Playwright Master Class: January 2015

Athol Fugard says that playwriting is a craft: The playwright builds plays as a shipwright builds ships. Fugard likens creating a play to making a table – all four legs need to be solid so that the piece stands firmly on its own.


This 2015 Playwright Master Class will focus on the craft of playwriting, sharing time- tested techniques for creating solid structure, drama, character and dialogue. Through the course, students will master four essential pillars on which to build any great play.


Introductory Session:

  • The seven elements of great storytelling
  • A common language: Acts, Scenes, Beats
  • Introduction to the four techniques of playwriting
Session One: Structure

  • The power of genre (choose wisely!)
  • The essence of Three-Act Structure and the Five-Act variant
Session Two: Drama

  • The essentials of protagonists and antagonists
  • The essence (and necessity) of external and internal drama
Session Three: Character

  • Character crosses: Creating three-dimensional characters
  • The drama triangle and how to generate life
Session Four: Dialogue

  • The four key types of dialogue
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall
  • Great dialogue: Secret messages

Ongoing Throughout:
Exercises to practice writing dangerously and writing the truth.



  • Introductory Meeting (6-9:00 pm): Wednesday, 21 January
  • Saturday Sessions (1-5:00 pm): 24, 31 January and 7, 14 February


  • Class mini-lectures, discussions, and writing exercises
  • At-home readings of plays, theory and writing assignments

Location:     Westcliff, “The Glass House”


Fee:    ZAR 950 for five classes

Fee includes a participant workbook with readings, theory, and exercises. Scholarships available.

Application Process:

Class limited to 12 participants.

To apply, send a one-paragraph personal biography and a one-paragraph motivation for taking the class by the 22nd of December, 2014.

Students requesting a scholarship should include an additional motivation.

Instructor Biography:

Alex Burger is a playwright, screenwriter, and teacher with a professional background in issues of poverty and race. His newest play will premiere in 2015 staring Dorothy Anne Gould and Keketso Semoko. His play Whose Blood played to a fully sold-out run in London in 2011 and he won the 2010 Harvardwood award for his one-act play Three-Fifths. Alex is currently developing television content for Quizzical Pictures and is in discussion with Hollywood producers on a film and television project.

Alex teaches writing and Wits University and the Market Theatre Laboratory and is a judge for the South African Naledi Awards. Alex is a U.S. national who now makes Johannesburg his home. He is a former Vice President at AngloGold Ashanti. He holds an A.B. from Harvard University and an M.B.A. from INSEAD.

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For more information:

Alex Burger

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