spacer HU search About Hollins dot Academics dot Admissions & Financial Aid dot Athletics dot Student Life dot News Request Info dot Visit dot Apply
Hollins University
Graduate Programs

(General Information)
Hollins University
Graduate Center
P.O. Box 9603
Roanoke, VA 24020-1603
(540) 362-6575
Fax (540) 362-6288

Program Director
Todd Ristau
(540) 362-6386

M.F.A. in Playwriting

From the Director

Hollins University's unique six-week summer intensive schedule makes getting a graduate degree possible for students who might not have the time required for traditional yearlong programs. It allows students to pursue the degree without sacrificing personal and professional goals.

In fact, the program at Hollins is designed to support and assist students in finding professional opportunities while they are still in the program.

The summer schedule also allows us to attract a wide range of working professionals as our visiting faculty and guest artists. Some of the most important names in new play development guide our classroom instruction, lectures, readings, performances, and discussions. Building personal and professional relationships with faculty and guests of this caliber is a real advantage over other programs.

We also are building a growing network of creative partnerships with theatres that produce new plays and publishers who take on emerging writers. And we encourage personal initiative on the part of our students to find or create their own opportunities. Studio Roanoke, an Off-Broadway style storefront theatre which provides reading, production, experiential learning, and networking opportunities was opened right here in Roanoke by the first graduate of our program. That's the kind of entrepreneurial spirit and commitment to supporting the work of others that is what the Playwright's Lab at Hollins University is all about.

I really believe in theatre as a collaborative art form, and the best way to know what your collaborators bring to the table is to get some practical experience in disciplines outside your own. All of our playwrights get at least some exposure to every aspect of the medium for which they write. We act in and direct each other's readings, volunteer back stage and front of house, and get to know the people who have made it their job to get plays up on the stage--from the costume stitcher to the Board President of a major non-profit.

Obviously we bring in guest professional playwrights to work with our student writers, but we also bring guest professional actors, directors, scenic designers, agents, artistic directors, literary managers, dramaturgs, publishers, and even drama critics! We want our students to meet and understand every professional who might interact with and affect their own career paths.

Because the playwriting program is one of several summer graduate programs at Hollins, there are crossover opportunities with the students, visiting faculty, and guests in the related fields of screenwriting and children's literature.

Finally, the city of Roanoke and the beautiful Hollins campus, located against the backdrop of the Blue Ridge and Appalachian mountains, provide a breathtaking scenic setting for one of the nation's most important centers of creative writing.

Todd Ristau

Todd Ristau