Andrew is currently residing in Columbia, Missouri, where he is a PhD Candidate at the University of Missouri-Columbia, working on a doctorate in Theatre and Performance Studies.
As a PhD candidate at the University of Missouri-Columbia, Andrew is in the process of completing research which will be the foundation of his dissertation and eventually a book whose target audience will be instructors of playwriting.
Generally speaking, Playwriting Education is an area lacking effective scholarship. In his article “Structured Creative Processes in Learning Playwriting: Invoking Imaginative Pedagogies,” theorist Paul Gardiner notes: there has been “scarce research that interrogates playwriting pedagogy” (Gardiner and Anderson 177). And yet a lot of playwriting education takes place. In the United States, there are 58 MFA programs in playwriting. There are over 90 organizations devoted to developing plays and playwrights. If there is “scarce research” on the topic, how are instructors to know if their efforts are effective? And, as students with differential cultures of literacy enter the classroom, how can playwriting instructors know the instructional methods they are using will meet the needs of a diverse student population, in addition to the needs of the basic novice?
Andrew’s research is designed to address these questions. Having identified several playwriting instructors, many of whom are considered leaders in the field, he is conducting structured interviews, performing artifact analysis (syllabi, handouts), and watching the instructors as they teach, looking for techniques that might be of use to other playwriting instructors.
The resulting dissertation (and book) will add new content to the “scarce research” and provide helpful direction for instructors of playwriting.
Indiana Writers Center
Upon completion of his MFA degree in 2012 (MFA, Playwriting, Ohio University), Andrew moved to Indianapolis, Indiana, and taught playwriting at the Indiana Writers Center, an Indianapolis non-profit writing center whose mission is to support Indiana writers of all ages and backgrounds, particularly people whose voices are rarely heard. Andrew built a playwriting education program and taught classes in Playwriting for novices and more advanced students.
- Foundations of Playwriting: Playwriting allows writers to tell stories using a unique medium--live performance. But how to leverage the opportunity so that writers harness the full power of the audience’s imagination? This workshop reviewed the fundamentals of narrative structure, with a focus on the creation of a ten-minute play. The principles will be applied to full-length works as well. Just click your magic ruby heels together and say: “there’s no place like a theater”.
- Advanced Playwriting Workshop: Okay, you’ve taken the Foundations class….now what? Your understanding the basic elements of narrative construction and know how to use them….mostly. You’ve written at least one short play, maybe you want to write more. Maybe you have an idea for a one act or even a full-length play. At least, you have an idea you want to develop, or you may even have some pages. And you think could use some support to stay on track during the writing process and get some feedback as you go. Over the eight-session workshop, students brought in new pages every week. Students became part of supportive community of writers.
University of Missouri-Columbia
As a PhD student, Andrew had the privilege of teaching classes to undergraduate students. In addition to teaching Beginning and Intermediate Playwriting (described above), Andrew was the instructor of record for the following classes:
- Screenwriting for Television and Film: Beginning screenwriting class introduced students to key elements of narrative. The class also provided the opportunity to analyze films demonstrating seven master plot frameworks and pitch ideas for films that inspired by those plots.
- Adaptation of Literature for Film: This class looked at five key sources from which screenwriters might draw inspiration (literature, history, personal experience, etc.). Students selected an idea for a screenplay from each source and settled on one for adaptation/development, creating a pitch, treatment, full screenplay, revision plan and rewrite.
- Principles of Script Analysis: This class reviewed eight different approaches to script analysis. Students applied each different approach to a variety of playscripts. Plays represented a spectrum of scripts from classics to contemporary / experimental theatre. In a culminating experience, students chose a play, analyzed it using the techniques and did a class presentation.
Dramatists Guild Institute
As a faculty member for the Dramatists Guild Institute, Andrew taught a course whose target audience was instructors of playwriting. The course was titled How to Teach a Play (to Playwrights) and provided tips and techniques for using dramatic literature (mentor texts) to help playwrights improve their own playwriting capability.
Indiana Playwrights Circle (Founder)
After teaching playwriting at the Indiana Writers Center (IWC) for seven years, Andrew left Indianapolis to work on his PhD. However, a community of playwrights had sprung up at the IWC, and Andrew collected a group to continue to offer development services and community to these playwrights and others who would follow. The Indiana Playwrights Circle or IPC (founded by Andrew in 2019), offers weekly scene nights where writers bring in pages for critique, bi-monthly large group meetings on topics of interest to members, and curates table reads for writers with full-length projects. In addition, the IPC sponsors an annual ten-minute play festival, giving many fledgling writers their first local production opportunity. Andrew founded the festival in 2015 (in conjunction with the Indiana Writers Center and Indy Fringe), and it continues to produce new work to this day.
Play Submissions Helper (Playwright-In-Residence)
Andrew is the playwright in residence at the Play Submissions Helper website, a virtual community which provides its members with submission opportunities for theatres, festivals and contests. Andrew has provided a series of podcasts related to playwright topics (What is a protagonist? What are the 7 key elements of narrative?) and also recorded YouTube videos on topics of interest to members (How might a playwright approach historical material?)
Indiana Repertory Theatre (Artist-in-the-Classroom/Young Playwrights in Process)
Andrew served as an artist-in-the-classroom for the Indiana Repertory Theatre, travelling around the state of Indiana as a playwright educator and coach. Andrew worked with all ages of students and provides support to teachers who were helping their students write plays. Andrew also served as a coach and judge for IRT’s Young Playwrights in Process (YPiP) program, working with high school students to develop their dramatic work.