Susan Lori Parks, recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for her play Topdog/Underdog, shown here talking with the students in a Fordham playwriting class.
Playwrights Ruth Margraff and Erik Ehn, shown here with Matthew Maguire, talk with playwriting students about their work.
Tony Kushner and Edward Albee at a Fordham panel discussion.
The Front Porch Play by Sean Patrick Monahan
Playwriting Track 2014
Playwright Kirsten Childs and director/playwright Tina Landau talk with playwriting students.
Playwright John Guare speaking with the Fordham Theatre students.
Speak Not of the Forgotten by Adaire Kamen
Playwriting Track 2014
Playwriting major Jason Pizzarello (second from right) had his play "Glued to Grammy" produced Off Off-Broadway at the Here Arts Center during his senior year at Fordham. Shown here with other Fordham students on opening night.
The Reagans by Sarah Rogers
Playwriting Track 2012
|About the Playwriting Track
We believe that playwrights learn to write plays by seeing productions of their work in front of audiences. Over the course of a playwright's training at Fordham, the program sponsors three full productions in the studio theatres; one production will be directed by a collaborator from within Fordham's Directing Track, two will be directed by outside professional directors.
- Playwriting majors begin the writing sequence in the second semester of their freshmen year. After two semesters, playwrights begin producing their own plays.
- Playwrights take six semesters of writing workshop. Emphasis is given to four major areas: character, story, structure and poetic voice.
We have had the honor of an auspicious list of guest playwrights teaching in our classes including: the Pulitzer Prize winning playwright, Nilo Cruz, the Pulitzer Prize winner, Suzan-Lori Parks, MacArthur Prize winner Elizabeth LeCompte, Tony Award winner Warren Leight, Dean of Theatre at CalArts Erik Ehn, Anne Washburn, Mark Bly, Marlane Meyer, Candido Tirado, Erin Cressida Wilson, Len Jenkin, Diana Son, Charles L. Mee Jr., David Greenspan, Darrah Cloud, David Lindsay-Abaire, Kia Corthron, Mary Gallagher, Craig Lucas, Jeffrey Jones, Chiori Miyagawa, Ellen McLaughlin, Michael John Garcés, Susan Mosakowski, Mac Wellman, Donald Laventhall, Jessica Hagedorn, Lynne Nottage, Kirsten Childs, Jacquelyn Reingold, Donny Levit, Merry Conway, Zakiyyah Alexander, Tim Acito, Alisa Solomon, Tina Landau, Kia Corthron, Jessica Hagedorn, Ralph Sevush, Chris Burney, Jim Fitzmorris, Catherine Filloux, Mallory Catlett, Sheila Callaghan, and one of Russia’s leading playwrights, Sasha Galen.
- This workshop deliberately engages diverse aesthetic perspectives and approaches to craft while maintaining a focus on discipline and rigor; it is a community of writers from various levels of experience in one dynamic space, each developing their craft and exploring their individual voice.
Guests speaking to the entire Fordham Theatre community have been Edward Albee, John Guare, Tony Kushner, Eduardo Machado, and Eve Ensler among others.
Recent graduates of the program have been accepted into the MFA Playwriting Programs at Yale School of Drama, CalArts, New York University, Columbia University, the University of Iowa, and the University of East Anglia in England. One graduate, was accepted for an artistic residency at London’s Royal Court Theatre.
- Lauren Opper had her play Ravishing Carlos/Ravishing Christina produced at Dixon Place.
- Playwriting graduate Jason Pizzarello has had seven of his plays published by Playscripts, Inc.
- Isaac Oliver has been performing his play He Who Laughs Live: The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Intimacy at ARS NOVA in NYC.
- Peter Gil-Sheridan earned his MFA at the University of Iowa, and was the recipient of a Jerome Fellowship in playwriting and the National New Play Network Smith Prize for his play Topsy Turvy Mouse; he also had a play commissioned by the Guthrie.
- Leah Hendrick has had plays produced in Seoul Korea.
- Jeffrey James Keyes earned his M.F.A. in Playwriting from Columbia.
- Brian Bauman earned his MFA at Cal Arts under Suzan-Lori Parks and Erik Ehn, and has launched his theatre company in NYC: Perfect Disgrace.
- Justin Sherin earned his MFA from Yale School of Drama and has had plays developed at the Royal Court Theatre, the Old Vic, andthe RSC.
For a more detailed list of alumni achievements, click here.
- Ian McWethy has had plays produced by The NY Fringe Festival, and is published by Playscripts.
PLAYWRITING MAJOR REQUIREMENTS
(Thirteen Courses, 52 Credits)
Foundation courses required of all theatre majors:
THEA2080 Collaboration I (open to theatre majors only)
THEA2090 Collaboration II (open to theatre majors only)
THEA2011 Text Analysis
THEA2000 Theatre History I: The Greeks
THEA2100 Theatre History II: Medieval to the Restoration
THEA2200 Theatre History III: Modern to the Present
Playwriting Major Required Courses:
One Theatre Design Course
As noted above, playwrights take six semesters of writing workshop in which emphasis is given to four major areas: character, story, structure and poetic voice.
Collaboration I and II
A two-course sequence for all freshmen theatre majors. This course will instill in students that the primary skill in the theatre is the ability to work together. Students across each concentration (performance, playwriting, directing, and design and production) will create short pieces as a team with leading roles circulating
Through careful, intensive reading of a variety of plays with different dramatic structures and aesthetics, students begin to see that options exist for interpreting a script.
Theatre History I: The Greeks
The course explores the major developments in the ancient Greek theatre, focusing on the plays of Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides. To enrich our context we will read primary Greek texts including The Iliad and The Odyssey, and contemporary responses to the Greeks from writers such as Wole Soyinka, Adrienne Kennedy, and Derek Walcott. The course is open to non-majors.
Theatre History II: Medieval to the Restoration
The course explores the major developments in Theatre from 1588 to 1720. We use major works as a focus including the plays of Hrotsvitha, Marlowe, Shakespeare, Webster, Ford, Calder-n de la Barca, Chikamatsu, Moliere, Racine, Congreve, and Centlivre. We explore their context (when, where, and why they were written) the lives of the playwrights, and the culture and the politics of their society. The course is open to non-majors.
Theatre History III: Moderns to the Present
The course explores the major developments in Theatre from 1879 to the present using major plays of Ibsen, Strindberg, Chekhov, Wedekind, Stein, Brecht, O'Neill, Artaud, Genet, Kennedy, Beckett, Soyinka, Mishima, Churchill, and the movements of performance art and butoh. We explore their context - when, where, and why they were written - the lives of the playwrights, and the culture and the politics of their society. The course is open to non-majors.
Playwriting I: Storytelling and Character
The primary goals of the course are to teach basic craft and to create an environment that encourages the writer's exploration of their individual voice. We concentrate on two major issues: storytelling and character. The course is taught from overlapping perspectives of traditional and alternative techniques. The writers create characters in conflict. From these characters the shape of a one-act play is derived. Then they develop their plays scene by scene. Rewriting follows critique. The process also includes seminars with award-winning guest playwrights, trips to New Dramatists, seeing NYC productions, and work with the directing students. The final project of the semester is a reading of the one-act plays before an invited audience. Open to all students.
Playwriting II: Structure and Language
We continue the work of Playwriting I with a shift of focus to two new major issues: structure and language. Classic plays are used to demonstrate structural principles with an emphasis on a play's arc through its beginning, turning point, and ending. Exercises introducing alternative techniques of writing enrich the process, including approaches to playwriting as collage, emphasizing the power of image, gesture, and experimental narrative structures including non-linear. Then the writers reach for heightened language to flesh out their play's world. The process includes seminars with guest writers and uses the New York theatre scene as a resource. Again, the final project of the semester is a reading of the one-act plays before an invited audience. Open to all students.
Playwriting III: One-Act Play Production
The writers alternate their time between the seminar room and the studio theatre for the developmentand rehearsal process of a Theatre program sponsored staging of their one-act play. The production is full in every way except that the design is limited to light design to heighten focus on the text.
Playwriting IV: Full-Length Play-Production
The writers alternate their time between the seminar room and the studio theatre for the development and rehearsal process of a Theatre program sponsored production of their one-act play. During this semester the writer concentrates on exploring the craft of a full-length.
Playwriting V (Advanced)
This course supports the writer on the production of a full-length play of any style.
Playwriting VI (Thesis Project)
This course supports the writer in advanced work on production of a fully staged play of any length and style.
If you have further questions about Undergraduate Playwriting classes, please email Daniel Alexander Jones, Head of the Playwriting Track, at firstname.lastname@example.org
For information about persuing an MFA in playwriting, please click here.