International Playwright Reatreat

A ‘Pataphysical workshop for playwrights: (‘Pataphysics being the science of imaginary solutions to imaginary problems); brief exercises and discussion of the implications of these.

Facilitator: MAC WELLMAN
Date: August 2 – 12, 2012

Download the Application Form


Mac Wellman’s recent work includes 3 2’s; or AFAR at Dixon Place in October 2011, The Difficulty of Crossing a Field (with composer David Lang) at Montclair in the fall of 2006 (and elsewhere more recently), and 1965 UU for performer Paul Lazar, and directed by Stephen Mellor at the Chocolate Factory in the fall of 2008. He has received numerous honors, including NEA, Guggenheim, and Foundation of Contemporary Arts fellowships. In 2003 he received his third Obie, for lifetime Achievement. In 2006 his third novel, Q’s Q, was published by Green Integer, and in 2008 a volume of stories, A Chronicle of the Madness of Small Worlds, was published by Trip Street Press as well as a new collection of plays The Difficulty of Crossing a Field from Minnesota Press. His books of poetry include Miniature (2002), Strange Elegies (2006) both from Roof Books, and Left Glove, just out from Solid Objects Press. He is Distinguished Professor of Play Writing at Brooklyn College.


Playwrights will enjoy ten days living and writing in the Umbrian countryside at La MaMa Umbria International, Ellen Stewart’s artist residence in Italy. During the week participants will have ample time to work on new or existing material. Each day, a master playwright will meet with the playwrights to facilitate discussions, workshops and exercises designed to help the writer with whatever challenges they are facing. Group readings are also possible and feedback if requested by the playwright. Much time is reserved for writing and quiet reflection in the tranquil surroundings.

Participants reside at La MaMa Umbria, a 700 year-old convent that has been transformed into a work center and residence for artists. It is located in the Umbrian hillside just outside the town of Spoleto, less than 2 hours from Rome.

La MaMa Umbria is a nonprofit cultural center founded by La MaMa ETC Artistic Director Ellen Stewart in 1990. The area includes rehearsal and performance spaces alongside the living quarters. Bedrooms are doubles and triples with shared bathrooms. Communal kitchen and dining rooms, a gallery and music room are also part of the structure. Attendees eat meals prepared on-site or at nearby restaurants.
Attendance at performances at local festivals, dinner at country fairs, tours to nearby Umbrian towns and other activities are also possible during the week. But it is anticipated that most of the time will be used for creative renewal and enrichment, for working on writing theatrical works and for enjoying a respite from one’s traditional lifestyle.

The fee is $2,300. It includes workshop, housing and meals for 10 days, ground transportation from the Rome airport to and from La MaMa Umbria, and excursions by bus, van or car.

The Symposium and Retreat are fully accredited programs of Sarah Lawrence College (2 credits for one session of the Symposium and 1 credit for the Retreat) For more information about Sarah Lawrence College, please visit

Located in Bronxville, New York, Sarah Lawrence College is a long recognized pioneer in creative education, as a liberal arts college with a focus on collaborative undergraduate and graduate programs in the arts. The learning process emphasized utilizes a diverse, global vocabulary, as students explore individual artistic techniques and experiment with connections among theater, writing, art, music, dance, and emerging technologies. For more information about Sarah Lawrence College, please visit


Playwrights who wish to participate in the retreat fill out the attached Registration Form and resume and return it with a $500 deposit. You will notified about your acceptance into the program by June 1st, 2011. There is limited space available, so please convey your application so it is received by our office no later than the deadline date.

Participants will be selected based on their commitment to the process and the case they make on the application as to how this program will help them with their creative process. Subject matter of the plays developed will NOT be a criterion for acceptance, nor will theatrical style, number of characters, nationality, perceived ethnicity, race or gender. If you are not accepted into the Retreat, your deposit will be returned in FULL. If you are accepted and choose not to attend, you will receive a refund of all but a $100 registration fee, provided you notify us by June 15th. After that date, we cannot provide a refund of your payment.


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