New Dramaturgies : Strategies and Exercises for 21st Century Playwriting book cover
1st Edition

New Dramaturgies
Strategies and Exercises for 21st Century Playwriting

ISBN 9781032090405
Published June 30, 2021 by Routledge
134 Pages

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Book Description

In New Dramaturgies: Strategies and Exercises for 21st Century Playwriting, Mark Bly offers a new playwriting book with nine unique play-generating exercises.

These exercises offer dramaturgical strategies and tools for confronting and overcoming obstacles that all playwrights face. Each of the chapters features lively commentary and participation from Bly’s former students. They are now acclaimed writers and producers for media such as House of Cards, Weeds, Friday Night Lights, Warrior, and The Affair, and their plays appear onstage in major venues such as the Roundabout Theatre, Yale Rep, and the Royal National Theatre. They share thoughts about their original response to an exercise and why it continues to have a major impact on their writing and mentoring today. Each chapter concludes with their original, inventive, and provocative scene generated in response to Bly’s exercise, providing a vivid real-life example of what the exercises can create.

Suitable for both students of playwriting and screenwriting, as well as professionals in the field, New Dramaturgies gives readers a rare combination of practical provocation and creative discussion.

Table of Contents




Chapter 1: The "Sum Forty Tales from the Afterlives" Exercise

The Exercise

Jenny Rachel Weiner’s Introduction

Jason and Julia, by Jenny Rachel Weiner


Chapter 2: Bly’s "Einstein’s Dream" Exercise

The Exercise

Sarah Treem’s Introduction

Against the Wall, by Sarah Treem


Chapter 3: Bly’s "Character’s Greatest Fear" Exercise

The Exercise

Rolin Jones’s Introduction

Last of the Chatterbox Wolves: Grimm History Revisited, by Rolin Jones


Chapter 4: Bly’s "Character’s Greatest Pleasure" Exercise

The Exercise

Marcus Gardley’s Introduction

The Blood Curl of Pigs: A Scene about a Pleasure, by Marcus Gardley


Chapter 5: Bly’s "Kafka’s Train" Exercise

The Exercise

Lindsey Ferrentino’s Introduction

Last Stop Vancouver, by Lindsey Ferrentino


Chapter 6: Bly’s "Music Memory" Exercise

The Exercise

Amy E. Witting’s Introduction

Standing in the Shade, by Amy E. Witting


Chapter 7: Bly’s "Myth" Exercise

The Exercise

Holly Hepp-Galván’s Introduction

A Language to Play With, by Holly Hepp-Galván


Chapter 8: Bly’s "Nashville Film Overlapping Dialogue and Storyline" Exercise

The Exercise

Kenneth Lin’s Introduction

Nashville Film Exercise, by Ken Lin


Chapter 9: Bly’s "Sensory Writing" Exercise

The Exercise

Sunil Kuruvilla’s Introduction

Minus 1, by Sunil Kuruvilla



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Mark Bly has worked as a dramaturg, director of new play development, and associate artistic director for the Arena Stage, Alley Theatre, Guthrie Theater, La Jolla Playhouse, Seattle Rep, and Yale Rep, producing over 250 plays in a career in theatre spanning more than 40 years. Bly has dramaturged Broadway productions and has been credited as being the first production dramaturg on Broadway for his work on Execution of Justice. Bly has also served as the Director of the MFA Playwriting Programs for the Yale School of Drama, Hunter College, and Fordham/Primary Stages in a nearly 30-year Teaching Artist career. He is the editor and author of The Production Notebooks: Theater in Process Volumes I & II. Bly is an active freelance dramaturg and was the recipient of the LMDA’s G.E. Lessing Award for Career Achievement in 2010 and in 2019 was honored by The Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival with its most prestigious award, The Kennedy Center Medallion of Excellence.


"Reading Bly’s book was a special treat [...] Many times, when you’re working on a problem and can’t come up with an answer, if you keep reading, the answer will come to you. Such was the case reading New Dramaturgies."

- Edwin Wong, Doing Melpomene's Work