Play Cafe is thrilled to offer Gary Graves’ virtual workshop WRITING PLAYS DRAWN FROM HISTORY. Sunday, August 15, 4PM to 5:30PM Pacific Time.




What do these award-winning plays all have in common:  “Oslo” (Tony for Best Play, 2017), “Hamilton” (Pulitzer and Tony for Best Musical, 2016) and “All the Way”(Tony for Best Play, 2014)?  They are all plays drawn from history in one way or another.  Audiences love plays that weave together history and drama.  But how do you do that? 


What is historical drama?  What is a history play?  What are some of the traps or hazards in writing plays inspired by historical events or persons?  We’ll look at the role history plays in all sorts of different ways in all sorts of different plays.  What do the best examples of this popular form all have in common? 



GARY GRAVES is a director and playwright living in the San Francisco Bay Area.  In 1994, he received a Ph.D. in the Directing Program at the University of California, Berkeley.  In 1998, he became a resident playwright and company co-director at Central Works in Berkeley.  Now in its 31st season, Central Works is a theater company that develops and produces all new plays.  He has overseen the development of 67 world premiere plays at Central Works, many of which he has either written and/or directed.  Titles of plays he has written include: “Dracula Inquest”, “Richard the First (Parts 1, 2, & 3”), “The Grand Inquisitor”, “Chekhov’s The Duel”, and “Penelope’s Odyssey”.  He also leads the Central Works Writers Workshop, an ongoing commissioning program that develops new works.  Since 2002, he has taught playwriting year-round at the Berkeley Repertory School of Theater, including the annual Summer Playwriting Workshop that develops and presents a series of staged readings of eight new plays every summer.  He is currently working on a 5-play cycle of plays under the collective title The Prince.

Central Works website:


REGISTRATION:   Suggested donation of $15-$25. Registrants will be sent an email with a Zoom link.



Play Cafe is pleased to present EMPLOYING SUBTEXT IN PLAYS & SCREENPLAYS an on-line workshop with writer-producer Rick Toscan on Sunday, September 19, 4PM to 5:30PM Pacific Time.

Workshop Description:

Skillful employment of subtext creates the complexity in characters and action that directors and performers need to enhance the impact of scripts in production, yet managing subtext is often among the most troublesome issues for writers working in theatre, film, audio, and television. When appropriately controlled, subtext strengthens the power of scripts, supports the development of empathetic connections between audiences and characters, and ultimately drives interest in the story being told. When allowed to run unchecked, spoken subtext does the reverse: undermining every component of a script. We'll explore where spoken subtext is necessary; its operation in visual and verbal forms of storytelling (with genre-dependent variations); its role in narration, exposition, and monologues; and the seeming outlier of usage in musicals. We'll review techniques for identifying and editing subtext as well as an exercise for driving subtext out of spoken dialogue.



Rick's audio dramas have been broadcast by the BBC (Radio 1 & World Service), ABC (Australia), CBC (Canada), and in the US by Pacifica and NPR. He was executive producer and story editor of the original “Star Wars” radio series for Lucasfilm, the BBC, and NPR – the first contemporary audio drama to attract a major national audience in the US. Other audio adaptations include work by Raymond Chandler, Damon Knight, and Ed Bullins, docudramas on the Vietnam War and psychoanalytic case histories. He's served as a judge for national competitions and festivals focused on screenwriting, playwriting, and fiction podcasts. He was an Armstrong Award nominee for Creative Use of the Radio Medium and a founding member of First Stage, the Los Angeles new play development program. For many years he was Dean of the USC School of Theatre. His handbook, “Playwriting Seminars 2.0” is a widely used resource in the field.


REGISTRATION: Suggested donation of $15-$25. Registrants will be sent an email with Zoom instructions.