Naked Playwriting

The Art, the Craft, and the Life Laid Bare

Silman-James Press

Naked Playwriting is a complete playwriting course—from developing a theme through plotting and structuring a play, developing characters, creating dialog, formatting the script, and plying methods that aid the actual writing and rewriting processes. It also offers sound guidance on marketing and submitting play scripts for both contests and production, getting an agent, protecting one's copyright, and working with directors, actors, and theater companies.

Well-written, comprehensive, and filled with illustrative examples, it provides innovative and tried-and-true writing techniques, sage advice from veteran writers, a short study of the major schools of dramatic thought, and pertinent writing anecdotes. This one-of-a-kind playwriting book will help both novices and working writers discover and improve their playwriting skills and get their plays produced.

About William Missouri Downs

William Missouri Downs has written over twenty full-length plays and won numerous playwriting awards. He has twice been a finalist at the Eugene O’Neill (Mad Gravity and How To Steal A Picasso) Downs’s plays have been produced by The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, The Orlando Shakespeare Theatre, The InterAct Theatre in Philadelphia, The San Diego Rep, The Berkeley Repertory Theatre, the Salt Lake City Acting Company, the Actors Theatre of Charlotte, the International Theatre Festival in Israel, the Stadt Theater Walfischgasse in Austria, the Jewish Theatre of Toronto, The Bloomington Playwright’s Project, the Detroit Rep, the New York City Fringe Festival, the Durban Performing Arts Center in South Africa, the Daehakro Arts Theater in Seoul South Korea and over 150 other theaters worldwide. In Hollywood, he started as a script secretary on NBC’s Moonlighting (Bruce Willis and Cybill Shepherd), and worked his way up to staff writer on the sitcom My Two Dads (Paul Reiser). He also wrote episodes of Amen (Sherman Hemsley) and Fresh Prince Of Bel Air (Will Smith). In addition, he won the Jack Nicholson Award for screenwriting, sold a movie to Ron Howard’s Imagine Films and optioned another to Filmways. He is also a member of The Writers Guild (WGA). In addition he has directed over 40 plays and acted in 40 more. He has MFA in acting from University of Illinois and MFA in Screenwriting from UCLA. He was trained in playwriting at the Circle Rep in New York.

About Robin U. Russin

Robin U. Russin has written, produced, consulted and directed for numerous film, TV and theatre productions, including On Deadly Ground; America's Most Wanted; and Vital Signs on ABC, where he was Senior Producer. Among the plays he has directed are Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice, Charles Evered's Class, and Eric Barr's A Piece of My Mind. Many of his feature spec scripts have been either bought or put under option by both studio and independent producers, and he has been hired to write a number of adaptations and rewrites as well.

Among Russin's plays is Painted Eggs, which was reviewed by the Los Angeles Times as "ambitious, heart-felt and hypnotic," and The Face in the Reeds, which premiered in an extended run in Santa Monica, and is slated for production in New York. His original one-hour pilot script and bible about King David, Beloved, is now adapted and in production as Of Kings and Prophets on ABC. His stories, articles and reviews have been appeared in Script Magazine, Harvard Magazine, the Los Angeles Times, the Los Angeles Review of Books, The American Oxonian, Shofar, and elsewhere.

Russin is a Professor of Screenwriting at the University of California, Riverside, where he has served as director of the MFA program in Creative Writing and Writing for the Performing Arts.  A Rhodes Scholar, he holds degrees from Harvard, Oxford, Rhode Island School of Design, and UCLA, where he earned an MFA in screenwriting.

“These two know what they're talking about and love what they are doing. Their book is fun to read and full of everything I wish I'd known when I got started. Naked is a good way to write.”
Gary Leon Hill, Playwright, Food from Trash, Say Grace, and Inna Beginning

"I've never read a more thorough or more thoroughly entertaining book on ‘how to’ write (and produce and market) a play! Downs and Russin are clear, confident, and absolutely right in this funny, down-to-earth, deceptively simple guide to the craft. It doesn't get better than this. I’m recommending it to students and colleagues, and then I'm taking some of its good advice for myself.”
Kate Snodgrass, Artistic Director, Boston Playwrights' Theatre

“I’ve read many how-to books about playwriting but none have been as comprehensive as this one. Naked Playwriting provides the clear and concise tools anyone would need to translate their thoughts and ideas into a play. It then goes one step further by providing very solid and helpful guidelines on submission, development, and production. If you want to know anything about the process of contemporary playwriting in America, this is the book for you.”
Charles Smith, Head, Professional Playwriting Program, Ohio University Playwright in Residence at the Victory Gardens Theater, Chicago

“What separates Naked Playwriting from other similar texts is how thoroughly the authors set their precepts in the larger contexts of dramatic theory. They tell you not just "what works"—and they do that very well—but "why" it has worked since the beginning, so that a student is learning . . . to assimilate the ideas and ultimately think for herself. . . . What you have is really three books in one: dramatic theory, playwriting principles, and "now what do I do?" advice. If this is the first playwriting text the student reaches for, he won't have to reach for any other.”
David Rush, Head of playwriting at Southern Illinois

“Downs and Russin have accomplished what I didn’t think was possible—to cover all aspects of the field in one volume. Naked Playwriting devotes its first half to the building blocks of the art, and the latter half of the book covers practical business information every writer must know, whether a neophyte or an established author.”
Mead Hunter, Literary Manager of the Portland Center Stage and Former Director of Literary Programs for A.S.K. Theater Projects, Los Angeles

"At last, a complete playwriting textbook! Naked Playwriting takes us through the steps—Beginning, Building, Rewriting, and Marketing—with practical guidelines and without attitude. . . . A perfect classroom textbook."
Dr. Gary Gardner, UCLA Playwriting Professor

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