Classes

Register now with our Early Bird Special to get 20% off select Fall classes! Offer ends Dec 16!

Leap into the new year with us and create your next great work! We happily accept students from all around the world and invite you to study with us virtually. Take the leap and join us here at Chicago Dramatists!!


Winter Classes


Playwriting Fundamentals (Online)

7 Saturdays 10:00am – 1:00pm CT
Jan 14 – Feb 25
Instructor: Kestutis Nakas

Discover, Explore, Experiment and write!
Discover the core principles of dramatic writing by reading the masters.
Explore your unique voice through writing exercises.

Class Description

Students will become familiar with the components of dramatic structure and format, receive tools to explore your unique voice, how to give and receive usable feedback, and grasp the difference between dialog and conversation. Plus, you will write a 10-minute play, or the 1st 10 pages of a larger work.

Teacher Bio

Kestutis Nakas’ work has been presented at La Mama, Dixon Place, P.S. 122, St. Mark’s Church, 8BC, and many other venues. Works include RIP, Railroad Backward, Remembrance of Things Pontiac, Lightning and  The Andrew Carnegie Story.\He has taught at NYU, UCLA, CUNY, and the University of New Mexico. He is an Emeritus Professor of Theatre at The Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University in Chicago. His performance text about urban beekeeping, No Bees for Bridgeport, was published in Animal Acts, Performing Species Today, an anthology of new performances edited by Una Chaudhuri and Holly Hughes, University of Michigan Press. A bilingual edition of his critically acclaimed tragi-comic cycle: When Lithuania Ruled The World was published by Aukso Zuvys, Vilnius, in February 2017. In December 2017, he presented Channel D a new solo show at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

Course Details

Session DatesJan 14, 21, 28
Feb 04, 11, 18, 25
Experience LevelBeginner,
Applicable DiscountsEarly Bird, New Student, Network


Scene Shop” Play Development Thursday Nights (Online)
7 Thursdays 6:30pm – 9:30pm
Jan 19 – Mar 16
SOLD OUT!! JOIN THE WAITLIST!!
OR
“Scene Shop” Play Development Saturday Mornings (Online)
SOLD OUT!! JOIN THE WAITLIST!!
7 Saturdays 10:00am – 1:00pm
Jan 21 – Mar 18
Instructor: Will Dunne

Designed as an ongoing resource for experienced playwrights and now in its 16th year, Scene Shop offers weekly character, scene, and story tools to help you develop your script, professional actors to read your work, and constructive group feedback to help you evaluate your progress.

Class Description

Designed as an ongoing resource for experienced playwrights and now in its 16th year, Scene Shop offers weekly character, scene, and story tools to help you develop your script, professional actors to read your work, and constructive group feedback to help you evaluate your progress. If you ever need to miss a session, you can always make it up in the other Scene Shop section that week. Workshop members are eligible to participate in the Scene Shop Showcase, a night of staged readings presented twice yearly in the Russ Tutterow Theatre.

Teacher Bio

Will Dunne is the author of THE DRAMATIC WRITER’S COMPANION (2009, Second Edition 2017), THE ARCHITECTURE OF STORY (2016), and CHARACTER, SCENE, AND STORY (2017) all published internationally by the University of Chicago Press. His plays have been presented worldwide in three languages and earned numerous honors, including three selections by the Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center for the U.S. National Playwrights Conference, a Charles MacArthur Fellowship awarded by the O’Neill for outstanding comedy, four Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle Awards, two DramaLogue Playwriting Awards, and a Best-of-Year mention from the San Francisco Examiner. He also has been nominated for a Joseph Jefferson Award for Best New Play and twice been named a finalist for the Heideman Award at the Actors Theatre of Louisville.

Thursday Details

Session DatesJan 19, 26
Feb 09, 16, 23
Mar 09, 16
Experience LevelIntermediate, Advanced
Available DiscountsNew Student, Network
Saturday Details

Session DatesJan 21, 28
Feb 11, 18, 25
Mar 11, 18
Experience LevelIntermediate, Advanced
Available DiscountsNew Students, Network


Intermediate Playwriting (Online)
7 Thursdays, 6:00pm – 9:00pm CT
Jan 19 – Mar 02
Instructor: Nina Morrison

In this course, we will focus on generating new work. Each week, writing prompts and page count goals will be given. Students can expect to leave the class with around 40 pages of new work.

Class Description

In this course, we will focus on generating new work and discovering the processes and methods that best support your ongoing writing practice. Each week, writing prompts will be given, and everyone will share their work out loud and receive structured feedback from the instructor and fellow students. Students can expect to leave the class with around 40 pages of new work.

Teacher Bio

Nina Morrison is a playwright, screenwriter and stage director. Her plays have been presented in New York City at Dixon Place, Fordham University, the HOT! Festival of Queer Performance, the NY International Fringe Festival, and the Little Theatre series, among others. She was a finalist for New Dramatists in 2018 and 2019, as well as a finalist for the Jerome in 2019. Nina was the Provost’s Postgraduate Visiting Writer in Playwriting 2019-2020 at the University of Iowa. She was also the recipient of an artist’s residency at Dixon Place and a WORKSPACE writer’s residency at the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council. MFA Iowa Playwrights Workshop. ninamorrison.com

Course Details

Session DatesJanuary 19, 26
February 02, 09, 16, 23

March 02
Experience Level
This class is specifically designed for writers at the intermediate level.
Prerequisite – Intro to Playwriting, or permission of the Instructor.
Available DiscountsEarly Bird, New Student, Network

Solo Show & Storytelling: Angels & Devils (Online)
7 Tuesdays 6:00pm – 9:00pm CT
Jan 24 – Mar 14
Instructor: Arlene Malinowski

Ready to write that solo show or story for the stage? This class is designed for actors, playwrights, solo artists, and storytellers of all levels – from those who are thinking about a piece to those who are in the final stages of polishing one.

Class Description

This hands-on workshop is for writers, actors & storytellers at all levels who want to work on the development of a solo show or story for the stage. This can include work at any stage of development from an idea to a finished piece. The class will focus on finding your unique voice and the voice of your story, plot, structure, character development, and techniques to manipulate storyteller/audience relationship. This class offers an opportunity to develop material, class exercises, one-on-one coaching, AND cheerleading. I am here to be your vision keeper with the goal of getting your work in the world. We will work hard and have big fun!

Teacher Bio

Arlene Malinowski has been performing and teaching Solo & Story for over 25 years. Her award-winning solo works have been performed throughout the US and internationally. She views her solo work as an artistic expression of her social justice work in the area of Deafness and disability. Her plays include, A Little Bit Not Normal, Full Disclosure, Aiming for Sainthood, What Does the Sun Sound Like, Interrobang and It’s Whampo, Time. She is the recipient of 3Arts/UIC fellowship, LA Ovations award, LA Garland Award. Finalist in New Plays from Heartland, semi-finalist Blue Ink award, and the O’Neil. As an actor and storyteller, she has performed on stages in LA and Chicago including Goodman, Steppenwolf and Victory Gardens. She has taught at College of the Canyons and Master-classes nationwide. She is a Resident Playwright at Chicago Dramatists where she’s developed the Solo & Story curriculum.

Course Details

Session DatesJan 24, 31
Feb 07, 21, 28
Mar 07, 14
*No class Feb 14*
Experience LevelBeginner, Intermediate, Advanced
Available DiscountsNew Student, Network

Advanced Playwriting (Online)
7 Thursdays 6:00pm – 9:00pm CT
Feb 02 – Mar 30
Instructor: Eric Holmes

In this class, students will write or revise a full-length play. Using a workshop class approach, students will have multiple opportunities to share their work for in-class feedback facilitated by the instructor. Students are welcome to bring plays at any stage of development.

Class Description

In this class students will write or revise a full length play. Using a workshop class approach, students will have multiple opportunities to share their work for in-class feedback facilitated by the instructor. Students are welcome to bring plays at any stage of development. We will take a holistic approach to examining each other’s work—not only focusing on plot, but on all the theatrical elements that can be utilized for storytelling (i.e. imagery, metaphor, structure, etc.). Not only will students deepen their writing craft, they will also develop their ability to give feedback to peers.

Teacher Bio

Eric Micha Holmes is a playwright and audio-dramatist whose work has been heard on Audible (“Rapture Season”), the BBC (“Care Inc.”), and seen at The National Black Theatre (“Mondo Tragic”),  The New Black Fest (“Pornplay; or, Blessèd Are The Meek”), New York Theatre Workshop (“Nimpsey Pink”), and Guild Hall (“Falls For Jodie”). Residencies and fellowships include Djerassi Artist Residency, The Dramatist Guild Fellowship, Space At Ryder Farm, and the ‘I Am Soul’ Playwright’s Residency at The National Black Theatre. “Walking Next To Michael Brown: Confessions Of A Tragic Mulatto,” was commissioned by The New Black Fest and has toured with Kennedy Center’s Civic Artist Award winning “Hands Up: 7 Playwrights / 7 Testaments” to theaters across the country including The Alliance Theatre, The Brooklyn Museum Of Art, Red Door Theatre, Crowded Fire Theatre, The Museum Of The Moving Image, The Hansberry Project, and Flashpoint Theatre.

Course Details

Session DatesFeb 02, 09, 16, 23
Mar 16, 23, 30
**No Class 03/02, 03/09**
Expereience LevelAdvanced
Applicable DiscountsEarly Bird, New Student, Network

Romantic Comedy (Online)
7 Sundays 10:00am – 1:00pm CT
Feb 05 – Mar 19
Instructor: Mary Ruth Clarke

Love is love is love is love is love! (Thank you Lin Manuel Miranda.) Romantic comedy is both ancient and new. This class is for writers wanting to explore humans searching for love, falling in love, being in love, staying in love…and failing in love.

Class Description

For screenwriters, playwrights, or teleplay writers, this is a class about the romance and comedy of love — searching for love, falling in love, being in love, staying in love…and maybe some failed loves since that too can be funny. Romantic comedy is both ancient and shiny new.   In our evolving times, between technology and the freedom to love whomever one chooses and in whatever form that takes, writers have a wonderful opportunity to express what romantic comedy means now.  We will do a deep dive into what makes for a successful romantic comedy, in all its iterations.  What are the particular demands of the genre? We’ll examine case studies of successful rom-com plays, screenplays, and television shows.  And the majority of each session will be spent on students’ romantic comedy ideas, outlines, character development, and scripts in progress. 

Teacher Bio

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 dramedy teleplay Broadway, Ohio is a finalist in the Chicago Screenplay Awards, Page Turner Awards, and a semi-finalist at Sundance Labs. Her comedy screenplay Alice and Celia and Whatever It Takes is a finalist for the Lit Laughs Comedy Film Festival and the Chicago Comedy Film Festival, and a is a semi-finalist in the Chicago Screenplay Awards. 

Mary Ruth’s students are staffed on Queens, Woke, and Family Reunion. 

She consults for clients in LA and Chicago, and she has critiqued about a gazillion plays and screenplays.  She’s a regular guest lecturer at the Chicago Screenwriter’s Network and the Off-Campus Writer’s Group.  

She is a member of the Writer’s Guide of America East and the Dramatists Guild.

Course Details

Session DatesFeb 05, 12, 19, 26
March 05, 12, 19
Experience LevelBeginner, Intermediate, Advanced
Applicable DiscountsEarly Bird, New Student, Network

Thieves of Shakespeare (Online)
7 Saturdays, 10:00am – 1:00pm CT
Feb 11 – Mar 25
Instructor: Ean Miles Kessler

The work of Shakespeare remains a deep well spring of inspiration for writers. In this workshop based class, students will rework and adapt scenes, motifs, characters, and even entire plays from Shakespeare’s canon. The course culminates in a zoom reading, performed by professional actors.

Class Description

The work of Shakespeare remains a deep well which writers continue to return to, time and again. In this workshop based class, students will rework and adapt scenes, motifs, characters, and even entire plays from Shakespeare’s canon. This course is led by classically trained actor and Rutgers BFA Acting graduate, Ean Miles Kessler. During his time at Rutgers, Ean studied at Shakespeare’s Globe in England under Tony nominee Tim Carroll, where he performed the title role of Hamlet on the Globe Stage. A deep lover of Shakespeare, Ean has performed and directed a wide range of the Bard’s work, and has written several adaptations of Shakespeare’s plays. This course will be an even mix of generating/workshopping student material, dissecting Shakespeare’s work, open discussion, and a variety of writing exercises and prompts. Students will have the option to bring in work they’ve developed previously to be workshopped within class, or can develop pieces during the course of the class itself. The course will culminate in a reading of student work, performed for the public by professional actors.

Teacher Bio

Ean Miles Kessler is a playwright, teacher, and horse trainer. His jobs have run the gamut: he’s processed poultry, worked briefly at Fedex loading trucks, bartended in New Orleans for Mardi Gras, and is currently a ranch hand in Montana, where he gentles mustangs. A Rutgers BFA Acting graduate, Ean studied at Shakespeare’s Globe in England under esteemed director and Tony nominee Tim Carroll. At the Globe, Ean performed the title role of Hamlet on the Globe Stage. His plays have been produced nationally and internationally, and his work has been published by Vintage Books. His plays have been developed with a variety of companies, including: The Playwrights’ Center, Chicago Dramatists Saturday Series, and Naked Angels among others. Previously, Ean was the Network Director at Chicago Dramatists, where he taught Deconstructing the American West, and he is thrilled to be back working with his Chicago family.

Course Details

Session DatesFeb 11, 18, 25
Mar 04, 11, 18, 25
Experience LevelBeginner, Intermediate, Advanced
Available DiscountsEarly Bird, New Student, Network

New Work and Collaborative Process (Online)
7 Tuesdays 6:00pm – 9:00pm CT
Feb 21 – Apr 04
Instructor: Kate Hendrickson

Enter the rehearsal room in this class with director Kate Hendrickson as she shares her collaborative approach to new work development.

Class Description

Enter the rehearsal room in this class with director Kate Hendrickson as she shares her collaborative approach to new work development. You’ll first read and discuss works that Kate has premiered, and then approach student scripts with the same eye toward how to bring works to full production. Over the course of the class, discussions will include Kate’s detailed notes and a director-to-playwright constructive review of each work as the class listens in. Each session concludes with a group Q&A for further insight into the rehearsal and production process. Participating playwrights will gain a new sense of how a director may approach and envision their new work.

Teacher Bio

Kate Hendrickson is a Chicago based theatre director and teaching artist, who specializes in premiering new plays by radical American playwrights. She is a resident director at Trap Door Theatre where she has directed the world premieres of Lipstick Lobotomy, Fantasy Island for Dummies, ANGER/FLY, Cookie Play, Chaste and Beholder, among others. Additional work includes We Are Pussy Riot at Red Tape, the International Voices Project, Pivot Arts’ Multi-Arts Festival, and Links Hall’s Physical Fest Chicago. Kate has also worked as an actor, casting assistant, and script reader, and is a teaching artist with Urban Gateways.

Course Details

Session DatesFeb 07, 21, 28
Mar 07, 14, 21, 28
No class Feb 14
Experience LevelThis course is ideal for writers who are at the advanced level.
Available DiscountsNetwork, Early Bird, New Student

Chicago Dramatists Class Fee Policies 

  • If you cancel your registration more than ten days in advance of the class start date, you will be entitled to either a full refund of your money or a full credit applied to your account for future CD classes. 
  • If you cancel your registration fewer than ten days but more than three days before the class start date, you will be entitled to 50% of your class fee (minus a $20 administrative fee) applied to your account as a credit. 
  • If you cancel your registration less than three days before the class start date, there is unfortunately neither a credit nor refund option available.
  • Classes that fail to meet the 50% minimum registrant requirement within 48 hours of class start time will be cancelled. In this case, registrants will receive a 100% refund.
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