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Hollins University
Graduate Programs

(General Information)
Hollins University
Graduate Center
P.O. Box 9603
Roanoke, VA 24020-1603
(540) 362-6575
Fax (540) 362-6288

Program Director
Todd Ristau
(540) 362-6386

M.F.A. in Playwriting

Summer 2013 Courses for the M.F.A. in Playwriting

THEA 501  Playwright's Lab (4) Ristau
All students, faculty, staff, and guests meet regularly for readings of student work, guest presentations, exercises and discussion.  Students submit an example of their best work for available public reading slots.  Students whose work is selected for readings are responsible for arranging, rehearsing, and presenting them.  A moderated discussion follows each reading. Grades are primarily based on attendance and energetic participation with clear, perceptive, and informed analysis in discussion. Course must be repeated three consecutive summers. 

THEA 510  Playscript Analysis and Criticism (4) Metzgar
Intensive critical analysis of the playscript as a blueprint for production covering representative texts from a range of theatre styles, genres, and periods. Plays are considered in both their original historical/cultural circumstances and implications for contemporary audiences.  The course covers major approaches to dramatic criticism and the tools used in theatre research. Required course for first-year students.

THEA 514 Theatre and Society: Theatre for Social Change (4) Metzgar (analytical) This will be a focused study of plays advocating on behalf of special groups and targeting specific social issues across time. Relevant areas of interest will include queer theatre, AIDS, poverty, gender, and politics.

THEA 520  Narrative Theory and Dramatic Structure (4) Ristau (creative)
Introduction to the basics of storytelling and the creation of dramatic texts using both organic and formulaic models with an emphasis on the one-act play.  Students will learn to observe the world for meaning, build characters, place characters in settings, write monologues, create dialogue between characters, and lay the groundwork for longer, more substantive work.  Required course for first-year students.

THEA 521: Practical Elements of Theatre for Playwrights (4) Bergman (creative) This course exposes playwrights to the other disciplines within the medium for which they will be writing. Over the session, playwrights will be introduced to the five main production elements (set, lights, sound, costume, and props). They will also be trained in improvisation, movement, scene study, acting styles, and character realization from the actor’s perspective. Students will also learn about the role of the director including the play selection, development of concept, working with a living writer, casting, staging, design, blocking, time management, and collaboration with designers. This course is not intended to turn playwrights into actors, directors or designers but rather allow better understanding of the process used by those collaborators through experiential learning in a low-risk environment.

THEA 550: Special Topics in Playwriting: Writing Plays with Music (4) Ullian (creative)
Writers are given guided instruction in creating stage plays which incorporate music. Students will be given some historical background in American Musical Theatre, Revues, and straight plays which incorporate original compositions. Students will have an opportunity to meet with and possibly work with a composer on short pieces which use music to help tell the story.

THEA 551: Guest Seminar: Theatre for Special Populations (4) Bergman (analytical)
Guest seminars focus on a specific topic within the expertise of the instructor. This year’s seminar will be taught by John Bergman, one of the nation’s leading experts and practitioners in the field of drama therapy. Using a combination of lecture, readings and creative role playing exercises, Bergman will address the history of using theatre to address the needs of specific populations, such as the handicapped, incarcerated, troubled youth, mentally ill, sexually abused, etc. Students who complete the course will have a better understanding of the principles of drama therapy, community specific theatre pieces, and using performance training to open up avenues of communication which might otherwise be impossible to achieve.

THEA 570 Master Class - First Drafts (4) Ristau
In this intensive workshop students come to each class with a completely new full-length play resulting in six new first drafts over the six-week course. While it is possible that these first drafts might eventually be developed and revised into final drafts, the emphasis is on mastering the discipline necessary to produce substantive work on a deadline as well as reinforcing the student’s understanding of the fundamentals of play structure.

THEA 575: Advanced Playwriting Tutorial (4) Ullian (advanced workshop)
Writers are given guided instruction in creating a full-length play which is polished, complete, ready for production and suitable for submission.

Course offerings dependent upon meeting minimum enrollment requirements.