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The First Draft: Writing Class

Primary Stages ESPA

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Whether you’re writing your first play or your hundredth, it’s not always easy to set the creative wheels in motion. This 10-week class will

What You'll Get

Whether you're writing your first play or your hundredth, it's not always easy to set the creative wheels in motion. This 10-week class will guide you through the development of your first draft.

This class might be for you if you:

  • Are a playwright of any level looking to start the first draft of your new play.
  • Are starting out in the world of playwriting or want to write your first play.
  • Want concrete deadlines and constructive feedback to encourage you to get your ideas on the page.

In this class you will:

  • Bring in new pages to hear them read aloud in class.
  • Strengthen your writing skills with exercises and assignments from your instructor.
  • Engage in discussion with fellow writers, making connections with your artistic peers.

By the end of this class you will:

  • Have a solid start on—or even complete!—a first draft of a full-length play.
  • Be ready for Completing Your Draft!

Eddie Sanchez (February 23 - May 31)

Eddie's class is all about being a safe place to try things. One week you may bring in a scene that totally slays, the next week, not so much. But this is the room where you can try. Eddie will send out a questionnaire with the first class to help you focus on what you want to write (and sometimes those initial answers change as the play develops). You will then bring in up to 10 pages each class, and assign others to read your pages aloud—you will never read your own work as it is more valuable in this setting to hear your work without trying to perform it. Each session will end with ten minutes of writing, with Eddie's goal being to demystify the thought that you need to have hours set aside to write. Sometimes ten minutes is what you got. As a playwright, Eddie writes everything (including novels!) and doesn't ascribe one specific style to his work. He believes that you should dive into whatever you are passionate about, so his class is dedicated to making a commitment to yourself as a writer—to really write and just go for it.

Adam Kraar (February 25 - April 28)

The structure of this class is elastic enough to accommodate a variety of playwriting voices, yet rigorous enough to help each writer power through a First Draft. Because Adam believes the best First Draft writing happens when writers release their intuitive impulses, you'll learn strategies for keeping the conscious, critical mind out of the drafting process. This class will encourage you to tap into your most burning concerns, and then to go beyond that, employing craft to ensure that your concerns will speak to the widest possible audience. The main organizing principle of this class is to support the work that each writer needs to write, trusting that no one knows more about the underlying impulse of a particular play than the author who wrote it.

In the first half of the semester, all writers will bring in pages each week. Later, you'll take turns bringing in larger sections of your plays-in-progress. As you generate pages, the class will then focus on how each writer can shape their material into a compelling structure. While Adam will take the lead on providing feedback, everyone will be expected to share candid, supportive responses to the work. At various points in the semester, Adam will read work outside of class and respond directly to each writer. You'll do a few in-class exercises early in the semester, and then only as needed, based on particular craft challenges that may come up.

Adam's writing style ranges from strange dark comedies to lyrical dramas, with heightened language and Magical Realism. His work deals with the ways that different cultures clash and/or connect; these collisions are reflected in the eclectic form of his plays.

Crystal Skillman (March 9 - May 18)

This is a class of the IMAGINATION. This class will be very much focused on what you are passionate to write a full-length about and what is theatrical – and what MUST be a play. In the class, you will focus mainly on structure, in addition to character, language, and dramatic action. Consider Crystal your producer, that at times you adore and at times you find challenging, but who always keeps you on track. Each 3-hour session will be mixed with writing exercises Crystal has created which will support the play you are writing, lessons, and feedback each week on 8-10 pages. Crystal will be your guide and advisor as you write. Your full-length will embrace a modern two act structure (though it very might well be a long one act, 45-60 minutes, or a classical 90 minutes, or longer), and the class is set up to move onto act two at the mid-way point of meeting, so there will strict deadlines that will help you achieve this goal. Breaking of the rules is very exciting, but you'll be sure the rules are learned to smash all the more efficiently. Crystal will touch on the rules of dramatic action in all media, and will often discuss the differences between TV, screenwriting, musical theater book writing, and playwriting as you make strong choices of what unfolds on stage in your play. You will also learn how to "dramaturg" you own work and drive your own feedback sessions/process. In addition to weekly page assignments, you will be assigned specific playwrights to read.

As a playwright, Crystal is known as a theatrical "geek girl" or a "creative insurgent writer" who tackles big, sociopolitical issues through genre. She works as a musical book writer for musicals as well, and is starting to work in television. She will push you to discover what you want to write TODAY and what is important to you to share as a theatrical story on stage.

Melisa Annis (March 16 - May 11)

Playwriting is very rewarding and can also be deeply personal – we all need to be good community members and support each other. This class will be a safe space to share, while also challenging each playwright to explore their subconscious, their subtext, and hopefully ultimately help them reach their goals. Mêlisa believes that for a first draft, the key is to keep writing. Moving forward. So students will bring up to 10 pages a week. If you're having a tough writing week, that's ok – you should still bring in at least half a page of something, anything... it's important to keep the muscle working. Mêlisa will then lead the room in playing "script detective" with the pages, letting the playwright know what the group is picking up on and pulling out sections to ask specific questions. She will often send you essays on playwriting and theater, and suggest plays to read, all of which are optional but chosen to help you in your process. Mêlisa is always encouraging and supportive to any playwright who is brave enough to put words on a page, and hopes that anyone who joins this class is willing to support their colleagues in the room.

Michael Walkup (March 10 - May 20*)

*Please note that May 20 is a Wednesday

This class is run in the spirit of a dramaturg running a workshop for playwrights. You will share work each week to keep you on track to completing a first draft. There will be some assigned readings early in the class to create a shared vocabulary. Playwrights will be encouraged to write as many pages each week as they feel inspired to, and you'll commit to actively reading and discussing around 15 minutes of writing per student per week. We will stay flexible, but never let anyone fall off the wagon of steadily writing toward a complete first draft. Michael will lead a carefully structured conversation about the work—the aim of which is to illuminate what the pages have already accomplished, and not predict what you should do next. He will help you articulate the style and structure that your particular play wants to be told in. He will meet you on your own turf and reflect back to you what he sees in your writing—where it may want to push ahead, where it may be losing steam or clarity, and where he thinks certain playwriting tools (such as character, reversals, language, song, and physical action) may push a scene to the next level.

As a dramaturg and Artistic Director of a playwright's theater, Michael enjoys collaborating with writers who are working in all manner of forms, and tailors his feedback to the play's particular style.

Class Starting Sunday, February 23

10 sessions

  • Sunday, February 23, 11:00AM- 2:00PM
  • Sunday, March 01, 11:00AM- 2:00PM
  • Sunday, March 29, 11:00AM- 2:00PM
  • Sunday, April 05, 11:00AM- 2:00PM
  • Sunday, April 19, 11:00AM- 2:00PM
  • Sunday, April 26, 11:00AM- 2:00PM
  • Sunday, May 03, 11:00AM- 2:00PM
  • Sunday, May 10, 11:00AM- 2:00PM
  • Sunday, May 17, 11:00AM- 2:00PM
  • Sunday, May 31, 11:00AM- 2:00PM

Class Starting Tuesday, February 25

10 sessions

  • Tuesday, February 25, 6:30PM- 9:30PM
  • Tuesday, March 03, 6:30PM- 9:30PM
  • Tuesday, March 10, 6:30PM- 9:30PM
  • Tuesday, March 17, 6:30PM- 9:30PM
  • Tuesday, March 24, 6:30PM- 9:30PM
  • Tuesday, March 31, 6:30PM- 9:30PM
  • Tuesday, April 07, 6:30PM- 9:30PM
  • Tuesday, April 14, 6:30PM- 9:30PM
  • Tuesday, April 21, 6:30PM- 9:30PM
  • Tuesday, April 28, 6:30PM- 9:30PM

Class Starting Monday, March 09

10 sessions

  • Monday, March 09, 11:00AM- 2:00PM
  • Monday, March 16, 11:00AM- 2:00PM
  • Monday, March 23, 11:00AM- 2:00PM
  • Monday, March 30, 11:00AM- 2:00PM
  • Monday, April 13, 11:00AM- 2:00PM
  • Monday, April 20, 11:00AM- 2:00PM
  • Monday, April 27, 11:00AM- 2:00PM
  • Monday, May 04, 11:00AM- 2:00PM
  • Monday, May 11, 11:00AM- 2:00PM
  • Monday, May 18, 11:00AM- 2:00PM

Class Starting Tuesday, March 10

10 sessions

  • Tuesday, March 10, 6:30PM- 9:30PM
  • Tuesday, March 17, 6:30PM- 9:30PM
  • Tuesday, March 24, 6:30PM- 9:30PM
  • Tuesday, March 31, 6:30PM- 9:30PM
  • Tuesday, April 14, 6:30PM- 9:30PM
  • Tuesday, April 21, 6:30PM- 9:30PM
  • Tuesday, April 28, 6:30PM- 9:30PM
  • Tuesday, May 12, 6:30PM- 9:30PM
  • Tuesday, May 19, 6:30PM- 9:30PM
  • Wednesday, May 20, 6:30PM- 9:30PM

Class Starting Monday, March 16

10 sessions

  • Monday, March 16, 6:30PM- 9:30PM
  • Monday, March 23, 6:30PM- 9:30PM
  • Monday, March 30, 6:30PM- 9:30PM
  • Monday, April 06, 6:30PM- 9:30PM
  • Monday, April 13, 6:30PM- 9:30PM
  • Monday, April 20, 6:30PM- 9:30PM
  • Monday, April 27, 6:30PM- 9:30PM
  • Monday, May 04, 6:30PM- 9:30PM
  • Monday, May 11, 6:30PM- 9:30PM

No classes on Mar 8, 15 & 22, Apr 12, May 24

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The Fine Print

Expiration varies.

  • Must be 18 or older to attend
  • Voucher valid only for date and time listed; may not be exchanged, altered, or redeemed for other dates, but may send a friend in place.
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Primary Stages ESPA

Class, Reading & Writing
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