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The Dramatists Guild's Institute for Dramatic Writing Announces Spring 2021 Semester

Returning course favorites include Architecture of Musicals with John Dietrich, Artist as CEO with Tari Stratton, and more.

The Dramatists Guild's Institute for Dramatic Writing Announces Spring 2021 Semester

Registration is currently open for The Dramatists Guild's Institute for Dramatic Writing Spring 2021 Semester, featuring writing classes that will be taught by James Anthony Tyler, Cheryl Coons, John Dietrich, Emily Dendinger, Jacqueline Goldfinger, Marcy Heisler, Mark Hollmann, Andrea Lepcio, Donja Love, Mona Mansour, Deborah Murad, Matthew Paul Olmos, Tari Stratton, Roland Tec, Sheri Wilner, and Rhiana Yazzie.

This semester, which begins on Monday, March 8, will offer 14 online courses, including five brand new DGI original writing workshops and a new foundation course in our "Architecture of Plays" series.

New courses include Architecture of Plays: American Indian and First Nations Writers with Rhiana Yazzie, Unexpected Threads with Mona Mansour, Writing Historical Plays with Emily Dendinger, Writing Plays to Address Social Justice with Sheri Wilner.

Returning course favorites include Architecture of Musicals with John Dietrich, Artist as CEO with Tari Stratton, Deborah Murad, and Roland Tec, Challenges of Dialogue with Matthew Paul Olmos, The Empowered Woman in Contemporary Musical Theatre with Cheryl Coons, and Writing Genre for the Stage: Horror and Sci-Fi with Jacqueline Goldfinger.

Course Descriptions:

Architecture of Musicals - Students will develop a vocabulary for understanding musical structure, being able to recognize form, genre and style, allowing us to draw from these tools, and discovering new ways of approaching our own musical storytelling, because in the end, what makes for a great musical? Abundant creatively, a great story, solid craft, the unexpected, and a lot of heart.

Architecture of Plays: American Indian and First Nations Writers - This course examines how American Indian and First Nations dramatists use political work in creating stories for the stage. Analysis and discussion of the plays will include the dramaturgy of displacement, community, contrasts of Native American and Western World views, portrayals of Native Americans in artistic and literary works, the use of ceremony, repetition, and ritual, and specificity, and permissions in Native texts.

Artist as CEO - The Artist as CEO will open your eyes to the tools that are essential for taking control of your career, from the smallest details of your development as a writer to the bigger business and legal principles every writer should understand. Each week, a discussion will be led by a dramatist, an entertainment lawyer, and an arts administrator, on career development and the business and legal standards relevant to the theatre industry.

The Challenges of Dialogue - This course will help you elevate the dialogue in your writing, so that it illuminates character, enhances the story, and fulfils your art. Through in-class exercises and working through your own work, we'll move through the challenges of writing dialogue such as exposition, on-the-nose, overwriting, repetition, rhythm, and subtext.

The Empowered Woman in Contemporary Musical Theatre - If you're writing a musical with a strong woman at the center of the story, how are you thinking about her journey? In this ten week course, we'll focus on practical insights, culled from musical masterworks, that support bookwriters, lyricists, and composers who are in the process of creating musical theatre work with female protagonists, whether those works are original stories, adaptations, adapted from real events, or bio-musicals.

Unexpected Threads - This class, led by Kesselring Prize-winning playwright Mona Mansour, will be part meditative experience/part restart of your writing routine. In these increasingly tense times, it can seem overwhelming to even start new work, let alone sit down to write in an extended way. In this workshop, participants will be together in a shared experience, and learn to tap into the moment-by-moment, instead of the 'this is what I should be doing right now.'

Writing Genre for the Stage: Horror and Sci-Fi - For this workshop, bring your existing full or partial horror or sci-fi play to receive feedback from instructor Jacqueline Goldfinger and your fellow students, and dive into the nooks and crannies of writing horror and sci-fi for the stage.

Writing Historical Plays - In this class, we will investigate historical plays, covering subjects from seventeenth century warrior concubines in India to the American Revolution to the rise of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, looking at what inspired the dramatist, and what they hoped to accomplish by putting the past on stage. We'll engage in vigorous dialogue, examining the difference between appreciation and appropriation, and wrestle with big questions of ownership and authenticity. The course will culminate with an opportunity for each student to write their own historical play.

Writing Plays to Address Social Address - There is no better role model or exemplar than the work created during the Great Depression by The Federal Theatre Project under the leadership of Hallie Flanagan, who sought to employ out-of-work artists and bring high quality, socially relevant theatre to people who never, or rarely, witness it. In this course, led by instructor Sheri Wilner, students will examine the plays and writings by Hallie Flanagan, such as Can You Hear Their Voices and her testimony before the House Un-American Activities Committee, as well as Federal Theatre Project created work, such as One-Third of a Nation and the Living Newspapers. Let's re-invent, re-invigorate, and revive the theatre!

The Dramatists Guild Institute offers hands-on, rigorous training for writers at all skill levels, providing students with an engaging and empowering educational experience. Now, more than ever, the opportunities for self-expression and connection through storytelling sustain us and reinforce our community of dramatists. The DGI strives to build community, creativity and resilience through the craft of dramatic writing.

Some classes are full, so please visit the Dramatists Guild Institute website at for course availability, instructor bios, class schedules, and more.

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