There are very few, if any, graduate theatre training programs where the word is so valued that a Playwright is the Chair of the department.

I was lucky enough to have Dr. Howard Stein as my mentor, friend and department Chair at Columbia University in the City of New York during my graduate degree training in the theatre as a Playwright.

We bring our experience and our wisdom to what we teach and Dr. Stein was the penultimate honorer of the word as a Playwright himself.  He led the department by pressing The Word and its glistening text into the center of everything.

The department revolved around the Playwright and that was rare and refreshing.  Most theatre programs center on the acting program or the directing program.

Columbia did not have an acting program at the time — they now do — and the directing, critic and producer students were all keenly attuned to the needs of the Playwright because of the habit of action of the theatre department.

Everything in the theatre starts with the Playwright — and that makes the Playwright the King and the original Muscle in any theatrical endeavor — but there are thieves and know-nothings swirling everywhere trying to force away the word from the center of the stage; but for those of us who were trained in the higher endeavor of The Arts at Columbia University in the City of New York… Dr. Howard Stein taught us to know better and to fight against the separation of the Playwright as the necessary epicenter of the craft.


  1. The playwright is the king, David. It’s rather unfortunate that the playwright is most often not treated as such.

  2. It is a shame, Gordon, that the other elements in the process have taken precedence over the creator of the written word. I’m certain that’s why the theatre isn’t more a part of everyone’s everyday life, too.

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