Here's the annual pitch:
The Carnegie Mellon University School of Drama
Dramatic Writing Program
As a writer for theatre or film, you’re not writing to be read; you’re making a blueprint that contains all the information your future collaborators will need to create an event.
Carnegie Mellon is uniquely positioned to offer an intense experience that combines training in playwriting, screenwriting, television writing, and new theatrical forms. As an integral part of the Carnegie Mellon School of Drama, the oldest degree-granting theatre program in the United States, the Dramatic Writing program provides ongoing collaboration with the next generation of important actors, directors, and designers. Writers collaborate with these colleagues every week of the semester in Theatre Lab, as well as working on a television project twice a year.
Dramatic Writing MFA candidates have the opportunity to see their plays fully produced in the New Works Series. These productions are helmed by emerging directors under the supervision of Marianne Weems, and industry guests are brought in to respond to the plays.
The program is one of only six leading institutions chosen to participate in the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Film School Awards, which awards $35,000 in screenplay prizes annually to two students within the Carnegie Mellon Dramatic Writing program.
The Dramatic Writing program is headed by Rob Handel, a founding member and managing director of the Obie-winning playwrights’ collective 13P, and a resident playwright at New Dramatists. The curriculum fosters leadership through a unit called “Envisioning a Theatre,” in which students examine revolutionary movements in theatre; write manifestos of their own; and build a plan for starting a theater company.
Recent and upcoming guest faculty include Mac Wellman, Jeffrey M. Jones, Sherry Kramer, Richard Nelson, Tarell Alvin McCraney, Madeleine George, and Peter Sinn Nachtrieb.
Carnegie Mellon is dedicated to equipping writers to enter a highly competitive industry at the highest level. MFA candidates have met recently with directors Daniella Topol, Leigh Silverman, and John Collins, as well as decisionmakers from Woolly Mammoth, The Gersh Agency, Pixar, Legendary Pictures, and Fox Filmed Entertainment. Students benefit from the strong support of School of Drama alumni in the field, including Stephen Schwartz (Godspell, Wicked), Stephen Bochco (Hill Street Blues, L.A. Law), and John Wells (ER, Third Watch). Recent alumni include Jonathan Larson Award winners Chris Dimond and Michael Kooman, James McManus (Princess Grace Award), Jason Williamson (Dramatists Guild Fellowship), and Kevin Christopher Snipes (SPF).
The program has longstanding ties to Pittsburgh’s City Theatre, which is devoted to the production and commissioning of new plays. There are unlimited possibilities for collaborating with the many new-media initiatives taking place across the university, recognized as a world headquarters for entertainment technology.
How to apply: Dramatic Writing applicants must submit either one full length play or one full length screenplay in addition to all university and school applications. The application deadline is January 1 annually.