Grow as a writer with award-winning playwright Robert Smythe.

“You'll learn so much about playwrighting and meet amazing people!” - Mary T.

 

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The Locations

Choose between 2 breathtaking locations:

Spillian - a private, elegant, and welcoming Catskills lodge situated on thirty-three acres to wander and dream;

Haus Patricia - located in the Austrian Alps in Lofer, a picturesque village surrounded by the Loferer Steinberge range and bordered by the wild, roaring Saalach River. 

Learn more.

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The Course

In either New York's Catskills or the Austrian Alps, this 10-part course establishes the foundation of your playwrighting success. It's perfect for new and emerging writers who need an encouraging push to get started and invaluable for more experienced playwrights who want to add to their toolkit, sharpen what’s already there, or figure out what to fix.

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The Instructor

Robert Smythe is a Guggenheim Fellow and Philadelphia Magazine’s Best Professor. He is the founder and former director of the Playwriting Program for the International Puppetry Conference at the Tony-winning O’Neill Theater Center. An award-winning playwright, he teaches technique for PlayPenn, Philadelphia’s playwright incubator, and for Hedgerow Theater, the oldest repertory theater in America. 

Learn more.

Choose the Alps or the Catskills.

Haus Patricia

Lofer, Austria | June 17 — 22, 2018

Haus Patricia is the highest-rated bed-and-breakfast in Lofer, Austria, one of the most popular vacation areas in the Alps. Every bedroom offers a spectacular view of the Lofer Mountains, part of the Eastern Alps of central Europe. The rushing waters of the Saalach River, a favorite with whitewater kayakers, course through town and behind the inn, providing a pleasant accompaniment to the stunning Alps. Just across the road is the village of Lofer, usually packed to the gills for winter skiing but in the summer, guests can relax and appreciate the late summer sun as it sets over the Alps, while enjoying a beer or glass of wine and true Austrian gemütlichkeit, a word that means warmth, friendliness, and good cheer. 

"From the moment we arrived, we felt like old friends." - Maria G.

Just a short stroll from the front door lies the cable car to the Almenwelt Lofer, an alpine meadow where cows freely roam and graze. Nearby is the Seisenbergklamm, a natural gorge where wooden walkways cross ancient waterfalls. A short drive away are the Konigsee, Germany’s most beautiful Alpine lake, and Salzburg’s Old Town, where the Von Trapps lived and sang.

Your Schedule in Lofer

Sunday, June 17: arrive after 3 pm. Dinner. First class meeting.
Monday, June 18 — Thursday, June 21: Breakfast at Haus Patricia. Morning class, held at each of the following sites during the week:

  • Löfer Alm —an alpine meadow with free-grazing cows and unparalleled views of the Alps, reached by ski lift.
  • Königsee — Germany's most beautiful alpine lake, reached by car (provided)
  • Salzburg’s Old Town — a UNESCO World Heritage Site, reached by car (provided)
  • Seisenbergklamm — a 12,000 year old gorge where you can walk across waterfalls, reached by car (provided).

Following class, you’ll have time for lunch on your own, and writing, rest, or sightseeing. We'll all come together again for dinner in different restaurants in Lofer, followed by the 2nd class of the day at Haus Patricia.

Friday, June 22: Breakfast at Haus Patricia, followed by the final class and departure. (Rooms cleared before 11 am).

 

LOFER

LOFER

SALZBURG

SALZBURG

SEISENBERGKLAMM

SEISENBERGKLAMM

HAUS PATRICIA

HAUS PATRICIA

BREAKFAST AT HAUS PATRICIA

BREAKFAST AT HAUS PATRICIA

KONIGSEE

KONIGSEE


Spillian

Fleischmann, NY | June 3 — 8, 2018

An extraordinary 1880s Gilded Age mansion built by the Fleischmanns Yeast family, this archetypal Catskills estate has brought family, friends, and dreamers together for over a hundred years. The walls of this great house are filled with memories of laughter, of music, of conversations, of strengthening bonds.

Elegantly rustic, charming, welcoming.

Featuring over 30 acres of forests and meadows with gentle walking trails past moss-covered ruins, the estate boasts a superb kitchen with an innovative chef for every meal.  A comfortable pub offers hand-selected wines, beers, and spirits, and when you're ready to end the day, Spillian offers eight splendid bedrooms, each delightfully unique.

 

Your Schedule at Spillian

Sunday, June 3: arrive after 3 pm. Dinner. First class meeting.

Monday, June 4 — Thursday, June 7: Breakfast in the dining room. Morning class in the Sun Room. Lunch in the dining room. Free time for writing, rest, or exploring. Dinner in the dining room, followed by the 2nd class of the day in the Sun Room.

Friday, June 8: Breakfast in the dining room, followed by the last class and departure. (out of rooms before 11 am).

 

THE GREAT ROOM

THE GREAT ROOM

THE JULES VERNE ROOM

THE JULES VERNE ROOM

THE ICE HOUSE

THE ICE HOUSE

THE CAMELOT ROOM

THE CAMELOT ROOM

SPILLIAN - EXTERIOR

SPILLIAN - EXTERIOR

THE MUSIC ROOM

THE MUSIC ROOM

If you’re serious about exploring playwrighting, this class is for you.

 

Develop a new idea, or figure out why that old one isn’t quite working. My workshop-style classes, practical lessons, and one-to- one consultations will help you get a script ready for submitting to producers, theaters, and festivals.

This retreat is designed to move you forward, practically from the first five minutes of the first class. Whether you’ve never written a play let alone a scene or you’re an experienced writer who’s tired of writer’s block or rejection without explanation, you’ll discover the power of your own writing even as you develop laser-sharp focus on what works and what doesn’t — in your writing and in that of others. By the end of a single week, you’ll have results you can use on your way to finishing a new play or polishing an old one.

"Be brave. Dive in. There is no judgement." - Amy R.

 

We’ll be working with a mix of lessons held in a completely encouraging atmosphere of support and collaboration. I’ll be giving you practical exercises that build and hone your writing skills while producing results that may surprise you with their ability to evoke reactions from others. I’ll teach you and the group how to give feedback that inspires each writer while affirming the power of their writing.

“I had been in a class that was all about making the writers feel good about themselves but didn’t really get me anywhere. Honest feedback is what helps you grow. Robert tells you what he thinks — love that.” - Bruce F.

 

We’ll tackle specifics, such as how to reveal character through private moments, ratchet up tension within a scene, determine the crucial moment of the action, and define the scope of the play. More than anything, you’ll learn the crucial art of writing dialogue that moves the action forward and creates characters who “pop,” and a lot more.

"After I took Robert’s class, I went back to my first play and saw clearly how I could build tension and put the audience closer to the edge of their seats." - John O.

 

If you’ve never written a play before, I’ll guide you in assembling scenes out of each of the new skills you learn, from writing expert monologues to crucial moments. If you’re an experienced writer, you’ll learn how to look at your work with a new eye.

"I spent the weekend revising my latest play and using the ideas from class to tear it apart.
It made it better. Much better."
-
Liz O.

 

You’ll be away from your daily grind, working against a backdrop of beautiful landscapes, delicious cuisine, and inspiring cultures. You’ll have the option of writing breaks throughout the day, ranging from walks in the wilderness to (depending on location) exploring the local sights, landmarks, and history.

"The coach was Robert Smythe, and what a vigorous, dynamic teacher he is." - Philly.com

Robert Smythe is the founder and former director of the Playwrighting Program for the International Puppetry Conference at the Tony-winning O’Neill Theater Center. He earned his MFA in Playwrighting from Temple University, and currently teaches playwrighting technique for PlayPenn, the Philadelphia incubator for playwrights.

An acclaimed theater artist, Robert is best known as the founder of Mum Puppettheatre, where he served as its Artistic Director for over twenty-three years.  The only regional theater in the United States dedicated to puppetry, Mum “sparked the Philadelphia theater renaissance that continues to this day," according to the Philadelphia City Paper.  During Robert's tenure, he wrote, directed, and performed over twenty original productions using puppets, masks, and human actors, and led Mum on international tours on four continents.

Smythe has won numerous awards and honors, including Guggenheim, Pew, and National Endowment for the Arts fellowships, and six solo performer fellowships from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts; he’s won six Barrymore Awards for Excellence in Theater in areas ranging from education to choreography; and he was the first artist to receive a commission from the Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts: the resulting collaboration between him and the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, Stravinsky’s “l’Histoire du Soldat,” won the 2011 Barrymore Award for Outstanding Collaboration.  

His ground-breaking application of narrative theory to puppetry, “Reading a Puppet Show: Understanding the Three-Dimensional Narrative,” was published in The Routledge Companion to Puppetry and Material Performance, and his work on motor contagion was been published in Acta Psychologica. In 2010, Philadelphia Magazine selected Robert as the "Best Professor" for their annual "Best of Philadelphia" issue.