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Introduction to Playwriting Short Course

Key information

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Have you got a good idea for play but don’t know where to begin? Through our Introduction to Playwriting short course, you will be equipped with the skills for producing a script for a play.

Why choose this course?

Led by a professional playwright at City, University of London this 10 week playwriting evening classes offers high quality teaching and experience that allows you to work and study at the same time.

Studying at City is an investment in the future – you will experience teaching from an award winning writer who will help you discover your true writing potential.

Course overview

If you're wondering how to write a play but don't know where to start then this short course is the perfect opportunity for you.

Each week of the playwriting short course, students will explore a different aspect of writing for the stage.

Students will complete the playwriting course with a better understanding of how to develop compelling characters, dialogue, and scene structure.

For students that wish to pursue playwriting beyond the course – they will come away with a clear idea of a broad range of playwriting opportunities available to them year-round.

What will I learn?

What will I learn?

Over this ten week playwriting course, you will explore the core features of playwriting, including dramatic action, scene structure, plot, characterization, the creation of dramatic worlds, dialogue, creativity and inspiration (where to find it?!)

You will engage with a wide range of writing projects and exercises that will expand our understanding of writing for the stage.

We will look at a breadth of contemporary play texts to get to grips with the variety of work being produced in the U.K. today.

As a class, we will think about how these playwrights implement diverse tactics to build compelling worlds and characters.

We will consider:

  • what aspects of the texts we connect or disconnect from – do we like them?
  • If yes, why?
  • If no, why?
  • What’s interesting about how these writers use dialogue?
  • What do we notice about how these writers use structure?
  • Do we get a clear sense of character voice?
  • Do we get a clear sense of location?

Students will be encouraged to work in groups  and discuss and explore  the plays they have opted to read. We will also discuss the plays as a class.

You will be encouraged to pursue the writing style that speaks to you, whether that be experimental or on the more conventional end of the spectrum. You will share your writing in class. Constructive feedback will be offered throughout the class.

You will look at a variety of film scenes (primarily films based upon plays) and discuss the writer’s use of characterization/dialogue.

We will think about the elements that the writer uses to make these characters and their relationships engaging. We will also think about how the writer uses location and time of day/night to activate tension between characters.

You will learn about a wide variety of emerging playwriting schemes to get involved with:

  • The Royal Court Theatre,
  • Theatre 503,
  • The Bush Theatre,
  • Soho Theatre,
  • The Bruntwood Prize.

Teaching & assessment

Teaching & assessment

Students will:

  • Develop the essential tools essential to write a play.
  • Gain an understanding of how to develop engaging characters, scenes, and overarching narratives.
  • Be encouraged to think about the stories that you wish to tell, the stories that feel urgent to YOU. Students should come away with the belief that anyone, regardless of experience, can write a smashing good play.
  • Gain knowledge of a wide variety of playwriting opportunities available to them year-round if they wish to pursue dramatic writing.

Method of assessment:

Informal assessment  will be used to monitor the level of understanding of students throughout the course.

Recommended reading

Recommended reading

While we encourage you to read the books on the reading list the playwriting course, we recommend that you speak to the tutor before investing in the purchase of any essential text

  • The Flick by Annie Baker
  • Bull by Mike Bartlett
  • Constellations by Nick Payne
  • Mr. Burns by Anne Washburn
  • Love and Information by Carol Churchill
  • Barber Shop Chronicles by Inua Ellams
  • The Children by Lucy Kirkwood
  • Before I Step Outside [You Love Me] by Travis Alabanza
  • Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf by Edward Albee
  • Tangerine, film directed by Sean Baker
  • Happy-Go-Lucky, film directed by Mike Leigh

Tutor information

  • Orion O

    Orion O's plays have been shown at Battersea Arts Centre, The Roundhouse, New York Theatre Workshop, and Voyage Theatre Company.  They graduated from The Royal Court Theatre’s Writers Programme and are the recipient of the Robert Rockwell Prize for Dramatic Writing. Orion is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in playwriting at The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, at which they were awarded the Embassy Scholarship.  Orion has lived in New York City for the past six years working as literary associate to New York Theatre Workshop. Their work in New York included the opportunity to be a part of the development team for critically acclaimed new plays, such as, ‘Red Speedo’ by Lucas Hnath, ‘Fondly, Collete Richland’ by Sibyll Kempson, ‘Hadestown’ by Anais Mitchell, and ‘Lazarus’ by David Bowie and Enda Walsh.

    Aside from writing, Orion is a performance artist and producer; and performs across the UK and internationally.