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Playwriting Track

Writing for performance is distinctly different from other creative writing practices. We know that playwrights best learn to write plays by experiencing productions of their work in front of audiences. Over the course of a playwright's study at Fordham, the program sponsors three full productions in the studio theatres. Two productions are typically directed by outside professional directors based in New York City. One production will be directed by a collaborator from within Fordham's directing track-we believe, as Paula Vogel famously stated, that “circles rise together” and encourage meaningful collaboration between our playwrights and fellow students.

The playwriting track typically accepts only one to two new students each year and does not accept transfer applicants. All playwriting students must begin as incoming freshman in order to complete the proper sequence of courses in our program.

Playwriting students begin the writing sequence in the first semester of their freshmen year. After two semesters, playwrights begin producing their own plays. Playwrights take six semesters of writing workshop. We address four major areas: character, story, structure, and poetic voice throughout our training. This workshop deliberately engages diverse aesthetic perspectives. It exposes writers to a range of approaches to craft while emphasizing discipline and rigor. Ours is a community of writers from various levels of experience in one dynamic space, each developing their craft and exploring their individual voice. We actively cultivate a range of voices and resist any cookie cutter approach

The program is led by Doris Duke Artist, Daniel Alexander Jones.

For a complete list of guest playwriting instructors, see our guest faculty.

We also feature many guest speakers for the entire Fordham theatre community. Recent speakers have included: Edward Albee, John Guare, Tony Kushner, Eduardo Machado, and Eve Ensler.

Recent graduates of the program have been accepted into the MFA Playwriting Programs at Brown University, 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.

Learning Goals

The student has a deep understanding of the specific invitations and demands of writing for performance.

The student successfully demonstrated a considered, well-integrated perspective on the central theme(s) of their play.

The student can create fully realized characters. These characters operate within the physics of the play world and are developed to the best of the playwrights ability as distinctive, rounded, complex and necessary figures in the play.

The student created a whole dramatic composition. The student has demonstrated, at least once during their time in the program, that they understand how to create a sequential dramatic narrative. When they use another compositional approach (poetic, musical, collage, etc.), that approach must be clearly articulated, fully realized and structurally sound. All elements of the play must feel both intentional and necessary.

The students have developed their own voice, to some measurable degree. We do expect that they will release all preconceived notions of what a playwright's voice "should" be. We are interested in a measurable progression over the course of study and some strong evidence of the maturity necessary to claim a vibrant relationship with their own voice.

The student is a generous, respectful and committed collaborator. They will have successfully developed relationships and sought truthful and useful discourse with their collaborators.

Track Requirements

(13 Courses, 52 Credits)

In addition to the Fordham University core requirements, playwriting concentrators in the theatre program take an array of courses designed to further augment their training.

In addition to these course requirements, every Freshman, Sophomore, and Junior is expected to complete 52 Lab hours (a form of theatre community service) each semester. For more information about the Lab Hour policy, and other Theatre Program processes, please visit our Policies and Practices Page. 

For information about Fordham University's Core Curriculum requirements for students located at the Lincoln Center Campus, please go to this page.

Sample Program

Freshman Year

Fall Spring
ENGL 1102 Composition II 3 ENGL/CLAS 2000 Texts & Contexts (EP2) 3
THEO 1000 Faith/Critical Reason 3 PHIL 1000 Philosophy of Human Nature 3
Foreign Language 1 5 Foreign Language 2 3
MT/CS 3 THEA 2090 Collaboration II 4
THEA 2080 Collaboration I 4 THEA 3700 Playwriting 4
Total Credits 18 Total Credits 17

Sophomore Year

Fall Spring
HIST 1000 Understanding Historical Change 3 THEO: Sacred Texts & Traditions 3
PHIL 3000 Philosophical Ethics 3 Foreign Language 4 3
Foreign Language 3 3 Physical Science 3
Life Science 3 THEA 2011 Text Analysis 3
THEA 3700 Playwriting 4 THEA 3700 Playwriting 4
Total Credits 16 Total Credits 16

Junior Year

Fall Spring
Advanced Disc: History or Social Science 4 THEA 2002 Theatre History II 4
THEA 3700 Playwriting 4 Theatre Design Course 3 or 4
THEA 2001 Theatre History I 4 Advanced Disc: History or Social Science 4
Social Science 3 Elective or EP3 Course 4
Total Credits 15 Total Credits 15 or 16

Senior Year

Fall Spring
Interdisciplinary Seminar 4 Senior Values Seminar (EP4) 4
THEA 5700 MFA Playwriting Workshop 4 Theatre Elective 4
THEA 2003 Theatre History III 4 Creative Writing or Theatre Class 4
Elective or EP3 4 Elective 4
Total Credits 16 Total Credits 16

Total Program Credits: 129 or 130
Theatre majors satisfy Advanced Literature by completing 3 semesters of Theatre History. Each semester, one section of Theatre History has an EP3 designation.

NOTE: Pluralism and Globalism attributes can be fulfilled through core, major, or elective courses.
Foreign Language: Students must complete the exit level in their chosen language.

Visiting Artists

We have had the honor of an auspicious list of guest playwrights teaching in our classes including:

OBIE Award Winner Jackie Sibblies Drury
Guggenheim Award Winner Anne Washburn
Pulitzer Prize Winning Playwright Nilo Cruz
MacArthur Prize Winner Suzan-Lori Parks
MacArthur Prize Winner Elizabeth LeCompte
Tony Award Winner Warren Leight
Dean of Theatre at CalArts Erik Ehn


Some of our recent playwriting graduates have especially distinguished themselves since their time at Fordham.

Lauren Opper had her play Ravishing Carlos/Ravishing Christina produced at Dixon Place.

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 MFA 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, and the RSC.

Ian McWethy has had plays produced by The NY Fringe Festival and is published by Playscripts.

Theatre - Playwriting