PlayPenn Announces Spring 2020 Education Courses

The semester includes courses led by Anne Marie Cammarato, John Yearley, Nilaja Sun, Quinn D. Eli, R. Eric Thomas, Wendy Goldman, and Charly Evon Simpson


PlayPenn, the nationally-recognized new play organization based in Philadelphia, is excited to announce their Spring 2020 Education Program courses. Curated by Director of Education Julia Mauro Bumke, the semester features a variety of courses and workshops designed for writers of all skill levels.


Every season, PlayPenn invites the most exciting and successful theatrical voices to share their talent and craft directly with students in an intimate class setting, offering both in-person and online playwriting classes.  The Spring 2020 semester includes the following courses:


Finding Your True Subject: How to Write the Plays That Only You Can Write with Anne Marie Cammarato and John Yearley: As audiences, we have all sat though plays wondering why the playwright has chosen this particular subject to write about. As playwrights, we have all struggled to approach a subject that we want to write about but can’t find our way into. Finding Your True Subject provides the tools to unlock these subjects, striving to help each writer discover what you (and only you) can bring to a subject, whether that subject is autobiographical or not. This class will assist students in identifying their true subjects and celebrating what they can uniquely bring to a play.  (March 23, 30, April 6, 13, 7-10PM, $275, location in Philadelphia TBA)


Reimagining Solo Performance with Nilaja Sun: Obie Award-winning Nilaja Sun returns with a specialized intensive designed to facilitate students who are working on their own solo pieces, in honing the craft of writing and performing a dynamic one person show. Students will discover how their body, voice and unique storytelling abilities can set their solo pieces apart from the rest. Be ready to move, create and get motivated to finally tell your story, inspire audiences and be the change you want to be.  Perfect for writers/performers working on one person shows or looking to begin a new one. (March 21-22, 1-5PM, $250, Location in Philadelphia TBA)


Playwriting 101 with Quinn D. Eli: Join playwright, educator, and Foundry co-founder Quinn Eli for an in-depth introduction to the art and craft of playwriting. Whether you’re a professional writer or haven’t written a word, this class is great both for polishing skills and picking up new ones. The course will incorporate short writing exercises while talking through theatrical structures, character development, establishing a sense of place, dialogue and monologue language, and more. A perfect way to dive into playwriting head first. (April 2, 9, 16, 23, 6-8PM, $170, Location in Philadelphia TBA)


Dialogue and the Voice in Theatrical Writing with R. Eric Thomas: From the rat-a-tat of witty banter to page-long dramatic monologues to moments of silence that hang in the air like fog, dialogue builds the universe for our plays. In this two-day intensive, we’ll pull clear takeaways from well-known examples, try our hands at various methods, and have a chance to revise dialogue from pieces of our own.(April 11 and 12, 1-5PM, $185, Location in Philadelphia TBA)


Improv for Playwrights with Wendy Goldman: This workshop uses improvisational writing games to inspire creativity. There’s a reason improv games are called “games” — to get us back in touch with a more playful part of ourselves. When we lose the ability to go with whatever comes up, we stifle our originality. Improv helps to silence the critical voices in our heads. The class is intended to be light, deep, serious, funny, whatever the moment stirs up. It is process-oriented rather than product-oriented. But the short pieces the students create could be the seeds of longer projects they never dreamed of writing. Some pieces will be based on the students’ memories and some engage the imagination, all guided with specific instructions and prompts. When we let go of the reins, no telling how we’ll surprise ourselves. (Dates and times TBA, $185, Location in Philadelphia TBA)


Poetry and Poetic Language in Theatre with Charly Evon Simpson: Style and syntax of language can transform how a play sounds to its audience: how characters interact, how scenes move, how audiences understand text and subtext, and so much more. In this workshop, we will dive into using and investigating poetic language in theatrical writing. We’ll travel along the line between poetry and theater, reading, writing, and discovering the times when both forms can help us tell better stories. (May 5, 12, 19, 26, 7-9PMEST, online, $170)


Students that register for a PlayPenn class before March 1, 2020 will be invited to submit an unproduced, full-length play for consideration for a professional staged reading. PlayPenn will produce one student’s play as a reading with a professional director, professional actors and a PlayPenn dramaturg in Philadelphia in summer 2020.


All “face to face” courses will take place in Center City Philadelphia at a location to be announced at a later date. Registration and more information can be found at



Anne Marie Cammarato is a playwright and director, whose plays include Hazel, Bobby James, Milk Pie, A Scar, 10 Months, and The Big Room. Her work has been developed at PlayPenn, Theatre Exile, Temple University, University of the Arts and the Resident Ensemble Players. She has worked throughout the country at theatres including Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Madison Repertory Theater, Theatre X, Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, Renaissance Theatreworks, and Delaware Theatre Company, where she served as Artistic Director for six seasons. She was a finalist for the Leah Ryan Fund prize (2015) and in 2012, she was the Established Literary Fellow in Playwriting for the State of Delaware. She is a proud member of the Dramatists Guild and the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society. She has taught at the University of Delaware and Temple University, and is currently Playwright in Residence at the University of Mississippi.


John Yearley is the author of The Unrepeatable Moment (“Thought provoking…exhilarating…painfully hilarious” – New York Times, “Yearley is a master” – Huffington Post), Leap (Mickey Kaplan New American Play Prize, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park), Ephemera (John Gassner Award), Another Girl (PlayPenn), and Bruno Hauptmann Kissed My Forehead (Abingdon Theatre). His latest play, Eight Minutes, Twenty Seconds, was workshopped by LABryinth Theatre Company and performed at Temple University. Work for young audiences include The Last Wish (Macy’s New Play Prize for Young Audiences) and an adaptation of Sophocles’ Antigone. Short plays All in Little Pieces and A Low-Lying Fog are available through Samuel French. He currently writes for the children’s TV program Treasure Trekkers and has worked previously on PBS Kids’ Arthur and as a “script doctor” for New Line Cinema. Teaches playwriting, TV Writing, and screenwriting at Temple University, Drexel University, and the Barrow Group in New York City, as well as being a lead artist of the Foundry, a playwriting group in Philadelphia. Member of the Dramatists Guild, Writers Guild, and twice a MacDowell Fellow.


Nilaja Sun is an actor, solo performer and teaching artist most known for her Obie award winning solo piece No Child… which was directed by Hal Brooks and originally commissioned and produced by Epic Theatre Ensemble. For her creation and performance of No Child… and its subsequent international tour, Nilaja garnered 21 awards including: an Obie Award, a Lucille Lortel Award, two Outer Critics Circle Awards including the John Gassner Playwriting Award for Outstanding New American Play, a Theatre World Award, the Helen Hayes Award, two NAACP Theatre Awards, and was awarded the soloNOVA Award for Artist of the Year by terraNOVA Collective.   Her latest solo piece Pike St., directed by Ron Russell and originally commissioned and produced by Epic, had its world premiere at the Abrons Arts Center in the Lower East Side, which was followed by an international tour at the Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, Pillsbury House, Detroit Public Theatre, and Berkeley Repertory Theatre, as well as Melbourne, Australia, Dublin, Ireland and Edinburgh, Scotland where she won the Edinburgh Award.   TV/FILM: Madam Secretary, The Good Wife, BrainDead, 30 Rock, Law & Order: SVU, Unforgettable, Louie, The International, Youth in Oregon and Rubicon.   A native of the Lower East Side, she is a Princess Grace Award recipient, and has taught drama, playwriting and solo performance in high schools and colleges in New York, New Jersey, Bridgeport, CT, Detroit, MI, Washington D.C, Oakland, CA, Tanzania, Africa for 20 years.


Quinn D. Eli grew up in the Bronx and lives now in Philadelphia. His short plays have appeared in Best American Ten-Minute Plays and been produced throughout the country. Longer works include the award-winning My Name is Bess, produced by Trustus Theatre; Hazardous, produced locally at Society Hill Playhouse; and Hot Black/Asian Action, a satire about sexual and racial stereotypes that premiered at the New York International Fringe Festival. The two-time recipient of Fellowships in Literature from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, Eli has served as a Playwright-in-Residence at Plays & Players Theatre.


R. Eric Thomas won the 2016 Barrymore Award for Best New Play and the 2018 Dramatist Guild Lanford Wilson Award and was a finalist for the 2017 Steinberg/ATCA New Play Award. He is the recipient of a 2017/2018 National New Play Network Commission and has also been commissioned or produced by the Arden, Simpatico, Azuka Theater, Single Carrot Theater, About Face Theater, City Theater Miami, Act II Playhouse and more.  He has two books coming in 2020: his debut memoir-in-essays, HERE FOR IT (Ballantine Books/February) and RECLAIMING HER TIME (Dey Street/Fall), a biography of Rep. Maxine Waters. Recent productions include SAFE SPACE, MRS HARRISON (Barrymore nomination – Best New Play), and TIME IS ON OUR SIDE. He is an alumnus of The Foundry, the Lambda Literary Fellowship, and the Ingram New Works Project. Website: New Play Exchange:


Wendy Goldman has had a long career as a film and TV writer-producer. Most recently, she was an Executive-Producer on the critically acclaimed MTV series Faking It. Wendy started as an actress and was a company member of the famed LA comedy troupe, The Groundlings. Her improv background informed the way she writes, how she developed characters, and found her voice as a writer. Wendy currently lives and writes plays in NYC. She’s led a variety of Master Classes, including at Hedgebrook Writers Retreat and the Writers Guild of America East, and has been a guest lecturer at colleges such as UC Riverside and Claremont McKenna College Center for Writing and Public Discourse. She regularly offers “Improv for Writing” workshops for new and experienced writers of all genres and consults as a Writing Coach.


Charly Evon Simpson’s plays include Behind the Sheet, Jump, form of a girl unknown, it’s not a trip it’s a journey, and more.  Her work has been seen and/or developed with Ensemble Studio Theatre, The Lark, P73, The Eugene O’Neill Theater Center, PlayMakers Repertory Company, Chautauqua Theater Company, Salt Lake Acting Company, and others. She is a recipient of the Paula Vogel Playwriting Award and the Lanford Wilson Award. Commissions she has received include ones from MTC/Sloan, Cleveland Playhouse, EST/Sloan, and one of the 2020 Elizabeth George Commissions through South Coast Repertory. Charly is currently a member of WP Theater’s 2018-2020 Lab and The New Georges Jam. She’s a former member of SPACE on Ryder Farm’s The Working Farm, Clubbed Thumb’s Early Career Writers’ Group, and Ensemble Studio Theatre’s Youngblood. BA: Brown University. MSt: University of Oxford. New College. MFA: Hunter College.

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