PlayPenn Announces Winter and Spring 2019 Playwriting and Theatre Classes

The semester includes courses led by Kate Tarker, L Feldman, Deborah Zoe Laufer, Maura Krause, Emily Acker, and PlayPenn’s Director of Education Julia Bumke.


PlayPenn, the nationally-recognized new play development organization based in Philadelphia, is excited to announce their Winter and Spring 2019 Education Program courses.  Curated by Director of Education Julia Bumke, the semester features a variety of both online and face-to-face courses designed for writers of all skill levels.


The session kicks off on Monday, February 11, 2019 with a free Education Reading of Keenya Jackson’s Botanicals, or Giving It to God at the Proscenium Theatre at The Drake. Ms. Jackson was a student with PlayPenn Education, and her play has been selected for the organization’s free reading program.  Students who enroll in a Winter/Spring 2019 class by January 15 will be eligible to submit an unproduced, full-length play for consideration for a future. professional staged reading  PlayPenn will produce one student’s play as a reading with professional actors, a professional director, and a PlayPenn dramaturg in Philadelphia in the Spring/Summer of 2019.


The Winter and Spring 2019 courses include:


Creating an Electrifying 10-Minute Play with Deborah Zoe Laufer: Most successful ten-minute plays have all the elements of successful full-length plays – conflict, high stakes, suspense, complex characters with strong needs, a big unifying idea. And that all must take place within ten pages. In this class, students will examine the ten-minute play, and, through a series of exercises — some drawing from memory, some flights of fancy — they’ll write their own short plays.  Writers will leave with two early drafts of 10-minute plays by the end of the weekend. The class will also discuss where to send those plays once they’re polished, and what “polishing” entails. Designed for short-form pros and novices alike, Deborah Zoe Laufer will walk students through exercises to create new work and break out of usual patterns. (February 23-24, 2019, 1 – 5pm, location in Center City Philadelphia TBA, $170)


Seven-Week Intensive Full Draft Workshop with L Feldman: Level up with beloved PlayPenn instructor L Feldman in this new seven-week experience for advanced writers. Each week, the class will workshop a complete draft of a full-length play from its students. This class is recommended for students who have taken seven-week intensives with PlayPenn before, either with L Feldman or John Yearley, and who are eager to dive deeper into their playwriting practice. If you have questions about your eligibility, please reach out to Julia at (February 26-April 9, 2019, Thursdays, 5:30-8:30pm, location in Center City Philadelphia TBA, $500)


Dramaturgy 101 with Julia Bumke: What is a dramaturg—why do you need one, and why should you want to be one? This course introduces various aspects of dramaturgy to the playwright who is hungry to collaborate, both with a dramaturg and with other playwrights. It will approach dramaturgy from both sides of the creative process, with tips for fruitful collaboration, case studies of dramaturgical challenges in new play development, samples of research-based dramaturgy projects, and more. Students will walk away with a toolkit of dramaturgical skills that will make them better prepared for professional environments as playwrights, dramaturgs, and generative artists. (March 5, 8, 12, and 15, 2019, 6-8pm E.S.T., online, $150)


How to Write Like Yourself—And Have Fun While Doing It with Kate Tarker: This is not a class for learning how to write the perfect play. This is a workout for setting your imagination into overdrive. You have to test the edges of your creativity to know who really are. Through a succession of muscle-building prompts, students will work toward surprising ourselves. Students will come away from this class with a collection of shorter pieces that could be the beginnings of something more. This course is best for writers who are not beginners, but can approach work with a beginner’s mind: playwrights who want to challenge themselves, and who don’t want to keep writing the same play over and over again. (March 25-April 15, 2019, Mondays, 5:30pm-8:30pm, location in Center City Philadelphia TBA, $250).


Making Your Own Opportunities: Self-Producing for Playwrights with Maura Krause and Emily Acker: Empower yourself to produce your own work! If you’re a theatre artist with a project you’re itching to put on its feet, come join Maura Krause and Emily Acker to learn the fundamentals of self-production. Between them, they’ve garnered their experience from Orbiter 3, Azuka Theatre, InterAct Theatre, Woolly Mammoth Theatre, Philadelphia Young Playwrights, Applied Mechanics, and of course, mounting their own shows in the Philadelphia Fringe Festival. Sessions will cover everything from initial budgeting, to fundraising, to contracts, to venue liaising, to box office and marketing. By the end of the class, each student will leave with documents and an actionable producing plan. Whether students never produced before, or are looking to produce on a larger scale than they have in the past, this class will help students feel ready to create the theatre they want to see — without waiting for anyone else. (May 7, 9, 14, 16, 2019, 6-8 pm; May 11 and May 18, 2019, 10 am – 1 pm, location in Center City Philadelphia TBA, $275)


Registration and more information can be found at




Emily Acker is a founding member and the Director of Development and Operations of the Barrymore-Award winning playwrights collective, Orbiter 3. She is an alumna of  The Foundry @ PlayPenn, InterAct Theatre Company’s Core Playwrights Residency and Philadelphia Young Playwrights. Her work has been produced and developed at Orbiter 3, Azuka Theatre, InterAct Theatre Company, FringeArts, Theatre Exile, Act II Playhouse, Philadelphia Young Playwrights, Young Playwrights Inc., Voice Theatre, FringeArts, Northwestern University, and Temple University. Her play I AM NOT MY MOTHERLAND was a finalist for the O’Neill Playwrights Conference, and her play BOYCOTT ESTHER was a finalist for the 2018 NNPN Showcase. She contributed to the final season of All My Children on Hulu+ and is the creator of the television remake, THREE UP TWO DOWN with The Weinstein Company. She received her B.S. from Northwestern University in 2013.


Julia Bumke is a Philadelphia-based new work dramaturg who is passionate about fostering playwrights, librettists, and composers at all stages of their careers. Julia’s recent work includes premieres and workshops with Opera Philadelphia, PEAK Performances at Montclair State University, Music-Theatre Group, the American Repertory Theater, Lincoln Center Theater, the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center, and Passage Theatre Company, among others. She has served as a reader for PlayPenn, SPACE on Ryder Farm, Musical Theatre Factory, the O’Neill’s National Playwrights Conference, the A.R.T., and Williamstown Theater Festival. She’s the Director of Education at PlayPenn, a Board member of Philly-based Directors Gathering, and a regional VP for Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas (LMDA). An alumni of the National Critics Institute at the O’Neill (Chris Jones, mentor), Julia received her M.F.A. from the A.R.T. Institute at Harvard, and her A.B. from Princeton University.


L M Feldman is a queer, feminist playwright (and circus artist) who pens plays that are wildly theatrical but deeply intimate. Formally ambitious plays that move, take up space. Plays that are questing, wrestling, asking. Plays without answers. Plays about women and queers, plays about outsiders and searchers. Plays grappling with voice and agency, opportunity and access, history and its wake. Plays about the human connection. Plays that seek to be a greater, communal, rare theatrical event in which something transcendent transpires – for those both onstage & off. Her plays include THRIVE, OR WHAT YOU WILL (Page 73 Residency, New Georges Audrey Residency); ANOTHER KIND OF SILENCE (Magic Theatre Virgin Play Festival, PlayPenn Conference, Playwrights Realm Fellowship, FEWW Prize Honorable Mention); AMANUENSIS (Georgetown University); A PEOPLE (Orbiter 3, Jewish Plays Project); THE EGG-LAYERS (Jane Chambers Honorable Mention, New Georges/Barnard College commission); GRACE, OR THE ART OF CLIMBING (Denver Center, Art House Productions, Nice People Theatre, ATCA/Steinberg New Play Award Nomination, Barrymore Nomination); ensemble-devised works, including GUMSHOE (New Paradise Labs + Free Library of Philadelphia + Rosenbach Museum), WAR OF THE WORLDS: PHILADELPHIA (Swim Pony + Drexel University), AND IF YOU LOSE YOUR WAY, OR A FOOD ODYSSEY (The Invisible Dog, New York Innovative Theatre Award Nomination), and others; and a baker’s dozen of short plays. A graduate of the Yale School of Drama, L is also a New Georges Affiliated Artist, a devised-work collaborator, a teacher of playwriting (Bryn Mawr College, Lantern Theatre/Jefferson Medical School, PlayPenn), and a freelance dramaturg.


Maura Krause is an award-winning director, creator, and producer of new work. She is the Artistic Associate at Azuka Theatre, in addition to being the Artistic Director of Barrymore Award-winning company Orbiter 3, Philadelphia’s first producing playwrights collective. Maura was a National New Play Network Producer-in-Residence at InterAct Theatre Company, and is currently an Associated Artist with Applied Mechanics. Maura has also worked with the Samuel French Off-Off Broadway Festival, Woolly Mammoth Theatre, EMP Collective, PlayPenn, Arcadia University, Philadelphia Young Playwrights, and Tiny Dynamite, among others. Favorite projects include Lost in the Meadow (PearlDamour), Red Ash Mosaic (Cleveland Public Theatre), Breathe Smoke by Douglas Williams (Orbiter 3), Tilda Swinton Adopt Me Please (The Greenfield Collective), This Is On Record (Applied Mechanics), and Bon Iver Fights a Bear by Douglas Williams (maura ampersand doug).


Deborah Zoe Laufer’s plays have been produced at Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Cleveland Playhouse, Geva Theatre Center, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Portland Stage, and The Humana Festival. Informed Consent,  was developed at PlayPenn in 2013. It was an Alfred P. Sloan/EST commission and appeared at The Duke Theatre in NYC in 2015 where it was a NYTimes Critic’s Pick. End Days won The ATCA Steinberg citation, and has received over 70 productions around the country, and in Germany, Russia and Australia. Other plays include Leveling Up, Out of Sterno, The Last Schwartz, Sirens, Meta, The Gulf of Westchester, Miniatures, Fortune, and Be Here Now. Deb is a recipient of the Helen Merrill Playwriting Award and the Lilly Award, a graduate of Juilliard, an alumna of the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop and a member of The Dramatists Guild.


Kate Tarker’s plays THUNDERBODIES and Dionysus Was Such a Nice Man are having their world premieres this season, at Soho Rep and the Wilma Theater, respectively. Other plays include God is Dead, Let’s Make Love and Laura and the Sea (a finalist for the L. Arnold Weissberger Award and Princess Grace Award, and a semi-finalist for the Relentless Award). Her works have been developed at The Lark, The Vineyard, The Wilma, Ars Nova, New York Theatre Workshop, Magic Theatre, Cutting Ball, the Playwrights’ Center, and The O’Neill National Playwrights Conference, among others. She is the recipient of a Jerome Fellowship, The Vineyard’s Paula Vogel Playwriting Award, Theater Masters’ Visionary Playwright Award, and a PWCenter/NET Ensemble Collaboration Grant. She has also collaborated with Pig Iron and SITI Company Conservatory. Tarker is a two-time MacDowell Colony Fellow, an Ars Nova Play Group alum, a New Georges Jam member, and a former Playwrights’ Center Core Writer. She has been featured twice on the Kilroys List. M.F.A. Yale.

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