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Undergraduate Program

The BFA program in the Dramatic Writing Department is a four year program designed to give students a liberal arts based education with an emphasis on writing for theater, film and television. The Dramatic Writing Department’s curriculum consists of writing workshops, text analysis classes, production/performance classes and pre-professional training classes to be taken as well as general education classes throughout the university. Over the course of four years, students will analyze the dramatic text as it has developed since the time of the ancient Greeks, learn basic production techniques, explore the world of performance, develop and refine their writing ability while studying a broad range of liberal arts classes outside the department.

 

Year 1-2

Whether you enter the program as a freshman or a transfer student, you’ll begin by taking introductory writing and text analysis courses in each of the three mediums of theater, film and television. Later, as your studies advance, you will specialize in at least one medium. During your first two years, you’ll acquire a strong liberal arts background while sharpening your writing skills. This grounding in the arts and humanities encourages the development of imagination and intellect — essential parts of a writer's training. By the end of your second year, you should be ready to concentrate on a particular field of interest. In addition to your coursework, you’ll meet with producers, agents and directors — the people with whom the dramatic writer works — to get a realistic view of the profession.

 

Freshman Year

Craft I

This course examines the essential elements of dramatic structure through analysis of classic texts for stage and film using the primary elements of plot and character as defined by Aristotle in The Poetics (as well as the secondary elements of dialogue, thought, spectacle and song). The same principles are used to discuss students’ original work in weekly workshop sessions.

Students are required to write and revise a ten-minute play or screenplay, and complete a 20-30 page play or screenplay. In workshop sessions, students read and criticize each other’s work in order to help each writer realize the full potential inherent in the work.

Forms of Drama

The dramatist knows dramatic literature. This course surveys dramatic literature from Ancient Greece to the beginning of the modern movement, with emphasis on Tragedy and Comedy and on the changing conventions, techniques, and purposes of playwriting.

Undergraduate Drama Lab I and II

In Undergraduate Drama Lab students break into groups and write/perform exercises designed to focus on one dramatic element, which changes week to week. Students take turns writing, acting and directing. This course is a year-long course. Students will register for the same sections in both the fall and the spring semesters.

Expository Writing

Art in the World/Writing the Essay and The World Through Art are required expository writing courses for all students in the Tisch School of the Arts. They are designed to engage all Tisch School of the Arts freshmen in a broad interdisciplinary investigation across artistic media. They provide instruction and practice in critical reading, creative thinking, and essay writing. Students learn to analyze and interpret written texts, art objects, and performances; to use written, visual, and performance texts as evidence; and to develop ideas. The courses stress exploration, inquiry, reflection, analysis, revision, and collaborative learning.

Playwriting I

This is a writing workshop designed to help students conceive and write the first half of a full-length piece for the stage (50 p. minimum) as well as a ten-minute play. It includes a review of dramatic structure learned in Craft, including characterization, dialogue, identifying the stakes, turning points, climax and resolution of the drama. There will be reading assignments of dramatic texts from playwrights, as well as specific individual plays for each student based on the style and conception of the student's work. Classes will focus on both analysis of assigned texts and student scripts.

Theater Survey

This course surveys dramatic literature from Ancient Greece to modern times, with emphasis on the changing conventions, forms, techniques and styles of playwriting. Plays will be read for content and analysis.

Core General Education Classes

As part of their liberal arts education, students should complete approximately 8 non-Tisch credits by the end of their freshman year.

Sophmore Year

Screenwriting I

Students are required to complete at least 60 pages of a full-length screenplay. Students must also complete a revised outline of the full screenplay by the end of the semester. The reading and analysis of six to eight screenplays is required in conjunction with the student’s original work. Lectures integrate writing work with presentations emphasizing understanding of basic screenplay structure, theme, story, plot, character development and film language.

Film Survey

This course surveys movies from early silent films to movies of today. It will focus on a broad spectrum of the different styles, genres and types of narrative films. The course will survey studio films and independent films, American films and international films. Movies will be screened and screenplays will be read and analyzed for story, structure, character and history.

TV Writing I: TV

This workshop class teaches a structure, shape, and approach to writing television half-hour comedy. It provides a ground-up exposure to TV script-writing, moving in steps from premise lines, to the 1-page breakdown, to pages, and then revision in an intense classroom workshop critique. As a ground-up class, the focus will be on completing a spec script for a current TV comedy – either live-action or animated. (An approved show list will be provided during the summer before class begins.)

TV Survey

This course surveys post WWII television up to the present day. It will focus on a broad spectrum of the different styles, modes and types of television programming, including dramatic, comedic and everything in between. The course will focus on network and cable shows. Shows will be screened and scripts will be read and analyzed for story, structure, character and history.

Core General Education classes

As part of their liberal arts education, students should complete 16 non-Tisch credits by the end of their sophomore year.

Year 3-4

For upper-class students, the major in dramatic writing serves as pre-professional experience. By senior year, you’ll be expected to develop several full-length works for film, television, or theater. That work will be judged by eminent writers according to rigorous professional standards

 

Junior Year

2 - Level II Writing Workshop

In the intermediate level writing workshops, students continue their development in two of the three areas: playwriting, screenwriting, tv writing.

Shakespeare for Writers

This class is a lecture and discussion using 10 to 14 of Shakespeare’s major plays. The objective of this course is to investigate how Shakespeare used structure, character, and language to create works for a contemporary popular theatre. Students will also study the Elizabethan age and learn to write sonnets!

Fundamentals of Filmmaking

This practical workshop is designed to introduce students to the techniques and theory of developing and producing short film ideas that are shot on digital video and edited digitally on computer using Adobe Premiere Pro software. The course centers on learning elements of visual storytelling through a spectrum of aesthetic approaches. Working in crews of four, students learn directing, shooting, and editing skills as they each direct three short videos (three to five minutes in length).

Internship or Electives

Internships are recommended during junior or senior year. Students seeking an internship before then will require special permission. Students experience the profession of the dramatist from ‘the other side of the desk’ by working in a professional organization that develops and or produces the work of dramatists. All students must complete an internship in order to graduate. Students work with the Internship Coordinator to secure the internship.

General Education or Elective Classes

Students must complete 44 credits in General Education. If students have completed their General Education requirements, they can take elective courses to ensure they meet the 128 credits required to graduate.

Senior Year

Advanced Writing Workshop

In an advanced level workshop in playwriting, screenwriting, or tv writing, students write an original full length piece over the course of the semester.

 
 
 
 

Internship or Elective

Internships are recommended during junior or senior year. Students seeking an internship before then will require special permission. Students experience the profession of the dramatist from ‘the other side of the desk’ by working in a professional organization that develops and or produces the work of dramatists. All students must complete an internship in order to graduate. Students work with the Internship Coordinator to secure the internship.

Professional Colloquium

A colloquium featuring guest speakers from the theatre, television and film industries who will discuss the trials and tribulations, ins and outs of the business. Guests include agents, independent filmmakers, producers, writers, story editors, literary managers, and representatives from the Dramatists Guild and the Writers Guild of America East. An important emphasis is to involve students with the Tisch and NYU Career Services offices and their resources to begin the transition to the professional world while in the class.

Thesis

Students will complete a thesis project in playwriting, screenwriting, or tv writing.

General Education classes

Students must complete 44 credits in General Education. If students have completed their General Education requirements, they can take elective courses to ensure they meet the 128 credits required to graduate.