MFA Playwriting Concentration

There is not one way to write a good play, there are many. Every author must find his or her most effective methods of working. The playwriting program empowers dramatists to cultivate their unique and idiosyncratic voices, to help each play grow into the best version of itself. Central to our philosophy is an appreciation of diversity: artistic, cultural, international, and in all its forms. Accordingly, the distinguished faculty represents a wide range of aesthetic approaches and story interests. We also value a strong foundation in theatrical literature and dramatic strategies from around the world, and from other art forms. In addition, the program takes a practical approach to preparing graduates for lives and careers as dramatists. Studying in New York City provides unique opportunities to meet and learn from America’s leading playwrights, producers, artistic directors, and literary managers. The program provides the tools playwrights need to support themselves and broaden their professional activities, including courses in musical theatre, screenwriting, and television writing. Two years of reading and critiquing student work are supplemented by workshop productions, which allow for plays to be heard and seen, and for collaborations with directors, dramaturgs, and actors to develop. The third year of study includes professional development led by the concentration head, and the full production of a thesis project, under the guidance of a mentor playwright chosen by the student.
 
 
Required Courses
Course requirements are subject to change at the discretion of the faculty.
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Playwriting I-IV; Directed Studies: Playwriting; Playwriting Projects; History and Theory of Theatre; Fundamentals of Directing; Lyric Writing; Screenwriting; Drama and Film; Television Writing; Collaboration; Playwright-Dramaturg Workshop.
 
 
Thesis Year
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In their third year, playwrights work on their thesis plays under the guidance of a professional playwright mentor.  Recent mentors have included Edward Albee, Edward Bond, Deborah Brevoort, Christopher Durang, David Grimm, John Guare, David Henry Hwang, David Lindsay-Abaire, John Logan, Kenneth Lonergan, Martin McDonagh, Dael Orlandersmith, Theresa Rebeck, and Sarah Ruhl. The thesis play is then given a full production in a downtown theatre.  Third-year playwrights also complete internships in New York, regional and international theatres.
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The Oscar
Hammerstein II
Center for
Theatre Studies
601 Dodge Hall
Mail Code 1807
2960 Broadway
New York, NY 10027
Phone: (212) 854-3408
theatre@columbia.edu
 
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Columbia University School of the Arts offers MFA degrees in Film, Theatre, Visual Arts, and Writing, an MA degree in Film Studies, a joint JD/MFA degree in Theatre Management & Producing, a PhD degree in Theatre History, Literature, and Theory, and an interdisciplinary program in Sound Arts.