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Playwriting 101: A Crash Course in Writing for the Theater & Beyond

Five Weeks, 10:30 am-1 pm
$215 members/$245 others    San Francisco

“Every single writing job I have landed: film, television no matter what, came out of writing for the theater,” says instructor Patricia Cotter. “It’s one of the few mediums where the writer is in charge of the story; it’s your vision and your voice. Okay, true story: A couple of years ago I wrote a one act play which was produced in a tiny seventy seven seat black box theater. One night Dustin Hoffman happened to come to the show (What? Huh?). He saw it, loved it and hired me to write a film with him. That experience reinforced the belief that theater is the best showcase for a new voice. Plus? It’s a blast. And getting your play in front of an audience is completely attainable – write a play, rent a room and invite people. It really is that easy. Okay, well you do actually have to write your play…but I can help with that.”

This workshop is designed to give writers an introduction to the tools and the support they need to begin writing a new play, or dust off an old one and give it new life. Patricia says: “I’ll help you figure out what your play is really about, who the characters are and why you (and your audience) should be spending time with them.”  Through a combination of lecture and fun writing exercises, you’ll be reminded of how good it feels to write. “My own writing,” says Patricia, “came out of my days of doing improv at the Groundlings and The Second City – “Yes, and…” became my mantra and remains how I approach the process of sitting down to write. It’s an amazingly effective tool to help you get out of your head and get the words onto the page.”

“We’ll look at the nuts and bolts: how to adapt your play for film or television, how to submit, how to find a literary agent, formatting, and the larger questions regarding form, themes and dialogue. We’ll also set a time line for finishing your play and then finding its place in the world. Whether you want to write a one-act, a full-length, a one-person show or a musical, this workshop will kindle or rekindle your passion for storytelling and live theater.

Patricia Cotter is a working, Emmy Award winning, Groundling Theater (where she taught improv) and Second City alum. Her produced plays include The Break Up Notebook (A GLAAD Award nominee, starring actress Jane Lynch); Three; Best/Worst; Flawed; and The Girls. Her musicals (librettist/adaptations) include: The Break Up Notebook a Lesbian Musical (based on her play) and Rocket Science: A Musical. Screenplays include Personal Injuries co-written with Dustin Hoffman for his company Punch Productions; Krazy Girls winner Best Short in Los Angeles Outfest Film Festival; and Vows developed for Valhalla Motion Pictures. She has also written for Twentieth Century Fox Television, Disney Theatrical and Comedy Central.


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