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Playwriting – MFA in Writing

Working theatre professionals may seek the MFA degree as the proper credential for teaching at the university level. Playwrights who have already had a full-length production of their work may apply for an accelerated course of study. Promising new playwrights are equally welcome in the Spalding MFA program.

Our accomplished playwriting faculty is using their work to address topics from the serious to the lighthearted, the personal to the political. Gabriel Jason Dean’s family drama Terminus and Charlie Schulman’s musical Goldstein both appeared Off Broadway in early 2018. Kira Obolensky is doing groundbreaking work for marginalized audiences in settings such as women’s shelters and correctional facilities. Every member of our faculty is a dedicated, caring teacher. Visit our faculty page to read more.

A statement by our playwriting faculty distills their approach to teaching:

In our playwriting program, you will work with a faculty that includes prize-winning professional working artists with expertise in areas including musical theatre, experimental theatre, adaptation, site-specific plays, theatre for young and family audiences, theatre for puppets, TV writing, and the production of one’s own work. You will take a proactive approach to getting your work produced in your own community by engaging in student-produced stage readings in consultation with your mentor. You will also receive a professional reading with local actors; attend rehearsals, performances, and talkbacks through our ongoing partnership with Actors Theatre of Louisville; and gain valuable exposure to visiting theater and film professionals connected with Actors Theatre, Stage One, The Kentucky Film Lab and an ever-widening network of writers, artists, filmmakers and producers from Los Angeles, New York and elsewhere in the U.S. and abroad.

Our faculty’s unique skill sets complement one another to help you become a multi-faceted dramatic writer who is prepared to cross genres and mediums.

This combination of wide-ranging faculty expertise and hands-on student work helps our students and alums launch their careers as practicing, producing playwrights. Our alumni have won the Edgerton New American Play Award, the City of Atlanta Emerging Theatre Artist of the Year and countless festival wins. Their plays have been produced at regional theatres and internationally. Our alums hold fellowships with eminent regional theatres and have founded their own theatre companies. They teach playwriting in colleges and universities. For more alumni successes, see our blog post The Little Dramatic Writing Program that Could.

Past visiting playwrights, theatre professionals, and TV writers include:

  • Pulitzer Prize-winning and Tony Award-winning playwright Doug Wright (I Am My Own Wife)
  • Pulitzer Prize-winning and Tony Award-winning playwright John Patrick Shanley (Doubt)
  • Actors Theatre of Louisville (ATL) artistic director Les Waters
  • ATL associate artistic director Meredith McDonough
  • ATL artistic producer Emily Tarquin
  • ATL resident dramaturg Hannah Rae Montgomery
  • WGA Award nominee Sheila Callaghan (Dead City, Casual, Shameless)
  • Heather Raffo (9 Parts of Desire)
  • Rebecca Gilman (The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter)
  • Lyricist-composer Michael Roberts (The Fartiste)
  • Keith Reddin (Rum and Coke)
  • Pulitzer Prize-winning and Tony Award-winning playwright Marsha Norman (’night, Mother)