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Undergraduate Program

The BFA undergraduate program is comprised of writing/text analysis, production/performance, and general education and electives. Over the course of four years, you’ll analyze the dramatic text as it has developed since the time of the ancient Greeks, learn basic production techniques, explore the world of performance, and develop and refine your writing ability in intensive workshops.

Year 1-2

Whether you enter the program as a freshman or a transfer student, you’ll begin by taking courses in our three concentrations: Writing for Film, Writing for Television, and Playwriting. Later, as your studies advance, you can specialize in at least one medium.

During your first two years, you’ll acquire a strong liberal arts background while sharpening your writing skills. This grounding in the arts and humanities encourages the development of imagination and intellect — essential parts of a writer's training. By the end of your first or second year, you should be ready to concentrate on a particular field of interest. In addition to your coursework, you’ll meet with producers, agents and directors — the people with whom the dramatic writer works — to get a realistic view of the profession.

Freshman Year

Craft I (required)

An intensive year-long foundation course in writing for film, television, and theatre. The basic principles of dramatic construction are taught in the lecture and analysis session, and are related to the student’s own work in recitations, presentations at the First-Year Colloquium, and one-on-one tutorials with the instructor.

All students are required as part of their 6 points to register for two recitations: One is the recitation associated with your Craft section, the other is the First-Year Colloquium, which is also required of all first year students.

Presentation is a commonality for all artists and an absolute necessity for the emerging dramatist. In this colloquium each student presents work to the entire first year class using student performers. Students will learn to be constructive and specific in critique sessions, employing analytical skills in conjunction with moral support for their fellow writers.

Forms of Drama (Required)

The dramatist knows dramatic literature. This course surveys dramatic literature from Ancient Greece to the beginning of the modern movement, with emphasis on Tragedy and Comedy and on the changing conventions, techniques, and purposes of playwriting.

The World Through Art/Writing the Essay (required)

This required course for all students in the Tisch School of the Arts is designed to engage all Tisch School of the Arts freshmen in a broad interdisciplinary investigation across artistic media. It provides instruction and practice in critical reading, creative thinking, and essay writing. Students learn to analyze and interpret written texts, art objects, and performances; to use written, visual, and performance texts as evidence; and to develop ideas. The course stresses exploration, inquiry, reflection, analysis, revision, and collaborative learning.

Craft II (required)

An intensive year-long foundation course in writing for film, television, and theatre. The basic principles of dramatic construction are taught in the lecture and analysis session, and are related to the student’s own work in recitations, to presentations at the First-Year Colloquium, and in one-on-one tutorials with the instructor.

All students are required as part of their 6 points to register for two recitations: one is the recitation associated with your Craft section, the other is the First-Year Colloquium, which is also required of all first year students.

Presentation is a commonality for all artists and an absolute necessity for the emerging dramatist. In this colloquium each student presents work to the entire first year class using student performers. Students will learn to be constructive and specific in critique sessions, employing analytical skills in conjunction with moral support for their fellow writers.

Forms of Drama II (Required)

A continuation of the exploration of genres and styles in theatre. While the first semester concentrated on tragedy and comedy, this semester concentrates on farce, satire, melodrama, surrealism and other styles. Plays studied will be a mixture of old and new, so students can see the evolution of the various styles throughout the history of theatre.

(Core General Education Classes)

As part of their liberal arts education, students should complete approximately 8 non-Tisch credits by the end of their freshman year.

Sophmore Year

First Level I Writing Workshop (required)

Following the Craft sequence, sophomores are required to take two out of the three introductory courses: Playwriting I, Screenwriting I, and Intro to Half-Hour Comedy.

Film Story Analysis (required)

In this course we will take a close look at narrative concepts that have reinvigorated movie-going and served as inspirations for emerging new screenwriters. What are the origins of innovative ideas? How are they developed? What are the narrative elements they challenge or overturn? Ideally, the course will prepare students to look outside the conventional paradigms dominating the film industry today and discover their unique voices. Begin with a review of the essential elements of the effective motion picture narrative: protagonist, pathos, objective, and action. After an initial vocabulary and structural language has been established, we move quickly to focus on the development of unexpected and innovative story ideas.

Fundamentals of Digital Filmmaking (required)

This practical workshop is designed to introduce students to the techniques and theory of developing and producing short film ideas that are shot on digital video and edited digitally on computer using Final Cut Pro. The course centers on learning elements of visual storytelling through a spectrum of aesthetic approaches. Working in crews of four, students learn directing, shooting, and editing skills as they each direct three short videos (three to five minutes in length). This course is specifically designed to fulfill the major requirements in production of students not majoring in film and therefore, students who need to fulfill this requirement are given registration priority. Students should add themselves to the waitlist for this class.

Playwriting I (required)

This course is a vigorous review of characterization, dialogue, and structure, including identification of the major dramatic incident and turning points. Classes will focus on both analysis of dramatic texts from contemporary playwrights and student scripts. Professor will give notes on all final projects. This class meets twice weekly with reading and writing assignments for each class. Students will complete a full-length play by the end of this class.

TV Story Analysis (required)

This text analysis class, geared to the television writer and TV writer-producer, will explore TV history from its beginnings as ‘radio with pictures’, through its ‘vast wasteland’ days (when it was misperceived as purely a medium for advertising), to the coming of cable in the mid-1980's, all of which anticipated the art form of the present day. TVSA will immerse itself in the language, genres, and viewpoints (conscious, or unconscious) of numerous shows including Leave It To Beaver, Medic, The Twilight Zone, The Rifleman, Combat, Top Cat, Get Smart, Batman, The Untouchables, East Side/West Side, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Shindig!, The Jerry Lewis Variety Show, Sanford and Son, Rhoda, Rich Man Poor Man, The Rockford Files, St. Elsewhere, Playboy After Dark, and such documentaries as Harvest of Shame and Same Mud, Same Blood. The class will employ weekly lectures, in-class viewings, and regular papers of either a historical, critical, or creative nature, plus homework viewings on YouTube and Netflix, a midterm and a final.

Elective

Students will take 2 elective courses.

Year 3-4

For upper-class students, the major in dramatic writing serves as pre-professional experience. By senior year, you’ll be expected to develop several full-length works for film, television, or theater. That work will be judged by eminent writers according to rigorous professional standards

 

Junior Year

Screenwriting II or other Level II Writing Workshop (required)

The goal of the class is completion. You will either: begin and complete a new screenplay or complete the screenplay started in Screenwriting I and do a full rewrite. The focus in this class will be on screenplay structure. An understanding of film language also will be emphasized. If you plan to do a new work, you must come to the first class with two ideas for full-length screenplays.

Shakespeare for Writers or Text Analysis (required)

This class is a lecture and discussion using 10 to 14 of Shakespeare’s major plays. The objective of this course is to investigate how Shakespeare used structure, character, and language to create works for a contemporary popular theatre. Students will also study the Elizabethan age and learn to write sonnets!

ELective

Students take one production elective and another elective course.

Television II: One-Hour Drama

This workshop course takes students step-by-step through writing their own script for an ongoing one-hour television dramatic series. The course will move from premise lines, through the outline/beat sheet, to writing a full one-hour story and then a complete script that may be polished in Advanced TV or Thesis.

Loving the Living Playwright

This is a production workshop for playwrights, led by The Public Theater's Master Writer and Visiting Arts Professor at the Goldberg Department of Dramatic Writing, Suzan-Lori Parks.  Each week playwrights will present bare-bones staged readings, excerpts of their previously written work.  Writers will be paired off, with one writer serving as ‘playwright’ and the other serving as ‘director’. Working with professional actors, you'll be strengthening your writing chops by getting your work on its feet for class discussion and feedback. ‘Playwright’ and ‘Director’ pairings will change weekly giving each writer multiple opportunities to explore the possibilities of their own written work and, through directing, expand their understanding of the writing and production process. Fun, lively and encouraging feedback in a loving, rigorous, moshpit, sandbox atmosphere.

Masterclass in Screenwriting: One-On-One With a Producer

In much the way producers work with established writers, feature film producer Linda Gottlieb meets regularly one-on-one with each student to develop his or her original screenplay. Emphasis is on clarity of story concept, solid structure, development, and refining a commercial script.

Internship or Elective

Internships are not recommended before the second semester of the sophomore year. To have an internship before then requires special permission. Students experience the profession of the dramatist from ‘the other side of the desk’ by working in a professional organization that develops and or produces the work of dramatists. All students must complete an internship in order to graduate.  Internships are arranged by the department.

Senior Year

Creation Heavy Industries Theatre Lab

This course is a collaboration between the Goldberg Department of Dramatic Writing and the Meisner Acting Studio/Undergrad Drama. In this course, actors and writers will work in close collaboration with each other. They will develop a series of pieces for the stage, and some for the screen. These will be short pieces, some done within one session, and longer works where their development runs over weeks of rehearsal. The course will cover various modes of creative collaboration: writer generated material, actor generated material, adaptations developed by the group, and everything in-between. Roles will blur. We expect concepts, text, and performance, to some degree, from everyone in the room. The class will be broken down into a number of working “theater companies,” each of which will work together throughout the term on various projects. The class will also function as a whole in developing longer, possibly full length work. At the end of the semester, there will be a public showing of the best work from the Creation Heavy Industries Theater Lab.

The Festival Crew Practicum or Elective (elective)

Students interested in working on departmental productions for credit, i.e., the Goldberg Reading, the annual Ten- Minute Play Festival, Spring Festival of New Works, and other performance events, may register for one to three points for this course. Each credit point equals a minimum of fifteen hours of service per semester. Public relations, house management, company management, stage managers, light and sound board operators, video production and running crews are all tasks that can be learned and mastered through mentoring by the departmental producers and staff. This is good basic training for a vocation in the theatre.

Professional Colloquium (required)

A colloquium featuring guest speakers from the theatre, television and film industries who will discuss the trials and tribulations, ins and outs of the business. Guests include agents, independent filmmakers, producers, writers, story editors, literary managers, and representatives from the Dramatists Guild and the Writers Guild of America East.  An important emphasis is to involve students with the Tisch and NYU Career Services offices and their resources to begin the transition to the professional world while in the class.