PlayPenn, the nationally-recognized new play development organization based in Philadelphia, is proud to announce their Summer 2018 Education offerings, which include both courses in Philadelphia and around-the-globe via a unique online platform.  A number of internationally-recognized theatre artists are part of the program’s faculty, including the return of Obie-winning performer Nilaja Sun, local favorite Michael Hollinger, and acclaimed writer Winter Miller.


Award-winning playwright and University of Pennsylvania playwriting professor Jacqueline Goldfinger programmed the Summer session, which includes the following courses:


Writing from Inside and Outside of your Play with Winter Miller: Writing strong characters with authentic dialogue is a craft, but it begins with being able to listen and observe, repeat, and hone. Generally, writers are their own biggest obstacles—fear of not knowing, fear of being wrong, fear of committing to something. It’s important to write as intimately and specifically as one can, just as it is useful to write as epically and universally as one desire. It’s a tightrope. It’s an inside job. A writer can come at it from the outside in or the inside out. But the secret is, the writer needs both paths. The class will comprise of a mix of writing prompts and reading aloud. Students will leave this workshop with a firm grasp of what and whom they are writing about and what their next steps are. (July 7, 2018, 9am-Noon, July 8, 2018, 3-6pm, July 9-10, 6-9pm, online, $200)


Writing Lyrics for Musical Theatre with Michael Hollinger: Musical theatre is one of the most challenging – and rewarding – types of dramatic writing, with more moving parts and collaborators than any other form. In this hands-on workshop, playwrights and songwriters will develop their skills as lyricists, from the macro (song plots, types, and structures) to the micro (prosody, meter, rhyme). Students will explore how sung text relates to spoken dialogue, how character is revealed through words and music, and how songs can advance, rather than stop, the narrative. Assignments and in-class exercises complement a shared inquiry into the many jobs theatre songs must accomplish – among them, simply delighting the ear. (July 11, 17, and 24, 2018, 6-9PM, location in Philadelphia TBA, $250)


Agents, Agency, and Ack! How Do I Get My Plays Produced? Cocktails and Real Talk with NYC Agent Beth Blickers: Beth Blickers has over 20 years experience as an agent for playwrights, composers, directors and choreographers in New York City. She is currently an agent at APA (formerly of William Morris Agency and Abrams Artists Agency) and a national advocate for playwrights. She sits down with Jacqueline Goldfinger to talk a bit about agenting, how you know it’s the right time to approach an agent, and what to say when you do.  A moderated 45-minute Q&A will be followed by an hour networking mixer where participants have a chance to chat with Beth and also with each other to meet collaborators who will help forward their work.  (July 12, 2018, 6-8PM, location in Philadelphia TBA, $50)


One Person Show Intensive with Nilaja Sun: This popular returning class is open to students who have worked with Sun on their show and wish to continue, or students who are working with her for the first time. Obie Award winning Nilaja Sun returns with her specialized intensive designed to facilitate returning students, who are working on their own solo pieces. Students will continue to craft their pieces while finding dynamic ways to perform their stories, unique to each student’s strengths. Students will also continue to work on discovering how their bodies, voices and life experiences can set their solo pieces apart from others. Be ready to move, laugh, cry, feel and inspire. (July 14-15, 2018, 1-5PM, location in Philadelphia TBA, $250)


Playwriting for Playgoers with John Yearley: Any theatregoer can tell you about a play they saw that they’ll never forget, but how much do even lifelong theatregoers know about the art of playwriting itself? Playwriting for Playgoers will mix the educational and the experiential so that students will really understand the practice and experience of playwriting. Students will read and discuss a great play, breaking down how and why it works so well. Then, they will do exercises to explore how you write for plays and how you write in the voice of other characters and create conflicts that reveal their deepest truths. After taking Playwriting for Playgoers, you will never look at a play the same way again.  (July 16 and July 25, 2018, 6:30-9:30PM, location in Philadelphia TBA, $125)


Finding the Path in the Forest of Facts: Writing Research-Driven Plays with Tira Palmquist: Writing about “hot-button” sociological, political, or scientific issues can provide a lot of fodder for a dramatic piece – but how do you avoid having your research overwhelm your play or avoid having your play sound like a lecture? This class will cover how to use research well so that it becomes dramatically necessary, or better yet, so that the research becomes the dramatic engine of the play. The class will discuss how to do research, when to stop researching, and how to find that exciting point where aesthetics and information collide. In addition to discussing the general principles of finding the poetry and promise of more scientific subjects, the class will also look at samples of plays that do this well. Finally, students will have an opportunity to workshop some scenes rooted in their own research, and then to develop a plan for a longer process. (August 2 and August 9, 2018, 6-8PM, online, $85)


For more information, or to register, visit

Nilaja Sun PlayPenn January 2018 Workshop, photo by John Flak



Beth Blickers is currently an agent at APA, where she represents writers, composers, directors and choreographers for theatre, television and film. She began her career at the William Morris Agency, where she began work after graduating from New York University. She has served on the jury panel for the Weissberger Award, the Ed Kleban Award, the Lark’s PONY Fellowship, participated in the Non-Traditional Casting Project, Inc.’s roundtable on inclusion and diversity in the theatre, and has presented workshops and sessions on agenting, playwriting, directors and choreographers and related topics for organizations such as the Society of Directors and Choreographers Foundation, the Dramatists Guild, Musical Theatre Works, the Lark, New York University, the National Alliance for Musical Theatre and the Texas Education Theatre Association. She is a Past President and Board member of LMDA, and is proud to be the board chair emeritus of Theatre Breaking Through Barriers, a New York company that works with artists with disabilities.


Michael Hollinger is a playwright, lyricist and composer, the author of hundreds of songs and over a dozen plays and musicals, including TouchTones (with composer Robert Maggio), Opus, Incorruptible, Red Herring, An Empty Plate in the Café du Grand Boeuf, Cyrano (co-adapted with Aaron Posner), and A Wonderful Noise (with Vance Lehmkuhl), among others. These works have been produced around the country, in New York City, and abroad. Michael is the recipient of four Barrymore Awards, an ATCA/Steinberg New Play Citation, an L.A. Drama Critics Circle Award, a Mid-Atlantic Emmy, nominations for Lucille Lortel and John Gassner awards, and multiple fellowships from the Independence Foundation and Pennsylvania Council on the Arts.  He is a Professor of Theatre at Villanova University, a proud alumnus of New Dramatists and PlayPenn, and (with Jacqueline Goldfinger and Quinn Eli) co-founder of The Foundry, a core program of PlayPenn.


Winter Miller is an award-winning playwright and founding member of the Obie-recognized collective 13 Playwrights. She is best known for her drama IN DARFUR which premiered at The Public Theater. IN DARFUR won the “Two-Headed Challenge” commission from the Guthrie Theatre and the Playwrights Center. Winter traveled with her former boss, New York Times Pulitzer-winning columnist Nicholas Kristof to the Sudan border to research on the ground. IN DARFUR has been produced in Chicago, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Florida, Massachusetts and Canada. Her plays include NO ONE IS FORGOTTEN (Kilroys Hon Mention, 2016, The Magic Theatre’s Playwrights Week 2016, Salt Lake Acting Company Playlab 2017), SPARE RIB (Relentless Awards Hon Mention 2016, Kilroys Hon Mention 2015, Civilians R&D), LOOK AT US (The Cherry Lane), and IN DARFUR (The Public Theater and regional prods at TimeLine, WAM, Theatre J, Horizon, The Landing, THE PENETRATION PLAY (Dir. Josh Hecht, 13P, NYC). Her work has been supported by NYFA Artist 2016, The Civilians R&D Lab 2015, The Lark 2014, Playwrights Center Core Writer Residency 2011-2014, and fellowships from Sundance Institute, Hedgebrook, The Cherry Lane, the Lark, Orchard Project, Space on Ryder Farm, New York Theatre Workshop Monday @3 and Blue Mountain Center. She is a New Georges Affiliated Artist. A playwriting instructor and mentor, Ms. Miller leads Weekend Warrior Intensives and Series Six workshops. Adjunct Professor at The New School MFA, SUNY Purchase B.A., Primary Stages ESPA, Visiting Lecturer Princeton, New York Theatre Workshop’s Mind the Gap, Girl Be Heard, Sundance Institute, Stella Adler Outreach, Arts Connection TRaC (2x finalist President’s Coming Up Taller Award) and worked with youth in refugee camps in Northern Uganda and Palestine. She has made plays with marginalized youth,  HOME/AWAY (Theatre Askew) and CONSPICUOUS (Keen Company).


Tira Palmquist’s plays include The Way North, Overburden, Two Degrees (Denver Center), And Then They Fell (MadLab Theater, Brimmer Street), Ten Mile Lake (Serenbe Playhouse), Age of Bees (MadLab Theater, Tesseract) and This Floating World. Two Degrees premiered in the Denver Center’s 2016/17 Season and was listed in the 2016 Kilroys Honorable Mention List. Ten Mile Lake was a finalist for the 2015 Primus Prize. She has been a director, dramaturg and playwright at Seven Devils Playwrights Conference and the New Territories Playwriting Residency, a program she developed with Brian Clowdus at Serenbe Playhouse. More info at


Nilaja Sun is the solo performer and writer of the Off-Broadway smashes No Child… and her new show, Pike Street. For her creation and performance of No Child… and its subsequent national tour, Nilaja garnered 21 awards including: an Obie Award, a Helen Hayes Award a Lucille Lortel Award, and two Outer Critics Circle Awards including the John Gassner Playwriting Award for Outstanding New American Play. Theatre credits also include The Commons of Pensacola, Einstein’s Gift, Time and The Conways, Huck and Holden, and The Cook. Tv/Film credits include Madam Secretary, Louie, 30 Rock, Law & Order: SVU, Unforgettable, The International, and Rubicon. As a solo performer, her projects include the critically acclaimed Blues for a Gray Sun (INTAR), La Nubia Latina, Black and Blue, Insufficient Fare, Due to the Tragic Events of…, and Mixtures. Nilaja was awarded the soloNOVA Award for Artist of the Year by terraNOVA Collective and was recently awarded a NYSCHA grant. A native of the Lower East Side, she is a Princess Grace Award winner and has worked as a teaching artist in New York City for over 15 years.


John Yearley is the author of The Unrepeatable Moment (Barrow Group), Leap (Kaplan New American Play Prize, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park), Antigone (adaptation, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park), Ephemera (Gassner Award, Summer Play Festival), and Another Girl (PlayPenn, Naked Angels). His plays All in Little Pieces and A Low-Lying Fog are published by Samuel French. He is currently writing for the PBS Kids show Arthur and worked as a script doctor for New Line Cinema. He’s a member of the Writer’s Guild of America, the Dramatists Guild, and twice a MacDowell Fellow. He holds a MFA in Playwriting from Temple University.


ABOUT PLAYPENN: PlayPenn, in its 14th year, is an artist-driven organization dedicated to the development of new plays and playwrights. PlayPenn fully supports the needs of the writer and the demands of the play in an ever-evolving process within which playwrights can engage in risk taking, boundary-pushing work. The organization’s flagship annual new play development conference and year-round development workshops in cooperation with producing theatres result in staged readings of at least 10 new plays each year for over 1,800 artists, producers, and theatergoers. Additionally, PlayPenn’s rapidly expanding educational programs—which include 17-20 in-person and online classes annually with notable instructors, application assistance, personalized dramaturgy services, plus The Foundry, a three-year membership group for emerging playwrights resident in Philadelphia—serve another 230+ playwrights from the region and across the nation. PlayPenn supports artists at all career stages across a broad spectrum of cultural, economic, ethnic, and gender experience. Since 2005, PlayPenn has helped to develop over 125 new plays from infancy to a state closer to production-readiness. Nearly 60% of these plays have gone on to more than 330 professional productions at esteemed institutions in the United States, Great Britain, and elsewhere around the world, including the London’s National Theatre, National Theatre of Israel, English Theatre Berlin, Roundabout Theatre, Lincoln Center Theatre, Atlantic Theatre, Second Stage, Actors Theatre of Louisville, LaJolla Playhouse, Denver Center Theatre, South Coast Repertory, and a host of theatres in the Philadelphia region, in cities across the country and around the world. In 2017, PlayPenn celebrated the first of its developed plays to hit a Broadway stage, and win a Tony Award—JT Rogers’ Oslo at the Vivian Beaumont Theater.  Find out more at

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