The John Burgess Play Writing Course is a one-year London-based writing course for aspirant professional playwrights run by renowned theatre director and former Head of New Writing at the National Theatre, John Burgess.

You might be just starting out or you might be looking for a mid-career change. You might be looking to refresh your playwriting skills or acquire new ones. You might have worked in theatre already or you might be coming to it from the outside. You might be a teacher or an already published writer or you might never have written anything in your life before. Whatever your circumstances this course has something for you.

The 2021/22 course will begin in September 2021 and applications are now invited for consideration.

COVID-19 Announcement

The course has successfully transferred to online meetings via Zoom during the current conditions and as such the 2021/22 course beginning in September may initially start online too, transferring back to group meetings at our usual venue in London when practical and safe to do so.

In addition, 2021/22 Admission Interviews are currently being conducted via Zoom.

This unique playwriting course offers you:

  • Personal tuition with a carefully selected group of not more than 12 artists
  • 40 x 2 hour group sessions over the academic year
  • Individual tutorials to give feedback on completed work
  • Visits from established practitioners
  • Central London location
  • Proven track record
  • Weekly classes run Wednesdays 6.30 – 8.30pm, making it possible to work in the day
  • Portfolio of completed work to show to theatre and commissioning editors
  • Helps each person find and develop their own individual voice
  • All welcome. No restrictions as to age or background
  • Admission is by interview plus a sample of written work

The course takes the form of carefully graduated exercises which start with simple dialogue, images, building the rhythm of the page, exits and entrances, going on to look at children, objects, anxiety, group scenes, history plays, writing in verse, vulnerability, science, rhetoric, nightmare, physical action, time, silence, pacing, minor characters – right up the structuring of a full-length play.

In addition to writing in class and weekly homework exercises (including reading at least one play a week), participants will be expected to write a 10-minute play, a 45-minute radio play and a full-length theatre piece over the course of the year.

Each student should finish with a portfolio of work ready to submit to script executives and theatres.