Professor teaches students in playwriting workshops

Alice He

Dr. Velina Hasu Houston, head of playwriting MFA graduate program at USC, came to teach two playwriting workshops and share advice about playwriting to the students interested in participating in the annual Playwright’s Festival Oct. 9 and Oct. 16.

During the workshop, Houston gave some tips to students about how to structure their plays and make them more interesting. After students wrote and shared short scenes with the class, Houston gave them constructive comments to help them improve.

“We learned about some skills about writing last year and it’s good to revisit it in this workshop,” James Johnson-Brown ’21 said. “This workshop has helped me to come up with an idea of how I want to map out my story.”

After the workshop, many students said they enjoyed the lecture. George Grube ’20 said he found the experience of sharing his practice story particularly helpful and enjoyed talking with Houston about the work.

“The process of simply sitting done and starting to cultivate an idea and what she said about being creative is important,” Annie Wendorf ’19 said. “It can be stressful to even think about starting writing, so I think it’s good to just get in here and start writing.”

Houston said the workshops went very well and that by attending them, students are taking their next step towards fulfillment of their writing goals.

“I was excited to see so many students who are interested in theatre,” Houston said. “I also feel like the students are writing many exciting things and they are willing to share their work which is brilliant because that’s often the hardest part of writing in a workshop.”

Houston said that leading the workshops was a special experience for her because she was able to support the cultivation of new authors, particularly in the discipline of theatre.

“I think that [playwriting] is just an honored artistic tradition,” Houston said. “I feel that people who are going to write plays are people who are meant to write plays, it’s just something inside of you.”