New Play Conference Theatre Workshops

GPTC New Play Conference Theatre WorkShops are a vibrant series of hands-on writing and performance-related classes designed and led by national theatre professionals.  WorkShops cover a variety of techniques and approaches and provide participants and an excellent opportunity to create and collaborate with one another while under the instruction of some of the top theatre artists in the country.

WorkShops are free of charge for all attendees and the general public.  Priority for attendance is given to the current GPTC Playwrights and conference participants. Sessions are held throughout the Conference week. Registration for the workshops will be available soon. Please check back here for registration information.

To sign up for a workshop please send the name and day of the workshop (or workshops) in an email to: We will place everyone that we can into each workshop until they are at full capacity. We will respond back to let you know the status of your request asap. Thank you!

2021 GPTC New Play Conference Workshops




Jaclyn Backhaus

Snack and Hacks: Looking for ways to jostle and replenish your process?

Jaclyn looks to the alchemical, the excavational, the mathematical and the

extraterrestrial as she leads you through a series of small exercises and

freewrites with the intention to uncover, dust off, and open new portals in

your work.


Eliza Bent

Improv for Writers: Together we will explore chance, improv, and aleatory

techniques across disciplines to serve, surprise, and disrupt even the most

veteran of writers…



Getting Unstuck: Do you feel stuck on the play you’re currently working on?

Or did you get stuck on a former piece and finally, in frustration, put it aside?

This workshop will help get you out of creative gridlock, allowing you to open

up your play via new, unexplored territory.


Michael John Garcés

Community-Engaged Theater: Cornerstone Theater Company’s Artistic

Director, Michael John Garcés, will share some of the strategies and exercises

the company uses to create unique and meaningful works of theater with a

wide range of communities and populations.





John J. Caswell Jr.

Getting Personal: Writing What you Know: Writing a play requires

vulnerability regardless of subject matter. But it can be especially

challenging when we more directly address private traumas, belief

systems, and relationships through our work. Using exercises based in

abstraction and controlled obfuscation, as well as anecdotal discussions

about making deeply personal work, we will explore ways to find a safe and

fruitful proximity to challenging and close-to-home subject matter.


Eugenie Chan

Heaven & Hell: Sometimes you need a little bit of the sublime and the profane

to jumpstart a play. Have fun with extremes in this scene writing workshop.


Mashuq Mushtaq Deen

The Gaze and How It Affects Your Work: A workshop about deepening

your understanding of how your work is seen by an audience. Who is

your imagined audience, and who is your actual audience? How do you

understand the lens through which they look at your work? What is the

male gaze? What is the white gaze? What is the dominant gaze? What is

an American gaze? How does this affect how your work is encountered?

Conversation will be punctuated with writing exercises.


Tony Meneses

Storytelling is just good gossip: As much as we pride ourselves on our craft and

ingenuity, we also need to acknowledge that audiences love to clutch their

pearls—whether at our storytelling, characterization, or even just aesthetic

choices. I’m sure we all remember when we’ve been actually thrilled at the

theater, and what can we learn from and apply to our own work from these

moments? Art is always the goal, but we must admit we love it when things

get juicy onstage. How can we surprise and innovate and literally give folx

something to talk about? Please think about your own play as reference as we

diagnose where that good gossip might already permeate.



Musical forms for playwrights: We’ll consider musical forms and figures as

possible jumping off points for the shape of a play, and experiment with

texts as scores. (No formal music training necessary).





David Adjmi

A Play is a Pattern: When playwrights set about crafting plays, we think of

things like ‘action’ and ‘stakes’ as tools to generate dramatic interest. But

when we write with these explicitly in mind, our drafts can sometimes end

up a little too functional or deadened. By “looking awry” or thinking of

plays as aesthetic fields, we can tap into surprising fonts of emotional and

psychological depth in our writing. In this workshop, through exercises

and conversation, we will explore the notion of pattern—not as something

decorative or aesthetic—but as a generative force in dramatic composition.


Lisa D’Amour

What Do You Crave? In playwriting classes we are often asked “what does

your character want?” While certainly a valid question, it can keep us on the

surface, in the world of small desires. But what if we shift to the word crave?

Suddenly we are in the body, in the realm of appetite and deeper desires that

are beyond words. This workshop will allow you explore the cravings of the

current characters you are writing, and explore how they might relate to the

deeper craving of your play, and what you crave as an artist.


Christina Ham

Show Me: Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken

glass. -Anton Chekov: The beauty of live theater is its immediacy and the

transaction that takes place between the playwright and the audience. The

playwright presents a set of events arranged in such a way that gives the

audience the thrill of connecting the dots for themselves. However, even with

this tacit agreement sometimes we can fall short of dramatic writing that

shows us something that is immediate and digress into narrative writing

that is stuck in the past. This lecture will examine how to identify the most

important aspects of your story and how to get it on stage utilizing a writer’s

most powerful tools: dialogue and characterization. These tips can help the

playwright avoid having their play take place off-stage and move it center

stage—where it belongs. Please bring a couple of scenes from your play that

we will utilize in this workshop.


Anne Washburn

Good Politics Bad Art and Vice Versa – grappling with the idioms of civic

language: In this workshop we will engage in a number of extremely small and

ineffective but actual (non partisan) political activities, while exploring the

idiomatic barriers we create between expressing ourselves in our plays and

expressing ourselves as actors upon the public stage.



Great Plains Theatre Commons