Civic Playwriting

Civic Playwriting: Making a Difference through the Art of Playwriting

with instructor marcus d. harvey

8 weeks 

Wednesdays, 7pm to 9:00pm

Oct 16th through Dec 11th (no class on Wed. 11/27)

Class Limit: 6 Writers

Fee: $200

Location: The HUUB at the First UU of Essex County (35 Cleveland St, Orange, NJ 07050)

Interested in this class but unavailable at this time? 
Click here to express interest in an alternate class time.

Civic Playwriting is a beginner playwriting class specifically designed for those who want to explore how to use theater for the betterment of their community.

Since our beginnings, humans have endeavored to make sense of our world through the creating and telling of stories. Theater brings us together in space and time to experience these stories collectively—and compels us to collectively grapple with the implications for our communities and our societies at large.

In Civic Playwriting, students will learn (or review) the foundational skills of playwriting, including basic vocabulary, techniques, and forms. Students will spend time researching issues of importance to them from multiple perspectives so as to be able to depict them with complexity. The class will culminate in a public sharing of ten-minute plays written by the students. 

In times of great disconnect and discord, we believe theater can bring people together to practice empathy, and to embrace the complexities of being human. If you feel the same, then Civic Playwriting might be the class for you.

Sample Class Overview:

  • Week One: Introduction to each other and a discussion of the structure, goals and expectations for the class.
  • Weeks Two and Three: Writers are introduced to the form of ten-minute plays and begin to investigate how the vocabulary they are learning is put into practice. Writers identify issues of importance to them and brainstorm how to build a comprehensive understanding of that issue. Outside of class, writers do research and complete exercises helping them to develop their playwriting skills.
  • Weeks Four, Five, and Six: Writers bring drafts of their 10-minute plays into class. The plays are read aloud by fellow writers and discussed. Writers revise their work outside of class based on feedback.
  • Week Seven: Rehearsal with professional actors
  • Week Eight: Public presentation of all plays, read by professional actors.

Please note: writers should be prepared to commit 1-2 hours of work weekly outside of class time.

FAQS about Civic Playwriting

Why “Civic” Playwriting?

Civic means relating to a town or city and, perhaps more importantly, the responsibilities the people of that community feel towards it. By positioning our beginner playwrights to write about something of importance to their community, we can help them make an impact with their work, even as they are learning. 

What’s next for me? What does this class prepare me for? 

The New Jersey Play Lab is designed to serve playwrights at all career levels, and we are invested in creating that “next step” opportunity for all playwrights.

After Civic Playwriting, you will have learned (or reviewed) the basic tenets of playwriting and practiced exploring issues of importance to you through crafting rich characters and dramatic scenarios.


  • You are inspired to turn your short play into a full-length, or you now have plans for other pieces you want to write. You may feel ready to join PlayGym: Shorts and Early Drafts to further develop your work.
  • You are excited by working with other writers in a class setting, developing plays of civic importance, and sharing those pieces in a public forum. You may be interested in our forthcoming class Civic Playwriting II: Deepening The Impact through Community Partnership. This class builds upon the skills learned in the first session by exploring documentary theatre and artistic collaboration in the writing process.
  • You love seeing your work on stage, and want to learn how to produce more evenings of short plays to continue showcasing your work and the work of other writers. Or perhaps you want to learn more about how to submit your work to producers. Stay tuned for our upcoming one-day workshops that allow you to dive deeply into a specific topic of interest to emerging early career writers.

About the Instructor: marcus d. harvey

Award-winning actor/writer/singer/director, marcus d. harvey holds an MA in Dramatic Writing for Social Change from NYU. He also holds an MFA in Acting from Brooklyn College and dual undergraduate degrees in Dramatic Arts and Performance Studies from UNC-Chapel Hill.

As a writer, he has written two solo shows, Are We Not Men? and baba. During his MA, his writing explored black male identity and absent fatherhood. He is currently at work on his first full length play centered around black men and suicide/depression.  As an actor, he has performed for such companies as Triad Stage (Greensboro, NC) , The Old Vic (London), Playmaker’s Rep (Chapel Hill, NC), Illinois Shakespeare Festival, WAM Theatre (Lenox, MA), and TADA! Theatre (New York). He has been on the small and big screen. As a director, he has directed for Marymount Manhattan College, LaGuardia Community College, Harlem 9 working with Nikkole Salter and recently directed a suicide awareness project in Albany, NY.

marcus is a faculty member at Montclair State University. He has taught at Baruch College,  Marymount Manhattan College, & LaGuardia Community College, as well as through LEAP Onstage playwriting residencies.  He also teaches August Wilson and his works as a part of Kenny Leon’s True Colors Theatre Company August Wilson Monologue Competition.

Our classes are designed for a small number of students to allow for a more intimate experience. However, keeping our classes small means that we must meet that enrollment in order to run them.
Please note that cash refunds will ONLY be issued in the event that a class is cancelled by the New Jersey Play Lab. An enrolled student may withdraw up to one month prior to the start of classes and receive a class credit for a future semester.

For any questions on classes, please contact

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