Skip to main content

Playwriting

Responding to the heightened enthusiasm for the generation of new works in the School of Communication, the playwriting module is designed to nurture a community of writers, ultimately offering them a support network of peers, and preparing them to present themselves effectively to the profession. 

Learning Objectives

  • Explore plays and playwrights from across the globe writing then and now.
  • Learn to navigate the unique and challenging world of new play development.
  • Produce a portfolio of work which includes (but is not limited to) one full length plays, one short play, and a script from a different medium (adaptation, television, film, webisode, etc).
  • Become a supportive member of the new play community on campus.
  • Explore the new play development business, including (but not limited to): theatres across the country, their literary staffs and their new work programs, agent solicitation, contract negotiation, resume/vitae construction, festivals and retreats, graduate schools, and fellowship opportunities

Courses

Playwriting Course Requirements

Co-Curriculars

On Campus New Play Development Experience: 

All students are required to participate in an on-campus new play development experience. They may participate in any number of ways (writer, director, actor, producer, designer, etc.) Activities that may satisfy the requirement include:  

  • The Agnes Nixon Playwriting Festival 
  • The 10 Minute Play Festival 
  • The Waa-Mu Show 
  • An independent studio project of a new original work 
  • A project for Vertigo Productions (all new student work) 
  • PLAYground Festival of Fresh Works 
  • The Next Step Working Commission process 

Off Campus New Play Development Experience: 

All students are required to participate in an off-campus new play development experience. Options for satisfying this requirement include: 

  • Internships in Literary Management, Directing, Theatre for Young Audiences, Education, Journalism, Magazine Editorial, and Dramaturgy 
  • Formal observation of new play process of a professional Theatre that produces new work 
  • Working commissions for advanced students with Chicago Theatres 
  • Civic engagement, political activism, community volunteer efforts

Other Co-curricular New Work Opportunities On and Off Campus: New plays on campus, guest artist workshops, and new plays and play festivals in Chicago. 

Community Building Activities: 

  • Playwriting Seminar: A quarterly faculty-led meeting, in which students from the module meet to discuss their coursework and a topic of professional significance in the new play development world. A guest artist may be present for some of these meetings as well. 
  • Cross-medium and Civic Engagement Opportunities: 
    • The Innovation Series: A workshop series dedicated to celebrating where theatre and non- theatre fields overlap and support each other
    • Community leadership workshops: Opportunities to work with and craft stories for communities in and around Chicago.
    • The Playwrights’ Tea: Monthly gatherings in which members of the module meet informally to chat about whatever happens to be on their mind and collaborate on strategies to sustain oneself in challenging times. 

Capstone

Crafted over the course of one’s senior year, the playwriting module capstone includes materials useful in navigating a career in new play development in the first three years out of school. Those materials include: 

  • PROFESSIONAL MATERIALS: 
    • The Playwriting module is open to all undergraduate students via application after completion of the prerequisite. Interested writers should contact Laura Schellhardt at l-schellhardt@northwestern.edu to schedule a meeting. Once accepted to the module, students should contact Exal Iraheta at exal.iraheta@northwestern.edu to formally enroll. The Playwriting module is open to all undergraduate students via application after completion of the prerequisite. Interested writers should contact Laura Schellhardt at l-schellhardt@northwestern.edu to schedule a meeting. Once accepted to the module, students should contact Exal Iraheta at exal.iraheta@northwestern.edu to formally enroll. 
  • AN ONLINE PORTFOLIO OF CREATIVE WORK: Consisting of: 
    • (Mandatory) At least three plays, one of which is a full-length play. 
    • (Not mandatory) Up to 8 works from other creative mediums (fiction, poetry, film & television writing, creative non-fiction, journalism, etc.) 
  • A CAPSTONE PAPER: Part reflection of one’s time as a writer at Northwestern, part rumination on one’s creative portfolio, and part articulation of one’s artistic values and creative goals. 

Sponsoring Department: Theatre 

Module Coordinator (main student contact): Laura Schellhardt 

Committee of Instruction: Laura Schellhardt, Julie Marie Myatt, Mary Poole, Devon De Mayo 

Module Advisor: Exal Iraheta 

How to Enroll 

Open to all NU undergraduates.

The Playwriting module is open to all undergraduate students via application after completion of the prerequisite. Interested writers should contact Laura Schellhardt at l-schellhardt@northwestern.edu to schedule a meeting. Once accepted to the module, students should contact Exal Iraheta at exal.iraheta@northwestern.edu to formally enroll.