Directing and Playwriting

Director’s Workshop | Writing Great Scripts


Director’s Workshop

Director's WorkshopThe Director’s Workshop is a comprehensive survey of the craft for student directors. Our nine sessions are designed to cover the knowledge that every beginning director needs. Each unit below can stand on its own and be presented in 60-90 minutes, or several units can be combined for a lengthier intensive. Our Artistic Director, George Halitzka, draws heavily upon his own experience as a director as he teaches students the craft.


1. Choosing Great Scripts

How do you separate the Good from the Bad and the Ugly? We’ll discuss the components of a winning script by reading short plays and evaluating their merits.

2. Acting for Directors

Practice some of the basic techniques used by skilled actors, and discuss ways to use them as you coach your cast.

3. Script Analysis for Dummies

Taking apart a script is vital if you’re going to effectively tell its story onstage. Script analysis is one of the most neglected parts of directing, especially at the student level, but the payoff can be enormous.

4. “Where Do I Put My Actors?” (Blocking Basics)

One of the director’s first jobs, in collaboration with the actors, is to determine the movement in a play. Here are techniques you can use to create blocking full of dramatic impact.

5. Coaching Actors for Stronger Performances

Have you ever noticed a problem with an actor’s work, but not known how to solve it? This class will present an overview of common acting mistakes, and give you tools to fix them.

6. Putting It All Together

Explore the role of the director during the most difficult part of the rehearsal process–the time when you “let go” and turn your baby over to the actors. The way you empower performers during this phase can make or break a production.

7. Sets, Costumes, Props, and You

We’ll cover the fundamentals of technical theatre, including basic set design, costume design, and props management.

8. Lights, Sound, and Stage Managers

Here’s a quick look at the way electrical toys, like lights and sound boards, can enhance the next production you direct. We’ll also look at the role of the stage manager, and how he or she can be your best friend.

9. Hands-On Directing

Students will have the opportunity to stage short scenes with their classmates.


Writing Great Scripts

Discover the tools you need to write effectively for the stage! Through classroom instruction and hands-on practice, these five sessions will walk budding writers through four key elements of a winning script: Conflict, Characters, Dialogue, and Theme. Our Artistic Director, George Halitzka, teaches all of our playwriting workshops. He draws upon his experience as a published and produced playwright to help students learn the craft. Note: Students will need to spend time outside of the workshop sessions writing and polishing their manuscripts.


1. Conflict and Plot

Conflict is the essence of storytelling–it’s what drives the plot that draws the audience into the play. Plots have many variations, but virtually every story ever written follows a path from Exposition through Inciting Incident, Rising Action, Climax, and Denouement. We’ll explore several exercises to help students internalize the ingredients of a good story.

2. Characters

Everybody knows that characters are the people who populate a script. But making them three-dimensional (instead of stereotypes) is easier said than done! We’ll explore techniques for bringing characters to life.

3. Dialogue

Dialogue can be one of a beginning playwright’s greatest challenges. Writing lines that sound like real people talking is much harder than it looks. How can you help your story unfold without insulting the audience’s — or the actors’ — intelligence?

4. Theme

Theme is often what makes writers want to write. We have a viewpoint about the world that we need to share. We’ll discuss ideas for integrating themes into stories without bashing the audience over the head with a “message.”

5. Staged Readings

Each student will have the opportunity to hear the work they’ve created during the artist residency in a staged reading.

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