PlayGym

PlayGym: A New Play Development Forum 

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Testimonials || FAQs || Meet the Dramaturgs

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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.

PlayGym was conceived as a hybrid between a playwriting class and a writers’ group and intended to be used as a Gym in which writers return again and again to workshop and Play with their new scripts while developing and strengthening their understanding of craft and structure.

What distinguishes PlayGym from a traditional playwriting class is that concepts of craft and play structure are explored through a feedback process guided by a dramaturgical approach. The intention is to have writers not only discover what works and what doesn’t work in their plays, but also to explore the language to articulate WHY something works or doesn’t work. What distinguishes PlayGym from a writers’ group is that PlayGym is led by a dramaturg, and we bring in professional actors to read the plays and participate in the feedback process.

There are two versions of PlayGym

PlayGym: Scenes and Short Plays, for writers working on scenes from a play-in-progress, or on a short play (up to 30 minutes)
and
PlayGym: Full Lengths and Long One Acts, for writers working on completed drafts of full-length or long one-act plays.

Both versions of PlayGym follow the same process of dramaturgical feedback and engagement, promote The NJPL core values of collaboration, methodology, and excellence, and afford playwrights the opportunity to learn and reinforce what we consider to be best dramaturgical practices through the exploration of their own work and the work of others.  However, there can be more room for experimentation and Play and less structural rigor in PlayGym: Scenes and Short Plays than in PlayGym: Full Lengths and Long One Acts due to the inherent nature of the form.

Playwrights who are brand new to the craft of playwriting are encouraged to take the NJPL Intro to Playwriting Concepts: A Dramaturgical Approach workshops  prior to registering for PlayGym, and to begin with a Scenes and Short Plays forum prior to a Full Lengths and Long One Acts forum. Beyond that, playwrights of all emerging and professional career levels are encouraged to participate in both versions of PlayGym, depending upon what material they are currently working on. 


Testimonials from PlayGym playwrights

“PlayGym is the best online play workshop I’ve attended.”

“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.”


Fall 2022 PlayGym


Registration for Fall 2022 PlayGym closes on 9/30/22. If you missed this session and would like to be notified when dates for our Winter/Spring sessions are announced, please email info@njplaylab.org


In an effort to accommodate playwrights from outside of our immediate region, all Fall 2022 PlayGym sections will be offered virtually via Zoom.


Full Lengths and Long One Acts

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

Section One
with PlayGym Dramaturg Alexis Morgan

Mondays 7pm to 10pm
Oct 10, 17, 24, Nov 7 and 14
(No class on 10/31)

Fee: $195
Class Limit: 3 writers


Section Two
with PlayGym Dramaturg Sandrine Dupiton

Wednesdays 10am to 1pm
Oct 12, 19, 26, Nov 2, 9
Fee: $195
Class Limit: 3 writers


Overview

Week One: Introductions
Introductions to each other, the plays, and the PlayGym dramaturgical process.

Weeks Two–Four: Readings
Each playwright is given one three-hour session in which to hear their play read aloud by professional actors, followed by a facilitated discussion.

Week Five: Group Wrap Up and Individual Conferences
A ½ hour group meeting to reflect, assess and offer feedback on the overall experience of the session, followed by 30 minute individual conferences with the PlayGym Lead Dramaturg. These conferences provide an opportunity to reflect on the feedback received and to discuss next steps.


Scenes and Short Plays

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

Section One
with PlayGym Dramaturg Darin F. Earl II

Wednesdays 7pm – 10pm
Nov
9, 16, 30, Dec 7, 14
Fee: $195
Class Limit: 3 writers

If you would like to be notified as soon as we have another session of Scenes + Shorts open, please email info@njplaylab.org


Overview

Week One: Introductions
Introductions to each other, the plays, and the PlayGym dramaturgical process.

Weeks Two–Four: Readings
Each week, 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.

Week Five: Group Wrap Up and Individual Conferences
A ½ hour group meeting to reflect, assess and offer feedback on the overall experience of the session, followed by 30 minute individual conferences with the PlayGym Lead Dramaturg. These conferences provide an opportunity to reflect on the feedback received and to discuss next steps.


FAQS

How do I know if PlayGym is the right choice for me?

  • At minimum, 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, determining what material you want to bring in, and in 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.

NOTE: Playwrights who are brand new to the craft of playwriting are encouraged to take the NJPL Intro to Playwriting Concepts: A Dramaturgical Approach workshops prior to registering for PlayGym, and to begin with a Scenes and Short Plays forum prior to a Full Lengths and Long One Acts forum. Beyond that, playwrights of all emerging and professional career levels who share these traits listed below are encouraged to participate in both versions of PlayGym, depending upon what material they are currently working on. 

Do I need to submit the play I’ll be working on when registering for class?

We ask all playwrights interested in taking a PlayGym Forum to send us  their play prior to completing the registration process. There is no curation or acceptance process for PlayGym. We only want to ensure that PlayGym is the right fit for you and your work, as opposed to another one of our programs.

What if I am unsure of  what play I want to work on or I am still in the process of writing it?

No problem! We’ll ask that you send us a writing sample of another play you have written and if applicable, send us a brief description of the play you plan to work on.

How will casting work for the reading of my play(s) in PlayGym?

The lead dramaturg will cast the readings. We have an Acting Company as well as casting files of many wonderful actors who have experience working in our forums, and these are the actors we use most frequently for the PlayGym readings. However, there will be opportunity for you to express any requests, concerns, or specific needs for the casting of your play and the Lead Dramaturg will make every effort to accommodate.

Please note that for plays in a Full Lengths and Long One Acts Forum, we will pay close attention to your character descriptions and do our best to cast accordingly. For our Scenes and Short Plays Forum, we take a different approach and gather a diverse ensemble of PlayGym-trained actors who will take on multiple roles week to week, allowing us to focus on hearing the text rather than “production-casting.” While this may mean in some cases, you have actors reading across age, race, or gender, we have found that this allows our playwrights the greatest amount of flexibility in selecting what to bring in week to week and in many cases has even broadened our playwrights’ conception of who a character is or could be. Please note that if there is a role for which it is very important to you that the actor aligns with your character description, please list this request when you register for the session, and we will do our best to make sure we have an actor in our ensemble who meets those specifications.

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.

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

We appreciate your interest! Since each PlayGym section is 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. 


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.

Meet the Dramaturgs

Sanjida Chowdhury

Sanjida Chowdhury is an actor and writer. Recently, she has received her Masters in Theatre from Montclair State University. Before that, she obtained an English degree with a concentration in Creative Writing from Rutgers University. Sanjida was a PlayGym Apprentice throughout 2021. Her previous work includes being the House Manager/ Administrative Assistant at Luna Stage. Currently, she is Assistant Manager at OrangeTheory, a fitness studio where she works in sales and operations.


Sandrine Dupiton

Sandrine is a story and truth teller by nature and practice. She is a creative and coach who enjoys lending her incisive analysis and vision to support getting to the truth, and the beauty and precision of bringing the imagination to life — whether as a published poet, playwright, storytelling facilitator, spiritual life coach, retreat facilitator, educator, social entrepreneur or leader. She started her professional career as an English teacher and after a few posts as Department Chair across the tri-state area, and starting a business that served young Black and Brown girls in developing holistic leadership and social justice journalism skills, Change X: Journalism & Leadership Institute, she went on to become an arts education non profit leader working with youth in social justice, spoken word and theater. She served as an Artistic Associate at Luna Stage where she performed her one woman show, Listen: an intimate communion. The show combined storytelling, retreat facilitation, audience engagement and reflection, and teachings around nonviolent communication and soulful discernment practices – encouraging the power of listening deeply. Her work as an astrologer and spiritual coach reflect her deep interest in archetypal energies and supports her depth of insight in supporting a play’s development as a dramaturg.  

She has long served as a contributing writer for African Voices Magazine and with Reel Sisters of the Diaspora Film & Lecture Series as a film festival judge and a Screenwriting Lab Coordinator. As a Poets & Writers grant recipient she cultivated her own creative and healing program for women, LET GO: an experiential poetry workshop. She most recently worked as a Teaching Artist with BAM in their Artistic Critical Response Summer Program for teen artists for the critically acclaimed What to Send Up When It Goes Down by playwright Aleshea Harris. She has developed curriculum and programs that infuse Healing Centered Engagement pedagogy and the praxis of neurobiology as a means to teach youth and adults to regulate their nervous systems (integral to healing and responding to traumas) and use the arts to support communities in doing so.

Her work is infused by her commitments to artistry, healing and a pointed and clear perspective rooted in justice and broad mindedness.


Emily Dzioba

Emily (she/her), Associate Dramaturg and Artistic Director of the Storyteller Studio, is a dramaturg, creative administrator, and educator. She continues to provide artistic support the Residency play selections and in PlayGym. Other artistic homes have included Theater Masters; 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 is interested in the research and development of devised and ensemble generated work. Emily is a reader for Premiere Stages, She NYC Arts, and the Playwrights Foundation/ Bay Area Playwright’s Festival. Currently, she is the Managing Director of the Strides Collective. She also holds a position 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. BA, Drew University. 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.


James Kenna

James Kenna (he/him/his) is a dramaturg, writer, and educator. He has called many theatre’s artistic homes such as Steppenwolf Theatre Company, The Hangar Theatre, Dreamcatcher Theatre, and The 52nd Street Project. His work often explores the collision of fantasy and reality, with a specialized interest in heightened language, non-linearity, theatrical impossibilities, and humor. James is represented by UIA Talent Agency. 

Select recent credits include: Film: The Garden Will Not Crumble (Short Film, ACT Skyfest 2021). Plays: “Beowulf: Her Story” (Dragonfly Theatre Finalist, Slated for 2020 Edinburgh Fringe Festival Postponed due to COVID-19, and Featured on The Subtext Podcast). Writer for Tsquared Theatre Company’s New Works Festival, “Italian Rose: A Solo Show” (Ars Nova Grant, Developed at Fordham University). “The Key: A Solo Show” (Fordham University). 

James has also been seen on stage at The Hangar Theatre, The Edinburgh Fringe, Symphony Space, and various small spaces in New York City. During the day James works as a New York City Ironworker, erecting columns and beams for skyscrapers. James received his BA from Fordham University with awards in distinguished achievement. You can learn more about him and his work on his website here.


Alexis Morgan

Alexis Krysten Morgan is a playwright, educator, and advocate who desires to use her art to create healing spaces for communities of color and individuals with exceptionalities. She has been a fellow with Company One Theatre in Boston, MA, and TC Squared Theatre Company in Cambridge, MA. Her short plays CONCRETE DREAMS, THE POLITICS OF MARRIAGE, and KNOW WHO YOU ARE were produced by TC Squared. Her play, CONCRETE DREAMS had a full staged reading with TC Squared in 2020. Other works including SHOW ME and ACTS OF JOY were presented and commissioned as part of Company One’s series. Her television pilot, BY THE WAYSIDE, made it to the 2nd round of Sundance’s 2021 Episodic Lab. Most recently, her play, FOLLOWING THE RULES was part of Boston’s Theatre Marathon’s festival. Her one-act play, REPAST, has an upcoming online reading with TC SQUARED.

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