PSW 1000: Playwriting I

An introduction to the basic techniques of writing for the stage, beginning with the story. Multiple short writing assignments emphasize character, plot, diction, subtext, and meaning. They include writing from personal experience, adapting a short story and a classical play, and using a current news story as inspiration. Students discuss Aristotle’s elements as they pertain to the scene, apply basic elements of the craft, read several short plays, and attend performances on campus and in New York City.

Credits: 4

Department: Playwriting and Screenwriting
PSW 1010: Screenwriting I

Introduces the student to writing a dramatic story for the screen, placing an emphasis on discovery, good work habits, critical assessment, and rewriting as essential to the professional writer. Through numerous assignments, students learn the basics of dramatic story structure, revealing character, writing dialogue, genre, and use of story suspense. All techniques are applied in a final short screenplay.

Credits: 4

Department: Playwriting and Screenwriting
PSW 1250: Plays and Playgoing

What makes a play alive, provocative, and vital? Using classics of dramatic literature as well as plays that are new to the stage, students read and examine the ideas and mechanics of the play. An examination of some key texts and theories, including Aristotle’s Poetics, Brecht’s Epic Theatre, Artaud’s Theatre of Cruelty, and Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed lead to a fresh look at the old and the new. Students attend plays on campus and in New York City, and meet some of today’s leading theatre artists.

Credits: 4

Department: Playwriting and Screenwriting
PSW 2000: Screenwriting II: Adaptation

Using an existing short piece of fiction, students delineate the elements of the story, experiencing their importance and power; translate the short story into a screenplay for a narrative film; and complete two drafts of a 25-page screenplay. In the process, they learn the techniques of adaptation for the screen and a deeper level of dramatic story structure. Emphasis is on discovering the dramatic character when evaluating the merits of a particular adaptation, which extends to evaluating one’s own ideas for a screenplay; introducing genre and story types; and research as a dramatist’s fundamental tool.

Credits: 4

PREREQ: PSW1010 Or DWR1010

Department: Playwriting and Screenwriting
PSW 2010: Playwriting II

Building on PSW 1000, students read and attend new plays, develop in-class writing exercises, and then write and revise a 30-page play.

Credits: 4

PREREQ: PSW1000 Or THP3590 Or DWR1000 Or DRA3590

Department: Playwriting and Screenwriting
PSW 2500: The Collaborative Process

Dramatic writing cannot be effective without an understanding of the collaborative process. Students direct, act, and write in this course, which is taught by a professional theatre director. Each student directs a scene from dramatic literature, writes scenes to be directed and acted by fellow classmates, learns some fundamental exercises for the actor, and develops the beginning vocabulary and techniques of the theatre director.

Credits: 3

Department: Playwriting and Screenwriting
PSW 3000: Screenwriting III

An introduction to full-length narrative and the three-act structure. The art and craft of screenwriting are explored through analysis and developing, writing, and rewriting a longer screenplay (60 pages), with an emphasis on what Hollywood looks for in a screenplay. Techniques covered include voice-over, establishing shots, montages, and creating tension and payoff. The business of the screenwriter, how to pitch, and finding work/selling a screenplay are also covered.

Credits: 4

PREREQ: PSW2000 Or DWR2000

Department: Playwriting and Screenwriting
PSW 3120: The Writer and the Documentary

In recent years, opportunities in nonfiction work have grown significantly. In this course, students screen and analyze documentary films, and produce their own short nonfiction film on digital video. Field assignments include researching and conducting interviews; written assignments include narration exercises, documentary summaries, and scripts. Students also learn the basics of Final Cut Pro editing software.

Credits: 4

PREREQ: PSW1010 And CIN1500

Department: Playwriting and Screenwriting
PSW 3130: Site-Specific Playwriting

Explores techniques for developing narrative and dramatic structures in specific spaces/sites. Students read, view, and discuss sample works and theoretical investigation as a means to contextualize our inquiry, while also doing a series of ‘building block’ exercises both in and out of the classroom. Small modular writing assignments build to a final full-length piece.

Credits: 4

PREREQ: PSW2010

Department: Playwriting and Screenwriting
PSW 3150: How to Say It: Pitch Sessions and Public Speaking for Writers

An examination of techniques and tools used to deliver an effective oral presentation. Students prepare and present TV/film pitches and practice talking points for job/media interviews and other public speaking engagements.

Credits: 4

Department: Playwriting and Screenwriting
PSW 3155: The Art of Rewriting: Killing Our Darlings

An exploration of revision techniques and strategies in a workshop environment. In the first half of the semester, students write a one-act through generative exercises. In the second half, they revise the same one-act through examinations of character, dialogue, and structure; text analysis; and other tools. First drafts and production drafts of contemporary American plays are also studied and discussed.

Credits: 4

Department: Playwriting and Screenwriting
PSW 3200: Playwriting III

Students submit plays to be developed in a reading series with actors and a director. Each class is devoted to one play—rehearsed by the actors and director, read for the class, and discussed by all. The collaborative process and vocabulary of constructive criticism are developed. Writers revise their plays during the semester and actors develop crucial play-reading techniques and flexibility.

Credits: 4

PREREQ: PSW2010 Or THP3591 Or DWR2010

Department: Playwriting and Screenwriting
PSW 3230: Writers’ Scene Workshop

Explores the fine anatomy of writing the scene, with emphasis on writers looking at their work from the perspective of the director and on working with actors. Students write and direct a dramatic scene in digital video and learn to produce their video, using Final Cut Pro editing software and the basics of camera/lighting techniques.

Credits: 4

PREREQ: PSW2000 Or DWR2000

Department: Playwriting and Screenwriting
PSW 3300: Writing for Television

Screenings and discussion of various forms of the medium, including the sitcom, television movies, and documentary and experimental forms. Students write a script that is critiqued in class and rewritten, with concentration on the world of the story, tone, character, style, dramatic tension, pacing, and evolving narrative.

Credits: 4

PREREQ: PSW1010 Or DWR1010

Department: Playwriting and Screenwriting
PSW 3310: Book Writing: Story Structure in Musical Theatre

Examines the history and craft of storytelling in musical theatre. Students consider song topic and placement to structure a short original musical. The ability to read and write music is not required.

Credits: 4

PREREQ: PSW1000 And PSW1010

Department: Playwriting and Screenwriting
PSW 3400: The TV Writer’s Room

Students experience the real-world model of collaboratively writing a television series in a “writer’s room.” With the instructor as “show runner,” the class creates a half-hour series and together writes a pilot episode. Each student then writes an episode for the series. Episodic story structure, weaving multiple story lines, the tradition television series, and newly emerging variations are covered.

Credits: 4

PREREQ: PSW1010 Or DWR1010

Department: Playwriting and Screenwriting
PSW 3500: Writing the Web Series

The landscape of short-form, online, episodic storytelling is surveyed, and each student is required to conceive a short-form episodic series, create the show “bible,” and write and produce a pilot “webisode” for that series. Emphasis is on story structure and telling a story in a nontraditional form.

Credits: 4

PREREQ: PSW1010 Or DWR1010

Department: Playwriting and Screenwriting
PSW 3600: Songwriting for the Musical

Students will gain an understanding of the craft of writing and combining lyrics and music. Focus is placed on the process of artistic collaboration as librettists and composers are paired to create original songs. Students will also survey musical writing teams and repertoire. Composers must have the ability to create scores and regularly perform their work.

Credits: 4

Department: Playwriting and Screenwriting
PSW 3880: Junior Seminar in Playwriting and Screenwriting

Students develop ideas for their senior project—a play or screenplay. They research, develop, and present their scenarios to the class for response and critique.

Credits: 4

PREREQ: PSW2000 And PSW2010 And (CIN1500 Or CIN1510 ) And (THP2885 Or THP2890 )

Department: Playwriting and Screenwriting
PSW 4150: Making New Plays

Writers and actors learn tools for working together on new plays. Taught by a playwright and a director, the class studies different collaborative models, including devised theatre, and explores communication strategies for working through creative friction. The course culminates in a final showcase on campus.

Credits: 3

Department: Playwriting and Screenwriting
PSW 4880: Senior Colloquium in Playwriting and Screenwriting

During the solitary pursuit of writing their first full-length play or screenplay, students come together regularly to share in-process work for feedback and critique. A completion schedule is created, and assignments are given to aid in the scriptwriting discovery process. Classes are also devoted to visiting professionals who relate their experiences in the business of being a playwright or screenwriter.

Credits: 2

PREREQ: DWR3880 Or THP3890 Or PSW3880

Department: Playwriting and Screenwriting