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DRAMA 441 A: Beginning Playwriting

Meeting Time: 
Th 2:00pm - 4:50pm
HUT 154

Syllabus Description:


Drama 441b Beginning Playwriting


Goals and Requirements:


This class introduces the craft of playwriting, where freedom meets form.

Through readings and writing, we will explore plot, characters, conflict, setting, and other elements of a dramatic work.

You will learn to craft dialogue, to revise, and especially to cut.

You will complete a Bake Off play in 24 hours, plus two scenes, plus two drafts of a 20-30 minute play.

More elusively, the course introduces empathy as a guiding principle of playwriting. A play by its nature engages multiple perspectives, so we will cultivate wisdom as well as knowledge.


Assigned texts:

Playwriting, Brief and Brilliant by Julie Jensen, available in the UW Bookstore.

Bake Off readings to be assigned


Please expect to read additional plays not listed. The readings may be assigned individually or to the class as a whole.


Beginning October 25th, approximately eight students will read in class each week; the other three will be Silent Writers – if you are a silent writer, please send your scenes to me as a PDF by 5pm Wednesday the day before class. I will endeavor to return your work by the next day’s class meeting. If you do not send your work on time, I will not read it that week.


You will know at least one week before if you are not reading in class. I will keep this rotation fair and maximize opportunity.


When you read in class, you are responsible for bringing six hard copies of your work. Please plan your printing and copying accordingly.


Below is a preliminary list of assignments. Each will be outlined in more detail as we go.


Sept 27 – introduction

Big Assignment: BAKE OFF: Aristotle Wrestle

(includes reading and writing)


Oct 3 (a Wednesday night) – 7:30 pm See Richard III, performed by Seattle Shakespeare Theater, at the Leo K theater at Seattle Rep. Tickets are $20 payable to me. I can cover all or part of your ticket if you need.




Oct 11 –Due - Bake off Plays. All read in class. A marathon!


Oct 18 – Due – Final Play proposal and Images (details to be assigned)


Oct 25 – DUE – Scene #1 –bring copies to class

(silent writers send scripts by 10/24 at 5pm.)


Nov 2 – DUE – Scene #2 – bring copies to class.

(silent writers send scripts by 11/1 at 5pm.)

GUEST IN CLASS – Playwright Yussef El Guindi


Nov 9 – DUE – Scene #3 –bring copies to class

(silent writers send scripts by 11/8 at 5pm.)


Nov 16 – DUE – Scene #4 (possibly Final Scene) – bring copies to class.

(silent writers send scripts by 11/15 at 5pm.)


Nov 22 No Class - Thanksgiving


Nov 29 – dueFull Plays – half the class reads

                        (silent writers send scripts by 11/28 at 5pm)


Dec 6 – DUE – Final Plays – All – other half of class reads

                        (Silent writers bring final plays to class, one hard copy)


Attendance and technology:

These are two sides of the same coin. In the spirit of live theater, we all show up, with full attention.

Generally screens are not necessary or useful in class


This is a studio course. Part of your grade is participation. It is impossible to participate if you do not attend class. More than one unexcused absence will result in a 0 participation grade, and lower your course grade significantly.



Participation 20%

Weekly scenes 30 %

Play proposal 10%

Other written assignments 10%

Final play 30%



I generally reply to e-mails within a business day. If you haven’t heard from me within two days, please write again. If you need clarification on an ass

ignment or you missed class and need to be filled in, please try a classmate first or come to office hours. Think of it this way – if you could only reach me by telephone, would you call me with this question? If not, there might be another way.


Academic misconduct:

Please familiarize yourself with the UW statement on Student Academic Responsibility.


Disability accommodation:

If you would like to request academic accommodations due to a disability, please contact Disabled Student Services, 448 Schmitz, 543-8924 (V/TDD). If you have a letter from Disabled Student Services indicating you have a disability that requires academic accommodations, please give the letter to me so we can discuss the accommodations you might need for this class.

Catalog Description: 
Writing exercises and drafts of a one-act play provide first experience in writing for performance. Readings of representative one-act plays introduce genres and writing styles.
GE Requirements: 
Visual, Literary, and Performing Arts (VLPA)
Last updated: 
October 17, 2018 - 9:14pm