Writing for Theatre with Cassandra Tse

About this course:

This is a beginners’ course designed for teenage and young adult playwrights. Each
class will contain a mixture of writing theory, exercises in which students will do their
own writing, and sharing sessions where students will have their work read aloud by
their classmates. Each class will be structured so that writers can use class time to
write their scenes, meaning no homework or outside study is required (though it’s
always beneficial!).

Over the course of nine weeks, we’ll cover:
• The basic components of play writing
• Plot structure
• Character
• Conflict
• Subtext
• Dialogue
• How to edit, rewrite and give feedback
• Methods for generating new play writing ideas

This is a fantastic course for young actors interested in writing their own dramatic
material, or for young writers of any discipline interested in learning more about
writing for theatre.

Course Outline:

Week One, July 30th – Why write a play? and Character (pt.1)
We discuss the basic components of playwriting and how it differs from other
writing mediums. We analyse the idea of a protagonist, and explore how to use a
protagonist’s wants and needs to drive a story.

Week Two, August 6th – Conflict
We look at the different ways that external and internal conflict make for interesting
drama, through scene analysis and writing exercises.

Week Three, August 13th – Character (pt.2)
We consider what makes a character interesting, and use a number of exercises to
build an original character of our own.

Week Four, August 20th – Story vs. Plot
We discuss a number of different ‘classic plot structures’ and analyse how these may
apply to media. We discuss the difference between story and plot, and use an
exercise to come up with original plots from a shared story.

Week Five, August 27th – Subtext and Dialogue
We discuss the importance of subtext and layered meaning in drama, and explore
how we might use this in our own writing. We analyse different dialogue styles
across different plays, and practice writing our own stylized dialogue.

Week Six, September 3rd – Finding Inspiration and Developing character voice
We do a number of writing exercises intended to help us come up with ideas for our
own plays, and to encourage seemingly incongruous ideas to spark against each
other. We use writing exercises to explore the idea of character voice, through
monologue and dialogue. We also explore how to make character voices contrast
with each other.

Week Seven, September 10th – Editing and rewriting
We look back at some of the previous exercises that we have written and practice
editing and rewriting, as well as how to give and interpret useful feedback to our
writing peers.

Week Eight, September 17th – No class this week
Students use this week to choose a piece they wrote earlier in the course and use
their new editing and rewriting skills to edit it.

Week Nine, September 24th – Final class
We take our chosen scene and have our classmates rehearse and perform it, with
everyone getting a chance to both act and have a written piece performed.

Timetable and Enrolment


Term 3 2022

Saturday afternoons: 1.30-4.30pm
30th July-24th Sept
No teaching session on 17th Sept.


Scots College Drama Rooms


Cassandra Tse

Target Market

Older teens and young adults

(incl GST)

$360 for 8 x 3 hour sessions



About Cassandra Tse

Cassandra Tse is the Artistic Director of Red Scare Theatre Company. Her previous writing experience includes the plays Long Ago, Long Ago, Battle Hymn and Under, librettos for the musicals The Bone Thief, M’Lady (co-written with James Cain), That’s All She Wrote, Bloodlines and Right Dishonourable, the audio drama Apocalypse Songs and episodes for the children’s television series Kiddets and Book Hungry Bears, as well as several short plays for School Journal. She is a previous recipient of the NZ Society of Authors Auckland Museum Research & Residency grant, won Playmarket’s Playwrights B4 25 competition in 2015, and was commended in the PANZ Long Play award. Her plays have been nominated for several Wellington Theatre Awards. Apocalypse Songs was nominated for multiple Audio Verse Awards and received a wide international listenership. She has previously taught theatre at Victoria University of Wellington and the Emerging Artists Trust.

Our Location

Rātā Studios
Based at Scots College
1 Monorgan Road
Wellington 6022
Rātā Studios
Based at Scots College
PO Box 15064
Wellington 6243