DG Institute


Here’s a sampling of what we’re currently offering.

The Architecture of Musicals

Instructor: John Dietrich

This course will require analyzing book and lyric, as well as understanding the importance of stage direction as a tool for conveying the other integrated elements of a musical such as dance and movement. We will gain an understanding of song form, rhyme scheme, and scansion in lyric writing, as it all relates to the tone of the book and the forward movement of the story. We will develop a vocabulary for understanding musical structure, be able to recognize form, genre and style, allowing us to draw from these tools and discover new ways of approaching our own musical storytelling, because in the end, what makes for a great musical? Abundant creatively, a great story, good craft, and a lot of heart.

Writing the Autobiographical Play

Instructor: Sheri Wilner

It has often been said that a writer draws from the same “well” in all of their work, continually revisiting the same life experiences, obsessions and themes. This course is designed to help students identify the contents of their “wells,” and learn some methods to help them tap into it.  Through weekly workshops, as well as writing exercises, assigned readings, classroom discussion and individualized guidance, students will learn how to draw from their personal experiences to get their deepest, most urgent and personal concerns onto the page and transform raw emotions and autobiographical material into structured and engaging dramatic work.  They’ll also learn how to transform work that feels too uncomfortably autobiographical into a more comfortably fictionalized play – without losing any authenticity or emotional power. The writing exercises and techniques will help both those students who want to generate new material as well as those who are writing or revising an existing script. The goal is to help students develop a writing process that allows them to deepen their work and identify the stories they most need to tell.

Music Essentials for Non-Musicians (In Person or Online)

Instructor: Roland Tec

This simple 10-week course will arm you with all the tools needed to better understand how music and words support one another in the creation of musical theatre. The delicate marriage of words and music can be tricky, especially if as a wordsmith you sometimes find yourself at a loss for just the right language to describe your vision to your collaborator. Many writers working in music-theatre wish they could communicate more succinctly with composers and other musicians about precisely what makes music tick.

Acting for Dramatists

Instructor: Christine Toy Johnson

Whether we are creating characters as writers or actors, being thorough in our inquiries of their inner workings is essential to building complex and textured vessels for our storytelling. What happens when we make this exploration from an actor’s point of view, asking specific detailed questions and delving into the language of the play in order to mine character subtext? In harnessing an additional perspective, what we discover can enrich our dialogue and the illumination of our characters’ underbellies. In this workshop, we will undertake two explorations. We will analyze a character from a “classic” play and/or musical, and then a character from a play you have written, by creating a map of what makes these characters tick, their objectives and obstacles (scene by scene and also in the whole of the play), how those elements fit into their overarching journey, and how they are symbiotic with one another.