1st Edition

New Dramaturgies Strategies and Exercises for 21st Century Playwriting

By Mark Bly Copyright 2020
    134 Pages
    by Routledge

    134 Pages
    by Routledge

    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.




    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




    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