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with Michele Volanksy


This class is perfect for theater artists of any stripe seeking to deepen their understanding of generating new work and interpreting known texts.

It's especially useful for emerging dramaturgs and the dramaturgically-curious looking to strengthen their skill set or embark upon a professional career as a dramaturg.

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"PlayPenn creates really juicy and fun opportunities for theater makers to hone their craft or explore new ideas. Their instructors are always experienced artists and generous teachers. On the way home from a PlayPenn workshop I am always uttering to myself, 'I'm so glad I did that!'" -Gabrielle C.

Dramaturgs can sometimes feel invisible even though their impact on a piece or process is priceless. Join PlayPenn Artistic Associate and nationally-renowned dramaturg Michele Volansky to delve into the wide-ranging tool kit of a professional dramaturg and learn how you can apply their tools to any process.

This class has limited seating to ensure that there is opportunity for individual attention.


Week One (2 hours): "Dramaturgy as a way of thinking" - In this first session, we will explpre the various points of entry into a new or extant script. From creative research approaches to understanding text, structure and character, students will work with Volansky on identifying their own dramaturgical aesthetic.

Week Two (2 hours): "Dramaturgy in practice" - Dramaturgs are uniquely positioned to collaborate with everyone, from the creative team to the administrative staff. In the second session, we will build upon the foundation to discuss ways dramaturgs can bring their skill set to a variety of theatrical (and non-theatrical!) circumstances.

PLEASE NOTE: We will be offering a more advanced dramaturgy class later this year. If you are interested in dramaturgy, we recommend that you take this class first, to familiarize yourself with basic methods, in order to be prepared for the summer intensive.

MATERIALS: In anticipation of the class, students should send Volansky a PDF of a favorite play or text they would like to discuss during the first session. You will be sent a DropBox link to download your text into, so make sure there's an electronic version. Scans of published materials are welcome since this is a private, educational context.


WHEN: Wednesdays, May 24 and May 31, 7-9pm (EST)

Scheduling Conflict? We will record each class session and make it available to you on a private, view only (no download) site for 48 hours after each class session. This recording is only to be used for you for reference purposes, and to keep up with the class if you must miss an evening.

WHERE: Online. We will use It is a very simple system. You will receive a link prior to class. You click the link and are taken to a site that has multiple boxes (like The Brady Bunch opening credits) where you can see and chat with everyone in the class. You must have a working internet connection and a computer that has both speakers (so you can hear the teaching artist) and a microphone (so they can hear you; be advised, some computer systems require you purchase a headset to use the microphone). If you would like to investigate the system before registering for the class, check out: PlayPenn covers the cost of using the system but you are expected to participate independently. We typically use DropBox to share our work, if sharing is required in the class.

BIO: Michele Volansky, PhD, is Chair and Associate Professor in the Department of Drama at Washington College. She is also Associate Artist and Head Dramaturg for the annual PlayPenn New Play Development Conference in Philadelphia. In her career, she has worked on over 150 new and established plays, having served on the artistic staffs at Actors Theatre of Louisville, Steppenwolf, and Philadelphia Theatre Company. She is the 1999 inaugural recipient of the Hayes Award for Dramaturgy and a past President of the Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas. 

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Questions? Email our Director of Education at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

In very extreme circumstances, we may need to cancel a class for reasons beyond our control and will offer full refunds. Otherwise, classes are non-refundable.

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