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Experimental Theater Reading/Writing Workshop

Organizing Committee:


This course is geared toward writers and performers who want to workshop experimental theater texts, including already published and premiered plays.

There is no set definition for what "experimental" means. I tend to favor a lot of the writing coming from Mac Wellman and the group of younger writers who engage in his brand of "pataphysical theater," including Young Jean Lee, with whom he edited the excellent anthology New Downtown Now, published by University of Minnesota Press. I'm also a big fan of the Wooster Group, but most of the best work I've seen is by very small troupes in NYC, like The Theater of a Two-Headed Calf and The National Theater of the United States of America. Basically, a reading list could be based on anything that is happening in theater today that is not expressly commercial or realist in the common senses of the word. We could also look at Youtube videos and assemble some sort of library of videos of groups and writers we are interested in.

I'd also like to look at some British playwrights like Edward Bond and Caryl Churchill, and especially like to figure out what experimental theater exists in Los Angeles (you can see my blog, Free Space Comix, for my attempts to collect links about this).

The definition of "theater" itself can be rather open, especially in LA, which has such a strong tradition of performance art. My sense is that theater should, at its very base, tell a story, or appear to do so, rather than present something in a purely sculptural or phenomenal way. That is, performance art is about historical events -- singular, not-to-be-repeated happenings -- whereas theater seems to rely on artifice, stagecraft, the creation of ritual or narrative -- perhaps "memory" -- spaces, that are valuable because of their very repeatability. The writer/performer distinction seems to rarely exist in performance art, whereas it's central to the interesting dynamic of theater, even if the writer does indeed direct or perform. But there's no reason to essentialize.

In any case, I'd like to create a workshop in which we can do exercises in creating new interesting things for actors and directors to do. We can have readings, and play around with each others' texts. Ultimately, I'd like to see a staging of these works. 

I certainly don't have, or want, to be "workshop leader" every week -- anyone who has interesting ideas for exercises, or has some special knowledge about contemporary theater, and wants to lead a workshop should do it.



Is any semblance of this still continuing?  Thanks.

Is any semblance of this still continuing?  Thanks.

I meant Sunday 21st at 5pm.

How about next weekend? Around 5pm?

How about afternoon on Sunday 14th? At 3 or 4-ish?

Rebecca Gray's picture

Anything except Wednesdays is possible... but weekdays are tough for me, so I'd probably be a sporadic attendee. I guess I'd lean toward Mondays... (theaters supposedly being "dark" on Monday nights; not so true here)

Any day is fine for me.

So, we canceled 7/16. and will reschedule in August.
Weekend in August is already pretty busy. Any suggestions?


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