1st Edition

Playwriting with Purpose A Guide and Workbook for New Playwrights

By Jacqueline Goldfinger Copyright 2022
    188 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    188 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Playwriting with Purpose: A Guide and Workbook for New Playwrights provides a holistic approach to playwriting from an award-winning playwright and instructor.

    This book incorporates craft lessons by contemporary playwrights and provides concrete guidance for new and emerging playwrights. The author takes readers through the entire creative process, from creating characters and writing dialogue and silent moments to analyzing elements of well-made plays and creating an atmospheric environment. Each chapter is followed by writing prompts and pro tips that address unique facets of the conversation about the art and craft of playwriting. The book also includes information on the business of playwriting and a recommended reading list of published classic and contemporary plays, providing all the tools to successfully transform an idea into a script, and a script into a performance.

    Playwriting with Purpose gives writers and students of playwriting hands-on lessons, artistic concepts, and business savvy to succeed in today’s theater industry.

    1. Creating Compelling Characters  2. Writing Electric Dialogue and Silent Moments  3. Environment and Idea  4. The "Well-Made Play" (Short and Long Form)  5. Scene Structure  6. Monologue Structure  7. Thoughts on Aristotle’s Poetics  8. Other Structures  9. Writing in 3D for the Living Stage  10. The Limitless Room  11. The Revision Process  12. The Business of Playwriting


    Jacqueline Goldfinger (she/they) is a writer and teaching artist. Her plays have been produced by The Kennedy Center, Contemporary American Theatre Festival, Court Theatre (New Zealand), École nationale de théâtre (Canada), Unicorn Theatre, Capital Stage, Urbanite Theatre, Theatre Exile, Perseverance Theatre, Azuka Theatre, among others. Their opera, choral and art song libretti have been performed at Opera Columbus, Resonance Works, BBC Radio 3 (UK), Voces8 (UK), Oberlin Opera, Chor Leoni (Canada), Chiesa di Ognissanti (Italy), San Diego Opera, Mendelssohn Choruses around the U.S., and others. The filmed version of their short opera, Letter to Our Children, with Composer Justine F. Chen has been screened at film festivals around the world. She’s written for composers including Melissa Dunphy, Justine F. Chen, and Dominick DiOrio.

    Her work has been developed at Maryland Opera Studio, The National Theater (UK), New Georges, La Mama, Disquiet (Portugal), PlayPenn, Drama League, the Lark, among others. Her work has been supported by organizations including Yaddo, National Endowment for the Arts, Millay Colony, Sloan Foundation, and the Orchard Project.  Her plays have won the Yale Prize, Glaspell Prize, Generations Award, Smith Prize, Barrymore Award, among others. Their opera Alice Tierney with Composer Melissa Dunphy won the Opera America Discovery Award. Their short opera film Letter to Our Children with Composer Justine F. Chen won Best Music Video at the Paris Short Film Awards. Their plays and libretti have been published by Yale Press, TRW Plays, Concord Theatricals, and others. Her poetry has been published by literary magazines including La Piccioletta Barca and the Beyond Queer Words Poetry Anthology (Germany).

    As a dramaturg, she has worked with La Jolla Playhouse, Philadelphia Theatre Company, Arden Theatre, and others. As an educator, she has taught at University of California, Davis (graduate), University of Pennsylvania (undergraduate), and others. Her academic writing includes two books, Playwriting with Purpose and Writing Adaptations and Translations for the Stage (co-written with Allison Horsley), published by Routledge.

    MFA: University of Southern California, BA: Agnes Scott College, Website: www.jacquelinegoldfinger.com

    "I wish I had this book when I began my writing journey. It's fresh, funny, thought-provoking, and provides important insights into the industry so that playwrights can get their work on stage immediately."

    Antoinette Nwandu, Award-Winning Playwright and Screenwriter, Pass Over (Broadway), She's Gotta Have It (Netflix)

    "I love this book! It is a clear-eyed, direct, practical guide for playwrights of all experience levels."

    Allison Horsley, Broadway Dramaturg and Translator, Jersey Boys, The Cherry Orchard

    "Goldfinger’s workbook combines well curated examples with engaging exercises and evocative writing prompts to create an endless array of customizable approaches to playwriting. It speaks to the full range of those interested in creating scripted drama - students and teachers, novices and experts."

    David S. Thompson, Agnes Scott College, Georgia

    "A refereshing and galvanizing treatise on the craft of playwriting. Great for emerging playwrights!"

    Yussef El Guindi, Award-Winning Playwright, Back of the Throat, Language Rooms

    "Read this book now. It is a gift to our students and our industry. It's going to revolutionize how we teach playwriting."

    Jessica Bashline, Director-Actor, Theatre Professor at University of Miami

    "I'm going to put this book on the Required Reading list for acting and directing classes. Actors and directors need to know how plays function in order to do their best work."

    Margaret Laurena Kemp, Multi- Disciplinary Performance Artist, Theatre Professor at University of California, Davis

    "[Goldfinger’s] book — a primer really — is positive, practical, and concise, with twelve economical chapters and a set of appendices. […] Playwrights reading the book might wish to have pen and paper at hand, or they might want to read the book in front of their computer with their fingers poised above the keyboard. The exercises, such as the character development questionnaires and the use of visual art to stimulate creativity, are indeed a strength here. […] The approach in Playwriting with Purpose feels just right: to write a full-length play can feel overwhelming at first, but to write a monologue feels just right. Start small. The other day my fifth-grade daughter told me Confucius said, 'The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.' My advice? If the mountain is your play, let Goldfinger help you carry away some small stones."

    Amy R. Martin, Southern Review of Books