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Creating Life: A Playwrighting Immersive
June 2 to 7, 2019
Facilitated by Robert Smythe, MFA

Looking to bring a play that’s been burbling in your unconscious to life or shape one that you’ve been stuck with? Join Guggenheim Fellow and acclaimed teacher and playwright Robert Smythe for a workshop that will unlock the secrets of making plays in high summer in the Catskills. This intimate intensive is perfect both for new and emerging writers as well as seasoned pro’s.

Creating Life: A Playwrighting Immersive will focus you on knowing what exactly you are trying to say to an audience, instead of how you are saying it. We’ll take the general themes and concepts that first led you to conceive of writing a play — or acting in one — and make them specific.


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We’ll work on getting the story out of your head and into a form that can be understood and interpreted by the other artists you will eventually direct, perform beside or inspire. By the time you finish the first five-minute exercise, you’ll be surprised at what you have inside you. You’ll learn how to use tension and rhythm, and how to reveal states of mind through personal moments. You’ll write scenes and monologues. And love it.

You’ll discover that, in addition or even instead of all the other things you thought you were, you are a writer of plays. Not because someone told you that you are, but because you know you are.

In each session, you’ll spend time writing and then you’ll share what you’ve written with the rest of us. After you get feedback, you’ll have free time to continue writing as you savor Spillian’s magical creative space, and then we will join together again to further work what’s emerged.

As we move through the course, we’ll explore how to write for the stage: not just how to write words for actors to speak, but how to make things happen: how to create excitement and surprises, and interest and emotion, so that when people act out your play, or see it in a performance, they’ll understand exactly what you mean.


Creating Life: A Playwrighting Immersive
Sunday evening, June 2, at 6:30 PM to Friday June 7, at 11 AM

• Attendees are welcome to arrive any time Sunday afternoon after 3 PM to check in.
• Please bring comfortable clothes that you can move in.
• An intimate workshop with only eight participants, so you are sure lots of personal attention on your work.

Workshop and Lodging Fee: $685 until May 30, 2019. $785 after that date.
Includes all chef-crafted meals, sessions, materials, and lodging in one of Spillian’s delightful rooms!  You can learn more about them
here and make your choice on the registration page.

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About Robert Smythe, MFA

Robert is an acclaimed theater artist and the founder of Mum Puppettheatre, the only regional theater in the United States dedicated to puppetry, serving as its Artistic Director for 23 years. During that time he wrote, directed and performed over 20 original productions using puppets, masks and human actors, winning numerous awards and honors, including four Barrymore Awards for himself and 13 for the company. He also led Mum on international tours on four continents.

Robert is the recipient of Guggenheim, Pew, NEA and six Pennsylvania Council on the Arts fellowships, and six Barrymore Awards for Excellence in Theater in areas ranging from education to choreography. According to Philadelphia City Paper, Smythe’s work with Mum “sparked the theater renaissance that continues to this day.” He was the first artist to receive a commission from the Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts in 2008, and the resulting collaboration between him and the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, Stravinsky’s “l’Histoire du Soldat,” won the 2011 Barrymore Award for Outstanding Collaboration.

He is the founder of the Playwriting Program for the International Puppetry Conference at the Tony-winning O’Neill Theater Center. His work on motor contagion was been published in Acta Psychologica; his ground-breaking application of narrative theory to puppetry, “Reading a Puppet Show: Understanding the Three-Dimensional Narrative,” was published in The Routledge Companion to Puppetry and Material Performance. Robert received his MFA in Playwrighting from Temple University, where he was a University Fellow. Philadelphia Magazine named him “Best Professor” in their annual “Best of Philadelphia” issue in 2010. In spring, 2019, he was hailed for a “tour de force” performance as Ahab in an innovative production of Moby Dick at Philadelphia’s renowned Hedgerow Theater.


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