Dramatists Guild Institute's Summer Intensive in L.A.

I wrote my first play, "Winnie," without really knowing what I was doing. I just - wrote it and decided I'd worry about the particulars later. Well, it was later and time to worry. I looked around for courses on playwriting and found the Dramatists Guild Institute. I saw they had a seminar in Los Angeles scheduled for the following month, but the deadline to register had already passed. I wrote them and asked to be put on the waitlist and, lo and behold, a spot was open!

The course description is pretty thorough, so rather than repeat it here, I'll give a list of reasons for why this was such a great experience:

  1. Gary Garrison. An excellent instructor who teaches from the heart. In the span of two hours, Gary gave us an overview of playwriting structure that was engaging and packed with substance. One gem from his talk: "All plays answer a central, dramatic question" this seems obvious but, if it's missing or you, the writer, can't articulate it, this is where you start (restart).
  2. A panel featuring television writers that included a breakout session with a specific writer. I'd always heard about 'the writers' room' in relation to televisions shows, but these writers offered a detailed view into what happens in those rooms and how their experiences varied. I now have a realistic image in my head of how television shows are written, the collaboration that happens and what writing a television show entails.
  3. Friendships. I really like playwrights. I told a lot of them this, that I felt a kindred spirit with playwrights, and almost all said, "Collaboration. We're used to collaborating." Maybe that's it or maybe they have a little more fun with what they write. It is called playwriting, after all. And the final product literally comes to life. That's pretty magical.
  4. Solid, real-world advice from the Guild's attorney, Ralph Sevush. I found him at lunch and asked him a question specific to my project and he gave me a thoughtful answer that helped me get past a mental roadblock.
  5. Lunch was top notch. As was breakfast. The Guild's first order of business after registration was getting our lunch orders. These are my people.


Gwen Goodkin