Playwriting 101 is an invitation for writers of other genres to try their hand at playwriting and for playwrights to deepen their practice.

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Time: 20:00 to 22:00

Duration: 12 October, 2022

Location: Online via Zoom—, ,


Open to all.

Limited to 12 participants.

This workshop will be conducted via Zoom.

Playwriting is an artform about curiosity, obsession, energy, entertainment, transformation, and illumination. It’s about inspiration, dedication, and practice. It’s about following your impulses and shaping those impulses; about creating a series of freedoms and constraints that focus inspiration into a text that can be used as a blueprint for performance. Unlike most other forms of writing, a play text must leave space for other creators to bring their artistry to the work. Director, actors, designers and technicians eventually fill in those spaces left by the writer to transform what is on the page into a three-dimensional performance that necessitates an audience for it to be fully realized. Having written plays that have been staged throughout Canada and beyond (Stratford Festival, Shaw Festival, Soulpepper Theatre, Segal Centre, Centaur Theatre), Erin Shields has developed a number of exercises, strategies and best practices to imagine, explore, and write plays.

Playwriting 101 is an invitation for writers of other genres to try their hand at playwriting and for playwrights to deepen their practice. Throughout this eight-week workshop, participants will bring their own particular understanding of story, character, and theme to the table, to explore how to apply those same skills to the art of playwriting. Each class will focus on one of the following dramatic elements: character, conflict, desire, premise, form, plot, and structure. Through conversations, focused exercises, and sharing work, participants will gain an understanding of how to organically and technically write a play. The process will alternate focus each class between the micro elements (character, dialogue) and macro elements (theme, story structure), as writers gradually learn how to build the world of the play with nuanced characters.

During these eight weeks, participants will write. A lot. By the end of the workshop, writers will have a strong understanding of the basic elements of a play and how to use those elements to write their own play.

Workshop leader

Erin Shields ( is a Canadian playwright. Most of her work highlights the negation or misrepresentation of women in classical texts by adapting these stories through a feminist lens for a contemporary audience. Erin’s adaptation of Paradise Lost premiered at The Stratford Festival of Canada and won the Quebec Writers Federation Prize for Playwriting. Erin won the 2011 Governor General's Award for her play If We Were Birds, which premiered at Tarragon Theatre. Other theatre credits include: Jane Eyre (Citadel Theatre), Piaf/Dietrich (Mirvish Productions/Segal Centre), The Lady from the Sea (The Shaw Festival). Upcoming productions include Queen Goneril for Soulpepper Theatre and Ransacking Troy for The Stratford Festival.


Please note that workshop registration is on a “first come, first served” basis.

Payment is required to confirm your place in the workshop. 

Payments are to be made online via credit card or PayPal. Click on the link below to add the workshop to your shopping cart, then proceed to payment. QWF Members must be logged in to receive their discount. If you are not already a QWF member, you will have the option of purchasing a Membership, in which case you will receive the discounted workshop rate.

If you are unable to pay online, you can temporarily reserve a place by registering online. Your payment must be made to the QWF office by cheque or cash within 7 days of registration or it will automatically be cancelled.

If the workshop is full, you will have the option of joining the waiting list. If a space becomes available, all those on the waiting list will be notified at once by email. The available spot will be assigned on a first come, first served basis.

Please familiarize yourself with the rest of the Workshop Policies in the shaded box.


General $170 + $4.16 Fee
Student $98 + $2.52 Fee
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$195 + $4.73 Fee
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