When we write plays, we create worlds. And creating a world is no small feat. In text alone, the theatrical world comprises the setting, time, characters, conflict, plot, tone, story, and structure. Off the page, the world grows, deepens, and takes on new light (quite literally). So how can we create a play that both stands up on the page and provides fertile soil for directors, actors, and designers? What does it take to create a world?
In this three-week seminar, we will create rich and theatrical worlds from the blank page. Through a series of idea generation exercises, writers will begin this class by exploring concepts for a new play. From there, we will dive into the building-blocks of dramatic storytelling—story, character, dialogue, conflict, etc.—to populate and fill our worlds, using excerpts from Elinor Fuch’s Visit to a Small Planet and scenes from playwrights including Caryl Churchill, Maria Irene Fornes, Brandon Jacobs-Jenkins, and Suzan-Lori Parks as a guide. We will dig into the many structures that theatrical storytelling can take and look at examples for how content and form can inform each other.
Writers will leave this class with a concept for a new play and the tools to generate scenes on their own. This course is for novice and experienced playwrights alike, anyone itching to start a new play.
Class meetings will be held over video chat, using Zoom accessed from your private class page. While you can use Zoom from your browser, we recommend downloading the desktop client so you have access to all platform features. The Zoom calls will have automated transcription enabled. Please let us know ([email protected]) if you have any questions or concerns about accessibility.
Check out this page for details about payment plans and discount opportunities.
- Understand which ideas make for rich theatrical worlds
- Learn how to populate and fill your worlds by asking questions
- Explore a new play in a low-stress, highly encouraging environment
- 10% discount on all future Catapult classes
Students will be expected to generate material during the seminar but will not be expected to generate work outside of the classroom (unless they want to!). Students may be asked to read two plays outside of class. No feedback will be given on student work.
WEEK 1: Creating a World
What makes for a theatrical world? What do we mean when we say “the world of the play”?
WEEK 2: Populating the World
The basics of story, character, conflict, and dialogue
WEEK 3: Shaping the World
How can structure inform the story?
Mallory Jane Weiss is a Brooklyn-based playwright. Her plays have been developed at The O’Neill National Playwrights Conference, Clubbed Thumb, Gingold Theatrical Group, and Red Bull Theatre. She was a member of Clubbed Thumb’s Early Career Writers’ Group, The COOP’s Clusterf**k vol. 2, Gingold Theatrical Group’s Speakers Corner, and Fresh Ground Pepper’s BRB Retreat. She has a B.A. in English from Harvard University and an M.F.A in Playwriting from The New School. She also works as a Senior Content Writer at tech-startup, Ethena.
“With surprising and delightful premises that hook audiences, complex and nuanced characters, and language rich with both humor and poetry, Mallory Jane Weiss explores the most essential questions and invites her collaborators and audiences to do the same. She is an extraordinarily imaginative writer whose deeply resonant works jump off the page.”
“Mallory’s plays take you to another plane, another atmosphere. The worlds she builds are at once imaginative and grounded. She crafts characters with arresting insight into humanity. She takes familiar people and circumstances and invites the audience to look at them from a slightly different angle; the result is a prismatic theatrical experience that is both magical and utterly human.”
“Mallory’s work is a pleasure to approach as an actor. Each of her characters has a rich story and a full arc. Her plays are a delight to act in because Mallory makes such realized people. Mallory meticulously constructs her plays from start to finish. Her language is beautiful and poetic while still being grounded and smooth. Mallory has the amazing ability to create magic out of the minutiae of everyday life.”
“What makes Mallory such a remarkable teacher is what makes her a remarkable writer and human. Her ability to deeply understand the motivations and perspectives of others allows her to open up any moment of confusion into a wide field of realization and clarity and exploration. But her expertise is also paired with a natural humor that makes any time spent with Mallory a pure delight.”
“Mallory Jane Weiss is utterly engaging as a teacher. Offering stirring insight and a warm, open classroom environment, she creates a space where students are welcomed, heard, and sparked towards new ideas. With a plethora of inspiring anecdotes and clever exercises, Mallory unsticks even the most blocked writer and guides the group towards creative new frontiers.”
"Mallory can make even the most hesitant writer feel confident and full of ideas. She understands her own writing process so well that it translates effortlessly to her students. Plus she's wicked funny, so classes fly by. I guarantee you will come away from your class feeling refreshed and with a new enjoyment of your own writing process."