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

The Debate Society

In this workshop, participants will begin with individual work and then progress to working in ensembles to create brand new pieces. Regardless of background, skill or focus, each participant becomes a creator who researches, writes, designs and acts in their work. The Debate Society will help each group forge their own unique process of creation as well as share techniques (“The Wall” “Bad Plays”) and values (“Secrets!”) that the company finds vital to the creation of their own plays. While this process is incredibly fast, participants will be engaging deeply and in wide range of collaborative skills: staying process focused, searching for the best ideas, translating ideas into performance, theatricalizing mood, generating text, managing dissent and conflict and more. The Debate Society (as a three person workshop leader) models how multiple people co-conceive in the way that they lead the workshop together with overlapping feedback and direction.

Even if collaborative creation is not how you ultimately want to approach your own creations and career , this workshop helps writers and artists, whatever your own focus and process may be, discover new values and tools to become more effective and unique creators and producers.

Dates and Times: November 8 & 9, 10am-4:30pm
Price: $325.
Deadline: October 3

Application Submission:
5 page writing sample
3 images that interest you for reasons you can’t exactly explain (photos, paintings, etc)
3 titles of plays that don’t exist but should.

E-mail your application materials plus a bio to

The Debate Society is an OBIE Award-winning, Brooklyn-based company that creates new plays through the collaboration of co-Artistic Directors Hannah Bos (writer/performer), Paul Thureen (writer/performer) and Oliver Butler (director/developer). Plays include Jacuzzi (Ars Nova), Blood Play (Bushwick Starr/Under The Radar/Williamstown Theatre Festival), Buddy Cop 2 (Ontological-Hysteric Incubator; published by Samuel French), You’re Welcome (The Brick; pub. by Playscripts), Cape Disappointment (PS122; pub. by Samuel French and in PLAY A JOURNAL OF PLAYS), The Eaten Heart, The Snow Hen and A Thought About Raya. The Debate Society is the recipient of a 2012 OBIE Grant, NEFA National Theater Project Grant, winners of a 2010 “Village Voice Best of Award” and the Ars Nova Company-in-Residence since 2012.

Hannah Bos (writer/performer) has co-written and starred in all of The Debate Society’s plays. Off Broadway: Will Eno’s The Open House (Drama Desk Award, Lucille Lortel nom.). Regional: Will Eno’s GNIT and Lisa Kron’s The Veri**on Play (Humana Festival), Andrei Serban’s Lysistrata, Three Farces and a Funeral, and Janos Szasz’ Marat/Sade (The American Repertory Theater). Other acting credits include Hostage Song (The Kraine), The Pumpkin Pie Show: Ringside Seats (The Belt), Cardiac Shadow (P.S. 122), and Junta High (P.S. 122). She is a Sundance Institute Fellow and a recipient of The Six Points Fellowship.

Paul Thureen (writer/performer) has co-written and starred in all of the company’s plays. Other NYC performances include Annie Baker’s Uncle Vanya (Soho Rep), 41-derful (Clubbed Thumb) and Core Values (Ars Nova). Regional: The Description of the World, Facade, and Pulcinella (Theatre de la Jeune Lune) and The Odyssey Experience (McCarter). TV: The Late Show with David Letterman. Paul is a Sundance Institute Fellow and recipient of a 2013 Obie Award (Blood Play).

Oliver Butler directed the recent premieres of Will Eno’s The Open House at the Signature Theatre Company (Obie Award for Direction, 2014 Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Play) and City Center Encores! Off-Center production of Jonathan Larson’s tick, tick… BOOM! starring Lin-Manuel Miranda. He has co-created and directed all of The Debate Society’s plays. In New York, Oliver has also directed the premieres of Goodbye New York Goodbye Heart by Lally Katz and Hostage Song, a musical by Kyle Jarrow and Clay McLeod Chapman. At Ars Nova he developed and directed The Lapsburgh Layover with The Berserker Residents. He is a Sundance Institute Fellow and a Bill Foeller Fellow (Williamstown).

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.