Current News

Shawna Casey (alumna 2012) received 2nd place in The Ebell of Los Angeles Playwright Prize for Night Becomes Day, the play that started as her thesis for Spalding MFA. See

Jeffrey Fischer-Smith’s short play RESERVATIONS has been chosen to be included in The Apron Strings Project the Vail-Leavitt Music Hall, Riverhead, New York. For information on tickets for May 2-4, 2014, see

About Our Playwriting Program

At Spalding, we offer individual tracks in Playwriting or Screenwriting, with an opportunity for optional interdisciplinary study for the student interested in acquiring a mastery of writing for both screen and stage. Guest lecturers, screenings, group discussions, workshops and one-on-one mentor correspondence focus on issues of craft and the wider professional arena. Basic fundamentals of dramatic writing are emphasized along with highly individualized courses of study.

Playwriting students are expected to write two full-length plays and several one-acts. They are encouraged to both read and attend performances of classical plays (Shakespeare / Sophocles / Shaw), modern plays (Tennessee Williams / August Wilson / Paula Vogel) and alternative works (Ping Chong / Charles Mee).

Playwriting students take a pro-active approach to getting work produced in their own communities by engaging in student-produced stage readings in consultation with their mentor. Because theater and film making are uniquely collaborative art forms and the act of hearing a script read aloud is crucial to its development, all students receive a professional reading of a play or screenplay with local actors in Louisville and gain valuable exposure to visiting theater and film professionals connected with the Actors Theater of Louisville, Stage One, The Kentucky Film Lab, and an ever-widening network of writers, artists, filmmakers, and producers from Los Angeles, New York, and other locations in the US and abroad.

Acceleration for Professionals

For already produced professional playwrights who wish to earn a terminal degree, the Spalding MFA offers the perfect course of study. Students who have had a play produced may wish to inquire about completing the program in three semesters instead of four.

Our award-winning faculty include

  • David-Matthew Barnes (playwriting, screenwriting)
  • Sheila Callaghan (playwriting) Dead City, That Pretty Pretty; Or, The Rape Play, Fever/Dream.  Sheila was on the writing staff of Showtime’s The United States of Tara.
  • Gabriel Jason Dean (playwriting, screenwriting)
  • Helena Kriel (playwriting, screenwriting) Pigs on Passion, Arachnid and I Can’t Wait To Tie You To The Sofa
  • Kira Obolensky (playwriting) Raskol; Modern House; Lune, pronounded looney; Alice in Wonderland 
  • Eric Schmiedl (playwriting) Plainsong, Ghosts of Treasure Island, Eventide, and many more.
  • Charles Schulman (playwriting, screenwriting) The Fartiste, Angel of Death, The Birthday Present, The Ground Zero Club, The Apollo Comedy Hour
  • Sam Zalutsky (screenwriting) (You Belong to Me, SuperStore, Stefan’s Silver Bell, Boy’s Briefs, Smear)

Download a brochure about the playwriting program.

What Our Graduates Say

I’ve learned a lot from my mentors about story structure, character development, and dialogue. Since enrolling in the Spalding MFA program in playwriting, I’ve had a successful production in the 2010 New York International Fringe Festival that is in development for an Off-Broadway run. I’ve also won two screenplay competitions (the Final Draft Big Break Screenplay Competition and the Back in the Box Screenplay Competition). This program has transformed my writing and my career. –Larry Brenner, New York, Saving Throw Versus Love

The two and a half years I spent in Spalding’s MFA in Playwriting program were without a doubt the most intensely instructive and formative years of my professional life. The atmosphere at Spalding somehow manages to be both challenging and nurturing. If your sensibilities are New York or Chicago theatre, they’ve got you covered. If your sensibilities are regionally focused, or experimental, or something-as-yet-unlabeled, they’ve got you covered. Spalding’s instructors vary wildly in their philosophies and teaching styles, except on one point: they want you to be a better writer. They want you to succeed. “Tommy Trull, North Carolina, Honeyboy (Charles M. Getchell New Play Award) and Wake-Walking

One of the most important things that I took away from my experience at Spalding was learning how to make playwriting a top priority, an important skill and one I have kept working on after graduation.  –Tara Goldstein, Toronto, Lost Daughter

The Spalding MFA program has been essential in my playwriting career. It was as if I knew how to make a cake when I started the program, but I didn’t know how the ingredients could be mixed, refined, flavored. . . . Attending Spalding immediately put me in a world of the best writers in the country, and a group of friends who will be livelong pals and professional peers. It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. –Brian Hampton, New York Checking In andThe Jungle Fun Room: MITF, FringeNYC, and Audience Favorite Award Winner of Penobscot Theatre’s Northern Writes New Play Festival

Complete faculty information

Contact us: MFA Office: (502) 873-4400 or (800) 896-8941, ext. 4400
FAX: (502) 992-2409

MFA in Writing
Spalding University
851 South Fourth Street
Louisville, KY 40203

updated 7-10-13