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 2014

Branden Jacobs-Jenkins:

The idea of a drama telling an “original story” is actually a relatively new concept in the history of theatre. From the reworking of classical lore by the Ancient Greeks and Japanese Noh authors up through the Biblical mystery plays of Medieval England and Shakespeare’s mashing up the work of various Italian gossips, a primary facet of a dramatist’s calling has always been telling an old tale better or anew. In this workshop, we will pick and prod as this strangely under-explored facet of our professional inheritance through intense discussion, various readings and writing exercises – both in and out of class. Ideas explored may include but are not limited to language and translation, the uses of memory and recall in the theater, parasitism, and adapting across form. Together, we will try to decipher new strategies and applications for adaptation and appropriation in the theater.

Dates are July 12, 13, 19, 20
Times will be 10am-1pm
Deadline: June 13
Price: $325

Branden Jacobs-Jenkinsís plays include Neighbors, Appropriate, An Octoroon, War, and Gloria. His work has been or will be seen at the Public Theater, Vineyard Theatre, Yale Repertory Theatre, Actors Theater of Louisville, Victory Gardens Theatre, Woolly Mammoth Theater, The Matrix Theater and the Signature Theater, where he is currently a Residency Five playwright. He is a former Lila Acheson Wallace playwriting fellow at Juilliard. Other honors include the Paula Vogel Award, a Fulbright Arts Grant, a Helen Merrill award, the Dorothy Strelsin playwriting fellowship, and the inaugural Tennessee Williams award. He holds an MA in Performance Studies from NYU.

Application Information

Applications are being accepted electronically:
Email your cover letter, 10-page writing sample and bio or resume to 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!

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.