The Nova Scotia High School Drama Festival

Playwriting Basics: The Two Hander

with Mark Foster

This workshop has been designed to be completed in three sessions with the goal of creating and writing a two-person scene. However, Mark is happy to adapt this workshop and its number of sessions to suit your needs. 

The first session will be a discussion of the key elements of a scene. Participants will be asked to read or watch the opening scene of Rosencrantz And Guildenstern Are Dead prior to the workshop for context on two-hander scenes. Beginning with concrete elements, participants will develop an understanding of characters, setting, dialogue, and action. Then the group will explore overarching narrative elements such as plot, themes, motivation, and conflict. This information will be delivered through a blended model of an information session and round-table discussion. The first session will end with participants given a framework for writing a rough draft for session two. Writing structures such as running notes, writing sprints, and drawing on lived experience will be given as this framework. Participants will be given a week to write their scene. 

The second session will function as a writer’s forum where participants can check in, read excerpts, and receive praise and constructive criticism from the leader and other participants. This session will function as a round table socratic discussion for writers to share their experiences, challenges, and successes under the guidance of the session leader. The expectation will be that all participants have a finished first draft (~2-5 pages) of their scene for the second session, but do not have to fully share if they are not comfortable. They will then have another week to draft and revise their scene. 

Session three will be a final presentation. Participants will read each other’s scripts aloud. This might have to be two sessions depending on the number of participants. Participants will be able to give each other praise and constructive criticism, and the leader will highlight positive elements of the piece to build upon and expand. Participants will be asked to fill out, if they wish, a feedback survey on the workshop leader and will be sent off into the world with their newly written scene!

All DramaFest Workshops have limited availability and may be limited due to bookings by other classes.


  • I can identify the elements of a scene.
  • I can experiment with different writing tools.
  • I can brainstorm the initial elements of writing a two-person scene.

  • I can begin drafting a short scene.
  • I can incorporate an understanding of Plot into my writing practice.
  • I can experiment with different revision strategies.


  • I can write a revise a short two-hander scene.
  • I can provide constructive and encouraging feedback to my cohorts.

Mark Foster is a playwright living in Kjipuktuk, unceded and unsurrendered Mi’kmaw territory also known as Halifax, Nova Scotia. Mark is the Playwright-In-Residence of Sinking Ship Theatre and has had plays produced through the company both independently and at Fringe Festivals. Mark is a member of the Playwrights Atlantic Resource Centre, through which he receives generous support. Mark is a graduate of Dalhousie University and Mount St. Vincent University with degrees in Literature and Education respectively. View Mark’s profile.

  1. This workshop is offered as a three-part series, but can be adapted to suit your needs.
  2. Students remain seated throughout this workshop.
  3. This workshop includes 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 designed as a three-part series, but it can be adapted to suit your needs. 

Students stay seated throughout this workshop.

This workshop includes take-home work.