Pataphysics Playwriting Workshops

The Pataphysics Playwriting Workshops at The Flea Theater are intimate, four-session intensives for new work and new ways of working.

Pataphysics 2016


DESCRIPTION: A 4-meeting, 2-weekend intensive.

DATES: April 30, May 1, 7-8
Sat 4/30, 9:30-12:30p
Sun 5/1, 11a-2p
Sat 5/7, 9:30-12:30p
Sun 5/8, 11a-2p
PRICE: $225
Application Deadline: April 5

Hey, Playwright! What if you didn’t actually have to write that play???

Stuck? Frustrated? Sick of trying to make people you don’t even know care about people you just made up? Feel like a loser, trying to wrestle with a 19th Century literary form that’s kind of, you know … lame?

Well, buck up! You’re not fighting film and TV. You’re fighting film and TV editing! That’s right! In today’s fast-paced modern world, people of average talent are building entire careers just taking stuff they have lying around and cutting it up and sticking it together differently!

Semi-serious, mock-academic thesis statement w/ hints of theoretical underpinnings

The contemporary American avant-garde theatre began as a rejection of conventional playwriting, preferring instead to create texts and theatre pieces by assembling and arranging different pieces of material. The technique extends from the foundational work of Liz LeCompte and Richard Foreman, through devised theatre and the ensembles of Reza Abdoh and Anne Bogart, to contemporary artists and companies such as Big Dance Theater, OK Theatre, RadioHole, Anne Washburn, Kirk Lynn, Young Jean Lee, Erin Courtney, Sibyl Kempson and Tina Satter. Rarely acknowledged, however, is that the basis of experimental theatre is also the structural language of commercial film and TV. See also Jones, How Film and Television Work and Alternate Structures: Assemblies.

Grisly Details

This workshop is a practical, hands-on lab for learning the methods and processes of building texts using the principles of film-editing. The approach is equally effective in recasting one’s own writing as it is for working with found texts. Through primarily dedicated to exercises and class discussions, sessions will include demonstrations, a brief theoretical overview and representative examples of finished work. Along the way, we will also casually destroy many received ideas regarding plot, character, situation, motivation story-lines and continuity. NOTE: Because this workshop involves in-class editing and construction, access to personal computers or tablets and the Internet is essential.

Applicants should submit:
1. Cover letter
2. Bio
3. 10 page writing sample

E-mail your application materials to

JEFFREY M. JONES is a playwright and essayist whose works include 70 SCENES OF HALLOWEEN, NIGHTCOIL, DER INKA VON PERU, TOMORROWLAND, a series of CRAZY PLAYS, J.P. MORGAN SAVES THE NATION (a musical with a score by the late Jonathan Larson), and A MAN’S BEST FRIEND (produced by the Undermain Theatre in New York and Dallas) and, most recently, A LETTER FROM OMDURMAN presented in 2012 at the Flea. His essays have appeared in The American Theatre Reader, Performing Arts Journal, and as introductions to the anthologies Plays by Young Jean Lee and New Downtown Now. He has been manager of The Wooster Group, Richard Foreman and John Jesurun; taught playwriting at the Yale School of Drama and a series of Pataphysics workshops at the Flea Theater; and is currently co-curator of the OBIE-winning Little Theatre series at Dixon Place. He blogs intermittently at

About Pataphysics

New Work and New Ways of Working

The Pataphysics Playwriting Workshops at The Flea Theater are intimate, four-session intensives for new work and new ways of working. Named for Alfred Jarry’s science of imaginary solutions, the workshops are a gymnasium for the writing brain—curious, particular, and rigorous. Students enter with blank sheets of paper, and leave with pages of notes, fragments, scenes, even entire plays unlike anything they would have written on their own.

Led by Master Playwrights

The Pataphysics workshops are led by master playwrights who are known not only for a distinct and groundbreaking body of work, but also for their ability as teachers. Each workshop, led by a master playwright pursuing his or her own train of thought, is geared to generate new material and new ideas through writing experiments, readings, and interesting talk. Master playwrights have included: Lee Breuer, Erik Ehn, Karen Finley, Maria Irene Fornes, Jeff Jones, Eduardo Machado, Chuck Mee, Paula Vogel, and Mac Wellman.

Workshop Structure

The workshops are structured around the idea that whatever is most immediately interesting to a teacher will make for the most engaging class. They’re an opportunity for writers, emerging and experienced, to challenge their own assumptions using strange muscles and surprising parts of the brain.

Each workshop meets four times over two consecutive weekends at The Flea. Class size is limited to thirteen and admission is by application. The Flea Theater runs these workshops at cost. Grants from The Flea Theater and private donations provide a limited number of scholarships for those who would not otherwise be able to attend.

Pataphysics is quite simply the best class I’ve ever taught. Why? Because everyone in the room knows why they’re there and comes highly motivated. That cuts through the bull. It lets us work as peers.
—Jeffrey M. Jones

Stay Informed

To receive notification of upcoming classes, add your name and e-mail address to the Pataphysics mailing list by e-mailing us here. When a class is scheduled we will inform you 2 months ahead of the date.

About Our Participants

Pataphysics workshops are for both developing and experienced writers of any age or aesthetic inclination. Pataphysics students have been produced or developed by, and have received awards from: Humana, The Public Theater, The Flea, Princess Grace Award, Little Theater, SOHO Rep, O’Neill Playwrights Conference, Manhattan Theater Club, Lincoln Center Director’s Lab, Lucille Lortel Playwrighting Fellowship, Printer’s Devil, Horla Theater (London), BRIC Studios, New Dramatists, NYFA, Whitfield Award, Portland Center Stage, New Georges, Clubbed Thumb, HERE, Playwrights Horizons, LaMama, The Cherry Lane Alternative, Annex Theater, Dixon Place, Empty Space Theater, McArthur Foundation Award, The Ontological, Ensemble Studio Theater.