Playwriting

Register now with our Early Bird Special to get 20% off select classes! Offer ends Sept 12.

Create your next great work this fall! 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.


Fall Classes

Scene Shop” Sampler Thursday Nights (Online)
3 Thursdays 6:30pm – 9:30pm
Sep 08, 15, 22
**SOLD OUT** GET ON THE WAITLIST!!!
OR
“Scene Shop” Sampler Saturday Mornings (Online)
3 Saturdays 10:00am – 1:00pm
Sep 10, 17, 24
**SOLD OUT** GET ON THE WAITLIST!!!

Instructor: Will Dunne

The Scene Shop Sampler is a once-a-year opportunity to give “Scene Shop” Play Development a try without having to make a full-quarter commitment.

Class Description

Now starting its 16th year, this weekly workshop for experienced playwrights offers writing tools, professional actors, and constructive group feedback to help you write or revise your play. 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 DatesSep 08, 15, 22
Experience LevelIntermediate, Advanced
Available DiscountsNetwork
Saturday Details

Session DatesSep 10, 17, 24
Experience LevelIntermediate, Advanced
Available DiscountsNetwork

New Play Development Lab
10 Tuesdays 6:00pm – 7:30pm CT
Sept 13 – Nov 15
Instructor: Emilio Williams
***SOLD OUT*** Join the waitlist.

8 playwrights, 10 weeks, 8 new plays.

Class Description

This course is designed for you to work on a brand new play: your next one! Each of the eight playwrights participating will have four chances to share new pages during the ten-week-long process. The 90-minute zoom meetings will also include discussions and micro-lectures on issues ranging from craft to professional development.

Teacher Bio

A proud resident playwright at Chicago Dramatists, Emilio Williams is a bilingual (Spanish/English) award-winning writer and educator. His critically acclaimed plays have been produced in Argentina, Estonia, France, Mexico, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States, including in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Washington DC.

Emilio has lectured worldwide and teaches at several U.S. universities, including DePaul University, Columbia College Chicago, and Georgia State University. He holds a BA in Film and Video and an MFA in Writing.

Course Details

Session DatesSept 13, 20, 27
Oct. 04, 11, 18, 25
Nov. 01, 08, 15
Experience LevelBeginner, Intermediate, Advanced
Available DiscountsEarly Bird, New Student, Network

Advanced Playwriting (Online)
7 Thursdays 6:00pm – 9:00pm CT
Oct 06 – Nov 17
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 DatesOctober 06, 13, 20, 27
November 03, 10, 17
Expereience LevelAdvanced
Applicable DiscountsEarly Bird, New Student, Network

Intermediate Playwriting (Online)
7 Thursdays 6:00pm – 9:00pm CT
Oct 06 – Nov 17
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 and page count goals will be given. 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 at least 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.

Course Details

Session DatesOct. 06, 13, 20, 27
Nov. 03, 10, 17
Experience LevelIntermediate
Available DiscountsEarly Bird, New Student, Network

Playwriting Fundamentals (Online)
7 Wednesdays 6:00pm – 8:30pm CT
Oct. 12 – Nov. 30
Instructor: Marsha Estell

Looking to kick off your playwriting career?  Get started with “Playwriting Fundamentals,” at Chicago Dramatists!  Study the core essentials of writing your first play, and cover everything from dramatic structure, to character development, to writing realistic and vibrant dialogue.  Led by Marsha Estell, this course is dedicated to helping you find your unique voice as a dramatist.  Class members will write and workshop a 10-minute play, applying all that they’ve learned, over the course of the class! 

Class Description

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

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

Teacher Bio

Marsha Estell is a resident playwright alumna at Chicago Dramatists, 2010 3Arts/Ragdale Fellow, and recipient of the Illinois Arts Council Fellowship for Playwriting. Her plays include Heat, which had its world premiere at Chicago Dramatists and was nominated for a Joseph Jefferson Award for Outstanding New Work and many other award-winning work. She is a member of the Dramatists Guild, SAG/AFTRA and Actors Equity.

Course Details

Session DatesOct. 12, 19, 26
Nov. 02, 09, 16, 30

NO CLASS NOVEMBER 23
Experience LevelBeginner
Available DiscountsEarly Bird, New Student, Network

Scene Shop” Play Development Thursday Nights (Online)
**SOLD OUT** Join the waitlist.
7 Thursdays 6:30pm – 9:30pm
Oct 13 – Dec 15
OR
“Scene Shop” Play Development Saturday Mornings (Online)
***SOLD OUT*** Join the waitlist.
7 Saturdays 10:00am – 1:00pm
Oct 15 – Dec 17
Instructor: Will Dunne

Designed as an ongoing resource for experienced playwrights and now in its 15th 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 15th 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 DatesOctober 13, 20, 27
November 10, 17

December 8, 15
No class 11/3, 11/24, 12/1
Experience LevelIntermediate, Advanced
Available DiscountsNew Student, Network
Saturday Details

Session DatesOctober 15, 22, 29
November 12, 19

December 10, 17
No Class 11/5, 11/26, 12/3
Experience LevelIntermediate, Advanced
Available DiscountsNew Students, Network


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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