- Dramatic Writing majors can specialize in playwriting, film writing, or episodic television writing.
- Collaboration—through workshops, text analyses, and class discussions—is a cornerstone of the major.
- Professional internships across New York City and around the world are a mainstay of the program.
What separates the BFA in Dramatic Writing at the NYU Tisch School of the Arts from other similar programs? For Joe Vinciguerra, chair of the Rita and Burton Goldberg Department of Dramatic Writing, the answer is simple. “The Emmys. The Oscars. The Pulitzers,” he says.
For aspiring playwrights and TV and film writers, NYU is the place to learn the craft. Graduates of the program include Ayo Edebiri (The Bear), Kenneth Lonergan (Manchester by the Sea), Isaac Aptaker and Elizabeth Berger (This is Us), and Donald Glover (Atlanta). The faculty comprises award-winning working professionals who have their fingers on the pulse of the theatre, film, and television scenes.
And the current students? “They all have an original voice. They represent a diversity of thought and eclectic backgrounds. And they come here because they know everyone is welcome in New York and at NYU to be their true selves.” And importantly, Professor Vinciguerra adds, “they know that our curriculum supports and trains students to become true artists, and then to translate that artistic expression into the professional world.”
A Rigorous, Collaborative Curriculum
All students who major in Dramatic Writing must take courses in the three dramatic media–playwriting, film writing, and episodic television writing–before determining which of the three will be their specialization. The robust curriculum allows students to study from many angles the dramatic text as it has developed over centuries. In addition to NYU’s liberal arts requirements, dramatic writing students take workshops as well as production, performance, and text analyses courses.
“It surprised me that students are required to take Drama Lab, an introductory acting class. But don’t be intimidated. It’s so much fun,” says junior Dramatic Writing major Jenny McDonald. The real-life experience on the other side of a script helps teach students the vital art of collaboration.
This collaboration can require accepting feedback gracefully. This is especially true in workshops where faculty and students analyze and comment on each other’s scripts. “I have shown up to class with one version of a script that became unrecognizable by the sixth draft,” says Jenny. “Your professors and fellow writers are trying to work with you to craft the best version of your story. Apply the feedback that you find helpful, and trust the process.”
Senior Catherine Woo echoes that sentiment. “Writing classes at Tisch are taught by professionals in the field, so their feedback comes from a place of knowledge and vast experience. And your fellow writers come from all sorts of backgrounds. So they can give you notes, recommendations, and suggestions that you would have never thought of on your own,” she says.
Opportunities Around the Globe
Catherine took advantage of another NYU Tisch hallmark–internships. In fact, she interned with Rattlestick Theater, Protozoa Pictures, and New York Women in Film & Television. Learning practical skills in a professional setting is vital for students looking to get a foot in the door at the outset of their career. Other Dramatic Writing students have interned with NBCUniversal, Sesame Workshop, and, while studying away at NYU’s global program in Los Angeles, Illumination Entertainment.
That’s another facet of the dramatic writing experience that’s unparalleled: the NYU global network. Tisch students can study at any of NYU’s 15 global locations, taking in arts and culture around the world. What’s more, NYU London offers immediate access to the West End, thought by many to be the only theatre scene in the world that rivals Broadway. And NYU Los Angeles, with its internship requirement, helps students make connections on the west coast, where many students find jobs in film and television following graduation. There, as in New York, numerous NYU alumni in the industry are eager to help students through networking and mentoring.
The Journey of a Writer
With all the opportunities that the Dramatic Writing major offers, senior Dhruv Barot offers useful advice. He suggests keeping a close watch on your art and yourself throughout your time applying to, and hopefully joining, the program. “Allow yourself vulnerability,” he says. “Share your work. Let yourself be open. The nature of a lot of young writers is to stay within the safety of the shadows of seclusion. Step into the light for a moment! The journey of a writer is very beautiful when it’s bright enough to see.”