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 with Jeffrey M. Jones 2014: Another way to work: building your play like a movie
The 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 as as Big Dance Theater, OK Theatre, RadioHole, Anne Washburn, Kirk Lynn, Young Jean Lee, Erin Courtney, Sibyl Kempson and Tina Satter.
Rarely acknowledged is that the basis of experimental theatre is also the structural language of commercial film and TV.
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—after taking this workshop, you will never again worry about rounding your characters. NOTE: Because the workshop involves in-class editing and construction, access to personal tables or computers and the internet is essential to full participation.
Dates: April 5, 6, 12,13
Application Deadline: March 7
Jeffrey M. Jones stopped writing plays almost 40 years ago. His assembled texts include 70 Scenes of Halloween, Nightcoil, a series of collage plays (Der Inka Von Peru, Tomorrowland, The Crazy Plays) and most recently A Letter from Omdurman at The Flea (2012). He has taught, lectured and conducted workshops at Yale, Brown, Princeton, The University of Pennsylvania, Carnegie Mellon, Cleveland State University, Towson, Wheaton (MA), Iowa Playwrights Lab and Bennington. He is also co-curator of the OBIE-winning Little Theatre series @ Dixon Place. More information on the ideas behind this workshop can be found online at www.jeffreymjones.blogspot.com.
Pataphysics with Elizabeth Swados
Whether or not you have ever picked up an instrument or sung a song, we will be making instant musicals and working on all the different forms that theater can take when it uses music. You will be supported and cheered on and work in a way that introduces you to making musical theatre as you have not before. The idea is to enjoy yourself and re-discover the music in yourself, even if you are an experienced creator.
Dates: April 26, 27 and May 3-4
Application Deadline: March 26
Perhaps best known for her Broadway and international smash hit Runaways, Elizabeth Swados has composed, written and directed for over thirty years. Her theatrical works have been performed on Broadway, off-Broadway, at La MaMa, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Carnegie Hall, and locations all over the world. Her literary career includes novels, non-fiction books, children’s books and now her first collection of poetry, The One and Only Human Galaxy, about the life of Houdini and escapism, has been published by Hanging Loose Press. Awards include the KEN Book Award, five Tony nominations, three Obie Awards, Guggenheim Fellowship, Ford Grant, Helen Hayes Award, PEN Citation and others. At NYU she is responsible for The Reality Show as well as Books Cook and Revolting Rhymes. Recent work includes From The Fire, The LaMaMa Cantata, her newest acclaimed book Waiting and upcoming productions of The Nomad. She has two big dogs who are big and fluffy.
Applications are being accepted electronically:
Email your cover letter, 10-page writing sample and bio or resume to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you do not receive a confirmation within 48 hours that we received your application, please email again.
Be sure to specify which workshop(s) you would like to attend, and mention if you have attended a Pataphysics Workshop in the past. The Pataphysics Workshops for Playwrights are produced at cost by The Flea Theater. A limited number of scholarships will be awarded based on need and merit. If you want to apply for a need-based scholarship, please do so under a separate letter. If you are applying to more than one workshop, one application will suffice. Please list your preferences. Thank you!
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.
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
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.