On the Line: Playwriting in Russia 2017

Course Description

Krasnoyarsk, Moscow, and Smolensk, Fall 2017

This eight-week online course brought together aspiring writers in Moscow and Smolensk, Russia for an intensive and interactive study of the craft of playwriting. The course title, On the Line, refers to Act II of Henrik Isben’s Hedda Gabler, wherein the title character states, “The journey’ll [marriage] be a long one … a long one yet, I’ve just come to a stopping-place on the line.” This course was designed to equip young aspiring writers with the tools and discipline to overcome the “stopping places” they may encounter in their future creative pursuits.

Each class offered live video lectures on the craft of playwriting, in-class readings and in-class writing exercises, and opportunities for students to share and discuss their writing assignments. Weekly reading and writing assignments challenged participants to further their engagement with the theory and practice of playwriting. During the last class, small groups of students performed scenes written during the course. After the course concluded, each student submitted their two favorite assignments to the instructor, who provided written feedback by email. 

The course began October 3 and ended on November 21. With support from the Embassy of the United States in Moscow, a course facilitator in each location promoted the course, recruited applicants, reviewed applications, and selected a group of young adult writers (ages 18-28) for admission to the course. The students chosen to participate demonstrated an enthusiasm for playwriting and the desire to expand their journey as playwrights “on the line.”

Happening Now

  • To mark PEN International’s centennial, Words Without Borders has published a sampler of works by writers committed to freedom of expression. Algerian novelist and scholar Med MAGANI is among them.

  • A fall harvest of book reviews coming in: of The Others by Sarah BLAU (translated from the Hebrew by Daniella Zamir); of LO Yi-Chin’s Farewell, translated from the Chinese by Jeremy TIANG; of Véronique TADJO’s In the Company of Men

  • A fascinating interview with IWP’s Senior Advisor, professor Peter Nazareth, retired from UI’s English Department in spring 2021, after nearly five decades of teaching.

  • Word reaches us that poet HU Xudong  胡续冬, who also taught comparative and world literatures at Peking University (Beida), specializing in Latin American literatures, passed away unexpectedly. RIP, Hu Xudong…

  • We note with sadness the passing of Hiroshi SAKAGAMI 坂上 弘, whose long novelistic career garnered him major literary and cultural honors. A former president of the Japan Writers’ Association, he was until his retirement also the director of Keio University Press.

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