Fundamentals of Playwriting

Taking our cue from Aristotle’s six elements of drama—plot, character, thought, diction, music, spectacle—this six-week/six class course will anatomize the process of playwriting and isolate different ways of considering the writing process. Each week we will focus on one of these elements, taking it out of context and making it strange so that we may better understand how and why it works. We will look at a number of plays (drawn largely from the past 30 years) to see how different playwrights have used each element as a tool to shape their storytelling. And we will use this tool ourselves, responding to a handful of writing prompts and sharing our writing for feedback from the group.

“I like anything a word can do” –Gertrude Stein

In this multi-discipline art form, understanding the ways a playwright approaches his or her craft can enrich the actor’s ability to create organic, experiential behavior. The Maggie Flanigan Studio believes that exceptional actors have a passion for the medium in which they work: the script. Discovering an appreciation for the writer’s struggle also allows for a greater sense of artistic responsibility to honor another artist’s achievement.

At the end of this class, students will have a portfolio of 10-20 micro-dramas that could be developed into full works, a better familiarity with the major playwrights working in the American theater today, and a sensitivity to the art of playwriting that they can carry with them when they are next able to work in collaboration with a playwright.

Elliot B. Quick( Fundamentals of Playwriting: )

Elliot is a theatre artist based in Brooklyn, New York. He received an MFA in Dramaturgy and Dramatic Criticism from the Yale School of Drama, where he served as Production Dramaturg for 16 productions at the Yale Rep, YSD, and the Yale Cabaret. He was the Resident Dramaturg and Associate Artistic Director for the 2011 Yale Summer Cabaret Shakespeare Festival and the Associate Artistic Director for the Yale Cabaret's 43rd Season. His work as a director has appeared at the Yale Cabaret, HERE Arts Center, Electric Pear’s Synesthesia Festival, The Brick, and the NYC Fringe Festival. He has also worked as a Literary Assistant at Playwrights Horizons and a Literary Associate at the Yale Rep and Page 73. Elliot is an Artistic Producer for the multidisciplinary performance ensemble Piehole (, an Associate Artist of M-34 Productions (, and a Founding Member of Shakespeare on the Vine, a Shakespeare festival based in Napa Valley. Recent projects include co-creating Piehole's Old Paper Houses (Columbia Stages at The Connelly Theater) and adapting Karl Kraus's The Last Days of Mankind with students at Bard College.


  • Taking this class was with Elliot one of the easiest decisions i ever made. Elliot's enthusiasm and passion for playwriting is contagious and so it makes it extremely hard not to follow. Highly recommended!

    Dmitry Litvinovsky