The Pataphysics Playwriting Workshops at The Flea Theater are intimate, four-session intensives for new work and new ways of working.

Stay tuned for news on the next Pataphysics workshop!

Erik Ehn 2008 Silent Retreat at NACL

About Pataphysics

New Work and New Ways of Working

The Pataphysics Playwriting Workshops at The Flea Theater are intimate, four-session intensives for new work and new ways of working. Named for Alfred Jarry’s science of imaginary solutions, the workshops are a gymnasium for the writing brain—curious, particular, and rigorous. Students enter with blank sheets of paper, and leave with pages of notes, fragments, scenes, even entire plays unlike anything they would have written on their own.

Led by Master Playwrights

The Pataphysics workshops are led by master playwrights who are known not only for a distinct and groundbreaking body of work, but also for their ability as teachers. Each workshop, led by a master playwright pursuing his or her own train of thought, is geared to generate new material and new ideas through writing experiments, readings, and interesting talk. Master playwrights have included: Lee Breuer, Erik Ehn, Karen Finley, Maria Irene Fornes, Jeff Jones, Eduardo Machado, Chuck Mee, Paula Vogel, and Mac Wellman.

“I’ve heard several people mention that the ‘Pataphysics workshops are “the place to go” if you want a playwriting workshop. The Flea seems to recognize the importance of the exchange of ideas and experiences between young, or not yet fully “established” writers. I’ve learned so much from the other participants’ work and responses and formed important new relationships. I’ve now taken workshops with Erik Ehn and Mac Wellman, and have found them both to be extraordinarily generous about sharing their experiences as active readers, writers, people. And they’ve planted in my brain a new vocabulary in which to talk about plays, and sent me off wanting to become more active myself.”
—Kate Ryan

Pataphysics is quite simply the best class I’ve ever taught. Why? Because everyone in the room knows why they’re there and comes highly motivated. That cuts through the bull. It lets us work as peers.
—Jeffrey M. Jones

Workshop Structure

The workshops are structured around the idea that whatever is most immediately interesting to a teacher will make for the most engaging class. They’re an opportunity for writers, emerging and experienced, to challenge their own assumptions using strange muscles and surprising parts of the brain.

Each workshop meets four times over two consecutive weekends at The Flea. Class size is limited to thirteen and admission is by application. The Flea Theater runs these workshops at cost. Grants from The Flea Theater and private donations provide a limited number of scholarships for those who would not otherwise be able to attend.

“I took the Jeff Jones and the Mac Wellman workshops at the Flea this year. Both of them offered unique exercises and tools for approaching theater writing. These really are the best workshops I’ve found in New York for playwriting because they genuinely inspired me to continue writing. Both teachers somehow managed to address the specific constraints of dramatic writing while, at the same time, opening up all the unexplored possibilities for new work.”
—Anne Marie Healy

_“I wrote a play during the weekend retreat and I was invited to the Sundance Institute Writing Lab to work on the play this February. I plan to have a reading of it this June with the Labrynth Company.”
—Winter Miller

Stay Informed

To receive notification of upcoming classes, add your name and e-mail address to the Pataphysics mailing list by e-mailing us here. When a class is scheduled we will inform you 2 months ahead of the date.

About Our Participants

Pataphysics workshops are for both developing and experienced writers of any age or aesthetic inclination. Pataphysics students have been produced or developed by, and have received awards from: Humana, The Public Theater, The Flea, Princess Grace Award, Little Theater, SOHO Rep, O’Neill Playwrights Conference, Manhattan Theater Club, Lincoln Center Director’s Lab, Lucille Lortel Playwrighting Fellowship, Printer’s Devil, Horla Theater (London), BRIC Studios, New Dramatists, NYFA, Whitfield Award, Portland Center Stage, New Georges, Clubbed Thumb, HERE, Playwrights Horizons, LaMama, The Cherry Lane Alternative, Annex Theater, Dixon Place, Empty Space Theater, McArthur Foundation Award, The Ontological, Ensemble Studio Theater.

“I began writing a brand new full-length, VACUUM, at the ‘Pataphysics retreat with Erik [Ehn] in 2008. The first fifty pages or so were workshopped and read at EST Octoberfest, 2008, directed by Billy Carden and a third draft was presented for their Octoberfest series in 2009. VACUUM was chosen for the 2009 Autumn Artists’ Lodge at HERE and I produced a workshop presentation with my company, directed by Eric Nightengale. VACUUM was a finalist for the 2010 New Harmony Project and is currently a semi-finalist for the O’Neill. It also received a developmental one-day workshop at Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park last month, with their intern company, directed by Mark Lutwak.”
—Arlene Hutton

“In the first two minutes of taking a workshop with Mac Wellman, I knew I was in the presence of a revolutionary, and I don’t mean to use that label lightly but as an apt description of someone who demands theatre that will open up to its many possibilities rather to continue to suffer under rigid regional theatre rules. It makes for an incredibly charged atmosphere to work in, one where I felt I could begin to see and work within an open landscape rather than being scolded for not adhering to some outdated and corny ideas of what a play should BE. Plus, it was a lot of fun.”
—Deron Bos