PlayGym

“If you’re a New Jersey playwright, or want to be, and you want specific, honest, and supportive guidance in writing and rewriting your plays, the New Jersey Play Lab’s workshops and programs are the answer.

“Writing a play is hard. PlayGym makes it easier.”

Testimonials from PlayGym playwrights

PlayGym: A New Play Development Forum 

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PlayGym is a unique forum for playwrights to hear their work read and to receive feedback from professionals in a supportive environment. At each session, playwrights have access to professional actors trained in new play development and a professional dramaturg to guide the process.


Fall 2020 PlayGym

Due to ongoing concerns and restrictions surrounding Covid 19, all Fall 2020 PlayGym classes will be offered virtually via Zoom.

SESSION ONE Scenes and Short Plays

For writers working on scenes from a play-in-progress, or on a short play (up to 30 minutes)

September 30, October 7, 14, 21, 28*
*Class will run 4 or 5 weeks, depending upon enrollment
Fee: $175
Class Limit: 4 writers

Daytime Section with PlayGym Dramaturg Emily Dzioba
Wednesdays 10am to 1pm

Evening Section with PlayGym Dramaturg Darin F. Earl II
Wednesdays 7pm to 10pm

Session One Overview

Week One: Introductions to each other, the plays, and the PlayGym dramaturgical process.
Weeks Two–Four/Five: Each week, up to 3 playwrights are given 50 minutes in which to hear their scene/short play read aloud by professional actors, followed by a facilitated discussion. Playwrights can choose to use their (3) 50-minute slots however they choose. They can present the same work, revised, three times, or different work each week.
Follow-Up Conferences: At the end of the session, each playwright has an individual phone conference with the PlayGym Dramaturg. These conferences provide an opportunity to reflect on the feedback received and to discuss next steps.


SESSION TWO Full Lengths and Long One Acts

For writers working on completed drafts of full-length or long one-act plays

November 4, 11, 18 December 2, 9*
*Class will run 4 or 5 weeks, depending upon enrollment
There will be no class on November 25th.
Fee: $175
Class Limit: 4 writers


Daytime Section with PlayGym Dramaturg Emily Dzioba
Wednesdays 10am to 1pm

Evening Section with PlayGym Dramaturg Lia Romeo
Wednesdays 7pm to 10pm

Session Two Overview

Week One: Introductions to each other, the plays, and the PlayGym dramaturgical process.
Weeks Two–Four/Five: Each playwright is given one three-hour session in which to hear their play read aloud by professional actors, followed by a facilitated discussion.
Follow-Up Conferences: In the week following the reading of their play, each playwright has an individual phone conference with the dramaturg. These conferences provide an opportunity to reflect on the feedback received and to discuss next steps.

Meet the Dramaturgs

Emily Dzioba

Emily (she/her/hers), the Literary Manager of The NJPL, is a dramaturg, arts administrator, and educator. Alongside Cheryl + Kaitlin, she has done dramaturgical work for We Victorians, and continues to provide artistic support the 2020 Residency play selections and in PlayGym! Other artistic homes have included George Street Playhouse; Tectonic Theater Project and the Moment Work Institute; Keen Company; the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey; and the Writers Theatre of New Jersey. Along with new play development, she specializes in the research and development of devised and ensemble generated work. Emily is a reader for She NYC Arts, the Playwrights Foundation/ Bay Area Playwright’s Festival, Kitchen Dog Theater, and Campfire Theatre Festival. She is the resident dramaturg and an artistic mentor for the Union Catholic Performing Arts Company, and her day job is with Night Castle Management. When not doing any of those things, she also produces an interview and story-based podcast, “Once Upon a Time: A Storytelling Podcast”. Emily is a proud member of LMDA and ATHE, and lives in the very real Central NJ. BA, Drew University, 2018. You can read more about her on her website, here.

Darin F. Earl II

Darin F. Earl II (he/him/his & they/them/theirs) is a Garden State native, delighted to contribute to the beautiful culture that The NJ Play Lab has fostered. As a member of the Play Lab’s Acting Company, he is honored to offer incoming playwrights the encouragement and success that the Play Lab provides. With a background in theatre and journalism, he has nestled into communities, fostering environments of support and collaboration amongst artists as an actor, playwright, teaching artist, and arts administrator. Darin attended Rider University for Theatre Performance along with studies in Journalism, emerging as the only Black Theatre Performance graduate in the Class of 2016. As a First-Generation, Queer artist, Darin has made an effort to lead with love and create with care since stepping foot into the Jersey scene. He has been involved with theatre organizations such as The New Jersey Creative Arts Collaborative, New Jersey Repertory Theatre, The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, Luna Stage, and Dreamcatcher Repertory Theatre. 
As one of Newark’s Finest Ambassadors, he’s performed since his youth, attending the Newark Boys Chorus School in Newark, NJ. Since then, he’s performed on stages from Upstate New York down to the Cayman Islands and over to Croatia. In 2014, he attended St. Mary’s University of Twickenham in England, UK and in 2017, he traveled with his alma mater to perform in the International Student Dionysian Festival in Đakovo, Croatia. He has also travelled to Los Angeles, California and Charlotte, North Carolina for featured roles in filmed series. With momentum for development, production, and direction, Darin co-founded Visions Productions and North Corner Theatre, two production companies with the intent to assemble an artist collective dedicated to fostering artistic opportunities for our youth. In 2019, Darin was the Interim Director of Education for Writers Theatre of New Jersey. Presently, Darin works in digital media as a webcast production assistant for a corporate creative studio. Aside from his involvement in the artistic community, Darin is an advocate for the Queer community as a member of Beta Gamma Chi Fraternity, Inc. He also is an administrator at HPI School of Allied Health, and a registered pharmacy technician. To follow Darin’s journey, follow him on Instagram: @OfficialDarinEarl.

Lia Romeo

Lia Romeo’s play The Forest was developed at the O’Neill Playwrights Conference, and
was scheduled to receive a National New Play Network rolling world premiere in the
upcoming season (cancelled due to the coronavirus). This and three of her other plays
have been recognized by the Kilroys List. Her plays have been produced at 59E59,
Unicorn Theatre, Project Y Theatre Company, Dreamcatcher Rep, HotCity Theatre, and many other companies. She was the winner of City Theatre’s 2019 National Short Playwriting Award, and was a 2018 Individual Artist Fellowship winner in playwriting from the New Jersey State Council for the Arts. Her plays are published by Broadway Play Publishing, Playscripts, Dramatists Play Service, and Smith & Kraus. She is the associate artistic director with Project Y Theatre Company, and she teaches playwriting in the M.A. program in creative writing at Fairleigh Dickinson University and the B.F.A. program at Molloy College. She earned her B.A. from Princeton and her M.F.A. in playwriting from Rutgers/MGSA.

FAQS

How do I know if I’m ready for PlayGym?

Long ago we decided that this was not for us to determine—if you feel ready and able to do the work based on the description of the class, then you probably are! However, there are some things that our PlayGym playwrights share:

  • You have some basic training in playwriting and understand the terminology of the craft.
  • You are self-directed in setting goals, writing and rewriting outside of class, and determining what material you want to bring in and articulating specific goals you have in wanting to hear it read.
  • You are genuinely open to feedback and have a desire to further develop your play.
  • You are willing to give thoughtful feedback to your fellow playwrights through a structured, facilitated discussion.

If this sounds like you, then PlayGym is for you! If you have questions and would like to discuss further, please contact info@njplaylab.org.

I’ve never worked with you before. Do I need to submit a sample of my work?

If we are not familiar with your writing, then please do submit a sample of your writing—ideally a piece you plan to work on in session. You can submit to info@njplaylab.org with “PLAYGYM SAMPLE” as the subject of your email. 

I really want to take PlayGym, but I am not available at the times you are currently offering it. What do I do?

We really appreciate your interest! Since each PlayGym section is only designed for a small number of writers, we are constantly assessing the need to add additional sections. Please sign up here to indicate your interest in additional sections and indicate the times you would be available to attend. 

I have actors that I really like to work with. Can I bring them into the process for my reading?

How wonderful that you have found actors that you feel “click” with your work! The New Jersey Play Lab has a company of actors who are trained in new play development who we work with regularly. However, we want to serve playwrights in the development process as best we can, so we are always open to new suggestions of actors.

Our forums are designed for a small number of students to allow for a more intimate experience. However, keeping our forums 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 section is cancelled by The New Jersey Play Lab. An enrolled student may withdraw up to one month prior to the start of the session and receive a credit for a future semester.

For any questions, please contact info@njplaylab.org.

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