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At this time, the workshop is at full capacity. However, please add your name to the waitlist if you are interested in this or future workshops. For any questions, please contact Alayna Jacqueline Barnes, Membership Programs Manager.



How and why should we write a play when there’s so much unrest in the world?  Do current events make you feel artistically paralyzed or overwhelmed?  

This twelve-week writing workshop will engage with challenging questions of the moment.  It will also explore the timeless verities of the heart – like love, honor, compassion, and sacrifice.  How might we use allegory to make sense of the present?  When do we need writing that’s ripped from the headlines?

This workshop is for people who want to try to make sense of the chaos around us – in whatever small or large way – by writing the first draft of a new play or substantially revising a play they’ve previously written.  Each week, participants will hear their new pages read aloud and will receive constructive, supportive feedback from one another.  At the end of these twelve weeks, writers will have a new set of tools on how and why to write when the world’s on fire.

This workshop is for you if you:

  • Have written at least one full-length play.
  • Are struggling to write in today’s political and social climate.
  • Want to engage with today’s challenges through stories for the stage.
  • Have been searching for an active writer’s group asking similar questions.
  • Are interested in learning more about Mat’s work and approach to writing.

What to expect:

  • A supportive community to create new work or re-imagine existing work.
  • Short one-on-one meetings with the instructor.
  • Engage in writing exercises in and outside of the writing session.
  • Complete the first draft of a new play or substantially revise a previously written play.
  • Develop dramaturgical skills while reading and observing the new work of peers.
  • Connect and engage with students and the instructor online via Zoom and email.
  • Accountability while producing, sharing, and responding to new pages.
  • Strengthen and better articulate your writing process.

Class Dates: Every Wednesday, August 7 through October 30

  • August 7
  • August 14
  • August 21
  • August 28
  • September 4
  • September 11
  • September 18
  • September 25
  • *October 2 – skipping for Rosh Hashanah
  • October 9
  • October 16
  • October 23
  • October 30

Payment Schedule: Monthly payments ($140)

*Cost equals $35 a session.

  • Payment #1: Due at time of enrollment
  • Payment #2: Due September 3
  • Payment #3: Due October 8

I believe one of the best ways to make it through tough times (personally, artistically, and societally) is through community. In this workshop, we will show up for each other each week – by reading each other’s work aloud, responding to it with a spirit of throwing more fuel on the fire, and recognizing that everyone’s path is unique. In Anne Lamott’s BIRD BY BIRD, she talks about writing “shitty first drafts.” In this workshop, I urge you not to worry about quality, just let it rip and follow your instincts. The important thing is to get the words down. Get that first draft down. You can worry about fixing things up later.

Mat Smart

The playwright
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based inBrooklyn, NY

Mat Smart has written 25 full-length plays that have been produced around the country and currently has several television and film projects in development.  His play Kill Local premiered at the La Jolla Playhouse and was recently translated and performed in Seoul, South Korea at the Broadway Musical Center.  The Agitators, his play about the true, untold friendship between Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass, has been produced at over 20 different theatres from Maine to California.  

Select productions include: The Royal Society of Antarctica (Gift Theatre, recipient of the Jeff Award for Best New Work in Chicago), Eden Prairie, 1971 (National New Play Network Rolling World Premiere, Riverside Theatre; New Jersey Rep; BETC), Samuel J. and K. (Williamstown Theatre Festival; Steppenwolf), Naperville (Slant Theatre Project, Theatre Wit), Tinker to Evers to Chance (Geva; Merrimack Rep), The 13th of Paris (City Theatre), and The Hopper Collection (Huntington; Magic).  

His newest play, A Black-billed Cuckoo, a comedy about birding, was recently workshopped at the South Carolina New Play Festival and the Ruth Easton Series at the Playwrights’ Center.  

An avid traveler and baseball fan, Mat has been to all of the states, all of the continents, and all of the current MLB stadiums.  From 2008-2011, he lived in Minneapolis while receiving two Jerome Fellowships and a McKnight Advancement Grant from the Playwrights’ Center.  A native of Naperville, Illinois, he currently lives in Brooklyn.  Undergrad: University of Evansville.  MFA: UCSD.