Staging New Writing


From 2012-16, I designed and taught this year-long unit for third-year Theatre and Performing Arts majors, which focuses on British and American playwrights producing work from 1990 to present. The unit builds skills in textual analysis and introduces innovative approaches to interpreting, and ultimately staging a text, as directors, actors and designers.

Students are first brought into the learning journey through task that invites the student to  ‘stage (new) writing.’ Working collaboratively, each group is provided with a textual fragment, (without knowledge of source text), which they are to stage as an installation with a limited number of found objects. Some of the images below, reflect the work created.

In Term 1, students are introduced to thirty playwrights and performance writers (and groups) who have produced work between 1990 and the present. Their first major project involves each student directing a scene from one of these writers/groups.

In Term 2, for their final project, students form groups around common interests in writers and writing styles, identifying a one-act play, or an act from a full-length play, that they will stage as a company. In some cases, student companies have had the option to devise a new work in the style of a specific practitioner. Some of the plays that have been studied and produced by student companies include:

DECADE by Headlong Theatre Company, et. al.

DOG SEES GOD by Bert V. Royal

HARM’S WAY by Mac Wellman


PUNK ROCK by Simon Stephens

SOME PEOPLE by Danny Hoch

TOPDOG / UNDERDOG by Suzan-Lori Parks

VENUS by Suzan-Lori Parks

Some of the images included reflect student work produced for their final project.

What sphinx of cement and aluminum bashed open their skulls and ate up their brains and magination?

Moloch! Solitude! Filth! Ugliness! Ashcans and unobtainable dollars! Children screaming under the stairways! Boys sobbing in armies! Old men weeping in the parks!

<-- Allen Ginsburg, HOWL


Resist much. Obey little.

-Walt Whitman -->

“Destruction. This pathway also represents a way that is not the straight way, also a way with a wide variety of many other religious and social philosophies. Danger.”

<-- John Bunyan, Pilgrim’s Progress

“Forget safety.
Live where you fear to live.
Destroy your reputation.
Be notorious.” 
-- Rumi -->

“That was exactly how I felt back then. I sensed the schools were hiding something, drugging us with false morality so that we would not see, so that we did not ask: Why…”

<-- Ta-Nehesi Coates, Between the World and Me