All The World’s A Stage: Exploring the Playwright’s Craft

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Thayer Memorial Library, 717 Main Street, Lancaster, Massachusetts

Join Seven Bridge Writers’ Collaborative for a full day of drama workshops exploring the art and craft of writing for the stage, including play development, songwriting, exploring plot and character, and performing one’s writing. Seminars run from 10:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., followed by an evening of performance by conference presenters: playwright, Sally Cragin; radio performer, Jeff Van Amburgh; and musician and songwriter, Nancy Beaudette. Fees vary, and preregistration is required. Please see below. 


9:30 to 10:00 a.m. Registration
10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Drama Essentials: Exploring Plot, Character Development, and Scene-Setting.

So, you have an idea for a play. What now? Come, learn about the types of plays one can write, what a play looks like, and how to develop a story from an idea.

Paula Castner is the Chief Operating Officer for Seven Bridge Writers Collaborative as well as a freelance writer, playwright, drama director, writing workshop facilitator, baking coach, and professional administrator. Though she received her certification for writing children’s literature, she writes in multiple genres. Her pieces have been published in a variety of venues, from parenting magazines, to newspapers, to online magazines, and have claimed first prize in several writing contests. Her play, A Fairy Tale Life? A Musical, with music by Canadian folk artist, Nancy Beaudette, was performed in Lancaster, Massachusetts. She is currently working on her second musical, set in an art museum.

12:30 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. Playing the Audience: A Practical Author’s Workshop in Live Presentation:

You’re performing excerpts from your latest book of poetry or prose. You’re no “performance poet”– you’re a writer! What can you do to deliver the most winning presentation of your material and get your live audience to fall in love with your writing enough to actually buy your book?  How, then, do you adjust your “reading” when you land a spot on TV or radio?

Join James B. Nicola, author of Playing the Audience: The Practical Actor’s Guide to Live Performance (Applause Books 2012, CHOICE Award-winner) for this invaluable master class,  specially designed for authors presenting their own material at libraries, community centers, schools, bars, and so forth. Come with your latest book, an open mind, and an eager heart.

James B. Nicola has conducted Playing the Audience workshops for actors at Kennedy Center/American College Theater Festival conventions from Wyoming to New Hampshire. He has also directed about a third of Shakespeare’s plays and a couple of Molière’s—which are, of course, in verse. A graduate of Yale University cum laude with Distinction in Music, he served as judge for the 2018 Lancaster Public Schools’/Seven Bridge poetry competition. His successful Suspense on Stage and Page workshop, was developed for writers of all genres by special request of Seven Bridge Writers’ Collaborative. His two latest poetry collections are Wind in the Cave (Finishing Line Press,2017) and Out of Nothing: Poems of Art and Artists (Shanti Arts, 2018).

2:15 p.m. to 3:45 p.m. Music and Lyrics: The Art and Craft of Songwriting: Exploring Narrative Arc and Precision in Language in Writing.

Whether you want to write songs for yourself or the stage, acclaimed songwriter and musician, Nancy Beaudette, will help you learn the fundamentals for songwriting, from stirring the muse, to writing lyrics, to creating the music.

Nancy Beaudette blends brave and honest songwriting, first-rate musicianship, and a huge helping of native Canadian wit. Co-author of SongC.R.A.F.T., a book about how to write songs, she also co-created the music and lyrics for A Fairy Tale Life?, a musical with 14 songs spanning different styles of music. She is an award-winning musician with eight CDs, as well as an award-winning signmaker. During the 80’s and 90’s, she directed a twenty-five voice choir, wrote her own liturgical music, and toured all over Canada and the northeast US. She has been a Winner or Finalist in some of the industries most distinguished competitions, including Mountain Stage New Song Competition, Mid-Atlantic Song Contest, Great American Song Contest, the Independent Music Awards, and Global Peace Song Awards.

4:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. How to Write Ten-Minute Screenplays: Effective tools for getting started and Looking at Dialogue.

If you want to write for the stage or screen, honing a 10- or 5-minute short play is a great introduction. Come up with a couple of characters – three is even better – and “listen” to what they tell you. Look for conflict and humor. Sally Cragin and Jeff Van Amburgh help you develop those voices, so you’ll be on your way to writing a short play.

Sally Craigin teaches theatre and writing at Fitchburg State University. An award-winning columnist, she wrote for the Boston Phoenix for more than 30 years. Her short plays have been produced in New York City (Love Creek Productions), Provincetown and throughout Massachusetts. She has also worked as a script doctor for writer/performers who have presented at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and American Repertory Theatre. Recently, she served as an acting coach for the child actors appearing in the film “Chimera” (2018), starring Henry Ian Cusick. She began her career as a child actor with Playhouse 101 and the American Stage Festival in Milford, NH.

Jeff Van Amburgh is a voice-over artist whose rich baritone can be heard weekly on Audio Journal. A relentless stand-up comedian, he has been the toast of various open mikes up and down the 495 corridor. He is a longtime “radio guy” who has worked in both AM and FM markets. As an actor, he has appeared in plays at the Americulture Festival (Fitchburg State University), Stratton Players and most recently, Worcester Light Opera.

6:30 to 9 p.m. Special Comedy Show and Concert Fundraiser
On Stage with  Sally Cragin and Jeff Van Amburgh
Nancy Beaudette in Concert



Workshop Fees: Vary depending on number of workshops attended. See below.

Donations will be accepted at the door for the evening comedy show and concert.

To Register, please fill out the form and submit with payment below.

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