The Playwright Provides the Blueprints



Anthony Aguilar

The Robey Theatre Company Playwright’s Lab is an amazing resource for any playwright looking to strengthen their work.  With every class, Dylan Southard breaks down the essence of a play, ranging from topics like character, plot, and tone. He also shares the ideals and methods of other playwrights from the past and present. One week might be a discussion on August Wilson’s ability to convey emotion primarily through scene description and the next week might be about Mac Wellman breaking the rules of conventional standard theater. As the student, you are presented with a range of styles, knowing you are not limited in how you present your work. Students are also strongly encouraged to attend theater. The class then discusses their thoughts on the production and the playwright’s work. You are given the understanding that the playwright is providing the blueprints for the director, actors, and designers and how they all help form one unifying vision.

All students enter the class with a piece of work that is already in progress. Dylan, as well as the rest of the students, then read and ask the questions that are necessary to help your play grow. It is then up to the playwright to determine the importance of why they are writing their play. The first play that I had brought into the lab was “Emma & the Suzies”. It is a story revolving around teenage rebellion set in 1960’s Boyle Heights. Throughout the ten-week course, I had been asked a myriad of questions concerning character motivations and plotlines. And although I did not have the all of the answers at the time these questions were asked, it left me with enough to think about on how to keep refining my story. So, I continued to work through it, submitting draft after draft, eventually determining why these teenagers were rebelling as well as my own personal reasons for wanting to write this play. Shortly after the course, “Emma & the Suzies” was presented at the 2017 Austin Latino New Play Festival. This would be the first time my work was presented in another state and I was proud to bring a stronger version of my play to it.

One of the most important questions asked in the Lab is, “why are you writing this play right now?” Dylan Southard and Producing Artistic director, Ben Guillory, have a deep appreciation of theater and its reflection on society. No matter how ambitious a project may be, it is nothing without presenting some form of truth. So, whichever draft your play might be in, the Robey Playwright’s Lab helps you find that truth.



Anthony Aguilar: Stageplays include “El Verde” (Casa 0101 / TeAda Productions / Center Theatre Group’s The Shop), “Little Red” (Casa 0101), and “Emma & the Suzies” (Center Theatre Group’s The Shop / Austin Latino New Play Festival). Credits include writer’s assistant for “East Los High” and office P.A. for “Key and Peele”.



The Robey Theatre Company fall session for the Playwright’s Lab begins September 9 to November 11, 2017. The lab meets every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m..

To apply please submit a writing sample of a one act or full length play to: Note your writing sample need not be a finished work, a first draft of your work is acceptable.