 Tuesdays
    Start/End Date April 4th - April 25th
    Time Slot 6:30pm-9:30pm
    Notes Prerequisite: Writing the Solo Play or Monologue (either the full class or the Warrior Weekend)


    About the Solo Show Track
    The Solo Show track is designed to provide playwrights with a solid foundation for writing and performing solo shows and long-form narratives.

    • 04 Apr 2017
    • 06 Jun 2017
    • 10 sessions
    • Chicago Dramatists
    • 5

    Launch Pad Writers' Group

    A weekly writers group for playwrights and screenwriters in their 20s who do not have a masters degree in writing but have taken at least one college-level playwriting or screenwriting writing class (or equivalent at Chicago Dramatists). Up to ten writers will share 15-20 pages of their work on alternate weeks, providing feedback and honing their projects. This group is meant to provide structure and community to people who are craving to finish and rework their scripts. There is no teacher for this group, and writers will either facilitate discussions of their own work or trade off with others in the group. Hard copies of the script pages for workshop – with enough notice – are included in the fee for the group.


    Sessions/Weekday 10 Tuesdays
    Start/End Date Apr 4 - Jun 6
    Time Slot 6:30pm - 9:30pm
    Notes Writers will be expected to bring pages to workshop for the first session.
    • 06 Apr 2017
    • 25 May 2017
    • 7 sessions
    • Chicago Dramatists, Window Room
    • 3
    Instructor: Resident Playwright Will Dunne


    Enrollment now open to the public!

    Now in its tenth year at Chicago Dramatists and run by Will Dunne, author of The Dramatic Writer's Companion and The Architecture of Story, Scene Shop is an ongoing professional resource for experienced playwrights who are currently working on a play or about to begin one. Each week offers a guided writing exercise to explore character and story ideas, and the opportunity to hear scene work from home read by professional actors and discussed by the group in a supportive setting. As a result, you don't have to wait until you complete a whole draft of a play to hear your characters off the page and to get input from other writers. If you are unable to attend any session, you can always make it up in one of the other two sections that week. Selected scenes from the spring and summer Scene Shops will be presented in a staged reading showcase in our theatre in fall 2017.

    Sessions/Weekday 7 Thursdays
    Start/End Date April 6 - May 25
    Time Slot 1:30 - 4:30 pm
    Notes Does not meet on 5/4/2017


    • 06 Apr 2017
    • 25 May 2017
    • 7 sessions
    • Chicago Dramatists, Window Room
    • 1
    Instructor: Resident Playwright Will Dunne


    Enrollment now open to the public!

    Now in its tenth year at Chicago Dramatists and run by Will Dunne, author of The Dramatic Writer's Companion and The Architecture of Story, Scene Shop is an ongoing professional resource for experienced playwrights who are currently working on a play or about to begin one. Each week offers a guided writing exercise to explore character and story ideas, and the opportunity to hear scene work from home read by professional actors and discussed by the group in a supportive setting. As a result, you don't have to wait until you complete a whole draft of a play to hear your characters off the page and to get input from other writers. If you are unable to attend any session, you can always make it up in one of the other two sections that week. Selected scenes from the spring and summer Scene Shops will be presented in a staged reading showcase in our theatre in fall 2017.

    Sessions/Weekday 7 Thursdays
    Start/End Date April  6 - May 25
    Time Slot 6:30 - 9:30 pm
    Notes Does not meet 5/4/2017


    • 06 Apr 2017
    • 08 Jun 2017
    • 10 sessions
    • Chicago Dramatists
    • 0

    Sorry, but this event is now sold out. You can join the waitlist and we will send you an email when additional spaces become available.

    Join waitlist

    The RAC (Risk, Access, Community) Writers Group is a ten session weekly writers group for early career playwrights and screenwriters in who have studied dramatic writing extensively, have a portfolio, and are looking for structure, community, and accountability. Up to 8 writers will present anywhere from 30 pages to a full length piece at least twice during the 10 week session, providing feedback for their cohort, and honing their projects. An industry professional (director, literary manager, or dramaturg) will be present for the last 4 sessions to hear the writers' work and offer feedback.

    There is no teacher for this group, and participants are expected to work out a schedule. Staff support is available for this if it's necessary. Hard copies of the script pages for workshop – with enough notice – are included in the fee for the group.

    Sessions/Weekday 10 Thursdays
    Start/End Date Apr 6 - Jun 8
    Time Slot 6:30pm - 9:30pm
    Notes Writers will be contacted in advance to arrange who will bring pages to the first session.
    • 08 Apr 2017
    • 09 Apr 2017
    • 2 sessions
    • Chicago Dramatists
    • 6

    Instructor: Resident Playwright Dana Lynn Formby

    Essentials Core Weekend Bootcamp is an alternative to Essentials 1 for those who want to learn the core principles in a condensed format. Perfect for out-of-towners or writers who want to advance quickly to Essentials 2.

    In this course, participants learn the core principles of dramatic writing, such as the major dramatic question, conflict, and rising action. Using these tools as a guide, they will write and respond to each others' work.

    By mastering dramatic structure, participants will learn to tell stories that are specifically geared for the theatre—stories that keep audience members on the edge of their seats.

    This class is designed for beginners and for playwrights of all levels of experience who are seeking a foundation for their craft.

    Before class, participants should read Fences, by August Wilson.


    Sessions/Weekday Saturday & Sunday
    Start/End Date April 8 & 9
    Time Slot April 8: 10:00 am - 4:30 pm
    April 9: 10:00 am - 3:30 pm
    Notes Before class, participants should read Fences, by August Wilson.

    About the Essentials Track

    The Essentials track is designed to provide playwrights with a solid foundation for their dramatic writing efforts. It consists of three courses:

    • Essentials 1 - The Core
    • Essentials 2 - Strengthening the Core
    • Essentials 3 - The Journey

    Each course is designed to build on its predecessor, thereby providing participants with a holistic view of writing for the stage that will inspire them and elevate their dramatic writing technique.

    Essentials 1 is a prerequisite for Essentials 2, which in turn is a prerequisite for Essentials 3.

    • 08 Apr 2017
    • 27 May 2017
    • 7 sessions
    • Chicago Dramatists, Window Room
    • 0

    Sorry, but this event is now sold out. You can join the waitlist and we will send you an email when additional spaces become available.

    Join waitlist
    Instructor: Resident Playwright Will Dunne


    Now in its tenth year at Chicago Dramatists and run by Will Dunne, author of The Dramatic Writer's Companion and The Architecture of Story, Scene Shop is an ongoing professional resource for experienced playwrights who are currently working on a play or about to begin one. Each week offers a guided writing exercise to explore character and story ideas, and the opportunity to hear scene work from home read by professional actors and discussed by the group in a supportive setting. As a result, you don't have to wait until you complete a whole draft of a play to hear your characters off the page and to get input from other writers. If you are unable to attend any session, you can always make it up in one of the other two sections that week. Selected scenes from the spring and summer Scene Shops will be presented in a staged reading showcase in our theatre in fall 2017.
    Sessions/Weekday 7 Saturdays
    Start/End Date Apr 8 - May 27
    Time Slot 10:00am - 1:00pm
    Notes Does not meet on 5/6/2017


    • 12 Apr 2017
    • 02 May 2017
    • 6 sessions
    • Chicago Dramatists
    • 8

    Improvisation for Playwrights
    Instructor:  Resident Playwright Alum Tania Richard 

    Whether you're a playwright, actor, live lit storyteller, or director "it's all about story." Participants will learn the basics of improvisation in order to bring spontaneity, creativity, and humor to their work. An emphasis on story structure, finding the game in a scene, and emotional point of view will be examined through ensemble-building games and exercises. Dress to move.

    Tania Richard taught in The Second City Training Center for over ten years and performed extensively on all The Second City stages. She  is the owner and lead trainer for Improv Delivery: Improvisation Training for Professionals. She currently teaches Acting Directing Workshop in Columbia College Chicago’s Cinema Art and Science Department. She has performed on Broadway with Steppenwolf Theatre as well as with The Goodman TheatreChicago DramatistsWindy City Playhouse, among others. 


    Sessions/Weekday 6 Wednesdays
    Start/End Date April 12 - May 17
    Time Slot 7pm - 9:30pm
    Notes Dress to move around
    • 15 Apr 2017
    • 20 May 2017
    • 6 sessions
    • Chicago Dramatists, Library
    • 8

    Instructor: Resident Playwright Marsha Estell

    The first step in our series of classes geared at teaching students the main tools of theatrical storytelling: Essentials 1, 2, and 3. Each course builds on the last, giving playwrights a holistic view of writing for the stage that will inspire them and elevate their writing technique.   

    In the first of the series, Essentials 1: The Core, students learn the core principles of dramatic writing, such as the major dramatic question, conflict, and rising action. Using these tools as a guide, students write and respond to each other’s work. By mastering dramatic structure, students learn to tell stories that are specifically geared for the stage—stories that keep audience members on the edge of their seats. On the last day of class, actors read students’ work. This class is for beginners and playwrights of all levels who are seeking a foundation for their craft. 

    Note: Either Essentials 1 or Essentials Weekend Bootcamp must be taken as prerequisites for the other Essentials courses—Essentials 2: Strengthen and Essentials 3: The Journey. 


    Sessions/Weekday 6 Saturdays
    Start/End Date April 15th to May 20th
    Time Slot 10 am - 1 pm
    Notes Prerequisites: none

    About the Essentials Track

    The Essentials track is designed to provide playwrights with a solid foundation for their dramatic writing efforts. It consists of three courses:

    • Essentials 1 - The Core
    • Essentials 2 - Strengthening the Core
    • Essentials 3 - The Journey

    Each course is designed to build on its predecessor, thereby providing participants with a holistic view of writing for the stage that will inspire them and elevate their dramatic writing technique.

    Essentials 1 is a prerequisite for Essentials 2, which in turn is a prerequisite for Essentials 3.

    • 15 Apr 2017
    • 24 Jun 2017
    • 10 sessions
    • Chicago Dramatists
    • 7

    The RAC (Risk, Access, Community) Writers Group is a ten session weekly writers group for early career playwrights and screenwriters in who have studied dramatic writing extensively, have a portfolio, and are looking for structure, community, and accountability. Up to 8 writers will present anywhere from 30 pages to a full length piece at least twice during the 10 week session, providing feedback for their cohort, and honing their projects. An industry professional (director, literary manager, or dramaturg) will be present for the last 4 sessions to hear the writers' work and offer feedback.

    There is no teacher for this group, and participants are expected to work out a schedule. Staff support is available for this if it's necessary. Hard copies of the script pages for workshop – with enough notice – are included in the fee for the group.

    Sessions/Weekday 10 Saturdays
    Start/End Date April 15- June 24 (no meeting May 27)
    Time Slot 11am-2pm
    Notes Writers will be contacted in advance to arrange who will bring pages to the first session.
    • 17 Apr 2017
    • 22 May 2017
    • 6 sessions
    • Chicago Dramatists
    • 10

    Instructor: Resident Playwright Scott Woldman
    Just as one doesn't become a martial artist by throwing a single kick, comedy writing is a skill that is developed and strengthened through study, exercise, and practice. Participants will work on increasing their comedy writing skills at both the scene and story level in a safe and nurturing environment.

    Through acting and improvisational comedy exercises, writing drills, scene study, performance, and in-class reading of participants’ work by professional actors, writers will develop their skills in a supportive and productive environment. Each session will focus on a different aspect of comedy writing and how to best apply it to each participant’s play.

    Participants can work on a play they have in progress or they can start one in this class.

    Schedule

    Sessions/Weekday 6 Mondays
    Start/End Date Apr 17 to May 22
    Time Slot 6:30pm - 9:30pm
    Notes N/A

    Registration

    To register for this course, click Register.

    • 17 Apr 2017
    • 05 Jun 2017
    • 6 sessions
    • Chicago Dramatists, Library
    • 5
                                                                                                                         

    Instructor: Resident Playwright Dana Lynn Formby

    Prerequisite: Essentials 1: The Core, Essentials Bootcamp, or permission of instructor.

    The second in our three-class Essentials series, Essentials 2 is about the process rather than the product. You will write a short play every week in order to unleash your creativity and incorporate the core principles taught in Essentials 1 into your writing muscle memory. You will also refine your ability to give and receive notes with your fellow playwrights in a way that helps all of you reach the next level in your development as writers.

    This class will culminate in a public staged reading of students’ short plays, with professional actors and directors, in Chicago Dramatists’ theatre on June 5th at 7:30pm. Students should set aside June 3rd and 4th for rehearsal. 

    For the first day of class, bring in a new 4-page scene with a full arc. This scene must have at least one onstage manifestation of choice that is negotiated over throughout the scene. Make sure you think about the core principles when writing this scene.

    Sessions/Weekday 6 Mondays
    Start/End Date April 17 - May 15, June 5
    Time Slots 6:30 - 9:30 pm


    Notes: Final presentation is Monday, June 5th at 7:00 pm. Students should set aside June 3rd and 4th for rehearsal. 

    About the Essentials Track

    The Essentials track is designed to provide playwrights with a solid foundation for their dramatic writing efforts. It consists of three courses:

    • Essentials 1 - The Core
    • Essentials 2 - Strengthening the Core
    • Essentials 3 - The Journey

    Each course is designed to build on its predecessor, thereby providing participants with a holistic view of writing for the stage that will inspire them and elevate their dramatic writing technique.

    Essentials 1 is a prerequisite for Essentials 2, which in turn is a prerequisite for Essentials 3.

    • 18 Apr 2017
    • 06 Jun 2017
    • 6 sessions
    • Chicago Dramatists
    • 8

    Instructor: Douglas Post—Founding Member of the Victory Gardens Playwright Ensemble

    This class is specifically designed for writers seeking to hone their skills in writing 10-minute plays. This class will meet for seven sessions, but the last session has not be scheduled yet.

    Contests and festivals for short works are becoming increasingly popular in our theatrical culture and are also a good way for playwrights to get a foot in the door at a variety of institutions. But 10-minute plays demand economy, skill and craftsmanship. This class will focus on those elements and others needed to tell our stories in a condensed form.

    At the end of the session, writers will have acquired a better understanding of how to write a short play that is precise, playable, and has a solid sense of beginning, middle and end.

    NOTE: Participants should bring 11 copies of a 10-page play-in-progress to the first session.

    Sessions/Weekday 7 Tuesdays
    Start/End Date April 18- June 6(no class May 2 or May 30)
    Time Slot 6:30pm - 9:30pm
    Notes Please bring 11 copies of a 10-page play-in-progress to the first session. Currently only 6 of the 7 classes are scheduled. The 7th class will be discussed on the first day.
    • 19 Apr 2017
    • 14 Jun 2017
    • 7 sessions
    • Chicago Dramatists
    • 6

    Instructor: Douglas Post—Founding Member of the Victory Gardens Playwright Ensemble

    This is a workshop for writers who want to develop a script on which they have already begun work. This may include anything from a full-length play to a one-act play to a series of short plays.  The class will explore the skills and qualities of effective dramatic writing by reading and discussing participants' scripts in a supportive and challenging environment, with the goal being to ready their plays for production.  We will pay particular attention to how your play will be received by producers, directors and literary managers.  We will also pay attention to how it will be received by designers and, most importantly, actors.

    NOTE: Writers should bring 11 copies of a 10-page scene from their play to the first session.

    Sessions/Weekday 7 Wednesdays
    Start/End Date April 19th - June 14th (no class May  3rd or May 31st)
    Time Slot 6:30pm - 9:30pm
    Notes Writers should bring 11 copies of a 10-page scene from their play to the first session.
    • 22 Apr 2017
    • 10 Jun 2017
    • 6 sessions
    • Chicago Dramatists
    • 8

    Instructor: Resident Playwright Mary Ruth Clarke—Original Screenwriter of Meet the Parents

    The third Golden Age of Television is upon us! This class is for anyone who has an idea (any genre) that could make a great series, and who wants to learn the crucial basics of how to write it.

    We will study and analyze successful pilots. We will tease out the inherent possibilities in your idea and how to position that idea. We will explore visual storytelling, budgetary considerations between network/cable/web series, and proper story structure and formatting. 

    You will leave the workshop with:

    • a television or web series pilot script
    • a better grasp of the language that TV writers, agents, and producers speak
    Sessions/Weekday 6 Saturdays
    Start/End Date April 22rd- June 10th
    (No class May 6th or May 28th)
    Time Slot 1:30 to 4: 30 pm  
    Notes

     

    • 23 Apr 2017
    • 12 Jun 2017
    • 6 sessions
    • Chicago Dramatists
    • 10

    Instructor: Resident Playwright Mary Ruth Clarke—Original Screenwriter of Meet the Parents

    Have a story idea you think would make a great Hollywood movie? Or a script you have already begun to write?

    This class offers a boot camp into the realities of how Hollywood thinks about screenplays (although this is not a marketing class). Participants will deep dive into some “Ways In,” to bring their ideas to life, such as unearthing that great hook that will cause a producer to shout, “That’s a movie!”

    There is a particular emphasis on the nature of story, and the class will analyze and map out the classic story structure of a screenplay that went on to be made into an Oscar-winning movie.

    There will be ample time allotted for in-class writing assignments and to discuss participants’ ideas, scenes, and stories. This class is applicable to any movie genre.

    Sessions/Weekday 6 Sundays
    Start/End Date April 23rd- June 11th
    (No class May 7th or May 28th)
    Time Slot 1:30 to 4: 30 pm  
    Notes

     

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