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Hollins University
Graduate Center
PO Box 9603
Roanoke, VA 24020-1603
(540) 362-6575
(540) 362-6288 (Fax)

Summer 2015 Courses for the M.F.A. in Playwriting

THEA 501  Playwright's Lab (4) Ristau

All students, faculty, staff, and guests meet regularly for readings of student work, guest presentations, exercises, and discussion. Students submit an example of their best work for available public reading slots. Students whose work is selected for readings are responsible for arranging, rehearsing, and presenting them. A moderated discussion follows each reading. Grades are primarily based on attendance and energetic participation with clear, perceptive, and informed analysis in discussion. Course must be repeated three consecutive summers.

THEA 510 Playscript Analysis and Criticism (4) Macher

Intensive critical analysis of the playscript as a blueprint for production covering representative texts from a range of theatre styles, genres, and periods. Plays are considered in both their original historical/cultural circumstances and implications for contemporary audiences.  The course covers major approaches to dramatic criticism and the tools used in theatre research. Required course for first-year students.

THEA 513: Topics in Theatre History: Off-Off Broadway (4) Moss

Taught by one of the people who was in the trenches during the original Off-Off Broadway Explosion, Bob Moss takes students through a comprehensive history of alternative theatre during the turbulent Sixties (1961 to l974, thirteen years underscored by the Viet Nam War). Old societal strictures were breaking down on every corner, across America people were clamoring for new ways of thinking, and within a few small blocks in the East Village of New York City, theater artists were re-inventing the art form with little regard for the past. By the course’s end, students should be inspired anew in their thinking about the limitless possibilities of their art and how to apply the seat of your pant aesthetic of theatres like Caffe Cino and La Mama to their own reinventions what is possible if you have a room, some actors and an audience to help fill it.

THEA 520 Narrative Theory and Dramatic Structure (4) Ristau

Introduction to the basics of storytelling and the creation of dramatic texts using both organic and formulaic models with an emphasis on the one-act play. Students will learn to observe the world for meaning, build characters, place characters in settings, write monologues, create dialogue between characters, and lay the groundwork for longer, more substantive work. Required course for first-year students.


THEA 531: Solo Performance (4) Rux

An exploration of how to write, produce and perform solo work which may include the writer as the principle performer. The course will look at examples of successful solo performers and performances from the past and guide the students through the creation of an original performance piece designed for a single actor.

THEA 550: Advanced Playwriting Tutorial (4) Rux

A workshop course in which students further develop skills in the writing and analysis of stage plays. Designed for students with prior experience in playwriting. May be repeated for credit.

THEA 570 Master Class - First Drafts (4) Ristau

In this intensive workshop students will create a completely new full-length play each week, resulting in six new first drafts over the six-week course. While it is possible that these first drafts might eventually be developed and revised into final drafts, the emphasis is on mastering the discipline necessary to produce substantive work on a deadline as well as reinforcing the student's understanding of the fundamentals of play structure.

Directing Certificate Courses Open to Playwrights:

THEA 561: Directors and Playwrights in Collaboration (2CR, repeated each summer) Ristau
Guided instruction leading up to the reading of a new play in Festival, and also functioning as a production meeting with participation of the playwright and performers discussing process and progress toward the presentation of the work to the public.

THEA 517: Design on a Dime (4) Robert

An introduction to design principles as applied to the production and presentation of new plays. Design areas covered will include scenic, costume, lighting and sound design as well as graphic illustration. This course will also be an introduction to stage scenery and construction. As part of the course, students will use the ten plays selected for Festival during the summer term and create scenic and promotional design concepts for each taking into consideration a range of possible types of stages, styles, budgets and audiences. While the curriculum will focus on plays in festival, students will not be asked to design the reading, but rather imagine those texts as fully realized in production.

THEA 523: Viewpoints and Composition (4) Seibel
Focused training in direction with an emphasis on the new play

THEA 576: Company Creation and Management (4) Robert

An introduction to the structure of the non-profit theatre and how-to guide for creating a new company dedicated to the production and presentation of new plays. Concepts covered include arts administration, crafting a mission statement, forming a board of trustees, filing for non-profit status, legal issues and potential liabilities, fund raising, publicity, contracts, rental agreements, and other aspects of producing new work as part of a season or just a single showcase.

Performance Certificate Courses Open To Playwrights:

THEA 565: Ensembles in Collaboration (2) Seibel
Guided instruction in the practicalities of performing in a new play still being revised, leading up to performance in one or two readings of a new play in Festival, and also functioning as a production meeting with participation of the playwright and directors. All students enrolled in the Certificate in New Play Performance will be required to perform in at least one, but no more than two Hollins Playwright’s Festival readings. The festival presents ten new plays to industry professionals from all over the world. This course is designed to guide performance students through the process of collaboration from the initial table read with the playwright through performance. Monday meetings, which function as a production meeting, will include Festival playwrights and directors. Wednesday sessions are closed to the performance students only to discuss their process and problems. Under the supervision of the instructor, we will come up with methods of more effective collaboration on the new play in rehearsal, recognizing actors as thinkers and contributors rather than merely instruments to be orchestrated.

Course offerings dependent upon meeting minimum enrollment requirements.