PlayGym: Short Plays and Early Drafts

PlayGym: Short Plays and Early Drafts

For writers working on short plays or an unfinished draft of a longer play

with dramaturg Kaitlin Stilwell, NJ Play Lab Co-Director

8 weeks 

Mondays, 7pm to 9:30pm

Oct. 14th through Dec. 2nd, 2019

Class Limit: 4 Writers

Fee: $300

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.

PlayGym is a unique forum for experienced 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.

Class Overview:

  • Week One: Introductions to each other, the plays, and the PlayGym dramaturgical process. A chance to set goals for the semester and identify ways in which the class can support each individual writer in honing their process as well as their play.
  • Weeks Two–Seven: Each week, two playwrights have an hour each in which to hear whatever material they choose to bring. Professional actors will be brought in to read the work aloud, and each reading is followed by a facilitated discussion. Over the course of the semester, each writer will work three times (for a total of three hours).
  • Week Eight:  Individual conferences with the dramaturg. A chance to reflect on the feedback received and to discuss next steps. Playwrights have the option to submit revised work in advance of this meeting.

FAQS about PlayGym

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 traits 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 If you feel like you would benefit from a class that is grounded in the fundamentals of playwriting instead, please check out our Civic Playwriting class for beginning and early career playwrights.

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 class. You can submit to 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 class 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 take class. 

Please know that we will also be offering classes in the spring.

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.

About the Instructor: Kaitlin Stilwell, Lab Co-Director

Kaitlin is so pleased to be developing plays again with Cheryl Katz. Kaitlin spent four years as dramaturg at Luna Stage, where she assisted Cheryl in the development of world premieres Old Love New Love by Laura Brienza, King of the Mountains by Ben Clawson, Indian Head by Nikkole Salter, Tranquil by Andrew Rosendorf, and Razorhursta new musical by Kate Mulley and Andy Peterson.

During her time at Luna, Kaitlin also created the audience engagement space The Context Room, and the new play development class PlayGym. She spearheaded the development of several suites of plays inspired by and in celebration of the city of Orange, NJ  including The 280 ProjectSecret Cities, and The Orange Project: Lights Up on Education with the BA Theatre Studies program at Montclair State University where she currently teaches.

Kaitlin has worked in the literary offices of Urban Stages, The Mint Theater Company, the Hangar Theater, and McCarter Theatre, where she assisted playwrights Marina Carr, Danai Gurira, and John Guare on premieres of their new plays. As a freelance dramaturg, she has developed plays with Alabama Shakespeare Festival and the Southern Writers’ Project at Alabama Shakespeare Festival; McCarter Theatre’s Youth Ink! Festival, Teen Solo Performance Camp, and Spotlight on Playwriting series; and with many individual writers. Kaitlin has done research for the Abbey Theatre in Dublin and the Rodgers and Hammerstein Company in New York. Her postgraduate work in England culminated in a dissertation on the dramaturgy of climate change plays.

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 class credit for a future semester.

For any questions on classes, please contact

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