Summer 2021 Courses

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) borecca

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 context as well as implications for contemporary audiences. Course covers major approaches to dramatic criticism and the tools used in theatre research. Required course for first-year students.


Intensive study in theoretical and practical approaches to the realization of a text on the stage. Historical research, criticism, play analysis, conceptualization for production, cutting, adaptation, literary management, evaluation of text, advocacy of new writers, development of new plays, audience development, public relations, publicity, and arts education are all touched upon in this comprehensive survey of the role of the dramaturge. Not currently required but strongly encouraged as part of your plan of study.

THEA 514: THEATRE AND SOCIETY – THEATRE FOR social change (4) Carreiro

This will be a focused study of plays, theatres, and theatre artists advocating for change in response to specific social issues from the time of the Federal Theater Project to today.  Relevant areas of interest will include worker’s rights, anti-war protest, anti-racism, queer theatre, HIV/AIDS, poverty, gender, and politics.


An introduction to design principles as applied to the production and presentation of new plays. Design areas covered will include scenic, costume, lighting and sound design as well as graphic illustration. This course will also be an introduction to stage scenery and construction. As part of the course, each student director will create two separate design palates based on the play they are directing in Festival, one envisioned with an $800 budget and one with a $20,000 budget. In this way, the director prepares for the possibility of staying connected to a project as it moves from a small studio theatre to the main stage of a larger venue. Playwriting students who take the course as an elective, but who are not directing in Festival, will work with the instructor to select a text as the basis for their designs–ideally, one of their own original plays.

THEA 520: Narrative Theory and Dramatic Structure (creative) (4) Ristau

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. This is a required course for first-year students.


A six-week intensive in the ensemble building techniques of Suzuki and Viewpoints training as developed by Anne Bogart and the SITI company. This course is an introduction to a method of actor training which is primarily concerned with uniting the human body and the theatrical text by uncovering the actor’s innate expressive abilities through rigorous physical training to heighten their emotional and physical power on stage. The Viewpoints training grew out of the post-modern dance world and enhances the performer’s ability to deal with time and space by breaking those broad areas into six specific categories which facilitate ensemble creation of bold, theatrical work through strong physical, intellectual, emotional and artistic choices. This course is required for directors and performers, and is encouraged for playwrights as an elective in order to facilitate interdisciplinary interaction, collaboration and ensemble work. It also forms the foundation for group script creation and devised work.


Intensive instruction in creating a dramatic text from historical documents or based on real life events.  Before creating their own original works, students will study the form by examining existing docudramas, methods of research, and conducting interviews. Students will also be introduced to the legal and ethical issues peculiar to this form of writing.


Exploration of the creation of dramas designed to be performed both for and by children and young adults. While adaptation of existing children’s literature will be addressed, the focus is on the creation of original plays for young audiences.


This course is designed to provide an introduction to non-western theatre practices as taught by the co-founder of Kunoichi Productions (Female Ninja Productions: Keiko Carreiro will guide students through a brief history of Japanese theatre and connect those traditions to contemporary practices, including an overview of important Asian-American theatre artists and her own work in the field.  Work which focuses on multi-disciplinary, thought provoking original plays with Japanese aesthetics, breaking traditions, taboos and gender/cultural assumptions.


This course will focus on developing a pedagogy and curriculum for creative dramatics in a classroom setting and provide a foundation for teaching theatre at all levels, from early childhood to graduate level instruction. The course will focus on the use of theatre games, a combination of writing and acting exercises, simple improvisation and other aspects of theatre education. It will also require research into current best practices and explore the way in which educational theatre programs affiliated with professional and non-profit theatres are structured and executed.

THEA 570: Master Class: FIRST DRAFTS (4) Ristau

In this intensive workshop students come to each class with a completely new play resulting in six new first drafts over the six-week course, each in a different style or genre and incorporating a set list of prompts. 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.


An introduction to the structure of the non-profit theatre and how-to guide for creating a new company dedicated to the production and presentation of new plays. Concepts covered include arts administration, crafting a mission statement, forming a board of trustees, filing for non-profit status, legal issues and potential liabilities, fund raising, publicity, contracts, rental agreements, and other aspects of producing new work as part of a season or just a single showcase.

Directing Certificate Courses Open to Playwrights:

THEA 561: Directors and playwrights in collaboration (2) Ristau

Guided instruction leading up to the reading of a new play in Festival, and also functioning as a production meeting with participation of the playwright and performers discussing process and progress toward the presentation of the work to the public. All students enrolled in the certificate in New Play Directing will be required to direct a reading in the Hollins Playwright’s Festival, which presents ten new play readings to industry professionals from all over the world. This course is designed to guide directing students through the process of collaboration from the initial read and interview with a playwright, development of concept in consultation with the playwright, and included practical exercises to ensure that when it comes to the test the playwright and director are on the same page. Monday meetings function as a kind of production meeting for the festival readings and will include Festival playwrights. Wednesday sessions are open only to the directing students to discuss their process and problems under the supervision and guidance of the instructor. Repeated each summer.

Performance Certificate Courses Open To Playwrights

THEA 565: Ensembles in Collaboration (2) seibel

All students enrolled in the Certificate in New Play Performance will be required to perform in at least one, but no more than two, Hollins Playwright’s Festival readings. This course is designed to guide performance students through the process of collaboration from the initial table read with the playwright through final performance. The course affords performers an opportunity to debrief their experiences with an experienced theatre professional with expertise in best practices. Performance students are encouraged to serve as readers for festival season and selection and are invited to sit in on the casting session for Festival — at which time they will be able to make preferences known, hear frank discussions of casting needs by directors and playwrights, as well as having input on final casting decisions. Such transparency can be challenging, but is extremely instructive for all concerned.

dramaturgy Certificate Courses Open To Playwrights


Guided instruction in dramaturgical practices as part of the rehearsal and development process for an assigned play in Playwright’s Festival. The student will facilitate effective conversations between playwright and director, as well as provide additional information to the acting company under the guidance of the resident dramaturg and/or the course instructor. Coursework will include the creation of a detailed production notebook, dramaturg’s notes as though for a playbill, mockup of a lobby display, and an objective critique/review of the public reading to which they have been assigned.

Course offerings dependent upon meeting minimum enrollment requirements.