The Nova Scotia High School Drama Festival

Playwriting 101: The Next Steps

with Dan Bray

This interactive playwriting course, led by The Villains Theatre’s artistic director Dan Bray, is the perfect introduction to burgeoning playwrights. While this course can be adapted to fit your schedule and requirements, the outcomes will be essentially the same:

  • To teach students the basics of communicating clearly and actively
  • To generate ideas in a positive and productive manner
  • To help students silence their inner critics and embrace their creativity
  • To introduce students to the concept of receiving dramaturgical feedback and incorporating this information into their scripts

This course can be formatted to fit a variety of schedules. I will tailor the session(s)based on the amount of time allotted and any specific requirements you (the teacher) may have. While the number of sessions informs the extent to which the following components can be utilized, the core of the workshop will stay largely the same:

Students will begin by using fun and accessible prompts and stream-of-consciousness techniques to kickstart the writing process.

  • We will isolate themes and images to create monologues
  • From here, we will explore the concept of “active writing” and use this material to generate dialogue between multiple characters
  • From here, we will use this new dialogue to flesh out scenes, characters, and arcs
  • Finally, we will share with the group. Students will ideally also receive one-on-one feedback with the instructor, which will introduce them to the role of the dramaturge and the importance of workshopping new work. (This step may only be applicable during longer sessions, but I will strive to give some feedback to all participants regardless, as this is an integral part of the experience.)
  • There will be designated writing time throughout to introduce students to the art of “giving oneself permission to write without interruption.”

If you are interested in this workshop, please let me know how much time you are looking to fill and a more comprehensive lesson plan will be tailored to fit your schedule. Ideally, this workshop could take anywhere between 3 – 10 sessions – but again, we can make anything work. This course is – above all – designed to generate excitement around the world-building opportunities afforded to the playwright, and this can be related in any amount of time.

Recommended: 3 part series
Options: Intro session only (1 workshop)” and “In depth series (5+ sessions) as suited to requests

All DramaFest Workshops have limited availability. This workshop is not available April 19-23 or May 25-28. Availability is also limited due to bookings by other classes.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Students will demonstrate personal growth through drama.
  • Students will use drama to explore, formulate, and express ideas, perceptions, and feelings.
  • Students will be able to respond with critical awareness to their own work and to the work of others.
  • Students will address problems and make decisions relating to their drama work.
  • Students will value cultural diversity and be able to demonstrate respect for cultural diversity in the drama context.

Students will be expected to:

  • build on the ideas of others
  • use risk taking to enhance the dramatic experience
  • use an increasing number of various forms for reflection and debriefing to extend their own engagement in dramatic creation
  • make informed responses to their own and others’ work
  • reflect on personal growth using a wide variety of forms and incorporate that reflection in future work
  • explore more fully connections made between text and their own life experiences and circumstances
  • explore the opportunities that exist for extending their own drama experiences through involvement in the artistic life of their community and through careers in the arts

Dan Bray (he/him) is a multidisciplinary artist from Kjipuktuk/Halifax. He is the founder and artistic director of The Villains Theatre, an independent company now celebrating its thirteenth season. He is currently the Playwright in Residence for Shakespeare by the Sea, and he has worked as a performer, assistant director, dramaturg, and playwright for the company many times over the past seven years. In addition to SBTS, Dan has had the privilege to work in various capacities with many of Nova Scotia’s most established companies, including Eastern Front, Two Planks & a Passion, and Xara Choral Theatre. Two of Dan’s past works (Arden (2015) and Zomblet (2019)) earned him Robert Merritt Theatre Award Nominations for “Outstanding New Play by a Nova Scotian Playwright, and many of his past fringe shows have won him similar playwriting awards from the Halifax Fringe. Currently, Dan is adapting and directing the 2000 British novel Observatory Mansions, marking the first time this text has ever been reimagined for the stage. View Dan Bray’s profile.

  1. This workshop can be offered as a multi-part series or as a stand-alone workshop. Recommended length is a three part series.
  2. Students remain seated throughout this workshop.
  3. This workshop include take-home work. 

Book now

Please note: Theatre Nova Scotia respectfully requests that schools and community groups ideally do not cancel workshops once they are booked, unless absolutely necessary. If a group must cancel or reschedule, please give us a week of prior notice. In these precarious days for arts workers, TNS is going to great lengths to provide schools with exceptional theatre education and local artists with paid work in our industry. Please be aware that artists may have turned down other paid work to accommodate these workshop bookings. Thank you for your understanding.

Please get in touch with us if you have any questions. 

This workshop is a three-part series. 

Students stay seated throughout this workshop.

This workshop includes take-home work.