Advanced Playwriting
7 Saturdays 10:00am – 1:00pm CST
Mar. 27 – May 15
Instructor: Dana Lynn Formby

In this class, you will pitch, outline, and write a long one-act or full-length play. You will add new tools to your writing toolbox that will help you define your voice and speak about your work. You will also develop a system to keep you on track for submitting your work. The class culminates with a scene of your choice by professional actors. 

Prerequisites: The writer has completed at least one play or screenplay, and has some rewriting and/or new play workshopping experience.

This class is ideal for students who consider themselves advanced.

Playwriting Fundamentals
7 Wednesdays 6:00pm – 9:00pm CST
Mar 31 – May 12
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.

This class is ideal for students who consider themselves beginners.

From Aristotle To Binge-Watching
7 Tuesdays & Thursdays 6:00pm – 7:30pm CST
Apr 01 – May 18
Instructor: Emilio Williams

The golden age of TV is based on dramatic rules that have been around for thousands of years. Students of this seven week cohort will meet twice a week to learn from what HBO, Netflix, and Disney stole from the best theater theorists. We will learn the art of dramatic writing, for the stage or the screen, by looking closely at the most popular TV shows of our era, in a combination of micro-lectures and class discussions, with plenty of opportunities to share new pages and receive feedback. Explore how popular culture can help us improve our own writing, and how we can get inspired by disciplines outside our own.

The Early Bird Registration Discount is not applicable for this course. Network Discounts still apply.

This class is for writers at the intermediate level.

“Scene Shop” Play Development (Thurs.)
7 Thursdays 6:30pm – 9:30pm Apr 15 – Jun 10
“Scene Shop” Play Development (Sat.)
7 Saturdays 10:00am – 1:00pm Apr 17 – Jun 12
Instructor: Will Dunne

Self-contained weekly sessions offer character, scene, and story tools to help you write and revise your script, professional actors to read the work you bring from home, and constructive group feedback in a supportive setting. 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.

The Early Bird Registration Discount is not applicable for this course. Network Discounts still apply.

This class is ideal for students with experience ranging from intermediate to advanced.

Writing the Ten Minute Musical
6 Saturdays 10:00am – 1:00pm CST
Sep 19 – Nov 07
Instructor: Cheri Coons & J. Sebastian Fabal


Learn advanced musical theatre storytelling techniques by creating original work in this compact, ten minute form. Writers and/or writing teams will create a 10 minute musical inspired by open-ended prompts.  You’ll share work in class every week, culminating in a workshop with actors and a director in the final class sessions. In addition, 10 Minute Musicals from this class will be eligible for a very special opportunity: readings of 6 finalist musicals will be showcased in the Chicago Musical Theatre Festival, produced by Underscore Theatre Company in 2021.

This class is ideal for students with experience ranging from beginner to advanced.

Always, Sometimes, Maybe, Never: Solo Show & Story
7 Tuesdays 6:00pm – 9:15pm CST
Apr 13 – May 25
Instructor: Arlene Malinowski

This workshop is designed for storytellers, actors, solo artists and playwrights of all levels – who want to work on the development of a one person show or story for the stage. The class will focus on:

  1. Cultivating your unique style and the voice of your story.
  2. Rubrics for creating the world of the play. The universal truth, inciting incident and quest.
  3. Designing structure, development of plot, characters and techniques to manipulate storyteller/audience relationship.

This can include work at any stage of development from an idea to a finished piece. Each week offers an opportunity to develop material, class exercises and time to work individually to get personalized coaching with the goal of getting your work in the world. There will be an online class performance which will be held as the eighth session on June 1. I am here to be your cheerleader and vision-keeper. Bring your ideas, an open mind and your sense of adventure.

This class is ideal for students with experience ranging from beginner to advanced.

Memoir Theatre
7 Saturdays 1:00pm – 4:00pm CST
May 01 – Jun 12
Instructor: Wendy Hammond

Memoir Theatre:  Writing the stories of our lives. Students will play writing games to unearth  what you care about, what enrages you, what hurt you, what shamed you, what lifted you, what you lost, what you gained, how you triumphed. Learn from memoir pieces by Roxane Gay, Jesmyn Ward, David Sedaris, Kiese Laymon, and Jeannette Walls, and talk about ways to make theatre from memoir. In the last class (on June 12) each student will read or perform a short memoir piece, for a Zoom showcase.

This class is ideal for students of every level: beginner, intermediate, and advanced.

The Poetics of Playwriting
7 Sundays 1:00pm – 4:00pm CST
May 02 – Jun 27
Instructor: Marisela Orta

Over the course of seven-weeks, students will read five assigned plays and participate in class discussion to explore how to employ these narrative tools in their own writing. Using writing exercises and assignments, students will have the opportunity to experiment with these new tools to deepen their own playwriting craft. In this supportive class environment, we will learn by doing—we will experiment with these tools and take risks to push our writing in new directions.

The Early Bird Registration Discount is not applicable for this course. Network Discounts still apply.

This class is ideal for students with experience ranging from intermediate to advanced.

Screenwriting: The Art & Practice of Cinematic Storytelling
7 Tuesdays 6:00pm – 9:00pm
May 04 – Jun 15
Instructor: Sue Pak

This course is designed to supply students with tools to expand and enrich their appreciation of all aspects of filmmaking and screenwriting in particular. Students will prepare for eventual entry into the professional world, learning how outside forces can influence the decisions a screenwriter makes. Through the practice of screenwriting, students will do the following: (1) Learn how to represent in words not only story, but also sound design, editing, visual design, and other parameters of media-making, (2) Discover how core concepts of character, structure, plot, theme and tone interact within existing and emerging media and (3) Explore a variety of films, topics and exercises towards the inspiration and development of a piece of original work of personal significance.

This class is ideal for students ranging from beginner to advanced.

Writing Music for Musical Theatre
7 Wednesdays 6:00pm – 9:00pm CST
May 05 – Jun 19
Instructor: Diana Lawrence

This 7-week course offers composers and songwriters an exploration of the craft of composition for musical theatre. Participants will gain creative and structural tools for dramatic songwriting by both studying existing work and developing work of their own. Appropriate for songwriters and composers at all career stages, each class session includes a balance of new course content presented by the instructor, and the chance for writers to present their own work. While weekly assignments will focus on the creation of new music, the class will also give participants the opportunity to share work from existing projects and present revisions of previous work for response.

This class is ideal for students with experience ranging from beginner to advanced.

Developing a Play-in-Progress

7 Tuesdays 6:30pm – 9:30pm
Mar 24 – May 05

This course will gather together playwrights with projects in various forms of completion, from partial scenes and outlines, to rough and/or completed drafts. Each student will further explore, expand and develop their plays through in-class readings, discussion, and assignments.

Sister, Soldier, Self-Preserver: Writing Through Storms

7 Thursdays 6:00pm – 9:00pm CST
Jun 03 – July 15
Instructor: Kimberly Dixon-Mays

7 Wednesdays 6:00pm – 8:00pm Central
Jul 15 – Aug 267 Saturdays 10:00am – 1:00pm CST
May 22 – July 10
Instructor: Dana Lynn Formby

A playwright’s choice to write what’s on their mind can feel like choosing between re-living trauma personally, or fulfilling their responsibility as artists. And the workshop experience – so important to developing new work – can amplify this complexity. These dynamics can feel especially true right now, particularly for underrepresented populations. This workshop is designed for Black playwrights who are Female, Femme identifying, Non-binary, and/or identify as women, to explore strategies for writing, with a balance of both self-care and their own larger artistic mission.

This free class is being offered as a part of our Racism and Inequality Free Class Series. Chicago Dramatists is offering this course free-of-charge to up to 8 Black playwrights who are Female, Femme identifying, Non-binary, and/or identify as women. Students will be chosen by a simple application process. Applications close:  May 15 at 6pm CST. Selected applicants notified:  May 22.

This class is ideal for intermediate to advanced students.

Performance Art
7 Saturdays 10:00am – 1:00pm CST
Jun 05 – Jul 24
Instructor: Kestutis Nakas

Astonishing performance happens when the performer takes resolute action to resolve an overwhelming challenge and is thereby transformed . Discover the pleasures of rendering your distilled life experience into playable actions. Create a world of movement, sound and imagery that amplifies you message . Access your imagination and subconscious while embracing risk. In this course, writers will create and perform an original piece of performance art, suitable for a variety of venues: online, cabaret, theatre, film, gallery, and more. You will also mine varied performance traditions, (avant-garde, vaudeville, comedy, religious ritual, circus, pop culture, etc.) digging for valuable methods, insights and modes of presentation to enhance your message. Students will leave the class with an original performance work and the tools to create more. The course culminates with an online performance of student work on July 24.

This course is ideal for writers of every level:  beginner, intermediate, and advanced.

Writing for the Small Screen:
From Broadcast to Streaming to Web

7 Saturdays 10:00am – 1:00pm CST
Oct 03 – Nov 14
Instructor: Mary Ruth Clarke


This class is for anyone who has an idea (comedy or drama, any genre) that could make a great series and who wants to learn the crucial basics of how to write it. Students will study and analyze successful pilots. You will tease out/explore the inherent possibilities in your idea, where it fits in the vast TV landscape, how to position the idea, what makes a great TV characters, visual storytelling, budgetary considerations, proper story structure, and formatting.

This class is ideal for students with experience ranging from beginner to advanced.

Solo Show & Storytelling:
Page to Stage

7 Tuesdays 6:30pm – 9:45pm
Apr 14 – May 26
(2 additional rehearsals & 1 performance, dates determined in class)

This workshop is for actors, storytellers and playwrights who want to work on the development of a one-person show or long-form story and get it on a stage. Each week you have an opportunity to develop material with the goal being to advance to production readiness. You will also have the opportunity to work with an acting coach and director.

Test Test