Wendy MacLeod’s play “The House of Yes” became an award-winning Miramax film starring Parker Posey. “The Laugh Track,” inspired by the female head writer of “I Love Lucy”, will open at ACT in Seattle in 2021. Her comedy “Slow Food” premiered at Merrimack Repertory Theater and was seen at Geva Theater, Theatrical Outfit in Atlanta, The Dorset Theater Festival and is now being done around the country. Her comedy “Women in Jeopardy!” was commissioned for The Writers’ Room at The Arden Theater, premiered at GEVA and has had over twenty productions around the country. Other plays include: “Sin” (The Goodman, Second Stage), “Schoolgirl Figure” (The Goodman Theatre), “The Water Children and Juvenilia” (Playwrights Horizons) and “Things Being What They Are” (Seattle Repertory Theatre, Steppenwolf Theatre). Her television pilot “Granite Springs” was recently selected for the Orchard Project’s Episodic Lab, her play “Schoolgirl Figure” was optioned by HBO, and another pilot, “Ivory Tower,” was developed with Diane Keaton and sold to CBS. She recently did the screenplay for “The Shallow End,” a short film now being seen at festivals, including the Adirondack Film Festival, IndieMemphis Film Festival, IndieWorks (Winner: Silver Whiskers Award), NewFilmmakers NY, Deep Cuts Film Festival (Winner: Drama Award) NY Indie Theatre Film Festival, New York No Limits Film Festival and CASCADIA Int’l Women’s Film Festival.
Areas of Expertise
Playwriting, contemporary drama, writing the TV pilot
1987 — Master of Fine Arts from Yale University
1981 — Bachelor of Arts from Kenyon College, Phi Beta Kappa
Courses Recently Taught
This course examines how theater differs from other arts and how various theatrical artists bring a play to life. Through a series of creative assignments, we explore what a play is and how it's structured. Assignments consist of a series of playwriting projects and one acting project, which students perform while collaborating with their classmates. Students read at least five plays and a series of essays about the theory and practice of he theater. Each student writes, directs and presents a final short play and take a final exam. Any student with an interest in the theater will find this a challenging course, regardless of previous experience. Because this course is an introduction to the vocabulary of the theater, it is a prerequisite to most other courses in the department. Required for drama and film majors. No prerequisite. Offered every year.
Students will be given weekly exercises exploring dialogue, monologue, exposition, autobiography, writing for the opposite gender and fluid time. The class discusses the resulting short plays in a group critique, after which they are rewritten. In the first semester, students will finish with a collection of short plays that can later be developed into longer works. In the second semester, students will complete a one-act play, which will be performed as a staged reading. Students will keep a writer's notebook, do in-class exercises and read a variety of plays relevant to their weekly assignments, including plays by Harold Pinter, John Guare, Martin McDonagh, Caryl Churchill and Tarell Alvin McCraney. Students enrolled in this course will be automatically added to DRAM 232Y for the spring semester. This counts toward the elements requirement for the major. Prerequisite: DRAM 111. Offered every year.
Students are given weekly exercises exploring spoken action, autobiography, process, suspense and unsympathetic characters. The class discusses these original short plays in a group critique, after which the student playwright has an opportunity to rewrite. In the first semester, students will finish with a collection of short play that can later be developed into longer works. In the second semester, students will complete a one-act play, which will be performed as a final staged reading. Students will keep a writer's notebook, do in-class exercises and read a variety of play relevant to their weekly assignments. This counts toward the elements requirement for the major. Prerequisite: DRAM 111 and permission of instructor. Offered every year.
This course will focus primarily on plays written in the last 40 years by female British and American playwrights, taught from the practitioner's perspective. Included are works by Caryl Churchill, Maria Irene Fornes, Paula Vogel, Cheryl West, Young Jean Lee, Annie Baker, Amy Herzog, Anne Washburn, Alice Birch, Clare Barron, Larissa Fasthorse, Sarah de Lappe, Antoinette Nwandu and others. Work will include essays, reading assigned scenes aloud, and an active presence in class discussion. Prerequisite: DRAM 111.
Students will develop a full-length play while simultaneously presenting exercises that explore nontraditional narrative: solo performance, found text and site-specific plays. Students will look at the work of such writers/performers as Bill Irwin, Spalding Gray, David Kodeski and Anna Deavere Smith, will analyze plays by contemporary playwrights such as Will Eno, Doug Wright, Anne Washburn, Caryl Churchill, and Bruce Norris while using their playwriting strategies, and will examine the reinvention of older plays by contemporary playwrights. The semester will culminate in a staged reading of the completed first act of a full-length play. This counts toward the elements requirement for the major. Prerequisite: DRAM 231Y–232Y or permission of instructor. Generally offered every other year.
Individual study in drama is reserved for students exploring a topic not regularly offered in the department's curriculum. Typically, the course will carry .5 unit of credit. To enroll in an individual study, a student must identify a member of the department willing to direct the project and, in consultation with him or her, write a proposal. The department chair must approve the proposal. The one- to two-page proposal should include a preliminary bibliography and/or set of specific problems, goals and tasks for the course; outline a schedule of reading and/or writing assignments or creative undertakings and describe the methods of assessment (e.g., a journal to be submitted for evaluation weekly, a one-act play due at semester's end, with drafts due at given intervals, and so on). The student also should briefly describe prior coursework which qualifies him or her for this independent project. At a minimum, the department expects the student to meet regularly with the instructor one hour per week and to submit an amount of work equivalent to that required in 300-level dance and drama courses. Students are urged to begin discussion of their proposed individual study the semester before they hope to enroll, so that they can devise a proposal and seek departmental approval before the deadline.
So you've produced your first indie film, written a play that's gotten some attention, or paid your dues on a television writing staff. Now production companies are calling and asking if you've got an idea for a pilot. What makes for a good television show? How does television function differently from film or theater? How do the dramatic structures overlap? How do you develop your idea into a pitch that a network will buy? How do you get from there to getting a show on the air? Primarily focusing on hour-longs and half-hour single-cam shows, students will take an idea from pitch to treatment to pilot script. We'll watch and/or read and discuss the pilots of shows like "Transparent", "Girls", "Homeland", "House of Cards", "Friday Night Lights", "Flight of the Conchords" and "The Office." This counts toward the production and one screenwriting course requirements for the major. Submission of a short writing sample and permission of instructor required. Prerequisite: sophomore standing and DRAM 111 or FILM 111. Generally offered every third year.