Online playwriting course

12-week course for ages 16 to 30 led by award-winning writer James McDermott and delivered online via Zoom. Part of our Digital Revoluton programme.

Through online workshops, group discussions and writing exercises, James McDermott will teach participants tools and techniques they can use to help them write a play.

Workshops will explore how to generate material for plays, how to create characters, what dramatic action is and how to create a dramatic story, dramatic form and structure, writing and rewriting and how to start and sustain a career as a freelance writer.

There will also be an opportunity for participants to share their work with the group and receive considerate constructive feedback.

About your teacher

The course will be led by James McDermott.

James McDermott

James’s plays include ‘Fast Food’ which starred Jude Law (Lyric Hammersmith), ‘Rubber Ring’ (Pleasance Islington; UK Tour; Winner of Pulse Festival’s Suitcase Prize), ‘Time and Tide’ (Park Theatre; nominated for an Off West End Theatre Award for Best New Play), ‘CAMP!’ (Norwich Arts Centre; UK Tour) and ‘Justice 39’ co-written with Roy Williams and Atiha Sen Gupta (Revoluton Arts).

James is currently writing new plays for Hampstead Theatre, HighTide, Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds, Norwich Playhouse and Revoluton Arts.

James’s plays are published by Samuel French and he is represented by Independent Talent.

Catch up on the course so far

If you missed previous weeks' sessions, you can catch up on the exercises here.

Session One – Finding Your Voice

In this session, we discuss how finding your voice as a writer is about finding what you want to write about and how you want to write about it.


  • Write for 5 minutes about yourself.
  • Write for 5 minutes about Luton.
  • Write for 5 minutes about what you’d like to change about the world.

Session Two – Character

In this session we created characters.


  • What would strangers take away from meeting your character for the first time?
  • What does your character’s best friends know about them?
  • What does your character’s closest family know about them?
  • What does only your character know about themselves?

Session Three – Wants and Obstacles

In this session we discussed how all drama is about a character overcoming obstacles that stops them getting what they want.


  • What does your character want?
  • Why do they want it now?
  • How do they stop themselves from getting it?
  • Who else stops them getting it?
  • How can your character overcome those obstacles to get what they want?

Session Four – Structure

In this session we looked at five-act structure in drama:

  • Act One – A character wants something
  • Act Two – Things go well as they try and get it
  • Act Three- Things go badly
  • Act Four – Things get worse and it looks like the character won’t get what they want
  • Act Five – The character does or doesn’t overcome obstacles to get what they want

Playwriting course notes sessions 1 4



If you'd like to book onto the course, register on Eventbrite to get your Zoom link.

Only 15 places each week.

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