THDA 640W (01) - Playwriting


Credits: 4.0
Term: Fall 2023 - Full Term (08/28/2023 - 12/11/2023)
Grade Mode: Letter Grading
Class Size:   12  
CRN: 11667
Special Fees: $24.00
To illuminate and guide each student through the art and craft of writing for performance. This course explores the fundamental principles needed to build a realistic play that is intended to be produced upon the stage. Though the course is built around the construction of plays, the principles, writing exercises, readings, and other assignments serve as a solid base for any form of dialogue driven writing.
Registration Approval Required. Contact Instructor or Academic Department for permission then register through Webcat.
Equivalent(s): THDA 540, THDA 540W, THDA 750
Attributes: Writing Intensive Course
Instructors: Nina Morrison

Times & Locations

Start Date End Date Days Time Location
8/28/2023 12/11/2023 TR 11:10am - 12:30pm PCAC M316
Additional Course Details: 

Course Description

What makes a great play great? What stories need to be told on stage now? This collaborative writing workshop will investigate the essential skills for playwrights including creating dynamic characters, dramatic action, and dialogue that makes us lean in to listen. We will analyze the dramatic techniques of modern masters as well as acclaimed contemporary playwrights. Through interactive exercises and assignments each student will develop their own unique playwriting voice. Everyone will hear newly written pages out loud – absolutely essential for playwrights – and receive constructive feedback. Classes will be a mix of writing exercises, lectures on craft, in-depth analysis of classic and contemporary plays, and discussions of student work, culminating in the creation of original one-act plays.


Discover and nurture the storyteller within – the observer, questioner, and inventor. We will continually ask the big questions: What motivates human behavior? What makes a story relevant, entertaining, compelling, or moving? What responsibilities to our community do we have as storytellers?  In what way is an artist a public intellectual? Does all art have a political, moral, and/or ethical point of view? What makes a great play great? What if…?


The workshop atmosphere is one of support and generosity toward new work and experimentation. You’ll be asked to experiment in your own writing as well as to welcome the very different experiments of your fellow writers. The workshop environment is a shared creation, and all members are responsible for sustaining it so that all feel free to work, to try new things, to take risks. You will all serve as actors for your fellow students. By the end of the course you will lead discussions of your own work.


I encourage you to participate in theatre at UNH as much as you can – and when possible, beyond – as audience members, onstage performers, directors, designers, technicians, or in any other capacity, understanding that any participation improves your vision and understanding of the art of theatre, and your awareness as a playwright.


Course Goals

Students will:

  • Strengthen skills of observation, analysis and inquiry
  • Gain a practical understanding of playwriting fundamentals
  • Gather techniques to conquer the blank page and methods for revision
  • Read a wide range of professional modern and contemporary writing for the theatre
  • Develop their own unique aesthetic, creative writing practice, and voice
  • Develop drafts through exploration, revision, and feedback
  • Learn how to contribute to the development of their fellow writers’ work
  • Write and revise a ten-minute play, and a one-act play 

  • Ask: Why theatre? What is it for? What can it do? 


Required Books and Materials

The required book is available at the UNH Bookstore, the Durham Book Exchange, and the Dimond Library as an ebook.

  • Playwriting With Purpose by Jacqueline Goldfinger
  • A Journal with full-size pages dedicated to playwriting