The Department of Professional Studies and Special Programs offers the program in playwriting. The program consists of a series of non-credit workshops designed to help you develop playwriting skills. Through the program:
- Explore story writing for theater
- Learn and apply playwriting form and structure
- Incorporate visualization, characterization, and essential creative-writing techniques into your work
- Analyze critically—your own plays and the work of others—from the perspectives of a professional writer and an audience
- Learn a revision process geared toward helping you polish your scripts to a professional level
Participants who successfully complete the two required workshops and one elective from the playwriting certificate courses will finish the program with an original two-act script and earn the Certificate in Playwriting.
Who Should Enroll
The Playwriting Program is intended for aspiring creative writers and individuals who wonder about the creative aspects of writing original pieces for live production. If you are interested in learning to create characters, scenes, and dramatic productions; analyze your scripts and the writings of other playwrights in the program; and rewrite and polish your work; you will benefit from the program’s intensive workshops. Playwrights who seek opportunities to write and present their work for feedback in a supportive workshop environment also will enjoy the program.
You may enroll in one or several multi-session non-credit workshops to match your professional objectives. The certificate, however, will only be awarded to participants who successfully complete all components of the Playwriting Certificate Program. Prerequisite requirements may apply in some instances.
Note: You must have earned a minimum of a high school diploma or GED to enroll in courses and programs offered by the Department of Professional Studies and Special Programs.
Playwriting Workshop Series
CE0320 Playwriting Basics I
10-session workshop, offered fall and spring semesters
(Required to complete the certificate program)
Get started on your first draft. The focus of this first workshop will be on playwriting basics: the two-act structure, proper formatting, playwriting theory and analysis, methods to develop ideas into a play script, and writing the first act of your play.
CE0321 Playwriting Basics II
10-session workshop, offered spring semester
(Required to complete the certificate program)
Write act two in this workshop, and complete your first draft. Class is conducted in a workshop format, and participants and the instructor will read, discuss, and analyze script pages in class. (Prerequisite: CE0320 Playwriting Basics I)
CE0322 The Craft of the Short Play
10-session, non-credit course
Learn the craft of writing short plays. In this workshop, you will write at least two 10-minute plays and one longer one-act play in addition to developing your artistry through writing projects and exercises. You also will discuss short plays penned by such playwrights as Edward Albee, Tennessee Williams, and Eugene Ionesco. Actors will read each participant’s work at a special presentation.
CE0323 Writing Monologues
10-session, non-credit course
Explore writing the one-person show. Draw from your life experiences and fashion them into monologues. Also explore how to change various scenarios into one-person events. Participants in this workshop will discuss the works of such monologists as Spalding Gray, Anna Deavere Smith, and Eric Bogosian among others. At the end of the course, actors will read selected pieces written by class members at a separate event.
10-session, non-credit course
If you have wondered how to change a story originally written in non-play form into a stage presentation, this workshop is for you. In this course, participants will delve into the world of play adaptations. Begin exploring adaptations by examining simple children’s stories, and progress toward more complex stories drawn from today’s headlines. Participants will focus on developing skills to transfer character actions and objectives from prose to stage, and learn how to decide which actions serve a story and which do not. The class will discuss such works as The Diary of Anne Frank, One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and others.
CE0325 The Business of Playwriting
6-session, non-credit course
If you have completed a play script and want to know the next steps you should take toward becoming a professional playwright, this seminar is for you. The Business of Playwriting will cover pitching your script, finding an agent or producer, writing query letters to get your script read, entering playwriting contests and staged reading festivals, marketing one script while you write another, networking, and working toward becoming ready for the life of a playwright.
CE0326 Advanced Playwriting
10-session, non-credit course, semester to be announced
In this workshop, rewrite your completed script or develop and work on a new script. Participants who are enrolled in the Playwriting Certificate Program or who are graduates of the program are eligible to attend this advanced workshop as many times as they desire.
Certificate Program Completion Requirements
- Individuals must satisfy the certificate program requirements published for the term in which they register for the first course toward the certificate; all prerequisite coursework must be completed; and program courses or workshops taken in the prescribed sequence.
- All individuals must complete coursework for a certificate program within a period of three (3) years from their initial date of registration.
- Only learning activities offered by Emerson College's Department of Professional Studies and Special Programs may be applied to fulfill the requirements of a certificate program.
- Enrollment in non-credit, non-degree certificate programs is open to all individuals who have a high school diploma or GED. Prerequisite requirements apply in some instances. To receive a certificate, individuals must submit a Request for Certificate Form to the Department of Professional Studies and Special Programs within one year of program completion.
How to Register
Head to our Registration and Payment page to learn more about registration and payment.
Participating in the Playwriting Certificate Program
Tuition is due upon registration for all Playwriting Program courses and workshops offered though the Department of Professional Studies and Special Programs. Tuition is calculated per course and individuals must pay tuition in full prior to participating in the courses of their choice.
Students may incur additional course-related expenses. Such additional expenses are separate from tuition costs and payments.
At the present time, Emerson College is not authorized to issue I-20s for study in its Professional Studies and Special Programs (“PSSP”) courses. Depending on an international student’s immigration status and personal circumstances, enrollment in a PSSP course may be permissible or may result in an immigration status violation. Maintaining valid immigration status while in the United States is the responsibility of the individual, not Emerson College. PSSP staff cannot advise individuals about their immigration status. If you have any questions about the requirements for maintenance of your specific immigration status, please contact the U.S. Consulate in your home country prior to enrolling in a PSSP program.
Emerson College reserves the right to change any provision of its programs and courses at any time. The College specifically reserves the right to change its tuition rates and any other financial charges. The College also reserves the right to rearrange its courses and class hours, to drop courses for which registration falls below the minimum enrollment, and to change instructor assignments.
Cliff Odle, instructor of Playwriting I
Cliff Odle is a playwright whose work has been produced in Boston, New York, New Jersey, and San Diego. His plays have been featured in such festivals as SlamBoston, Quake-Fest (California), and Jersey Voices One-Act Festival, founded by Odle.
Original plays written by Mr. Odle include Motel Therapy, presented by Boston-based Company One; The Ahern Fox, showcased at the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival; Running the Bulls; and Our Girls in Trenton.
Mr. Odle has taught at the University of Massachusetts Boston, Drew University, New Jersey Playwrights Theatre, and Sondra Feinstein Gamm Theatre (Rhode Island). Cliff earned his MFA in playwriting at Boston University.
Ginger Lazarus, instructor of Playwriting Basics II
Ginger Lazarus is an award-winning playwright whose work frequently is seen throughout the United States and in Britain.
Ginger was nominated to receive an Independent Reviewers of New England (IRNE) Award in the category of Best New Play, for her piece Matter Familias. She received a John Gassner Memorial Playwriting Award for her play MOCKBA: A Play About Moscow. Ms. Lazarus became a finalist in the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival for her play Shooting Sparks. Other works include A Blessing and a Curse: A Duet of Plays on Motherhood, produced by Spiced Wine Production.
Theaters, companies, and festivals that have presented Ginger’s plays include: Unititled Theater’s 24/7 Festival, Philadelphia Gay and Lesbian Theater Festival, Pan Theater Ten Minute Play Festival, Bloody Unicorn Theater Company’s Lesbian Shorts, Last Frontier Theatre Conference Play Lab, Warehouse Theatre, and Canal Café.
Ms. Lazarus is a member of the Dramatists Guild.
Ginger has taught at the University of Massachusetts Boston and Emerson College. Ms. Lazarus earned her master’s degree in playwriting at Boston University.
Emerson College reserves the right to change any provision of its programs, courses and workshops at any time. The College specifically reserves the right to change its tuition rates and any other financial charges. The College also reserves the right to rearrange its courses and class hours, to drop courses for which registration falls below the minimum enrollment, to change instructor assignments, to change the method of instruction of courses or programs, to cancel or discontinue a certificate program at any time, or to substitute courses in a certificate program. Enrollment and attendance in courses offered by Professional Studies is separate from admission to degree programs at Emerson College.